WW2 Home Guard Lookout

An unremarkable sandstone wall at the entrance to Firbeck House on Easby Lane in Great Ayton. The ashlar blocks have been dressed well and the wall has been neatly enhanced by the coping stones. On the third course you will notice is a small square hole out of which is growing a stem of ivy. The hole was cut by Mr. Robert Pickersgill who was a member of the village’s Local Defence Volunteers during World War 2. The intention was to provide a spy hole to view the approach to the village from the direction of Easby Lane and if necessary to provide a rifle embrasure.

Right, Pike, you get behind that wall and keep watch. And if any German Panzers come down Easby Lane, hold them at bay.

And don’t tell them your name.

Greenhow Botton

Most of the steep banks guarding the western edge of the North York Moors take their name from the community or parish at their foot so we have Ingleby Bank and Greenhow Bank. Jackson’s Bank, overlooking the flat valley of Greenhow Botton is an exception although I’ve no idea who Jackson was. Botton is old Scandanavian word for a flat bottomed valley.

Known locally as Midnight Corner supposedly because in winter the sun doesn’t reach the north facing valley. But this observation must have been around for sometime, a Midnight House is shown on the 1857 Ordnance Survey map below a Midnight Wood.

Across the valley the Ingleby Incline can be seen diagonally climbing Greenhow Bank, opened in 1861 to carry ironstone from Rosedale to the furnaces at Ferryhill. Below the incline, in the centre of the photo is Old Sheepfold Farm, to give it its modern name, and to its right the buildings of an outdoor centre can just be made out. This was built on the site of another farm called Siberia, at the foot of an earlier incline climbing up to the Ingleby Ironstone Mine, a short lived venture lasting just four years from 1856 to 1860. The navvies who built the original branch railway and incline lived in a temporary camp in the fields around the centre. This scheme must have been only just complete before the navvies went on to upgrade the railway and build the new incline to Rosedale.

On the steep slopes much of the forestry, planted after World War I to provide a strategic timber resource for the country, is being felled. Hopefully native trees, alder, rowan, willow, oak and birch, will be planted in their place creating varying habitats for wildlife and plants.


Mystery wall

Deep in the heart of Hutton Lowcross Wood, below the Hanging Stone, this wall of dressed sandstone is a bit of a mystery. It forms a small recess and seems to be on the same level as the old jet workings but these don’t usually have stonework associated with them being just small scale drifts into the hillside. And it’s above the ironstone level.

So if anyone has ideas please let me know.

Ayton Bank with Easby Moor in the distance.

Blue skies all day with sub-zero conditions. So an afternoon run hoping for another good sunset. But the sun sank behind a bank of clouds making a disappointing twilight.

Antonine Wall, Croy Hill

When Antoninus Pius decided to venture beyond the wall built by his adopted father, Hadrian, and incorporate southern Scotland into the Roman Empire a second frontier wall was needed between the Forth and the Clyde to control the Northern tribes. Like Hadrian’s Wall the Antonine Wall made the best advantage of local geology and here at Croy Hill used a sill of hard volcanic dolerite. The name Croy comes from the Gaelic, cruaidh, meaning hard. But unlike Hadrian’s Wall the Antonine Wall was largely made of turf stacked like bricks to create a rampart 13 feet high and topped with a wooden palisade and a ditch on the outside. Forts were more frequent than on Hadrian’s Wall. There was one here at Croy Hill. It was constructed of stone which has been robbed leaving a few humps and bumps which hasn’t come up well in the photo.

The Antonine Wall was built in about 142 AD. It was abandoned in 160 AD and Hadrian’s Wall reoccupied. In the photo the centre of the fort is where the two trees are. The west gate where the boulder is. It would have stationed about a hundred men of the VI legion.

Link to map.

Knag Burn Gate, Hadrians Wall

A day on the wall near Housesteads.