A most unusual feature on the North York Moors. I’m more used to coming across bields, to use the more usual spelling, in the Lakeland fells. This one has been built between five standing stones in the form of a cross so that sheep can shelter from which ever way the wind is blowing. The location is on Lealholm Moor, a moor which is void of rock outcrops. The stone must have been carted in from quite a long distance. The bield is absent from the Ordnance Survey map but is quite clear on Google Maps from which it can be seen that the arms of the cross are slightly angled. Peculiar but clearly following a design.
On the highest point of the North York Moors, just a few metres off the the Cleveland Way National Trail, the Lyke Wake Walk and the Coast to Coast Walk is this sorry sight. A vain attempt to restore the blanket bog and heather moorland. Heather bales have been used to block the many ditches built by the landowners to drain the moor in the belief that better growing conditions for the heather will produce a bigger bag of grouse. Too little, too late is an appropriate catchphrase with compete erosion of the peat leaving acres of sterile wastes.
The degradation may have begun in the 1930s. Bill Cowley, writing twenty years later, records that Urra Moor was only then just beginning to recover from a major moorland fire prior to WW2.
An green island in a sea of heather. Sleddale Beck is a tributary of the River Esk.
On Black Dike Moor above Scaling Dam, a stone, believed to be medieval, on the boundary between the parishes of Loftus and Glaisdale and inscribed with the curious name “Good Goose Thorn”, a name which is given on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map to another boundary stone one kilometre to the south west. I see a return visit to see if this stone is also so inscribed.
Thurkilsti, or Thurkill’s hill road as mentioned in Walter Espec’s grant of land to Rievaulx Abbey in 1145. An ancient route across the moors from Welburn and Skiplam descending here down Turkey Nab on its way to Ingleby Greenhow and Stokesley. The route is now classified as a Byway Open to All Traffic which makes it very popular with off road vehicles.
The wall corner is named as Park Corner on old Ordnance Survey maps, the corner of Park Plantation. The blip on the horizon is Roseberry Topping, mostly hidden behind Easby Moor.
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 …
Earthworks are very interesting but I find them frustratingly difficult to photograph and this prehistoric earthbank is no exception. It’s a Scheduled Ancient Monument, or S.A.M. and it forms the boundary between the National Trust’s property of Bridestones and the Forestry Commission’s Dalby Forest. Almost a kilometre long with other Bronze Age features notably round funerary cairns. Over the decades since the forestry was planted it has encroached on the monument potentially damaging it. Historic England, the public body protecting ancient monuments, demanded that the trees are removed within a corridor of five metres either side. So work is progressing in clear felling this ten metre strip and erecting new fencing. Bridestones Moor is a rare example of moorland which has not been extensively managed for the sole purpose of producing the highest density of grouse. The result is a very biodiverse habitat.
It is not entirely clear what this boundary was actually for. A tribe or clan marking the boundaries of their land. Containment of stock. Protection from wild animals. To keep people out, or in. There is no evidence what, if any, form of structure was on top of the bank. A physically uncrossable barrier or one similar to the low palisade fencing frequently erected by residents on a modern open plan housing estate. Easy to step over but etiquette prevents us doing so. It could have identified sacred land. Indeed it could have had a multiple of functions.