Arthur’s Pike

Above Whinny Crag, above the elbow in Ulf’s lake where the whole of its nine mile length can be seen. In the ’60s Ullswater almost became a reservoir, following in the fate of Thirlemere and Haweswater but a passionate speech by Lord Birket, persuaded the House of Lords to defeat the proposal.

Mostly Herdwicks

Sandwick: sorting the sheep probably for tupping. Mostly Herdwicks with their unique genome that no other bred has. The red smit mark along with the ear clipping identifies the flock, passed down the generations from shepherd to shepherd.

Martindale Red deer

Too tired to move but alert and watching us closely. Up all night and day rutting and keeping rivals at bay. Bellows echoing around the fells.

Pooley Bridge

In the Lakes for a few days. Last of the afternoon sun. Looking down Elder Beck towards Ullswater and Pooley Bridge. The wooded hill in Dunmallard with its ancient settlement. 

Skelton Park Pit

Very little remains of Cleveland ironstone mines. It was second only to coal as the UK’s biggest extractive industry. Ironstone had been mined in the Cleveland Hills since the 12th Century when primitive furnaces called bloomeries were used to melt the iron out of stone gained from rock outcrops along the dale sides.

But it was the discovery of good quality ironstone in 1850 in the Eston hills which provided to kick start to an industry upon which Teesside and Cleveland was built. Sadly many of the mining sites have been cleared to be turned into industrial parks or just left as waste ground. Skelton Park is an exception. It’s on private land next to a working farm. No Public Right of way passes through it. Consequently the many building have escaped being demolished or simply trashed by the generations local teenagers. The buildings are now considered to be the most complete and best preserved of the Cleveland ironstone mines.

Skelton Park was one of a pair of mines, the other being Skelton Old Shaft, opened by the Bell Brothers in 1872. At its peak in 1881 it had a payroll of 300. Ironstone was transported by a branch line to the North Eastern Railway at Slapewath and on to the Bell Brothers’ furnaces at their Clarence Ironworks.

Obviously the wooden headgear has long gone but the range of brick and stone buildings surviving is substantial. The winding house, boiler pump house, power house, ambulance room, time office, blacksmith’s and joiner’s shops, saw mill, the saddler’s shop, the secondary winding engine shed and provender house (for storage of feed for the pit ponies).

The photo shows the Schiele fanhouse building with its upcast shaft. Notice the different coloured bricks at the top which date from when it was converted to be winding shaft as well as just for ventilation. The shaft itself was 378ft deep. Nearby is the down cast shaft. The mine was electrified in 1910 and many modern features introduced. This is a great site and deserves preservation and is certainly worth a visit.

From 1923 the mine was operated by Dorman Long & Co until 1938 when the mine was closed. Although the buildings are considered good they are suffering from the passage of time. Nature is reclaiming the site. Preservation of the buildings to prevent further deterioration is currently being undertaken by the volunteers of the Cleveland Mining Heritage Society.

The best thing about Pteridium aquilinum …

… is when it’s dying off.

Bracken, carcinogenic, toxic to livestock, invasive and dominating, smothering the growth of other plants. At the height of the summer it forms an impenetrable undergrowth.

Yet the autumn bracken changes to rich yellow hues. Super even on a drizzly morning.

Red Admiral

I have’t noticed many butterflies this year. Has there been a shortage? This Red Admiral was fluttering about the ivy flowers on a hedge on Dykes Lane at Gribdale. It’s one of the last butterflies to be seen before winter sets in. Arriving in the spring from the continent nettles are a major food source for its caterpillars.

Over in Ireland, the red admiral was thought to be the devil. Its scientific name is Vanessa atalanta. In Greek mythology Atalanta was left on a mountain as a baby by her father to die but found and raised by a she-bear. She grew up to be a skilled and beautiful huntress.

Atalanta was later reunited with her father, King Iasus, who wanted to marry her off. She showed no interest in marriage but reluctantly agreed to do so only to someone who could beat her in a race. Many tried and all failed, many dying in the attempt. Eventually Hippomenes, with a little bit of advice from the goddess Aphrodite threw golden apples in front of Atalanta whenever she got ahead of him. Atalanta could not resist stopping to gather them so lost the race. Hippomenes and Atalanta were married. But they did not live happily ever after. They upset the god Zeus by making love in one of his temples. So he turned them into lions.