Lead mining has had a tremendous impact on much of the Yorkshire Dales. Both providing a wealth of fascinating archaeological interest and transforming the landscape in a barren industrial wasteland. Grassington Moor has had a long history of mining. Being flatter than Swaledale and the northern dales and lacking the steep sided valleys, early ore was gained not by hushes and drifts into the hillside but by sinking of shafts to reach the mineral veins. Early shafts were no more than 30 metres deep with the vein being worked horizontally until it became exhausted or unsafe.
In the 19th century the Duke of Devonshire acquired the moor and began a more industrial exploitation. An horizontal adit was driven linking the shafts for drainage and a cupola coal fired smelting mill was built to replace earlier wood and peat fired mills. The cupola mill enabled continuous smelting. In the photo the remains of this mill are at the bottom right of the slope. Fumes from the mill were exhausted via a network of flues to the chimney at the highest point of the moor. This network of flues was to enable sections of flue to be isolated and cleaned out to recover condensed lead without halting the smelting process. The cupola built closed in 1882.
Between 1955 and 1962, Dales Chemicals reworked the old waste heaps for fluorspar and barytes which the Victorian miners had discarded. Many of the buildings dating from this time can be seem on the far left of the photo at the top of the track.
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.
I was browsing the 1857 Ordnance Survey 6″ map and spotted a “Summer House” marked on Gold Hill, a 1050′ ring contour between Carlton and Live Moors. Intriguing and so the target for today. The route entailed following a non existent Public Footpath around the edge of the escarpment. The summer house however has long since gone. Just an overgrown depression, a few dressed stones and the enclosing dry stone wall, now in ruins. But it would have had grand views, over the Cleveland plain and Little Bonny Cliff and Great Bonny Cliff woods. Summerhouse Crag, directly below the site, is rarely visited and takes its name from the lost building.
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.
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 …