Route Maps – Problems Not My Fault

Hi everyone,

For some years now, I have been using a web-site called WalkJogRun to map my walking routes. Once created I could embed the WalkJogRun URL into my blog posts. The resulting thumb-nail image on my blog page could then be clicked on, which would launch full size in the WalkJogRun site and would then be viewable in a more meaningful and readable size on top of google maps.

It was easy and simple to use, there were very many routes mapped by lots of users, which was great for new ideas.

Well, from spring I was getting intermittent accessibility/poor user interfacing and then I couldn’t open/create any routes against my account. Even more recently I hadn’t even been able to launch the WJR web-site, their FB pages or anything else.

After some more digging, I’ve now read that WJR have, in effect, folded (during May sometime apparently), the web-site has been shut-down and with it all the routes I’d mapped and created links to. There was no notification from WJR in the run up to this happening or any opportunity for them to let me have the files I’d created.

Therefore, unfortunately, all the maps you can see on my blog pages will no longer launch as larger sizes. My apologies if this causes any inconvenience, but I assure you I wish it wasn’t like this and I’ve now got to search around for an alternative. I hope the remaining thumb-nail images, combined with my words are enough to describe my route and be follow-able on the associated OS maps I list in the walk descriptions/title blocks.

Feeling sad at the demise of WJR.

T.T.F.N. Gary



20180322_Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk, near Coventry

20180322_Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk, near Coventry

When : 22nd March 2018
Where : Coombe Abbey Country Park (just outside Coventry, in Warwickshire)
Distance : Approx 2.3 miles (3.7 km)
Significant heights, climbed or descended : None

Maps :
1:25,000 OS Explorer Map 222 Rugby & Daventry
1:25,000 OS Explorer Map 221 Coventry & Warwick
Start and End Point : SP404,795 Main Country Park Car Park (on map 222), although to be fair, you don’t really need a map at-all, and there are leaflets available from the visitor centre and at least one large notice board with a map.

20180322_A Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk (near Coventry)

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.

Some Background Info :-
In a way this little walk, a very gentle wander around our local country park and not even 2½ miles, is, in its own way, quite significant to me.


The Oxford Partial KneeWell, as noted in my previous post, seven weeks ago today (writing on 26th March) I had knee surgery on both my knees (half, partial or Oxford knee replacements whichever term you prefer). I’ve now had several bits of bone cut out and non-existent cartilage replaced with some very clever metal and plastic parts.

It’s no lie that getting back to some sort of normal mobility and reducing pain to a manageable level, whilst at the same time reducing the use of strong opiates, has been a bit of a challenge. The weather hasn’t helped either, with snow & ice and what seems like continuous rain and cold miserable conditions preventing me from getting out and about (even with crutches) as it often just wasn’t safe. But, I’ve done my indoors home exercises, as well as the scheduled physio sessions at the hospital, strengthening and stretching muscles and tendons and working scar tissue. I’ve even borrowed an exercise bike, now taking pride of place in my dining room for ease of use.

Slowly, as I improved, I introduced a wander down the street and back, short trips around the supermarket and a longer walk to the local shops (about a mile round trip). I started off with two crutches, then one (which didn’t work very well as I felt totally unbalanced), and I’ve pretty much discarded both crutches all the time now. That felt brilliant, especially as I could stand tall again and move a little more naturally.

So, back to Coombe Abbey …. This was to be the furthest I’d have walked since the op’s … and … with walking boots on !… and … on slightly rougher ground !… and … I must admit with a slight feeling of trepidation over how my new knees might cope.

The Walk :-
It was a dry day, quite chilly, overcast and grey, some might even say decidedly gloomy, but just about nice enough to venture out a bit further afield as there was no rain forecast. It was the sort 20180322-00_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Car Park Charges (Mar-2018)of day that you wouldn’t want to stop and linger for very long in any one place. So, accompanied by my wife and daughter, we headed the few miles to the east side of Coventry to Coombe Abbey Country Park. We parked up in the car-park (the first car-park off the main drive, not the second car-park which is to service the hotel) making a note of the charges vs times. We decided up to two hours stay would probably be about right which would cost us £2.00, over two hours would cost £3.80 quite a jump to the next time slot of two-four hours.

We started off walking over to the large visitor centre, going down the right-hand side of the large, and to my mind, ugly building (we stayed away from the other side and the rather noisier 20180322-01_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Visitor Centrekiddie’s play area). Just for your info’, if you’re in need, the toilets are down this right-hand side, near the far end of the building. From here we took the wide modern surfaced path down the slope (looking back I think the building still looks rather out of place). The park has recently developed a wildflower meadow off to the left here, but it was the wrong time of year to see anything of note, and off to the right are views across a picnic field to the old abbey buildings, albeit much of the top half has been rebuilt in modern times when it was converted into a hotel (quite a posh one at that!).

20180322-02_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Picnic Fields + Abbey Hotel

20160116-13_Coombe Abbey_Gull_In FlightDropping further down the wide path, brings you to an almost equally wide causeway. To the left is the main lake (Coombe Pool) which has been allowed to naturalize over recent years to become a major attraction for water birds, as opposed to a pleasure boating pool as it was going back to my childhood in the 60s/70s. You’ll find the obligatory mallard ducks, geese and serene snow-white swans, but there were various other sorts of ducks and gulls on show and we caught 20180322-03_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeonsa glimpse of a grebe, albeit briefly, before it vanished under the water.

We didn’t stop long here, just enough time for me to snap a photo of a line of pigeons sat atop a fence and the ornamental stone balustrade (to the right of the causeway) that separates the naturalistic lake from an ornamental pool, with views up to the abbey hotel, where the rectangular pool morphs into a moat around one side of the building.

Once over the causeway, there are several options to take, too numerous to mention here right 20180322-05_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodilsnow, other than to say we turned right, following the path running along-side the ornamental pool heading towards the hotel. There are several benches here, sat in front of a stone wall with various dormant climbing roses just waiting for some spring warmth to burst into life.. The wall itself retains a higher terraced area which we could have chosen to be our route. Towards the far end of the wall I particularly liked a bed of daffodils, their cheery vibrant yellow blooms brightening up the area, even in the grey overcast conditions.20180322-06_Coombe Abbey Country Park - - Daffodils

20180322-07 (20171109)_Coombe Abbey_Xperia XA1

20180322-08b_b+w_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Knot Garden & Abbey HotelWe’d now reached the top end of the ornamental pool and quite close to the abbey’s west frontage and a traditional hedge knot garden. You can enter the garden, for the classic view back down the ornamental pool to the balustrade/causeway and Coombe Pool beyond. Please note that the sun terrace directly in front of the hotel is for paying guests only.

We didn’t bother with the knot garden area 20180322-09_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Griffins or Eagles Stone Statuestoday, instead passing two stone sentinels (stylised eagles/griffins?) stood either side of a set of stone steps. My two fave ladies had made their way up a sloping path here and turned left along another path heading away from the hotel. However, as I’d dropped behind (taking a couple of photos of the daffodils and the griffins) I climbed the steps and headed off across a lawned area, cutting the corner off, as a mini-short cut, re-joining the girls near the “doggy grave stones”.

20180322-11_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Doggy Grave StonesGrowing up we’d been under the assumption that the gravestones marked where the pets were buried, which seems a reasonable assumption, but we learnt a while ago that the actual graves are elsewhere on the estate but the gravestones had been relocated to their current site many years ago. Some more clumps of cheery daff’s enhanced the area here, adding a welcome splash of colour.


20180322-10_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodils

20160116-27_Coombe Country Park_Pine Needles RossetteThe path continues on, with private grounds off to the right and to the left, planted on a large raised bank is an arboretum, the area dominated by tall redwoods as well as other conifers and some broad-leaved trees. I just love the soft fibrous texture of the redwoods’ bark, extremely attractive and equally tactile. There are always squirrels to be seen here, obviously attracted by the cones on these conifers. I know grey squirrels are effectively an invasive species having supplanted our native red squirrels, but they are rather cute hopping about on the ground and scurrying up the trees at the slightest hint of danger.

20160116-24_Coombe Country Park_Redwood

20180322-13_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Tall RedwoodsAt the far end of the redwood area, another path joins from the left. Now, the lovely ladies in my life asked how my knees were holding up, especially as I had opted to leave my crutches at home; effectively they were giving me the option to turn left which would very quickly take me back to the causeway and the main pool. I was however feeling OK, so opted to continue on, on the perimeter path to reach “Top Pool”. This is very much smaller than Coombe Pool, and was once the kiddie’s boating pool a long time ago. Again, nature is taking over with reed beds and over-hanging trees. There always seems to be swans here too; the old landing stage now used by the swans rather than pedaloes and rowing boats. Near here is a toilet block (not open all the time) which we passed by on what was now more of a roadway than a path, soon reaching an area where The Smite Brook passes under the path/roadway.

20180322-14_Coombe Abbey Country Park - The Smite Brook Weir

Again, I could have turned left here (over Wrautums Field) to head back towards the causeway, but I was happy to carry on, the path heading out into an area of more naturalistic woodland, somewhat wilder than the walk done so far, and a complete contrast to the hotel/ornamental pool area.

20180322-16_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Buds Waiting for SpringI like it out here, the perimeter path becomes a little more rough and ready, you see fewer people, and somehow, I felt closer to nature; perhaps it was the birdsong all around and occasional glimpse of a blue tit or robin flitting between the branches, or the buds on the otherwise naked trees just starting to open-up. At one point, the path takes a right bend down a little slope and then a left to rise back up again. The path at this point skirts the outer limits of the park grounds, only separated by a line of trees most notably some tall gnarly pines (Scots Pine I think). The view out over the nearby farmland is to a large (quite ugly) building complex. It looks rather like a factory or a warehouse, but is Coventry and Warwickshire’s largest hospital at Walsgrave on the very edge of Coventry.

20140202_18_Coombe Country Park -Blue-Tit at the feeding postThe path reaches the far end of the park, well at least the part of the park with public access. The area of woods straight ahead is set aside as a nature reserve, forcing the path to take a sharp left-hand turn, dropping gently down through the woodland (the inaccessible nature reserve on the right), until it reaches the bird hide. The hide looks out over Coombe Pool, with an area of marshy ground, reeds, etc, and a small clearing with bird-feeders. The main attraction however for many people is, off to the right, an island in the lake which is the home to a sizeable heronry.

Today, it looked like there were a number of people in the hide already, so we turned left on the perimeter path, now following Coombe Pool on our right, at times quite close to the serpentine lake 20180322-18_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Glimpse of the Main Lakewhere it also feels airier where the trees make way for more open ground.

Not far after however, the path re-enters the woods, winding its way onwards a little further away from the lakeside, but where glimpses of the lake can still be had; later the path again gets very close to the lake with views emerging of the causeway and then soon after reaching an arched wooden footbridge over the Smite Brook.

20180322-19_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Bridge over The Smite Brook

20180322-20_Coombe Abbey Country Park - PigeonCrossing the bridge brought us back to near the end of the causeway, and then it was just a case of re-crossing the pool (balustrade rail on our left this time) where I stopped for more pigeon photos. Although not exactly posing, they did seem reasonably happy to oblige me; I think they are completely happy with the proximity of people who cross here, often milling around in their crowds feeding the water birds.


20180322-21_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeon

20180322-22_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeon

20180322-23_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Pigeon

20180322-24_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodils + Avenue of TreesI must admit, my knees were now starting to twinge a bit, but a slow wander back up to the visitor centre was negotiated easily enough, and I felt OK enough to have a final little wander taking a few photos of large clumps of daffodils looking fantastic around the base of the trees that form an impressive avenue down the sides of the main drive.



20180322-25_Coombe Abbey Country Park - Daffodils + Avenue of Trees

And then, that was that, back to the car, and the drive home – but – calling in at The Old Smithy, a pub in Church Lawford, where we indulged with a spot of lunch in their conservatory, a super way to finish a good morning, and a good test of my new artificial knees.

The afternoon largely consisted of elevating feet and legs, applying ice packs and not much more in a well-tested method to reduce any swelling from the mornings exertions. Sounds easy, but probably one of the hardest parts of my rehabilitation. I hate being laid up inactive, makes me feel just a tad useless. I can’t wait to get back to a degree of normality and ultimately to get back to work and equally important to my wellbeing back onto the hills, valleys, moors, fells and mountains of our great country. In the meantime, though, I’ll suffice with the gentle parks and countryside of Warwickshire.

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.

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.

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

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-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.

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #4 of 5 …. Some info about wildlife on Fylingdales Moors

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #4 of 5 …. Some info about wildlife on Fylingdales Moors

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Summary : Some extra info about wildlife on Fylingdales Moors
Where : North Yorkshire Moors

You may well have come across this diary entry via my walking diary posts, where I’d walked from Boggle Hole, along the beach to Stoupe Beck Sands, up to Ravenscar on the coast path, across a lot of moorland and then farmland back to Boggle Hole.

My other posts are :- Post-1 Boggle Hole to Ravenscar ; Post-2 Info about Peak Alum Works ; Post-3 Ravenscar to Stony Leas on Fylingdales Moor ; Post-5 Stony Leas to Boggle Hole.

20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular WalkHowever, if you’ve just come to this post directly and not via my walks diary, none of the above really matters, as this info is relevant just as a standalone post if you want it to be. The following is info’ taken from a leaflet I picked up at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel, and I think makes an interesting supplement to my walks diaries.

Fylingdales Moor is managed as a conservation area by “The Hawk and Owl Trust” on behalf of the Strickland Estate. It covers about 6,800 acres of land of the eastern part of the North York Moors National Park near Whitby.

20170329-31_Straight Path Through Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

This vast heather moorland with its scattered trees and wooded valleys and gullies, is being managed for its wildlife and archaeological remains. The key aim of the trust’s habitat management is to encourage merlins, harriers, short-eared owls and other moorland birds, such as red grouse and curlew, to breed.

20170329-41_Burn Howe Dale Joining Jugger Howe Beck Valley

The moor is nationally and internationally recognised as a :-
• SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest
• SPA – Special Protection Area (for merlin and golden plover)
• SAC – Special Area of Conservation

It is home to :-
• Over 135 bird species,
• Many mammals, including otter and water vole,
• Plants ranging from three kinds of heather to bog myrtle, orchids, sundews and sedges,
• And, Insects like the large and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and emperor moth.

20170329-43_Jugger Howe Beck

On my walk across/through the moors, I didn’t see anything (except for hearing skylarks, and seeing a dead stoat/weasel type of animal lying on the path), but the leaflet I’d picked up says to look out for all sorts of wildlife depending on the time of year including :-

• Spring and Summer :-
Harriers, Merlin, Golden Plover, Linnet, Curlew, Whinchat, Reed Bunting, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Stonechat and Yellowhammer.
Orchids, Heathers and other spring/summer flowering plants.
Butterflies and Dragonflies around ponds and becks.
• Autumn and Winter :-
Snow Bunting, Crossbill, Great Grey Shrike and Winter Thrushes.

20170329-32_Moorland Pool between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

• All Year :-
Kestrel, Red Grouse, Skylark, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Lapwing, Snipe, Meadow Pipit and Wood Warbler.
Otter, Water Vole, Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Stoat, Weasel, Badger.

The Hawk and Owl trust’s partners in the conservation management of Fylingdales Moor include :-
• The Strickland Estate (which owns the moor),
• Fylingdales Moor ESS Ltd, (I believe ESS = Environment Stewardship Scheme)
• The North York Moors National Park Authority,
• Fylingdales Court Leet, (ancient institution of control over common land and is the guardian of the moor)
• Natural England.
• And, also works closely with its neighbour, The Forestry Commission.

20170329-33_Standing Stone between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings, or at least found it useful …. If you’d like to comment on my diary please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you. Having said that, I’m no expert on birds or bird watching and if you want more info on the technical/legal side of the moors management, access, etc, please do a bit of “google-ing” for yourself. I will try to add some links, but over the years I’ve found that “official” web sites such as *.gov addresses often seem to become unobtainable and you’ll end up having to search further anyway.

T.T.F.N. Gary.