Highcliff Plantation

On the route of the Cleveland Way this stand of beech trees is probably the last remnants of the Highcliff Plantation that stood long before the Forestry Commission began their mass planting of larch and spruce. On a fine day the seat would have provided views across to Roseberry

The Scottish naturalist John Muir wrote “another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue”. His words are true even on a day as bleak as this.

Highcliffe Nab

A windy Christmas Day view across the pasture fields of Highcliffe Farm which is named as Cod Hill on older maps. The large cleft is mapped as Bold Venture Gill, a name that probably derives from its small ironstone quarry implying a daring investment opportunity. Ironstone outcropped in the gill and was calcined and hauled down a tramway to the Middlesbrough to Guisborough Railway which was completed in 1853. Cod Hill quarry was one of a number of small mines and quarries operated by J.W. Pease & Co., others being Ayton Moor, Roseberry, Newton and Hutton. They were later operated together as the Hutton Ironstone Mines.


Highcliff Nab

​From Bousdale Wood, near Pinchinthorp. A sandstone crag overlooking the town of Guisborough. On the northern edge of the North York Moors and a popular  climbing venue, first ‘discovered’ for climbing in the 1930s. There is a Mesolithic site just beyond the summit. The Nab must have made a fine lookout for the hunters over the wooded plain below.

Yorkshire Fog

A couple of months ago, in the summer, I heard an assessor telling the Duke of Edinburgh group I was supervising that the grass that which grows in profusion on disturbed or burnt areas on the moors is called ‘Yorkshire Haze’. An interesting snippet of a local plant name I thought and locked it away in my grey cells.

I was reminded of the name today when crossing Pinchinthorp Moor above Hanging Stone. About two years ago the forestry plantation here was clear felled leaving it looking like Tunguska. Grass is for now the dominant plant with here and there a sprig of heather. Back home I searched for the Latin name, Holcus lanatus, with a common name of ‘Yorkshire Fog’. That must be it.

I have to admit though I’m not totally confident. There are a lot of grasses and they all look similar.

Highcliff Nab

The heather is just about past its sell by date. A view east from Percy Rigg towards Highcliffe or Codhill Farm and Highcliff Nab.

Highcliff Nab

From a boundary stone on Black Nab. Highcliff Nab is in the distance. The farm is mapped as Highcliffe Farm on the O.S. 1:25000 but Codhill Farm at larger scales, a name that has appeared on the maps since the first edition was published in 1856. The 1856 names the nearest field as Bold Venture, no doubt associated with the Joseph Pease’s new ironstone venture; Hutton Mine having only opened just three years earlier in November 1853. The name still survives as Bold Venture Gill.

The Unsuitables

The local name for the forest track up from Hutton Lowcross up onto Percy Cross Rigg. In the distance on the right is Highcliff Nab overlooking Guisborough. The track follows an ancient route from Guisborough to Baysdale. It was until fairly recently a Byway Open to All Traffic or BOAT. A sign at the bottom warned drivers that the track was unsuitable for vehicles; hence the name. I can remember the post office landrover trundling up it on the delivery round to Sleddale Farm. In those days Guisborough was a main sorting office. I think it’s Whitby now.

In the 90s or so the track was regraded. Rumour had it that the council were fearful of being sued by adventurous 4×4 drivers tackling the route and damaging their vehicles but it has now been downgraded to a Public Bridleway because of the erosion. On a bike though it’s still a bone shaking descent even with modern suspension.