Martindale, in Wainwright’s Far Eastern Fells. Hallin Fell on the left, Pikewassa right, with Loadpot Hill in the distance. an unusual view from Sleet Fell above the hamlet of Sandwick.

Martindale map


A pre-breakfast jog up to Red Tarn below Helvellyn. Any higher and I would have been in cloud. The view is Grisedale, with Grisedale Hause at its head. The 841m high St. Sunday Crag on the left is below the cloud ceiling but Fairfield at 873m is hidden, as is the Helvellyn range on the right.

There at least one other Grisedale in the Lake District, that overlooking Whinlatter Pass. There is also a Grizedale south of Hawkshead which probably has the same Old Norse root of griss and dalr, meaning ‘the valley of the young pigs’.

Grisedale map

Great Langdale

A view up Great Langdale, right of centre, from Loughrigg Fell with the Langdale Pikes on the far right. An overcast day but the tops are clear.

loughrigg 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

Bilsdale from Cold Moor

There is a scene from the movie ‘Shrek’ that I think of every time I come across a boulder where Donkey says to Shrek “I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder.” And I do like this boulder, it adds a point of interest in the drab browns of the winter moorland.

I am on Cold Moor and looking east across Bilsdale to Urra Moor, the highest point on the North York Moors at 454m asl. Half way up the slope on the far above the green pasture fields lies the hamlet of Urra while down in the dale a tree lined River Seph flows towards Helmsley. Urra is said to be derived from the Old English word horh meaning filth. Perhaps  there is some true in the local legend that William the Conqueror did indeed utter profanities after getting navigationally challenged in the valley.

Bilsdale from Cold Moor map


From Trennet, above Chop Gate. A tranquil scene with glorious blue skies marred by the smoke of heather burning on Bilsdale West Moor. Heather burning is a practice carried out for the sole purpose of increasing the density of Red Grouse breeding on the peat moors. In its wake it carries the risk of complete incineration of whole ecosystems of invertebrates and small mammals, reduces peat formation and water and carbon storage and increases rain run off and dissolved organic carbon in streams and rivers. Of course there are regulations to control burning. The “season” is from 1 November to 31 March for one thing and the smoke should not be likely to damage health or cause a nuisance for another but the amount of burning of our moorlands has increased. The Committee on Climate Change found that:

“The area of burned moorland has increased significantly in recent decades across much of northern England. A comparison of aerial photography from the 1970s and 2000 of over 200 km2 of the English uplands found that the extent of new burns had doubled (from 15% to 30%) over this period. A recent study found that the annual number of burns between 2001 and 2011 increased by 11% per year, with an accelerating trend in more recent years.

And all so the maximum number of Red Grouse can be killed which we, as taxpayers, are probably subsidising to the tune of £56 per hectare per year as an agricultural subsidy.

Bilsdale map

Park Nab

Last of the afternoon sun on Park Nab, a sandstone outcrop overlooking Kildale. On the edge of Warren Moor.