Ee baa gum

Today, August 1st, is White Rose Day or Yorkshire Day, a modern invention founded by the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1975. I would like to say I wore a wear white rose and had Yorkshire Pudding for dinner but ran around the fields of Great Busby in North Yorkshire instead with the Cleveland Hills forever beckoning. Within an hour we had a full spread of Yorkshire weather blue skies, rain showers and rainbows. More traditionally though today is also Lammas Day, a pagan celebration of the first fruits of the harvest.

August itself is named after the Roman emperor Augustus and had previously known as Sextilis, meaning the sixth month. This was before the Romans started jiggling about with their calendar.

Bales, Great Busby Parish map


Little Ayton fields

A break in the clouds. The bell heather is passed its best. The ling is beginning to bloom. It’s going to be a fine day. A view from Easby Bank.

Heron, River Leven

I’d planned a trot over to Brian’s Pond on Carlton Moor having thought raindrops on the water might make a good photo. I wish. Foiled by raindrops on the lens. But driving through Great Ayton the neighbourhood heron came to the rescue, patrolling the River Leven below Suggitt’s Bridge. This was the last photo I managed to get before it took flight and glided twenty metres up the river where it was promptly mobbed by a paddling of ducks. I suppose a small duckling would make a fine morsel for it.

River Leven below Suggitt's Bridge map

Gertrude Bell Memorial Window

For the third time in the month I’ve ventured into a church. This time the Church of St Lawrence in East Rounton, to look at the memorial window dedicated to Gertrude Bell, the renown archaeologist, writer, mountaineer and the ‘Queen of the Desert’. For a potted history of her life see here. The window was designed by Douglas Strachan, an artist specialising in stained glass. The window has two lights but to me it is the sandstone jambs and lintel which are the most striking with their Arabic inscriptions, believed to be a poem by Hafiz which was translated by Bell. The stained glass depicts various aspects of Bell’s life: Magdalen College, Oxford, where she studied; the Matterhorn; a view of Khadimain, Baghdad, to represent her contribution in the creation of Iraq; and a camel train symbolising her wide travels throughout Arabia.

Gertrude Bell Memorial Window map


Ghost School Sign

First day of spring so a good time to get the bike out of its winter hibernation. Took time out and a slight detour in Kirkby-in-Cleveland to photograph this pre-Worboys sign.

Pre-Worboys? What’s he on about? Well Sir Walter Worboys was born in Australia and earned his reputation as a director of I.C.I. In 1963 he was appointed chairman of a governmental committee to review British road signage. Prior to this signs were inconsistent with differing styles erected by local authorities, various motoring organisations and a couple of earlier attempts at standardisation. The design Worboys committee came up with the one still in use today and has made a significant contribution to an increase in road safety for the simple reason as being easier to recognise.

The school in Kirkby was founded in 1683 for boys only. It closed n 1974 when a joint school with Great Broughton girls school was set up mid way between the two villages, some distance from this sign which is over fifty years old.

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.


A familiar view to those walking the Cleveland Way. The cliffs represent 26 million years of deposition of sediment at the bottom of shallow seas at a time the geologists call the Lower Jurassic. The sandwiched bedding layers of the mudstones, sandstones and ironstones are well defined. The harder sandstones and ironstones are more resistant to erosion and over time become undercut eventually toppling down to the base of the cliff.

On the top of the cliff beside the Cleveland Way is a much photographed piece of public art, the Huntcliff Circle, one of a collection of three sculptures by Richard Farrington. It was erected in 1990 and lasted six years before being vandalised suffering the indignity of ending up at the bottom of the cliff. Although after twenty seven years it has now become part of the scenery it is regrettable it is felt that our landscapes need to be so ‘improved’.


First snowdrops of the year

According to a reprint of an Edwardian book I have Snowdrops signify hope. Hope I guess that Spring is just around the corner. This small bunch is taking advantage of the warmth below the canopy of trees beside the River Leven. Across on the other bank the grass is white with the hard overnight frost. Snowdrops are not native to Britain, but to southern Europe and the Middle East. They have however become a recognised symbol of the British countryside.

The name “Snowdrop” it said to be derived from Schneetropfen, tear drop pearl earrings popular in the 16th and 17th century Germany. An extract of Snowdrops is Galantamine which is used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.


Packhorse Bridge, Stokesley

Spanning the River Leven, the Packhorse Bridge is Grade II listed and dates from the 17th century although it probably replaced an earlier bridge. It was on the pannierman route south to Helmsley from Durham, Stokesley being an important market town en route. The high span enabled the river to be crossed in all states of the river. The parapets of the bridge have been raised; when built they were lower to accomodate for the wide panniers carried by the packhorses or jaggers. The trains of between 12 and 40 horses were the juggernauts of the day covering 40 or 50 miles per day, long days. The range of goods carried were enormous: textiles, timber, salt and fish, alum, coal and ironstone. The advent of the railways and the introduction of better roads through the toll system led to the a decline in the use of packhorses.


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.