Greenhow Botton

Foxgloves like their toes in slightly acidic soil especially if the soil has been disturbed as in this clear felling of the forestry plantation along Greenhow Bank. The latin name, Digitalis purpurea, gives a clue to the main usage of this plant, as a source for the drug digitalin, used to treat heart complaints. Across the flat valley of Greenhow Botton are Carr Ridge and White Hill with Clay Bank in between.

Greenhow Botton Map


Urra Moor

In 1979 I had a battle here with one of the greats of fell running, Joss Naylor. The Cumbrian  sheep farmer was at the height of his career, a career with too many accolades to mention. He held the Lake District mountain record climbing 72 peaks in less than 24 hours, a feat covering over 100 miles with about 38,000 feet of ascent and was appointed an MBE for his services to sport and charity. On that July day of 1979 however he had his sights on the Lyke Wake Race, a race across the moors from Ravenscar to Osmotherley, a mere sprint at 39 miles.

In those days the fell running calendar was much leaner than today and the Lyke Wake Race had a much higher profile. The race was run on a handicap basis with the slowest runners setting off first and the fastest last such that, in theory, all competitors would finish at the same time in Osmotherley when the Summer Games were being held. A carnival atmosphere.

Joss and I were both off scratch and I felt good showing him the way across the moors. However in my naivety I didn’t appreciate the amount of drafting I was providing running into the westerly winds. It was about here, coming down from Urra Moor that Joss took the lead. I was spent but did manage to regain contact later at Huthwaite by the judicious use of local knowledge. Joss soon pulled ahead again to take three minutes out of me and win in a new record time of 4 hours 53 minutes. Two years later I did manage to shave 2 minutes of Joss’s time. Vindication of a sort in spite of Joss’s absence.

But enough reminiscing. Today is Joss Naylor’s birthday. He’s 81 and still active on the hills using a pair of walking poles fashioned from hazel rods. Happy Birthday, Joss.



Swaledale sheep, Bilsdale

At least I think these are Black Faced sheep, one of the traditional breeds of the Northern hills. Other contenders could be Swaledales and Rough Fells. Quite frankly after looking at scores of photos on Google they all begin to look the same. All three are found on the North York Moors and all are said to be descended from a small flock that was on board a fleeing Spanish vessel of the Armada that was shipwrecked off the Cumberland coast. Which begs the question as to what breed of sheep were the medieval monks of Rievaulx Abbey farming.

One local name for Black Faced sheep is Moorjocks which is also used as a derogatory name for dales folk.

On some grouse moors sheep are used as tick mops to control ticks which weaken young grouse chicks. The sheep would be dipped up to 5 times per year to kill off the ticks and then released again to collect more ticks.


These sheep hiding behind a dry stone wall are on Carr Ridge overlooking Bilsdale.

Urra Moor

A surprise covering of overnight snow on the Cleveland Hills. This menhir or standing stone is on the Cleveland Way as it climbs Round Hill on Urra Moor from Clay Bank. The slope on the left partly covered by mist is named on modern maps as Botton Head but on the 1857 map it is Burton Head.

A.A. Milne was born this day in 1882

Dug out the skis from the loft and headed for Urra Moor, the highest point on the North York Moors, which is flat enough for cross country skiing and high enough to retain the snow for a little longer. Today though the visibility was down to zero but before disappearing into the cloud I managed to snap this photo. I have taken one of this gate before in much pleasanter conditions.

But what’s the connection with A A Milne whose birthday it is today, 18th January? He was the creator of Winnie the Pooh, which reminded me of this poem sung by Piglet, another one of Milne’s characters:

The more it snows (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes  (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes  (Tiddely pom),
On snowing.

And nobody knows  (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
Are growing.

Which just describes the state of my toes when I got back to the car.