Oakdale Head​

On the left of the photo is a small wood on a spur of pasture fields. Hard to see I guess but its name has always intrigued me since I spotted it on the map. Middlesbrough, just like the town further north on the banks of the Tees. The 1857 map names it, as does the modern map, so it’s been in use for a while. But did it acquire its name from the town or in its own right? The fields of pasture have been improved over the centuries by the application of lime and adjoined the Slapestone Inn, now a private residence known as Chequers. In the 17th and 18th centuries, drovers generally covered 9-10 miles a day with the herds of up to 300 cattle. The pasture fields provide a stance for the cattle where they could graze for a day or two before continuing on their way south to the markets of Malton and York and beyond. The drovers’ road was called Hambleton Street and is now tarmacked as far as Square Corner, the car park on the right.

A modern trail, the Cleveland Way, climbs Jenny Brewster’s Moor, the nearer ridge with the scattered trees to Square Corner crossing Oakdale Head before continuing south on the Hambleton Street.

Oakdale Head map

Dale Town

Today Dale Town in Gowerdale is just a sheep and cattle farm but throughout the centuries it has undergone ups and downs in population. It was first mentioned in the Domesday Book. By 1433 twenty two tenants were recorded as living there but a century later there was just one house. This was probably the result of disease and crop failures, a fate of many mediaeval villages. Once we enter the 19th century records are more abundant. John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales was published in 1870-72, it lists Dale Town as having a population of 60 in ten houses. By 1894-5 in The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales the population is now 39. Interestingly Dale Town House, the current farmhouse existed at this time. It dates from the late 18th century and is constructed of sandstone blocks with a pantile roof and many original architectural details.

The two whale backed hills in the distance are Hawnby Hill to the left with a modest height above sea level of 298m and Easterside Hill marginally higher with a 310m contour. Between them on an elevated position above the River Rye is Hawnby.

Dale Town map