Hambleton Street

The ancient drovers’ route along the western edge of the North York Moors. A route that probably has been used since prehistory. The name “street” implies Roman usage and it’s mentioned by name in a document of 1577. Traffic peaked in the 17th and 18th centuries when herds of cattle were driven from Scotland to markets at Malton and York many eventually destined for London. Covering between 9 and 10 miles a day the herds of Galloway and West Highland cattle, up to 300 strong, needed a “stance” to graze for a day or so to recover for the next leg of their journey. One such stance was Limekiln House inn, the remains of which are barely discernible today in the dip opposite the wall junction, the oolite limestone providing good pasture around. The limestone was also of good enough quality for burning to produce lime and was extensively quarried along the street, providing another source of income and the name of the inn. By the 19th century, the railways had killed off the cattle droves and Limekiln House was deserted by 1897, the last licensee being Mary Kendall who “retired” to a farm in Ryedale. Today the route forms part of the Cleveland Way and is popular with cyclists and walkers.

Hambleton Street map

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Pen Hill

Blue skies over the flatlands of the Vale of Mowbray. I am standing on the Bronze Age bowl barrow on Gallow Hill above Cowesby in the Hambleton Hills. Below me is Pen Hill with its pre-historic enclosures. Pen Hill is not really a hill, more of a ridge. The highest point does not even warrant its own ring contour, yet from the quiet village of Kepwick, nestling at its foot, it does indeed look like a hill, attainable only by a climb up a steep narrow gulley enclosed entirely by Rhododendrons.

The name Pen Hill is interesting. The Pen bit is an old Celtic word meaning hill and is found throughout Northern England, Wales and Scotland. Thus we find Pen-y-ghent in the Pennines, Pen y Fan in Wales, Pendle Hill in Lancashire. And nearer home: Pen Hill in Wensleydale, Penny Hill near Stokesley and Pen Howe near Goathland. So Pen Hill actually means ‘hill hill’. If you find this beguiling then consider Pendle Hill. The dle element comes from the Old English hyll so Pendle Hill means ‘hill hill hill’. One up for the Lancastrians I think.