A flock of sheep from Aireyholme Farm graze around the few remains of the Roseberry Ironstone Mine. These can be seen from Aireyholme Lane. In the distance is Coate Moor with Captain Cook’s Monument. The concrete bases, probably machine foundations for the workshops, are slowly being lost to nature, covered with a fine carpet of moss. One contemporary grainy photograph I’ve seen shows the mine buildings at the time of closure were semi-circular with a skin of corrugated steel, a type of Nissen hut. The mine provided periods of employment for the men of Great Ayton until final abandonment in 1921.
You may have noticed when the weather is a bit miserable I tend to resort to washed out colours or even black and white. But to be positive about the weather this morning, it wasn’t raining and the cloud base was a little higher than yesterday.
The photo is of Ryston Bank. Roseberry Topping is on the right with Little Roseberry on the left. The nick of the left is an old sandstone quarry now used by a footpath. Beyond the dry stone wall are the ubiquitous Tuley Tubes or treeshelters, an invention in 1979 by Graham Tuley, a forester with the Forestry Commission, to protect young tree saplings from grazing as well as weather protection. The tubes also provide protection should there be a need for spray the undergrowth. They quickly became popular in the UK and are now used worldwide. Certainly sunlight is supposed to degrade modern Tuley Tubes after about eight years, sufficient time for the sapling to become established, but I see many examples where the the trees have outgrown the tubes splitting them. There are no signs of disintegration and shreds of tubes litter the forest floor.
Two days ago I posted a photo of a farmer flaying a hedge, giving it a trim using a large lawnmower on an arm on a tractor. If this winter task is neglected the hedging plants, blackthorn or hawthorn, grow tall and spindly, losing their lower branches. Eventually weaker plants die off and a few trees dominate. The result is a lonely row of trees, a not uncommon sight in the countryside. In Northamptonshire, a hedge that has been neglected this way is called a bullfinch.
Hedges are not necessarily bushes or trees. In Essex a hedgerow can be a narrow wood and in Cornwall the term hedge often refers to an earth and stone bank but which is sometimes happens to be topped with bushes.
Very old hedges also show another characteristic which is noticeable when it has been neglected. A bank of earth builds up at the base of the hedge. In Cumbria this is known as a cop or kess. If the land has been under plough there is a gradual movement of soil downhill with each ploughing forming a lynchet. Even if the land has not been ploughed, on steep ground there is still a tendency for soil to build up at hedge bottoms (or walls for that matter) under gravity and rain run off.
This particular old hedge is at Rye Banks on the lower slopes of Roseberry Topping.
The exact location of this spring high on the summit of Roseberry Topping and intrigued me for years. It’s marked on the Ordnance Survey map as very near the rock outcrop on the bottom right of the photo. Yet it’s barely damp and hardly the spring where the young Prince Oswy drowned having been taken to the highest hill in the kingdom by his mother to escape a prophecy that he would drown on his second birthday. But I guess the mining activities and rockfalls could have altered the water table.
Below is Roseberry Common with Guisborough in the distance.
A carnage was narrowly averted on Roseberry Common today. There was I jogging along the enclosed track to Hutton Woods, Kirby, the dog, was ten metres or so ahead and ten metres further on in front of the gate were four roe deer, happily grazing away. I shouted “down!”, and amazingly she did. But on hearing my voice the deer went into panic mode, head butting the stock fence in vain attempts to get through. Why didn’t they just jump it? It was only a metre high and they must have cleared it to get onto the track in the first place.
They tried left, they went right and they tried next to the gate and then one finally decided to dash past me on the track. A couple went right and I grabbed a photo. A third went left, straight into where Kirby was still patiently sitting. That was her cue, my command forgotten and oblivious to my shouts.
She has caught the odd myxied rabbit before and once a pheasant when it tried too to fly through a fence. When she’s alone with me I have no concerns controlling her near sheep. She’s given up on grouse, a waste of energy. Deer are no contest, she’s no match for their speed through the forest. But what does one deer do, it runs straight into a corner.
We have always thought Kirby had a soft bite, from the Labrador in her, bred to avoid tearing game birds when retrieving them after being shot. Now Usain Bolt would have been impressed with my speed in closing the gap. She cowered, mouth full of fur; the Jezelbel. Do dogs feel guilt? The deer scarpered off down the track to rejoin its mates and I tried to recover from my oxygen debt.
I came across this amorous couple this morning on Roseberry Common. Butterflies are usually so flighty they’re difficult to photograph but so engrossed were these I could get within an inch with my little camera set on macro. They’re Ringlets apparently, quite common.
I have posted a photo of this new downhill mountain bike track on Ryston Bank before. It’s quite a feat of engineering. I don’t begrudge the building of the track but I am concerned about the source of the sandstone rocks used to make the berms and ramps. Roseberry Common, beyond the fence and ruined dry stone wall, is National Trust land and it is the intention to rebuild the wall to provide shelter for birds, insects and small mammals. Something which will not be possible if the stones have disappeared.