Howden Gill

Also known as Slack’s Gill and until recently buried inside the commercial forestry of Black Bank. It’s my ‘secret’ way up onto Great Ayton Moor. Mine and the mountain bikers who created a downhill course through the wood. But the clear felling has put paid to their activities. I am sure the sandstone crags have been quarried but there is no evidence of the route the stones would have been hauled down the slope. The large boulder in the gill does have an anchor bolt on the top but I guess that could be modern, placed as a protection for rock climbers. I’ve rendered the photo into black and white as the carnage left by the clear felling is hidden.

Howden Gill map

WW2 Home Guard Lookout

An unremarkable sandstone wall at the entrance to Firbeck House on Easby Lane in Great Ayton. The ashlar blocks have been dressed well and the wall has been neatly enhanced by the coping stones. On the third course you will notice is a small square hole out of which is growing a stem of ivy. The hole was cut by Mr. Robert Pickersgill who was a member of the village’s Local Defence Volunteers during World War 2. The intention was to provide a spy hole to view the approach to the village from the direction of Easby Lane and if necessary to provide a rifle embrasure.

Right, Pike, you get behind that wall and keep watch. And if any German Panzers come down Easby Lane, hold them at bay.

And don’t tell them your name.

Roseberry’s Landslip

Boulders of Oolite sandstone litter the south west slope of Roseberry, the result of a monumental landslip in 1912. It was said at the time the ironstone miners were to blame but the geologists tell us now that was not so. It would have happened anyway, and it is still happening. The softer mudstone shales are still being eroded weakening the foundations of the crag. A new rockfall will occur. It might be a thousand years but it will occur.

Down below the oakwoods of Newton Wood adorn the escarpment of another sandstone layer, of a much poorer quality to be useful for building stone and in the distance, on the Cleveland Plain, the village of Great Ayton wakes up on this Monday morning.

Roseberry Talus map

Winn’s Quarry

57 million years ago Europe, North America and Asia were locked together in a great continent called Laurasis. Volcanic activity near what is now the Island of Mull in Scotland cause injections of magma deep underground in what geologists call the Mull Dyke Swarm.   The magma cooled and formed a vertical dyke of hard igneous rock known as Whinstone. One such dyke outcrops in Cleveland where it is known as the Cleveland Dyke and on Cliff Ridge whinstone has been extensively quarried for use in road building. It is said that the streets of Leeds are cobbled with Great Ayton stone. In the 1880s Percy Winn took over the quarry from Leeds Corporation and is still referred to locally as Winn’s Quarry.

The photo shows the line of the dyke along Langbaurgh ridge heading towards Mull. Beyond Nunthorpe it goes underground but outcrops again at Preston Park on the north bank of the Tees and Cockfield Fell near Hamsterley. The word whin originates from the Old Scandinavian word for gorse, the prickly yellow flowered scrub which flourishes on the sides of the quarry.

Low Green, Great Ayton

The prospect of a day indoors route planning with my Duke of Edinburgh students but managed to get up Roseberry before dawn. Otherwise incessant rain all day. Even the ducks were avoiding a swollen River Leven.

Cliff Rigg

The remains of yesterday’s snow lie of on the fields of Aireyholme Farm below the heavily quarried Cliff Rigg. The tractor driver is flaying the hedges, a winter job which by law has to stop by the beginning of March so as not to disturb nesting birds. Mechanical cutting discourages the growth of lower branches so thinning the hedge which eventually loses its effectiveness for stock control. So the farmer has to erect wire fence to supplement the hedge.

Capt. Cook’s Fell Race

A well established New Years Day tradition. The Captain Cook’s Fell Race. From Great Ayton to the Monument and back. Five miles with a climb of 1,043 feet.  400 runners assemble outside the Royal Oak for the start.