I make no excuse for posting another picture of bluebells, they’ll soon be dying away for another year. The first bracken fonds have overtaken the delicate flowers. In Newton Woods they are already past their best but here in Bilsdale in this wooded gill to the south of White Hill (commonly known as Hasty Bank) they’re still going strong.
A most unusual feature on the North York Moors. I’m more used to coming across bields, to use the more usual spelling, in the Lakeland fells. This one has been built between five standing stones in the form of a cross so that sheep can shelter from which ever way the wind is blowing. The location is on Lealholm Moor, a moor which is void of rock outcrops. The stone must have been carted in from quite a long distance. The bield is absent from the Ordnance Survey map but is quite clear on Google Maps from which it can be seen that the arms of the cross are slightly angled. Peculiar but clearly following a design.
I was browsing the 1857 Ordnance Survey 6″ map and spotted a “Summer House” marked on Gold Hill, a 1050′ ring contour between Carlton and Live Moors. Intriguing and so the target for today. The route entailed following a non existent Public Footpath around the edge of the escarpment. The summer house however has long since gone. Just an overgrown depression, a few dressed stones and the enclosing dry stone wall, now in ruins. But it would have had grand views, over the Cleveland plain and Little Bonny Cliff and Great Bonny Cliff woods. Summerhouse Crag, directly below the site, is rarely visited and takes its name from the lost building.
On the highest point of the North York Moors, just a few metres off the the Cleveland Way National Trail, the Lyke Wake Walk and the Coast to Coast Walk is this sorry sight. A vain attempt to restore the blanket bog and heather moorland. Heather bales have been used to block the many ditches built by the landowners to drain the moor in the belief that better growing conditions for the heather will produce a bigger bag of grouse. Too little, too late is an appropriate catchphrase with compete erosion of the peat leaving acres of sterile wastes.
The degradation may have begun in the 1930s. Bill Cowley, writing twenty years later, records that Urra Moor was only then just beginning to recover from a major moorland fire prior to WW2.
Dry stone walls, ubiquitous throughout upland Britain or where rock outcrops and is easily quarried, often have holes at the base to allow sheep to pass. These are cripple or sheep holes or smeuses, although this name is often used in lowland Britain where hares or rabbits habitually pass through a hedge. Every region has its own name: sheep creeps, sheep smoose, thawl, lunky hole, hogg hole. And in Cleveland: smoot hole which possibly derives from the Old Norse word smátta meaning a narrow lane. A typical smoot is sheep sized so cattle can not pass and when passage is not wanted the hole is easily blocked by a board or large stone. Some smoots are specifically built for rabbits to discourage burrowing which would undermine the stability of the wall. On very old walls some may have been included purposely to catch or trap rabbits.
An green island in a sea of heather. Sleddale Beck is a tributary of the River Esk.
On Black Dike Moor above Scaling Dam, a stone, believed to be medieval, on the boundary between the parishes of Loftus and Glaisdale and inscribed with the curious name “Good Goose Thorn”, a name which is given on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map to another boundary stone one kilometre to the south west. I see a return visit to see if this stone is also so inscribed.