Phantom Gate, Ryston Bank

Blocked up gates are not uncommon on the dry stone walls of the North York Moors. I always thought they were created when a gate was redundant and so blocked up permanently. But I recently read that in parts of Ireland phantom gates are traditionally used as a normal method closing a gateway. To move cattle or sheep the wall must be taken down and rebuilt. A lot of work. There is a shortage of wood in the windswept Aran Islands, Connemara or County Clare but this method of blocking up gateways has been adopted principally to prevent the winds from blowing across the exposed fields. I am not convinced however that this explanation is applicable to the North York Moors.

Until recently both sides of this wall on Ryston Bank was heavily forested. It has now been clear felled revealing a grand view of Roseberry Topping. The 1839 Tithe Map of Pinchinthorpe names the field the other side of the wall as “Browns Intake”. A field boundary is shown, most likely this wall. The 1893 Ordnance Survey shows the intake field as wooded. My guess is that the wall dates from the 18th century Enclosure Acts with a (wood) gate to allow stock to pass from the intake field onto the moor for summer grazing. Sometime prior to 1893 Brown’s Intake was set to woodland and the gate blocked up to keep the sheep out.

Phantom Gate map


March of the Tuley Tubes

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.


Moaning and groaning

A dreich day. Rain and cloud and windy too. Climbing Ryston Bank lanky larches sway and moan with the wind.

Yorkshire Fog

A couple of months ago, in the summer, I heard an assessor telling the Duke of Edinburgh group I was supervising that the grass that which grows in profusion on disturbed or burnt areas on the moors is called ‘Yorkshire Haze’. An interesting snippet of a local plant name I thought and locked it away in my grey cells.

I was reminded of the name today when crossing Pinchinthorp Moor above Hanging Stone. About two years ago the forestry plantation here was clear felled leaving it looking like Tunguska. Grass is for now the dominant plant with here and there a sprig of heather. Back home I searched for the Latin name, Holcus lanatus, with a common name of ‘Yorkshire Fog’. That must be it.

I have to admit though I’m not totally confident. There are a lot of grasses and they all look similar.

Roseberry 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.


Ryston Bank

Finally a sunny morning and a great view from Little Roseberry along Ryston Bank towards Guisborough. The large flat ridge is Bousdale Hill and in the distance is the Eston hills. The narrow field between the forestry of Hutton and Roseberry Common has recently been planted with broad leaf saplings each protected by one of those ubiquitous tubes to prevent rabbits grazing on the young trees. They’re supposed to be degradable. The field is not Open Access land. It somehow avoided being designated. The public was encouraged to help with the planting. Some mountain bikers helped and in return I understand the owner has given them permission to build a downhill course. It can just about be made out, winding its way down the slope. It’s an impressive feat of engineering with ramps, berms and jumps.

Hanging Stone

A damp morning although it did brighten up in the afternoon. But I did my exercise in the morning. The Hanging Stone is a sandstone outcrop on Ryston Nab overlooking Guisborough which has for the five decades or so has been partially hidden by forestry. Recent felling however has opened up the view. On a clear day ships can be seen on the North Sea queuing up to enter the Teesport.

Link to map.