20180326_Cawston Sunset

20180325-01_Cawston Sky – Rugby – Warwickshire

Photo, just because …. well, just because sunsets are beautiful, especially when the clocks have just gone forward and finally spring time is allowed to begin leaving winter behind (well let’s hope so anyway).

I just love big skies and sunsets – Cliched maybe, but hey what’s wrong with a cliche every now and again?

20180325-01_Cawston Sky - Rugby - Warwickshire

T.T.F.N. Gary

20180205_My Poor Old Knees or Why hill walking is off the menu for quite a while.

20180205_My Poor Old Knees
… or … Why hill walking is off the menu for quite a while.
… or … Why a 1/2 mile walk to the CO-OP & back feels a huge success.
… or … The next chapter starts here.

20111016-26_Me at Hollins Cross (Hope Valley Behind)If you’ve come across and read any of my past walks diaries, you may have noticed that, from time to time, I’ve talked about my poor old knees, including way back in 2011, when I had a double arthroscopy, with key hole surgery on both knees, debriding loose/torn cartilage and cleaning out a load of debris. These op(s), along with steroid injections directly into my knees (three or four times a year since then) have kind of kept me going reasonably OK, until recently.

Last year, after changing to a far more physical job and managing to get a few decent walks done, including a trip to The North York Moors & Coast [in March] and a couple of trips to the great English Lake 20170329-45_Me (Jugger Howe Moor Behind)District [in June and September], where I got up (and down) several fells and a couple of mountains, I was beginning to suffer somewhat, having to endure quite a bit of pain, especially on the downhill bits.

My quarterly steroid injections had certainly been helping, but eventually, following my September trip to the lakes, my last set of injections hardly worked at all and the pain during and after a shift at work was becoming debilitating including keeping me awake at night. So, after a holiday to Zante in October, feeling like an old man hobbling around down to the beach (although sitting around in the autumn sun with a beer or three wasn’t too hard a task) I decided a visit to the Doc’s was needed once again, hoping another scan might be possible, and maybe then a second set of arthroscopy investigations.

The Doc had slightly a different idea however, referring me directly to a consultant at a local Hospital, where in December, after X-rays, I was diagnosed with the insides of both The Oxford Partial Kneeknees now being worn down to “bone-on-bone” with my cartilage having disappeared completely. Not a wonder then that pain had become pretty much a constant and the injections had stopped working. I was offered, right there and then, “Bilateral Oxford Knee Replacements” otherwise known as “Half Knee Replacements”, where they would cut out my damaged bones and insert metal plates and plastic bearing strips. Because I was adjudged to be “relatively young, not over-weight, generally heathy and fit, and obviously self-motivated” it was recommended they’d do both knees at the same time.


And that has indeed happened, the op’s being done early last month (February 2018). The physio’s came in and started working on me the day after …. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even pick my legs up off the bed!!! That felt very disheartening, but, with pain relief and a lot of hard work I was managing the hospital stairs by the end of the week (albeit with crutches) and I was being sent home with a leaflet or two showing the exercises I had to do.

So, now, about six weeks later, after lots and lots of boring exercises (and then a load more slightly different boring exercises), I’m just about at the point of discarding the 20100101-01_Perimeter Path-Cawston Grange Estatecrutches (well most of the time anyway) and it felt so good getting out last week for the ½ mile walk to the local shops … and then ½ mile back again, making a whole mile! That maybe doesn’t sound far and it was all on the flat and it did take nearly 45 minutes, but I negotiated kerb stones and uneven paving/tarmac paths and the like. It felt good getting out into the real world under my own steam, and I’ve since recreated the walk to the CO-OP a few times now and I can do it quicker.

The physio’s are really happy with my progress and some of my “class mates” have said they are using me as inspiration to push on with their exercises (no pressure to live up to expectations there then!). However, I must admit it’s been, ermm, a challenge at times.

Some things have been harder than others:-

  • The exercises hurt at times (no pain no gain is the cliché) However, it’s surprising just how quickly you lose strength, muscle tone and flexibility.
  • Mostly however it’s been the enforced rest I’ve had to adhere to that’s been the hardest; the enforced layoff is incredibly frustrating! Daytime television doesn’t help either! With the snow and ice we’ve had as well, being stuck indoors has made me feel quite stir-crazy at times.
  • Also, I’ve had to stop driving, making any trip totally reliant on my good lady wife ferrying me about. I guess most of us don’t think about our independence until you lose some of it.
  • I also miss work. I know we nearly all moan about working, but I’ve always worked, and worked hard for that matter, and being told to stay at home is anathema to me.

Having said that, I have tried to motivate myself, I’ve even baked a cake! I’ve also raised myself to edit a few sets of photo’s which have been sat on my laptop for quite some time, and then write up the associated posts for my walks diary blog … which now includes this one.

Latest set of posts I’ve published are from my North York Moors Trip, including a 16.5 miler, a 10 miler, and a 3 mile photographic wander on the beach.

Anyway, I think I’m over the worst of the initial recovery, starting to walk around more naturally and trying to rebuild muscles back to some kind of fitness levels, but I think it’s gonna be a bit of a long haul back to full(ish) fitness.

So, as the title of this post suggests, hill walking is certainly off the menu at the moment, but maybe, if the weather improves [no, when the weather improves] a wander around a local country park might be on the cards soon – At least there’ll be benches to sit on if I need a rest and a café for a coffee and perhaps a slice of cake.

The Plan Going Forward :-

  • So, last week = That first mile to the local shops felt good.
  • Very short term ambition = Longer walks around the estate, maybe down to Mosaic Coffee Shop in Bilton and back (always worth a visit) and maybe a longer walk around a local country park.
  • Slightly longer short term ambition = Get a few miles of a country walk done locally, maybe even with a rucksack on my back, and with walking poles instead of crutches for support – Just need the weather to improve (I’m totally fed up of this winter’s snow and ice now) and for me to feel confident enough to manage stiles and rougher ground.
  • Main goal = Get back fit enough to work again (aim is for mid/end April).
  • Longer term ambition = Hopefully walk up a mountain by the end of the year …. Which in reality probably means by the end of September/beginning of October at the latest, because of daylight hours. That gives me about 5 to 6 months of training, without overdoing it …. Oooh, but where to?
    • Snowdonia? … Maybe Snowdon itself?, but I do like Cadair Idris too.
    • Lake district? … Spoilt for choice!
    • Yorkshire Dales … 3-peaks … Pen-Y-Ghent maybe?

In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do with looking back at some of last year’s walks photo’s and writing another blog post or two. At least I’ve got quite a few walks to choose from (see below), or is there anyone out there who would like to pick one for me to finish off ? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do :-

  • 20170201    A Rugby Walk   [Warwickshire]
  • 20170222    A Wet Walk Around Draycote Water   [Warwickshire]
  • 20170412    Hunstanton Beach and Cliff Circular Walk   [East Anglia]
  • 20170509    Daventry Country Park at Sunset   [Northamptonshire]
  • 20170620    Another Daventry Country Park Sunset Wander   [Northamptonshire]
  • 20170627    Ambleside, Loughrigg, Grasmere, Rydal Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20170628    Place Fell Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20170726    Shaldon to Maidencombe Linear Walk   [South Devon Coast Path]
  • 20170810    Luds Church + The Roaches Walk   [Peak District]
  • 20170921    Langdale Pikes Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20170923    Ambleside – Wansfell – Orrest Head – Windermere Walk  [Lake District]
  • 20170924    Langdale – Crinkle Crags Circular Walk   [Lake District]
  • 20171018-25    Zante Holiday Wandering – Not proper walks really   [Greek islands]

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20170331_A short Robin Hoods Bay walk on the beach

20170331_A short Robin Hoods Bay walk on the beach

Along the Beach from Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay Village and Back Again

20170331-28_Big Skies over Coastal Cliffs - Robin Hoods BayWhen : 31 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038
Distance : Approx 3 miles (5 km)

Significant heights : Nothing to speak of … except the paths around Robin Hoods Bay village streets, which are quite steep, but you don’t have to go exploring if you don’t want to.

20170331_Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay Photographic WanderWhole Walk Summary :
A wander from Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay village on the beach and wave cut platforms, just enjoying a drop of sunshine, taking photo’s and generally taking it easy.

Took most of the day to walk about 3-miles, wandering back and forth trying to take arty pics of rocks and cliffs, including a wander around the village itself.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

If you’d like to see more pic’s, please use “this link” to go to the full set that I’ve uploaded to flickr. There’s another thirty nine images to see if you’re interested.

I was staying at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel, but rather than start at the hostel’s front door, I’ll 20170329-65_Boggle Hole Youth Hostelstart my description from the small car park just up the road (and steeply up hill) from the hostel so making it more like someone just parking up for the day. In reality, it’s also quite accurate from the “walk’s point of view”, ‘cause as it was my last day of my short break, I had to transport all my gear from the youth hostel up to the car park and load the boot up with my bags etc.

20170329-64_Boggle Hole Humourous Warning SignThe car park itself is free, with an honesty box for donations towards its up-keep, but of course, I suppose this could well change in the future. For your info’ the car park is situated at the end of Bridge Holm Road.

So, I stuck all my gear in the boot of the car, raised ruck sack onto my back (very lightly packed as it was to be an easy short day) and slung my camera bag over a shoulder which actually weighed more than my rucksack. Once set, I headed back down the steep hill 20090827-09_End of the road - Boggle Holetowards Boggle Hole Youth Hostel. By the way, please heed the warning signs and DO NOT drive down here thinking it’ll save a bit of a walk down to the beach. The road drops straight down to the beach area, just becoming a cobbled slipway at the bottom, and gets covered when the tide is in. The only motor-powered access is for the youth hostel service vehicles only, and they can only get 20170329-01_Boggle Hole Beach and Youth Hostelright up to the hostel when the tide is out and when the stream isn’t too full.

Once I’d made my way back down the tarmac to the youth hostel and then the cobbled slipway had been negotiated once again, I headed out onto the beach area, with the sole purpose of wandering around trying to find interesting photo-opportunities, which I figured wouldn’t be too difficult as I think this is a really interesting section of coast here.

20170331-03_Mill Beck - Mini Cascades across the beach - Boggle HoleBoggle Hole Youth Hostel is an old mill building set down in a steep side valley, through which Mill Beck flows. When the tide is out, the stream flows directly out onto the beach and then spreads out over a series of broad rocky steps as a number of little cascades, eventually making its way to the sea, joining the waves and waters of The North Sea. When the tide is in however, the beach disappears completely, the sea coming into the valley mouth, right up to the youth hostel. In fact, when the tide is in, there is absolutely no access onto the beach, as the sea comes in as far as and up the base of the surrounding cliffs.

20170331-11_Rocky Beach + Cliffs - Boggle HoleThe cliffs here-abouts are not the tallest in the country by any means and are made of quite soft material and as such are easily eroded away by the sea. There is always the risk of rock-falls and I’d recommend you stay vigilant if you’re near the base of the cliffs. In fact, the series of rock steps on the beach mentioned earlier, are the remnants of where the cliffs used to be, showing where the sea has cut back into the coastline enlarging the extent of Robin Hoods Bay. In geographical terms the flat rocky areas are 20170331-25_Rock Strewn Beach - Wavecut Platform - Robin Hoods Bayknown as wave cut platforms. It’s not quite so apparent at beach level, but from above on the cliffs, you can see the arching shape of the platforms heading out to sea. To the south of Boggle Hole, the rocky strips are called “Low Scar” and “High Scar”. To the north heading towards Robin Hoods Bay village, the strips are known as “Cowling Scar”, “Dab Dumps”, “East Scar” and “Landing Scar”.

20170331-29_Rock Strewn Beach - Wavecut Platform - Robin Hoods Bay20170331-27_Sky and Beach Reflections - Boggle HoleBetween the separate lines of rocky platforms, shall we call them strata, rock pools are trapped, some quite deep and sizeable and some areas of the rocks are covered with extensive areas of slippery seaweed. Also interspersed and strewn across the whole area are stand-alone boulders and individual rocks.

You would almost say they look like someone 20170331-31_Wave Action - Sand and Rocks - Robin Hoods Bayhas placed them in little groups in an arty deliberate way. A word of warning here, if you go exploring on the rocks, please keep an eye on the tide, because as the whole beach area is quite flat, the sea comes in quickly and it especially follows the lines of the strata.

I reckon with the tide coming in, it’d very easy to get cut off from the safety of the 20170331-17_Graded Sands + Rock Poolmainland. Having said that, even with one eye on the sea, I thoroughly enjoyed my explore of the beach area between Boggle Hole and Robin Hoods Bay village.

In fact, I spent absolutely ages wandering (almost aimlessly) zig-zagging back and forth, trying to get some arty looking photo’s; subjects attempted included :-

  • The mini-waterfalls of Mill Beck cascading across the rocks (trying to get a soft milky feel to the flowing water with extended shutter speeds).
  • Wider views of the beach, cliffs and big skies.
  • Close ups of limpets, periwinkles, barnacles, rocks and sand patterns.
  • A horse being ridden across the sands.
  • Boulders, rock pools and reflections.
  • And quite a few views of Robin Hoods Bay village hugging onto the hillside, as I got closer and closer as I made my way across the rocky striations.

20170331-16_Smooth amongst the Rough

20170331-13_Barnacles on the Rocks - DoF

20170331-20_Horse Rider on the Sands - Boggle Hole20170331-39_Robin Hoods Bay - Rocky Beach - Tide Out

For those in the know, The “A Coast to Coast” long distance footpath (that starts on the Irish Sea at St Bees on the opposite side of the country, ends here, the idea being to pick up a pebble from the beach at the start of the walk, and deposit it in the sea here at Robin Hoods Bay. So, 20170331-43_Robin Hoods Bay - Massive Sea WallI wonder how many “non-native” stones I walked over or past as I made my way up to the slipway and thence up into the village. Just to the right of the slipway the precariously perched buildings are protected from the sea by the tallest sea-wall I think I’ve ever seen. With the sun shining, the white-washed houses with their neatly tiled rooves (or roofs if you prefer that spelling) look attractive and friendly. However, I can imagine with a storm coming in off The North Sea at high tide, you could feel quite vulnerable with the waves crashing in immediately below.

20170331-42_Robin Hoods Bay - Massive Sea WallToday though, the weather was benign, sunny with big fluffy clouds, and reasonably warm in the sun, but the breeze was a little chilly; every now and again the clouds would turn a heavy greeny shade of grey indicating how quickly the weather could turn if it had a mind to. However, I particularly liked the contrast of the bright against dark and the associated shadows.

20170331-44_Robin Hoods Bay VillageWith the conditions so nice, I decided to head up into the village for a different set of photo’s, stone built houses, red tiled rooves, narrow streets and walkways, white-washed walls set against a vivid blue sky.

I like Robin Hoods Bay village, it’s pretty, looked after, touristy but not overly so. It hasn’t gone down the “tacky” route that other seaside towns have gone over the years and for me, it still feels like real people may well live here and with 20170331-46_Footpath Steps Walkway - Robin Hoods Bay Villagea pride in the place. Having said that, there are several pubs and tea-shops and a few trinket/touristy shops, one of which I visited to buy some boxes of fudge/toffees as gifts to be taken home.

The streets and paths through the village are sometimes steep, not surprising really given it’s clinging on to the cliff side, but well worth the effort to explore, as they twist and turn and divide and re-join, and reach dead ends and you have to turn around and end up back where you’ve been already.

You get to look up narrow sets of steps and down over roof tops and if you end up where I did, you could end up on top of the tall sea wall looking out over the coastline. All in all, it’s just a super place to wander through.

20170331-54_Sea Wall - Robin Hoods Bay

20170331-52a_The Old Bakery Tea Rooms - Robin Hoods Bay Village Roof Tops

20170331-50_Footpath Walkway - Robin Hoods Bay Village

20170331-49_Ornate Street Light - Robin Hoods Bay Village

20170331-53_View to the Beach - Robin Hoods Bay Wave Cut Platform

20170331-55_Standing Guard on Sea Wall and Life Size Model SheepTo finish my time in the village (after I’d bought my sweet gifts for home), I found my way up a side street/pathway and through to the top of some smaller sea defences (to the south of the slipway area) where I sat myself down on a bench, cracked open my packed lunch of a spicy beef pastry, hot cross buns with blackcurrant jam (a staple of mine when out walking), and other bits and pieces.

Sat in the sun, looking out over the coast I felt very relaxed. I also felt somewhat protected by a guard-sheep looking out to sea from a nearby terrace. It was of course a life-size model rather than a real live sheep; I imagined it being quite fierce, perhaps a deterrent to any lurking smugglers out in the bay waiting for nightfall to bring in their contraband, or perhaps I’m going a long way back in time to when smuggling was 20170331-56_On the Beach - Ice Cream Van - Robin Hoods Bayindeed rife in the area.

Eventually, I needed to move, I had the mile southwards along the beach to complete, (I resisted the ice cream van parked on the sands en-route), which I did without as much zig-zagging of the walk earlier in the day, only really stopping when I’d reached the Boggle Hole valley.


20170331-57_Sea Cut Cave - The Boggles Hole at Boggle Hole

20170331-59b_Sea Cut Cave - The Boggles Hole at Boggle HoleI took a few pic’s of the cave in the base of the cliffs here.

This is The Boggle’s cave or hole, that gives its name to the youth hostel.

Please see my earlier post from a few years earlier that gives some more info’ on what or who a Boggle is, you might find it amusing.

Again, be careful if you visit here, lumps of rock from the ceiling can and do fall to the floor of the cave.

20170331-58a_Sea Cut Cave - The Boggles Hole at Boggle HoleWell, once again, I needed to move, first heading up the slipway, and then 20170330-02_Boggle Hole Youth Hostelback up the steep road rising above and away from the youth hostel and up to the car-park. I don’t know how I’d managed it, but I’d spent all morning and half the afternoon doing just three miles. I don’t suppose that matters though, I’d done my bigger distances on day-1 (16.5 miles) and day-2 (10 miles) out on the moors, so I didn’t feel I needed to do any more today. Besides I enjoyed the “playing” of taking photos with more time to think about the images than I normally get when out on a walk. I still probably took far too many pic’s, but hey it’s not often I get to the seaside (I live just about as far from the sea as you can in England, living in 20090828-99_Sanderling [or similar]_Boggle Hole BeachThe Midlands) so I think I can be forgiven for getting a little carried away.

And that was that, apart from the long drive back home, that was the end of my short break on The North York Moors and Coast.

Just as a final comment, if the tide is in, the beach walk is impossible, however there are a few alternatives.

  • Alternative-1 = There is a footpath (part of The Cleveland Way) that runs along the top of the cliffs with access at both ends.
  • Alternative-2 = Further inland there is a dismantled railway, with permissive access for walkers and cyclists. At the Boggle Hole end, you’d need to walk from the little car-park, up the quiet Bridge Holm Lane in a south westerly direction, after about a mile branch right down another minor road and then pick up the railway heading north. The old track-bed makes a number of sweeping curves to arrive at the Robin Hoods Bay end of the walk at the top of the town. This quite a bit longer than both the beach and cliff top options.
  • Alternative-3 = A combination of options 1 & 2 above, say we were going from Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay, take the footbridge over Mill Beck near the youth hostel, then climb up out of the valley onto the cliff path. After a while, instead of continuing along the cliff top, take a left turn onto a footpath (called Mark Lane) and then pick up the old railway (turn right) to continue to the top of Robin Hoods Bay village. This is longer than option-1 but shorter than option-2.

Any of the above could be combined with the beach route to make more of a circular walk.

Map Used :
1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.
20170331-37_Robin Hoods Bay Village - Big Stormy Sky[My map is pretty much an ancient relic, probably a slight over statement, but it did only cost me £2.95 which gives an idea of its vintage. I’ve no idea how old it actually is, but essentially the moors don’t change much and despite it being in a slightly dilapidated state (slowly falling apart at the folds) it did me fine for my trip. Next time however, I think a new map may well be on the cards, and won’t need Sellotape to hold it together].

I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings ….

If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

Post Script …
My map has finally fallen apart and has made its final journey…
All the way – To the bin!


20170330_Post 4of4 – A Giants argument with his wife – The Hole of Horcum – Levisham Moor etc

20170330_Post-4of4 – A Giants argument with his wife – The Hole of Horcum – Levisham Moor and some other interesting stuff.

[Some extra info to a walk on Levisham Moor & in the Hole of Horcum]

Who : Just Me
Where : North York Moors
Grid Ref. : Grid Ref. SE853,937
Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

20170329-B_Info Board Map_ Levisham Moor + Hole of HorcumI hope this post will be of interest as some extra, supplementary information to my previous three diary posts about a 10 mile walk I did across Levisham Moor and through the Hole of Horcum. You may even have come to this post via one of these earlier posts, however, if you’ve come straight to here without seeing my original posts, it doesn’t really matter as this one will hopefully stand on its own quite happily.

If you’re interested, my previous posts are :-

Post-1 … 1st half of walk, Saltergate to Levisham Station via Levisham Moor.

Post-2 … Some Time at Levisham Station including Royal Scot steam train.

Post-3 … 2nd half of walk, Levisham Station to Saltergate via Levisham

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

The following post, is a bit of a mash-up of info gleaned from some information boards put up by The National Park Authority and some other stuff found in a couple of large format books I own; “Yorkshire Landscapes” and “English Landscapes” by “Rob Talbot and Robin Whiteman”, published by “Ted Smart”. They’re mainly coffee-table style photographic books with short sections of text, with just enough info’ to go with their super images. Of course, in the stuff below, I’ve chucked in a few words of my own along the way.

The Hole of Horcum – What is it ? and how did it get here ? :-
I don’t know if you are romantically inclined or more scientific in nature, but either way, there’s an explanation as to how the huge bowl of the Hole of Horcum came into being. Let’s start with the romantic explanation :-

  • A Giants Argument with his wife or the Devil’s work.
    Legend has it that the giant “Wade”, scooped up a clod of earth and threw it at 20170329-C_A Giants Fury or Rain Sculpturehis wife “Bell” making both the 300-feet deep depression that is the Hole of Horcum and at the same time the 876-feet high Blakey Topping where it landed some distance away across the moors (about a mile away to the east). The Hole of Horcum has also been known as the Devil’s Punchbowl, (in common with another geographical feature in Surrey and others worldwide) where it’s said it was the Devil that did the scooping and throwing. Whether it was the giant or the Devil, apparently, the marks left by his fingers can still be seen on the slopes of the hole.
  • A Natural Formation.
    If you don’t believe the above, then you may well prefer the explanation that The 20170330-81_Hole of Horcum - Landscape DetailHole, is a natural hollow excavated by Ice age meltwaters thousands of years ago, and then eroded away by rainwater seeping down through porous rock (lower calcerous grit), where, when it reaches an impenetrable layer of Oxford Clay, the water is forced to the surface as a line of springs. These springs have caused slippage and numerous landslides, which have eroded the back of each little valley, progressively widening The Hole.

20170329-A_Saltergate Car Park Charges (March 2017)Whichever option you like best, it really is worth stopping off at the side of the Pickering to Whitby main road for a look-see and a wander. A large car-park (charges apply, but not at excessive cost) sits on the top edge near Saltergate and is where I parked up for the day to do my 10-mile circular walk.

Levisham Estate and The North Yorkshire Moors :-
Levisham Estate lies right at the heart of the North York Moors National Park. Designated in 1952 for its stunning moorland landscape, it is cared for by farmers and landowners with help from the National Park Authority. The Authority has, by law, to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park.
  • Promote opportunities for the public to enjoy and come to understand the special qualities of the park.

20170329-D_Open Access - Levisham EstateDespite initial appearances, the moors are not a truly natural landscape. For hundreds of years, sheep farming and game management have helped maintain this special environment.

A moorland keeper’s role is to encourage grouse to thrive on the moorland. This is done by the controlled burning of patches of moorland in rotation to create a mosaic of heather at different heights. This process is locally known as “swiddening”. This takes place between November 20170329-56_Sheep_North York Moorsand March when the peat is damp, therefore preventing the heather’s roots from being destroyed. The young green shoots produced after the old woody plants have been burnt, provide food for both grazing sheep and grouse. The patches of taller vegetation are ideal for cover. The flowering heather is also used by bees to make honey for local bee-keepers who put hives out on the moors.

A Rare Habitat :-
20090831-34_Towards Jugger Howe Beck ValleyAlmost half of the 553-square-mile North York Moors National Park is open moorland. Britain is thought to have almost 75% of the worlds remaining moorland and the North York Moors has the largest continuous area of heather moorland in England. This is globally rare and important for vegetation and breeding bird populations. It receives protection at national and European levels, including designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest [SSSI].

Heather :-
The moors sustain three types of heather,

  • Ling [Calluna Vulgaris], the most dominant type, which blossoms in August and September
  • Cross-leaved heather [Erica Tetralix], is found in boggy, damp and wet areas.
  • Bell Heather [Erica Cinerea], if you can recognise it, is useful to walkers as an indicator of firmer ground, as it grows on the driest tussocks.

20170330-04_Levisham Moor near SaltergateOpen Access for Walkers :-
You can walk over open, unrestricted moorland, but NOT fields and woodland. However, it is a sensitive habitat so look out for local and seasonal restrictions. More info can be found at http://www.countrysideaccress.gov.uk

Dogs :-
Dogs are welcome on the access land, but they should be kept on a short lead at all times. A loose dog running over the moors can be catastrophic for sheep, ground nesting birds and sometimes the dog itself. I believe farmers have the right to shoot a dog they think is worrying their sheep.

Moors Message :-

  • 20090827-01_Hole of HorcumTread Gently:- despite surviving all sorts of weather, the moors, their plants and animals are fragile and sensitive.
  • Fire:- Uncontrolled fires can devastate vast areas of moorland which may never fully recover. Don’t start campfires or use gas stoves or barbecues or drop cigarettes/matches.
  • Litter:- Take it home.
  • Fences and Walls:- These keep some animals in and some out. Use stiles or gates and leave property as you find it.
  • 20170330-80_Stormy Clouds Over The Hole of HorcumSafety:- Weather conditions can change quickly. Are you fully equipped? On some access land there are hazards such as abandoned mines and quarries.
  • When out in the countryside:- keep to paths and tracks wherever possible especially during the bird nesting and lambing season (1st March – 31st July).

Flora and Fauna :-
The heather moorlands give some of the best habitat for internationally important ground nesting birds such as curlew, lapwing, merlin and golden plover.

20090827-02_Hole of HorcumFor the first time in centuries, woodland is expanding here. The small surviving oak woods around the edges are beginning to grow where a fence keeps the sheep out. Rowan and Birch come on their own in a few years, but the Oak is far slower. So far 6,000 oaks have been grown on from locally collected seed and planted here under a joint Forestry Commission/National Park project.

In summer, the Horcum fields are a blaze of colour. First, white with pignut, then yellow as meadow buttercup blooms, and then in late summer, a blue haze with betony, harebell and devil’s bit scabious. The National Park Ranger and a local farmer manage the fields by using sheep to graze at the right time of year to allow the flowers to bloom and seed.

Sheltering on a few north facing bracken covered slopes is the rare dwarf cornal. It is at the southern edge of its range here and would be much happier in the Cairngorms!

Archaeology :-
The path around the eastern side of the Hole of Horcum (where the car park is situated) is on top of an earthwork dyke which marked a prehistoric boundary. It’s not known whether it divided tribal territories or smaller estates but as long it’s cared for, one-day archaeologists may find out. Boundaries like these are quite common in the North York Moors but they are rare nationally so it’s important they are not damaged. Therefore, it’s asked that we all walk on the surface paths.

20170330_Levisham Moor + Hole of Horcum Circular WalkMy Full Walk Summary :

A circular walk starting near Saltergate with fine views over The Hole of Horcum, walking anti-clockwise over Levisham Moor, Views over The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Short drop down to Levisham Station in Newton Dale, Climb back up to Levisham village (and The Horseshoe Inn) and return to Saltergate via Dundale Slack, Horcum Slack and through the bottom of The Hole of Horcum.

Well this would seem to be a good point to end this particular post, and therefore the end of the four posts associated with my Hole of Horcum walk, so I’ll end by saying I hope you enjoyed my scribblings, and …. if you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
T.T.F.N. Gary.


20170330_Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum Circular Walk Post-3 of 4

20170330_ Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum Circular Walk
Post-3 of 4 – Levisham Station to Hole of Horcum and Saltergate/Car Park on the A169

When : 30 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North York Moors
Start and End Point : Grid Ref. SE853,937
Distance : Approx 10 miles (16 km)
Significant Heights : Not much really [see end of this post for details]

20170330_Levisham Moor + Hole of Horcum Circular WalkMap : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.
[My map is pretty much an ancient relic, probably a slight over statement, but it did only cost me £2.95 which gives an idea of its vintage. I’ve no idea how old it actually is, but essentially the moors don’t change much and despite it being in a slightly dilapidated state (slowly falling apart at the folds) it did me fine for my trip. Next time however, I think a new map may well be on the cards, and won’t need Sellotape to hold it together].

20170330-59_Cheery Spring Daffs Levisham StationFull Walk Summary : A circular walk starting near Saltergate with fine views over The Hole of Horcum, walking anti-clockwise over Levisham Moor, Views over The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Short drop down to Levisham Station in Newton Dale, Climb back up to Levisham village (and The Horseshoe Inn) and return to Saltergate via Dundale Slack, Horcum Slack and through the bottom of The Hole of Horcum.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

This is a continuation of a super-duper little walk; post-1 was the first half of the walk; post-2 was about some time spent at Levisham Station and now this post picks up the walk again to complete the circle ….. and there is also a post-4 with some info about Levisham Moor, The Hole of Horcum and the moors a little further afield.

20170330-60_Forty - 40 - Sign Levisham StationWell, I’d enjoyed seeing the steam engines (including a Black Five and the Royal Scot) and an old diesel train coming through Levisham Station, and was ready to press on with the walk. So, I headed out on the minor road which I’d used to drop down to the valley bottom earlier, but soon after re-crossing the cattle grid, I turned off right onto a path passing a large stone building with a nicely manicured front lawn featuring some large metal number signs on slender stems. I assume they are/were speed restriction signs used on the railway but I don’t really know for sure. The path headed into some woods, swinging around to the left on a bit of and arc as it started to climb and soon emerged into a grassy field. The route crossed the field in a roughly easterly direction rising quite steadily, only to swing right to pick up a wide 20170330-61_Gorse Lined Green Grassy Pathgrassy track rising diagonally across the steep hill side (part of the scarp West Side Brow, seen earlier on the walk on Levisham Moor). Although easy underfoot, the incline certainly raised the heart rate somewhat. It was nice seeing some colour, with the scrub gorse on either side of the path coming into flower. Towards the top of the slope, the wide path petered out, dwindling to a far narrower path contouring around the top of Keldgate Slack, the hillside now dropping away quite precipitously into Newton Dale offering super views once again.

20170330-62_Narrow Path above Keldgate Slack

20170330-63_Yorkshire Moors Sheep near LevishamA few hundred yards after navigating around Keldgate Slack, over what had become quite tussocky and rough ground underfoot, the route took a sharp turn left, crossing into almost flat pastureland used for sheep grazing. Two easy fields later and I joined a farm track (Little Field Lane) carrying on in an easterly direction to pass the first buildings on the outskirts of Levisham Village. 20170330-64_Old Barn Buildings - Levisham VillageIt always amazes me how unkept a lot of farm buildings are maintained (or unmaintained). You would think such valuable assets would be worth putting a bit of effort into, the first stone barn I passed looked like it’s on its way to eventual dilapidation, or maybe this is a sign of the lack of money in the UK hill farming industry.

20170330-65_Cheerful Spring Daffs + Dry Stone WallIn contrast, upon walking into Levisham itself, the village is really quite pristine, and pretty in a very simple way enhanced by clumps of daffodils positively shining in the soft spring sunshine. It didn’t take long to come across the pub, The Horseshoe Inn, sat looking straight 20170330-67_Levisham Village Cottages and Lawnsdown the village, the stone houses widely spaced with grassy front lawns – a friendly looking place, especially with a small green with benches immediately outside the pub front door. Well it would have been rude not to partake of a little refreshment, and I soon found myself sat on the green, enjoying a pint of ale and finding a bite to eat from my ruck-sack. In fact, it was so nice, I have to admit to having another half. Whilst sat relaxing one of the ladies I’d chatted to earlier in the day caught my attention giving me a friendly wave in the distance.


20170330-66_Cheerful Spring Daffs

20170330-69_The Horseshoe Inn - levisham

20170330-68_Spring Flowers Levisham - Horseshoe Inn

As pleasant as it was sat in the little drop of sunshine, it didn’t last long before the clouds started to take over again and the temperature dropped markedly, and a few drops of rain made me pack my sack away and head off again, taking the minor road to the right-hand side of the pub (Limpsey Gate Lane). This was to start taking me northwards rising gently but 20170330-70_Dundale Pond - Levisham Moorsteadily for the best part of a mile to re-enter Levisham Moor at Dundale Rigg. I decided to head half left to visit Dundale Pond, a small pool sat in a bit of a hollow and where five path options could be available. The drops of rain felt in Levisham hadn’t come to anything yet, but the thickening clouds held the portent of stormy weather, and I was aware of time drawing on, so I didn’t linger here for long.

20170330-71_Dundale Pond - Levisham Moor

20170330-72_Stormy Clouds Over Levisham Moor

20170330-73_Dundale Griff - Bare TreesMy choice of route was to head east, picking up an easy path down Dundale Griff, a small valley dropping easterly, with a small stream on my left bordered with gnarly trees and banks of grass and bracken.

Towards the bottom, Dundale Griff was joined by further side valleys Pigtrough Griff and Water Griff and soon afterwards the combined streams joined another stream, now all being forced to the south by the broad hillside of Far Black Rigg. The combined streams are now called Levisham Beck flowing through Levisham Brow.

20170330-74_Dundale Griff - Stream

20170330-75_Muddy Path - Horcum Slack

20170330-76_Horcum Slack ValleyHowever, my route was not down Levisham Brow, instead I had to cross the stream, turn left and head generally northwards on a rather slippery muddy path through the wooded Horcum Slack. Although straight forward, the conditions underfoot were quite tiring, but just had to be done. As the trees gave way to more open country the path improved and one area that must have been quite bad at one time had very helpfully had a boardwalk constructed, making walking through here very easy and clean, and in equal measure saving the area from erosion.

20170330-77_Board Walks Over The Mud

20170330-78_Natural Tree Sculpture - Horcum SlackSoon after the narrow valley of Horcum Slack opened up into more open grassy pasture surrounded by rising slopes. I was now entering The Hole of 20170330-79_Low Horcum (Farmstead)Horcum itself, especially marked by reaching and passing the austere looking (despite the daffodils) farmstead of Low Horcum; soon afterwards dropping down to cross the stream right down in the bottom of The Hole of Horcum proper.



20170330-80_Stormy Clouds Over The Hole of HorcumThe clouds above had by now become really quite dark and brooding, but I was almost within touching distance of the carpark, and all I needed was to get my head down to climb out of the natural bowl on a distinct firm path, 20170330-82_Path out of (or into) The Hole of Horcumat first climbing steadily and then for the final few hundred yards really quite steeply. I must admit that I was now starting to feel a little weary especially in the legs, and my poor old knees (with long standing wear-and-tear arthritis/lack of cartilage) were beginning to give me some pain, which wasn’t surprising given the near 17 miler of the day before. Dare I admit that my lungs were starting to puff a bit? …. No!, ermmm Yes!, well I did stop a couple or three times to take a few deep breaths on the way up.

20170330-81_Hole of Horcum - Landscape DetailHowever, it didn’t stop me trying to take another couple of photos, I especially liked the ripple effect in the landscape on the bowl’s flanks. Looking back showed the ribbon of path from where I’d come up from, Low Horcum and Horcum Slack beyond. It’s quite amazing just how quickly you can cover ground and gain height when you put your mind to it.

20170330-84_Fylingdales from SaltergateThe path emerges out of the Hole of Horcum where the A169 does the sharp hair-pin bend and I’d in effect completed the circle, now being back on the path initially started off on in the morning. Before turning right and heading back to the car, I took in the view north over Saltergate to the imposing early warning radar building that is RAF Fylingdales on Lockton High Moor and then further on to Fylingdales Moor in the far distance.

The ugly building has replaced the iconic “golf balls” that were a much-loved and much-photographed feature here in the past. Somehow the modern incarnation just doesn’t have that same futuristic feel even though it’s probably far more technically superior.

20170330-83_Fylingdales RAF Early Warning System20170330-85_Sunset over Levisham MoorThe day now felt that it was giving way to dusk, and although still quite stormy looking, the setting sun gave a bit of colour to the sky. I couldn’t help thinking that two people heading out onto Levisham Moor were probably not going to get far before dusk gave way to night. I then headed back around the curve of the A169 to the car and then took the drive back to Boggle Hole.

20170330-86_Stormy Sunset Over North York Moors

20170330-87_Stormy Sunset Over North York Moors

20170330-88_Stormy Sunset Over North York Moors

20090827-01_Hole of HorcumI really enjoyed this walk, full of variety, a good distance and not too strenuous in terms of heights climbed and terrain crossed, just what I needed at the time. What I’d like to do at some point in the future, is to recreate the walk on a warm sunny August/September day when the heather would be in full bloom. The moors are quite stunning when clad in purple and not the drab beige/greys of their winter plumage.

The walk’s significant heights (Approx) :-

  • 20090827-02_Hole of HorcumDownhill:- 60m (197 feet) = Levisham Moor to Levisham Station (easy going on minor road).
  • Uphill:- 120m (394 feet) = Levisham Station to farmland above Keldgate Slack (paths/tracks).
  • Downhill:- 80m (262 feet) = Dundale Pond to bottom of Dundale Griff. (easy path/track).
  • Uphill:- 120m (394 feet) = Crossing stream at bottom of Hole of Horcum to car park on A169.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
T.T.F.N. Gary.

20170330_Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum Circular Walk Post-2 of 4

20170330_Levisham Station – Royal Scot Steam Train & More
Post-2 of 4 – During a walk on Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum

20170330-46_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 Wheels and Drive LinkageWhen : 30 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North York Moors
Grid Ref. : SE808,911
Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

Full Walk Summary : A circular walk starting near Saltergate with fine views over The Hole of Horcum, walking anti-clockwise over Levisham Moor, Views over The North 20170330_Levisham Moor + Hole of Horcum Circular WalkYorkshire Moors Railway, Short drop down to Levisham Station in Newton Dale, Climb back up to Levisham village (and The Horseshoe Inn) and return to Saltergate via Dundale Slack, Horcum Slack and through the bottom of The Hole of Horcum.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

20170330-19_Levisham Station Platform SignYou may have come to this post via the first of my diary entries of a walk starting at Saltergate and skirting around and on Levisham Moor. However, if you’ve come straight to here without seeing my original post, it doesn’t really matter as it will hopefully stand on its own quite happily.

Well, I’d dropped down into Newton Dale from Levisham Moor via a minor road, negotiated a cattle grid and strolled into the hamlet, consisting mainly of the railway station itself plus some cottages, etc. but mostly the railway, sidings, signal box and the like 20170330-20_Levisham Station Red Fire Bucketsdominate, but it’s all very pretty.

The station, on The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, has been renovated by The Levisham Station Group as a typical small North Eastern Railway station circa 1912. According to the LSG web site, “the NER issued a series of standards books which gave specifications for items from fences to fireguards. Early photos, recovered original samples and research have allowed reproductions to be found or manufactured to recreate the 1912 period for this country station”.

20170330-24_Levisham Station Carriages in Sidings

20170330-21_Levisham Station Goods Wagons in Sidings

20170330-22_Levisham Station Goods Wagon in Sidings

20170330-23_Buffer to Buffer_Levisham Station Goods Wagons

20170330-26_Levisham Station_Annie or Clarabel CarriageAnyway, I had a little explore, picking up a mug of coffee from the kiosk and tried taking some photos that’d do a little bit of justice to the area. During my little wander I saw a notice saying that “Due to mechanical failure Royal Scot will not be operating today. Two Black Fives (Double Headed) will replace the Royal Scot.” It must have been the two Black Fives I’d seen on the tracks earlier on my walk on Levisham Moor. I was interested whether either of these engines would be coming through any time soon and found out 20170330-27_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train coming in to Levisham Stationthat yes steam engines were due, and contrary to the signage just read, Royal Scot was indeed rumoured to have been fixed, and could well be on its way.

Therefore, I decided to hang around for a while longer, and was rewarded with a Black Five Engine [5MT 45407] with its train which stayed at the station platform for quite some minutes.

20170330-28_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train coming in to Levisham Station

20170330-29_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train coming in to Levisham Station

20170330-30_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train coming in to Levisham Station

20170330-31_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train coming in to Levisham Station

20170330-32_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train at Levisham Station

20170330-33_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train at Levisham Station

20170330-34_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train at Levisham Station

20170330-35_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train at Levisham Station

20170330-36_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train at Levisham Station

20170330-37_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 + Train at Levisham StationThe delay of the Black Five departing, was to allow a diesel train [Daisy1956-2003] to pass through from the north, as the track is a single line through Newton Dale and becomes a twin track through Levisham 20170330-38_Diesel Train (Daisy) coming into Levisham StationStation allowing the trains to pass by each other. Oddly, although heading towards Pickering, the diesel engine had Todmorden as its destination on its front. Perhaps it was going to leave the NYMR onto mainline tracks to continue on to Todmorden. I guess I’ll never know, unless someone who reads this post gets in touch with an answer to my query.

20170330-39_Diesel Train (Daisy) coming into Levisham Station

20170330-40_Diesel Train (Daisy) coming into Levisham Station

20170330-41_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 at Levisham StationOnce the diesel had come into the station, and I think had moved off southwards, the Black Five burst into renewed life and moved off northwards steam and smoke filling the air. These machines really are a fantastic feat of engineering. It turned out that The Royal Scot was doubled up at the far end of the train in a dark green livery. As it happens, it was coupled in such a way that it was actually going backwards, which was great as I got to 20170330-42_Steam and Smoke_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 at Levisham Stationsee and get some pic’s of the whole engine as it steamed out of the station around a sweeping bend. Many heads complete with cameras were poking out of the train’s windows obviously hoping the track curvature would give a decent view up and down to the two steam engines. I fired off a bunch of images myself, and all in all, I was quite happy with the set I managed to get.

20170330-43_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-44_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-45_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 Cab

20170330-47_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-48_Black Five Engine 5MT 45407 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-49_Steaming Out Of Levisham Station

20170330-51_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-52_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-53a_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 Leaving Levisham Station

20170330-53b_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 Leaving Levisham Station

20170330-54a_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-54b_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-55_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-56_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-57_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham Station

20170330-58_The Royal Scot Engine 46100 leaving Levisham StationAnd then, it all went very quiet, so I packed up and headed off, initially back along the minor road I’d arrived on, heading away from the station; my next destination Levisham Village.

This would seem to be a good point to end this particular post, my walks diary to continue on post-3 from Levisham Station, through Levisham Village, Hole of Horcum and back to the end at the car-park near Saltergate.

There’s also some extra info on my post-4 about the general area, which you might find of interest.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
T.T.F.N. Gary.

20170330_Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum Circular Walk Post-1 of 4

20170330_Levisham Moor and Hole of Horcum Circular Walk
Post-1 of 4 – Saltergate to Levisham Station

When : 30 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North York Moors
Start and End Point : Grid Ref. SE853,937
Distance : Approx 10 miles (16 km)
Significant Heights : Not much really [see end of post-3 of 4 for details]

Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.
[My map is pretty much an ancient relic, probably a slight over statement, but it did only cost me £2.95 which gives an idea of its vintage. I’ve no idea how old it actually is, but essentially the moors don’t change much and despite it being in a slightly 20170330_Levisham Moor + Hole of Horcum Circular Walkdilapidated state (slowly falling apart at the folds) it did me fine for my trip. Next time however, I think a new map may well be on the cards, and won’t need Sellotape to hold it together].

Full Walk Summary : A circular walk starting near Saltergate with fine views over The Hole of Horcum, walking anti-clockwise over Levisham Moor, Views over The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Short drop down to Levisham Station in Newton Dale, Climb back up to Levisham village (and The Horseshoe Inn) and return to Saltergate via Dundale Griff, Horcum Slack and through the bottom of The Hole of Horcum.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

After my exertions of my big 16½ miler the day before (see my previous posts), I felt a smaller gentler day might be on the cards, so after a good perusal of my map and a search of my memory banks, I decided on a 10 mile wander based on The Hole of Horcum just off the A169 Pickering to Whitby road. However, even within the confines of the planned 10 miler, 20170330-01_Boggle Hole Cliffs + Beach_Robin Hoods Baythere were various options to either shorten the route or even extend it depending on how I felt during the walk. That’s the beauty that walking on your own gives you, total flexibility without having to think of anyone else other than yourself.

The first thing I had to do was climb up from Boggle Hole Youth Hostel (where I was staying) to the car-park on the minor road above; quite a steep little pull, and after the 20170330-02_Boggle Hole Youth Hostelwalk of the day before, I kind of struggled to get my legs working properly. But at least once at the car, I had quite a bit of a drive to reach the start point of today’s walk.

My starting point proper was a car-park by the side of the A169 near Saltergate (it’s like a very large layby on the eastern side of the road). After paying the car 20170329-A_Saltergate Car Park Charges (March 2017)park charges, I crossed the busy road, picked up a well-worn path and turned right, with the main road on my right and with The Hole of Horcum dropping dramatically below me on my left.

I don’t know how romantic you are, or if you’re into practical geography, but there are a couple of conflicting claims of how the huge bowl of The Hole of Horcum came into being; either,
a) The giant Wade’s argument with his wife Bell, where he scooped up the earth and threw it at her some miles away, forming Blakey Topping in the process.
b) A natural occurrence of erosion by springs.
I’ve now written a follow up diary post (post 4 of 4) for an expanded explanation.

20170330-03_Hole of Horcum - North York MoorsAnyway, whichever way the hole was made, my route to start with was just about due north but soon swung around to the left following the sweep of the road, which in turn follows the northern sweep of the Hole of Horcum itself. This afforded super views into “The Hole”; after a while the views opened up to the north also, out over Fylingdales Moor and the famous RAF early warning installation, and in the far distance to the furthest/highest point of my walk of the day before. Very soon, where the road makes a sharp hair-pin bend to the right, I was faced with a choice of routes.

1) Left, downhill into The Hole of Horcum.
2) Straight on (generally westwards) following Gallows Dike out onto the highest part of Levisham Moor.
3) Half right, dropping below a small scarp, out onto a wide, almost flat area of moorland.

20170330-04_Levisham Moor near Saltergate

20170330-05_Wooded Valley on Levisham MoorIt was this third option I’d planned on, and I picked out a narrow path heading over to the valley of Havern Beck, a steep sided, partially wooded gash in the moor. After a little explore here for a while I then picked up a path, (little more than a sheep track really) skirting the southern edge of the Havern Beck valley (heading north west) to reach a corner of a fence/wall above Pifelhead Wood 20170330-06_NYMR in North Dale from Yewtree Scar(grid ref. SE846,948). From here there were some fantastic views to the north, out over a deep flat-bottomed valley (North Dale) bounded by moorland and dense forest.

The most notable feature being the sinuous lines of a railway track in the valley bottom. This is no ordinary track though, this is the famous North Yorkshire Moors Railway [NYMR], which often has stream trains 20170330-07_NYMR in North Dale from Yewtree Scarrunning between Pickering in the south, via Levisham Station, Newtondale Halt, Goathland, Grosmont and on to Whitby in the north, and of course in the opposite direction too.

I’d heard that The Royal Scot (not to be confused with The Flying Scotsman) had been due to run on the line today, but, because of technical reasons, it had been cancelled. However, I was hopeful that I might catch a glimpse of one of the other steam engines (rather than the diesels) that run on the line. At the time I had no idea of the timetable however, and as such I didn’t have a clue as to whether any train was due at-all. I hung around for quite some time, buffeted by the gusty wind and started to feel rather chilly. So, I contented myself with a couple of photos of the valley/railway track and headed off on a narrow path 20170330-08a_Coming Round the Bend_Steam Train_NYMRheading roughly westwards around the edge of the moor above the steep wooded drop down into the valley. The moor’s edge is known as Yewtree Scar here.

I’d maybe gone about 500 yards when I became aware that there was a train approaching from the direction I’d been stood for all that time (it was a distant toot on the train’s horn that alerted me). I turned 20170330-08b_Coming Round the Bend_Steam Train_NYMRon my heels, and scooted back as fast as I could, given the roughish ground, ruck-sack and trying to stop my camera [and it’s long lens] bouncing around on my chest. I probably didn’t look very elegant. Well I managed to reach a spot where I could see the train coming around a bend partially hidden by the wooded slopes of the valley and yay I was in luck, it was being pulled by a steam engine. It turned out, that it was also 20170330-09_Steam Train on North Yorkshire Moors Railwaybeing pushed by a diesel engine doubling up on the power supply.

Well I tried as best as I could to get a half decent photo or two; in the absence of a tripod I tried using an aged fence post as an impromptu support. I guess I was asking a bit too much of my skills/equipment in the gloomy overcast conditions, strong breeze, long zoom and raised heart rate from the mini-dash. The results were decidedly weak really, the images not at all sharp, but I did get something recognisable as a steam train so I suppose I ought to be a little bit happy.

By retracing my steps back along Yewtree Scar (moving quite quickly hoping to perhaps 20170330-10_Steam Train at Newtondale Halt on NYMRcatch another glimpse of the train again) I was lucky enough to see it stopped at Newton Dale Halt, albeit with a better view of the diesel engine, with the steam engine enveloped in smoke and steam. I managed to grab a couple more pic’s. Now there’s no way you could call me a steam train enthusiast, but it was quite exciting catching these fleeting glimpses and I would have been quite happy even if I didn’t see another train for the rest of the walk.

I seem to have written a lot of words already, for what probably hadn’t totalled two miles into the walk, but is a reflection on the time it had taken so far; so, I’ll press on with the route now, much like I decided I needed to with the walk itself.

I soon reached the end of Yewtree Scar at a place called Hudson’s Cross on the map, which is where a path drops steeply down into Newton Dale, and would take you to the halt on the railway. My route however was to continue contouring around the edge of the moor, again with woods dropping away on my right (Talbot Wood), the edge is now known as Huggitt’s Scar, although still pretty much the same as Yewtree Scar in terms of terrain and views.

20170330-11_North York Moors Railway from Huggitts ScarHuggitt’s Scar starts off heading west, takes a half turn to the south-west and then when Talbott Wood ends, it takes another half turn to head not quite due south. Leaving the woods behind opened up the views, down, into and across Newton Dale taking a wide sweeping bend to the right, again with the railway nestled in the valley bottom. Letting my view follow the edge of the moor brought my eye to a small ruined building, the greyish stone almost disappearing in the haze and matching colours of the moor in its winter colours (or lack of colour). The ruin was my next destination as I thought it would make a good refreshment spot, hopefully with a bit of shelter from the keen breeze. The tower was probably just over a mile away “as-the-crow-flies” but I needed to swing around across the moor picking a faint path through the tussocky terrain heading for the mini scarp of West Side Brow and some of the higher parts of Levisham Moor as a whole. Just before reaching the base of the scarp, I picked up a larger path, turned right and was able to stride out somewhat, my pace picking up quite considerably heading across an area marked as Levisham Bottoms on my map.

20170330-12_Skelton Tower on Levisham MoorJust to the right here were some old quarries, and rather skirt around the top of the hollows towards the ruined tower, I took a narrow path down into quarry bottoms, getting out of the wind in the process. I emerged back on to the top path, several hundred yards further on, surprised at just how close I’d reached to the ruins, arriving at the structure just a couple of minutes later.
The ruins are called “Skelton Tower” and 20170330-15_Skelton Tower on Levisham Mooraccording to information I found on the North York Moors National Park website, it was a two-storey shooting lodge dating to about 1830 built by the Reverend Robert Skelton, former rector of Levisham. Some say that he wrote his sermons in the lodge, but it is also rumoured that he escaped here to enjoy a quiet drink! The headland it sits upon is called Corn Hill Point because the pastures around about were ploughed up and used for growing crops during the Napoleonic wars.

So, it seems my idea of using the tower as a refreshment stop wasn’t the most original thought in the world (I suppose a lot of picnics have been taken here over the last 187 years), but my idea that it would give a degree of shelter was indeed correct, so I settled myself down for a hot drink and a bite to eat. During this time a couple of ladies arrived, bedecked in wellie boots and accompanied by a bouncy friendly dog. Upon chatting it turned out they were a mum and her daughter. It transpired in our conversation that one of the younger lady’s friends down in the 20170330-13_NYMR_Steam Train from Levisham Moormidlands could well have been a mutual friend/colleague of my daughter doing the same university course in Birmingham:- What a small world! She also said she had a part time job in the pub in Levisham village, which came as a bit of a surprise as a pub is not marked on my map, and I think maybe sowed the seeds of an idea in my head for later in the walk.

20170330-14a_NYMR_Steam Train from Levisham MoorAnyway, chat over, short break over, ruck-sack packed away and hoisted onto back; I was about to start walking again, when I heard the unmistakable sound of another train in the valley below, and yes, it was another steam engine and there it was just below me. I quickly shot off another couple of pic’s and added another slice of satisfaction into my memory banks – Nice.

20170330-14b_NYMR_Steam Train from Levisham Moor20170330-16a_Tree Lined Horizon_Levisham MoorI was quite happy to continue, on a grassy path, easy walking heading roughly south, re-joining the main path running across the moor with the scarp on my left. In fact, the whole area here felt just a little less harsh than earlier in the walk, grassy pasture becoming far more evident, with grazing sheep, and I particularly liked a line of trees up on the ridge, silhouetted against the sky. The main path led me to a very minor road where it takes a hair-pin bend.

20170330-16b_Tree Lined Horizon_Levisham MoorI’d initially planned to continue straight on here, or even take a turn to the left if I’d wanted to shorten the walk, but I was feeling OK, my legs bearing up after the exertions of yesterday’s walk. So, as the weather had cheered up somewhat (there was even some blue 20170330-17_Finger Post - The Inn Way - Levishamskies above) I decided to turn half right, to follow the road heading downhill towards Levisham Station. The wide grassy verges meant I didn’t have to walk on tarmac either, which is always good.

It didn’t take long before I’d reached the valley bottom, passing a finger post to Levisham Village via The Inn Way (photo taken to remind me to have a look what The Inn Way entails), and soon after found myself walking into the pretty hamlet of Levisham Station, obviously dominated by the railway passing through.

20170330-18_Approaching Levisham StationThat’s probably a good place to stop this post, to be continued on a second post (post 2 of 4) in a while, from in and around Levisham Station, the majority of which will probably consist of photo’s and not so many words.

So, I hope you enjoyed my scribblings …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
T.T.F.N. Gary.