The fledgling has returned. ‘Reading week’ he says. Half term by any other name. A suggestion: “do you fancy going to the Lion Inn tomorrow? I’ll go on my bike and meet you there”. So I find myself in Rosedale for the second time in four days. But a different Rosedale with the Inn in cloud; drizzling and cold. Winter has come.
I took the easy option of following the course of the branch railway to the Rosedale East Mines, contouring around the head of the dale. Popular with mountain bikers, it’s slightly downhill, a 1 in 50 gradient. The line closed in 1929. Dead centre in the photo can be seen the New Calcining Kilns and in the far distance the Old Kilns. Far left are High Baring cottages, cheap housing for the miners. Closer, in the foreground are what remains of the Black Houses. A pair of railway workers two storey cottages that were coated in bitumen to improve their weatherproofing. Hence the name. The ruins you see are merely a lean-to wash house.
Rosedale really is an interesting dale, the industrial archaeology is fascinating but it’s a sad reminder of what we humans are doing to our planet. We exhaust the natural resources and desecrate the planet with our industrialisation, leaving nature to pick up the pieces. The ironstone has certainly brought prosperity to the dale and beyond to Teesside and the North East. 80 years on the wealth has now vanished and instead of an idyllic pristine valley we are left with the scars. But we live with the scars of the past however unsightly.
A North York Moors National Park initiative, This Exploited Land, has been created to conserve the ironstone heritage. It has a funding of £3.75 million which sounds a lot but probably won’t go far. Work has begun, repairing a landslip to the railway in front of the Old Kilns and stabilising the culvert at Reeking Gill.