The village green at Ainthorpe in the parish of Danby. Sloping, grazed by sheep, bisected by a ditch and overlooked by the Fox and Hounds, a 16th century coaching inn. Beyond the sheep are pitches for playing quoits, a game where rings 5½ inches in diameter and weighing 5½ pounds are thrown over pins from distance of 11 yards. These are the Northern rules, other regions play to a different set.
I am standing on one of the spoil tips for Spa Wood Ironstone Mine looking east over the East Cleveland hamlet of Charltons. The sites of three more ironstone mines can be seen in the valley below: Stanghow, South Skelton and Boosbeck. In addition Aysdalegarth and Slapewath were just off to the right and the smoke from Lingdale would have been just visible from just over the brow of the hill. It must have been a noisy and smelly place in the early years of the 20th century.
Charltons is the rows of cottages on the right built by Thomas Charlton for miners at his Slapewath mine. Margrove Park is right of centre and the village of Boosbeck is far left.
The prospect of a day indoors route planning with my Duke of Edinburgh students but managed to get up Roseberry before dawn. Otherwise incessant rain all day. Even the ducks were avoiding a swollen River Leven.
A well established New Years Day tradition. The Captain Cook’s Fell Race. From Great Ayton to the Monument and back. Five miles with a climb of 1,043 feet. 400 runners assemble outside the Royal Oak for the start.
“The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable!” so said Oscar Wilde about fox hunting.
My run this morning coincided with the annual Boxing Day hunt from the village green. So in anticipation of a controversial photo or two I tagged along but gave up from shear boredom after an hour during which the hunt were still only a mile or so from the village.
Although the Hunting Act 2004 banned fox hunting in England comments by leading Conservatives have energised supporters into believing the act will soon be repealed. Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said during her Tory Party leadership campaign she would bring back fox hunting to improve animal welfare. David Cameron, in last year’s Conservative election manifesto, had promised a free vote on repealing of the Act and Theresa May has confirmed she is planning to push ahead with such a vote. All this is in spite of the fact that 84 per cent of the public believe fox hunting should not be made legal again.
Back in Great Ayton the pageant set off for their day’s “hunting”. This should take the form of either drag or trail hunting. Both involves the laying of an artificial trail but in one the huntsmen don’t know where the trail goes so have no means of knowing whether the hounds have picked up the artificial trail or a real one. I kept contact with the riders in the vain hope that they would lead me to the action. Their strategy seemed to be to canter for 400 metres or so then stand around for twenty minutes. 65 minutes later we were only at Monument Mine. Boredom was rapidly setting in.
The hounds meanwhile were down in Easby Wood. A lot of barking and horns sounding but no sign of them picking up a scent. If a trail had been laid it was a pretty poor job, surely someone knew where the start was.
I did attract the attention of a couple of redcoats on big intimidating horses who rode uncomfortably close. Perhaps they knew I wasn’t a proper hunt monitor and were waiting for me to give up. Tally ho.
Not the prettiest of the villages of the North York Moors. Commondale lacks the sandstone and pantile architecture other villages. Brick is the material most used. The church, school, village hall and, in the photo, the shop, now converted to a private residence, are all built of brick. A deep red brick manufactured in the local brickworks that prospered under the ownership of Alfred Crossley. Brickmaking in Commondale ceased in 1947. The site is now a scout camp.
Commondale was referred to in the Domesday Book as Camiesdale and by 1273 as Colemandale. The name is said to be derived from Colmán of Lindisfarne, a 7th century monk from Whitby who became Bishop of Lindisfarne and a saint.
In the photo the white rendered building on the right is the Cleveland Inn otherwise known by the delightful epithet of Hacky Tom’s.
A view north from Roseberry summit towards the Eston Hills. Newton-under-Roseberry is the village on the left. It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and the shadow of Roseberry is mid way between Snow Hall Farm and Spite Hall Farm. A giant sundial. Might come in useful one day.