Cawthorne Roman Camp

90 AD, around fifty years after Claudius’s invasion of Britannia, and although campaigns were  extended as far as Caledonia the northern Brigantes tribes were restless and hostile. To control the natives it is thought a chain of forts were built between Malton and the coast. The Roman camp at Cawthorne was a key part of this chain.

The Romans chose the fort’s location well. On the edge of the limestone plateau that is the Tabular Hills, it had clear views over the moors to the north with a gentle slope to the south. There were actually two separate forts at Cawthorne. An older enclosure in a polygonal plan and a newer following the more typical Roman rectangular pattern with rounded corners both protected by a rampart and one or more ditches. A wooden palisade would have topped the earthbank.

It is thought the camp was occupied for about forty years by which time the northern tribes had been subdued and the Roman efforts were directed at building Hadrian’s Wall as defence against raids by the Picts.

Fat Betty

One the best known wayside crosses on the North York Moors. This squat stone stands at the head of Rosedale on Danby Moor and also marks the boundary of the parishes of Rosedale, Danby and Westerdale. It’s traditionally whitewashed hence it’s alternative name of White Cross. Legends abound how it has acquired its rather quaint but not politically correct name of Fat Betty. Some say Betty was the mother superior of the nuns at Rosedale Abbey who got lost lost on the moors whilst trying to meet up with her equivalent from Baysdale Abbey.

Memorial, Easby Moor

I don’t want to sound disrespectful but I was rather dismayed to discover this celebratory inscription on a sandstone outcrop near Captain Cook’s Monument on Easby Moor. It’s very obtrusive, with six inch high capital letters, so overall quite an area.

There seems to be a modern predilection for public memorials to passed loved ones. I know of a whole poem carved in a crag face near Boulby, plaques bolted to rock or screwed into trees are becoming commonplace. There are four memorial benches on Roseberry. How many more can the hill take? Shrines are everywhere too, with bouquets of flowers often still wrapped in their cellophane. At popular beauty spots too there are deposits of little piles of ashes, not scattered to the four winds. Until very recently on Roseberry there were ashes still in the polythene bag supplied by the crematorium. And at this time of the year there seems to be an increasing number of clumps of (non-native) daffodils.

But of course commemoration is not a modern idea. The inscription in the photograph is overlooked by the 19th century monument to Captain James Cook. And of course the four thousand Bronze Age burial mounds that are known to exist on the moors can not be ignored. So perhaps in the past it was always those with power who could make a lasting mark of commemoration.

Easby Moor map

The final climb

A view of the final 60′ of Roseberry Topping passing the Cleveland Way sign. It says Helmsley is 46m and Filey 64m but the Cleveland Way National Trail is officially 109 mile so an extra mile somewhere. Or maybe a rounding error. The Cleveland Way was first mooted in the 1930s but not officially opened until 1969. I do not know the significance of the 1995 year. I guess when the stone was placed. If it indeed was. I don’t remember. Maybe it was carved in situ. I do recall the helicopter carrying bags of stone from Aireyholme up onto Roseberry for the paths. That was in 1999 and all done in a day. 200 ton of stone I believe. If you are so inclined you can now do the Cleveland Way from the comfort of your armchair courtesy of Google.

Roseberry Topping map

Lower Barden Reservoir

Barden Fell yesterday, Barden Moor today, on opposite side of Wharfedale. Barden Beck has two reservoirs; this is the lower one in bleak Yorkshire weather.

In the foreground a grit tray for the grouse. Grouse need a regular supply of grit in order to digest the hard fibrous shoots of the heather on which they feed. Naturally they can use grit from the banks of streams and eroded rock but to make life easier for the grouse grit is provided. Grouse also suffer from the strongyle worm, a parasitic threadworm which cause large annual fluctuations on the grouse population; and of course the number of grouse available for shooting. A drug called Fenbendazole killed the threadworm but the problem was how to administer the drug to thousands of ‘wild’ birds. It was then in the 80s that the gamekeepers came up with a cunning plan, coat the grit with the drug. The result was a 40% increase in grouse productivity. There are some rules: the medicated grit must not be out within 28 days of the glorious 12th, the start of the grouse  shooting season in August. This is minimise the risk of the drug entering the food chain. Most estates now use a two compartment grit tray with medicated grit one side and ordinary grit the other. A lid can be flipped over to cover the medicated grit on the appropriate day.

So if anyone is partial to a morsel of grouse choose your supplier carefully for you are entirely reliant on the integrity of the industry. Unlike other meat destined for human consumption grouse are not regularly tested. Of course if you have a threadworm problem …

SE0355 Lower Barden Reservoir map

Giant wormholes, Coney Warren

Descending off Barden Fell in Wharfedale I came across these holes in the gritstone boulders. I thought at first they were at attempt at splitting the stone but at about 2” diameter they’re too big surely. There would be no need to be that wide. And some go all the way through the rock. Anyone have any ideas? The area is named Coney Warren so maybe the baby rabbit burrows.

Barden Fell is part of the Bolton Abbey Estate who, according to their information boards, purport to have encouraged public access since the early 19th century yet there are no Public Rights of Way across it. In 1968 the Barden Moor and Barden Fell Access agreement was created, a precursor of the Countryside Rights of Way Act. Apparently the BMBFA sits outside the CROW legislation until 2018 but the rights for Joe Public seem no different to me. No doubt the BMBFA has some benefit for the Estate. Anyway the Estate have created a Permissive Footpath across Barden Fell following an existing landrover track but as dogs are  expressly not permitted I don’t see actually what extra privilege they are giving to the public. So Barden Fell will remain out of bounds for bikes, horses and dogs on a lead or otherwise.

coney warren

Cow and Calf

Millstone grit, a layer of hard sandstone stretching from Edale to Richmond; laid down 320 million years ago when half of Yorkshire was covered by a vast river delta. The millstone grit lies on top of softer layers of shale and on the moor edges, such as here on Ilkley Moor, the shales erode away causing the gritstone to fracture along vertical joints. Gigantic blocks may break off, like the Calf, and slide down the hill.

cow and calf