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)
20180322_A Coombe Abbey Country Park Walk (near Coventry)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.

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.

Why?

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.

Advertisements

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_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.

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #5 of 5 …. Stony Leas on Fylingdales Moor to Boggle Hole

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #5 of 5 …. Stony Leas on Fylingdales Moor to Boggle Hole

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038

Distance : Approx 16.5 miles (26.5 km) 20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular Walk

Significant heights : See end of this post for approx. figures

Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

Whole Walk Summary : A stretch of coast path, a lot of wide open moorland, and a final section of farmland. This was the longest day-walk I’d done for many a long year. Starting and finishing at Boggle Hole, along the coast and up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way), west skirting Jugger Howe Moor and across Fylingdales Moor, north past Newton House Plantation (forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.

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 diary post picks up my walking route on a high point on Fylingdales Moor, at the most westerly point of my route. It was from here I started making my way back towards the youth hostel at Boggle Hole, just south of Robin Hood’s Bay village. As such, this is a follow on from my previous posts :

post-1 (Boggle Hole to Ravenscar) ;

post-2 (Peak Alum Works) ;

post-3 (Ravenscar to Stony Leas)

and Post-4 Some info about wildlife on the moors ….

20170329-50_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moor + RAF Radar Station

Picking up the walk at the trig point at Stony Leas, high up on Fylingdales Moor, I’d had a bite to eat, some hot soup from a flask (which was VERY welcome given 20170329-49_Carvings_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moorthe weather conditions, as once I’d stopped I felt really quite cold, quite quickly. If you head out onto these moors, please take some decent clothing, appropriate kit for the walk [including 1st aid stuff] and enough food and drink for the day – and then add a bit more just in case of emergencies. It is always better to take home some packed lunch uneaten rather than feel you needed more should something go wrong for you and your party, or even if you come across a stranger in difficulties. Over the years, I think I’ve patched up more blisters on stranger’s feet whilst out and about than on my own feet …. Well it’s only common curtesy really, isn’t it?

Anyway, that’s a little beside the point really, as I hadn’t seen a single soul, not one person, since the lone figure I’d seen in the distance all those miles ago over on Jugger Howe Moor. This only added to the remote isolated feel of the place … maybe it’s a bit sad and maybe a tad anti-social, but I quite like it like this, no one to talk to, no one to worry about, just me, my map, the landscape and the elements.

From the trig point, I had to back track a few hundred yards to where a rough track heads-off on the left, swinging round generally northwards bisecting the landscape between the fantastically named “Green Swang” and “Leech Bog 20170329-51_Newton House Plantation from Fylingdales MoorSlack”. I was descending through the moor, the terrain very much like the stretch on The Lyke Way Walk, but I now had the dark mass of Newton House Plantation to view off on my left, which after about a mile or so I was to skirt alongside with just a small amount of moor between it and me. Dropping away from the high point of the moor, combined with it having stopped raining plus a degree of shelter from the forest allowed me to strip off my waterproofs and stow away in my sack. It shouldn’t really have made much difference, but I felt much freer, even lighter, and my pace quickened over the frankly quite rough terrain, including deep ruts, large muddy puddles, tangled heathers and tufty grass. It’s shown as a bridle track on my map, but is called Robin Hood’s Bay Road (path) perhaps indicating that this was, once upon a time, an important route across the moor. I certainly would think twice about riding across here unless I had a very sure-footed horse.

Anyway, the path continued northwards, the land dropping on the left to Blea Hill Beck and rising steadily on my right to Blea Hill itself, with its broad flank dropping to Bracken Hill where my map shows another bridle track joining into 20170329-52_Biller Howe Dale Slack (Bog Marsh Moor)the one I was following – I didn’t see this on the ground at-all, but this really wasn’t important other than it would’ve been nice as a navigation aid as to how far I’d come. However, it soon became apparent where I’d reached as a flat boggy, marshy area stretched off on my right. This is “Biller Howe Dale Slack” and marks the rising off a stream that eventually becomes Jugger Howe Beck crossed earlier in the walk. Again my map shows a right of way that winds it way through Biller Howe Slack; Biller Howe Dale, then further downstream alongside the stream (now called Brown Rigg Beck) and then emerging into the more significant valley of Jugger Howe Beck where Burn Howe Dale joins.

If you remember from my earlier post (post-3) I’d come through this point some hours earlier and I’d got it in my head that this path could have been used to shorten the walk by maybe a couple of miles. Doing this would have either spared me or made me miss out on the solitude and wide-open spaces of Fylingdales Moor; even now I’m not sure which of these applies, probably a bit of both. As it happens, this alternative path wasn’t visible to me at either end so maybe it was better that I’d taken the longer route.

20170329-53_Juvenille Fir ConesBack to my actual route, after crossing the head of the boggy valley, the land started to rise, a lone small fir tree adding a bit of height to the moor here, I’m assuming this was a self-seeded sapling escaped from the main forest plantation nearby. The fresh greeny-yellow juvenile fir cones really stood out against the drab moorland colours, but due to the brooding, lowering skies and breezy conditions I struggled to get a sharp image on my camera (or maybe I need to learn more about ISO-control/F-stops/and other controls on my camera). As time was pressing on, I didn’t feel I could tarry too long to improve my photography skills. I guess today was proof that I’m more of a walker who takes photo’s rather than a photographer who walks.

Not long after crossing the marshy bit, with the land rising I took a faint path branching right (still marked as the main bridle way), even with a very small 20170329-54_Route Choice - Which Path To Takemarker post alongside the path, it could very easily be missed, as the more distinct path continues north still following the line of the forest plantation. My map shows the path dissecting the line of a medieval earthwork/dike system but although I think I could make it out, it was somewhat blended into the moor as a whole. However, I had more pressing thoughts on my mind as I had to concentrate quite hard on my direction finding as the path was very indistinct in places, but it picked up more definition as it joined another path coming eastwards away from the plantation.

I was now heading in a north-easterly direction with the path slowing swinging in an arc to the right; I’d caught a glimpse of a pool some way off on the right (backed by Foulsike Farm) which helped on the navigation side of things and I knew the main moorland part of the walk was now approaching its conclusion. I must admit I’d had enough of the moor by now, and I felt I needed to be a few miles further on as soon as possible as the gloom of the day started to feel like the gloom of the evening – and I didn’t really want to be navigating the last of 20170329-55_Kirk Moor Beck_Thorn Key Wath_North York Moorsthe walk in the dark. The path was such that I could stretch out my stride as it descended alongside a shallow valley and soon reached an area where three little streams merged into one at Thorn Key Wath, The combined waters contrived to deepen the valley here, resulting in a few mini-waterfalls/cascades. In the sun with the heather in bloom, I’m sure this is a lovely spot and I can imagine families and groups of walkers making this a perfect picnic spot, especially as it is where two bridle tracks cross making four possible routes to/from here.

As it was, I was the only soul here, my only company an occasional sheep, and 20170329-56_Sheep_North York Moorsthey tend not to be very talkative or sociable in any way (this had been a very quiet route in terms of people seen/passed), but I did take the opportunity to have a bite to eat and a drink here before turning right (following the combined stream) towards the south. There were signs of civilisation here-abouts though; above is a junction between the A171 and B1416 roads with traffic jams seen earlier from the moorland path (due to roadworks). As I dropped further, nearing the A171 vehicles could be seen travelling at some speed, but without 20170329-57_A171 cutting through North York Moorsthem you’d have no idea the road was there at-all – and then all of a sudden, somewhat abruptly, the path emerges out onto the main road at a bend where it crosses over Kirk Moor Beck.

Unfortunately, I now had several hundred yards of road-side walking (rising quite steeply heading south-easterly), having to brave the traffic moving at 20170329-58_Slow Down - Bend on A171 - Fylingdales CPspeed. The amount of verge here isn’t brilliant; not really aiding staying off the tarmac. It’s obviously a bit of a spot where motorists need to slow down, as big signs almost shout at drivers to slow to 40 mph, I’m not sure anyone who’d passed me had heeded this speed limit (except for a huge tractor with an even larger trailer of smelly manure which trundled past climbing the hill).

20170329-59_St Ives Farm - Fylingdales North YorkshireOnce over the stiff (but not long) climb, I was pleased to soon turn off onto a farm road heading off to the left. It was still tarmac, but with grassy fields on both sides, gorse bushes in flower and a strip of grass breaking through down the middle of the road making it felt more track-like and I didn’t mind the hard surface as it allowed me to stride out dropping to St Ives Farm. The path does a quick skirt around the buildings and then rises now 20170329-60_Fylingdales CP - Bridle Trackas a dirt track up Park Hill heading into some woodland. The landscape had changed now, this side of the A171 being much gentler farmland, with woods and grassy fields – the moors now left behind. Navigation was straight-forward (eastwards), following woodland tracks, field boundaries (with cute gamboling lambs), farm tracks and farmsteads along the way (including Swallow Head Farm and Fyling Old Hall Farm.

20170329-61_Spring Lambs

20170329-62_Farm Gate_Fylingdales CPIt was at Fyling Old Hall Farm that I joined a very minor road, turned right and then a sharp bend to the left, crossed the line of the old railway (you’ll know a bit about this from my post-1, as coming from Ravenscar) and then rose up to merge into another minor road (Bridge Holm Lane). I didn’t mind this final stretch of 20170329-63_Country Lane Approaching Boggle Holeroad walking at-all, my legs, well all of me really, were feeling very tired now, and I will admit that last very little climb up had been a bit of an effort. The evening was drawing in quite quickly too so road walking was an easy way of navigating the last mile or so back to the car-park (even some roadside daffodils struggled to brighten the way back in the semi-light). I was quite happy to arrive back at 20170329-64_Boggle Hole Humourous Warning Signthe car-park, but still had energy to enjoy the little jokey sign-post warning people not to drive down to the youth hostel.

The steep drop down to the hostel was a bit of an effort for my weary legs, but I was quite happy as the old mill buildings came into view and it wasn’t long before I’d crossed the little footbridge (now briefly back on The Cleveland way) and “checked in” at reception to cross me off as being “home” safely (I’d left my route with them at the start of the day). I’d made it back and just before 7pm.

20170329-65_Boggle Hole Youth Hostel

It’d been a long day, a big day of strenuous walking (at least for me) and certainly the longest distance I’d done in a day for a very long time. I was tired, yes, I was tired, but my knees had stood the test and I felt good. Later, after a shower, I headed into the self-catering kitchen, made cheesey nachos with a hot tomato salsa for starter, beef chilli and rice for main course and steamed treacle cake for pudding …. All washed down with a couple of pints of ale purchased from the hostel reception.

Well that’s about it, 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.

Heights Climbed worth mentioning over the whole walk.
Downhill bits not really worth noting.

Stoupe Beck Sands to Ravenscar.
About 200m (660 ft)
Track, Road, Coastal Paths.

Ravenscar to Trig Point near Radio Mast/Scarborough Rd
About 66m (215 ft)
Road, Track, Moorland Path.

Jugger Howe Beck Valley Bottom, Initial Climb onto Moor.
About 60m (200 ft)
Flagstones, Moorland Path.

Long Steady Climb over Fylingdales Moor to Stony Leas.
About 120m (395 ft)
Moorland Tracks and Paths.

Biller Howe Dale Slack, Rise towards Thorn Key Wath.
About 40m (130 ft)
Indistinct Moorland Path.

A171 between Kirk Moor Beck and Farm Track
About 20m (65 ft)
Only mentioned really because of the potential traffic hazard

St Ives Farm to Bridge Holm Lane
About 30/40m (100/130 ft)
Spread over a number of ups and downs on farm tracks, paths and roads.

Overall Adding Up
About 540m (1,770 ft)

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.

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #3 of 5 …. Ravenscar to Stony Leas, incl. part of Lyke Wake Walk

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #3 of 5 …. Ravenscar to Stony Leas, incl. part of Lyke Wake Walk

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038
Distance : Approx 16.5 miles (26.5 km)
Significant heights : See end of post #5 for approx. figures
Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular WalkWhole Walk Summary : A stretch of coast path, a lot of wide open moorland, and a final section of farmland. This was the longest day-walk I’d done for many a long year. Starting and finishing at Boggle Hole, along the coast and up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way), west skirting Jugger Howe 20170329-25_National Trust Visitor Centre - RavenscarMoor and across Fylingdales Moor, north past Newton House Plantation (forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.

This diary post picks up my walking route at the National Trust information centre in Ravenscar, and follows on from post-1 (Boggle Hole to Ravenscar) and post-2 (Peak Alum Works) … follow on posts include post-4 (info about wildlife on the moors) and post-5 (Stony Leas to Boggle Hole) that completes the walk.

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.

20170329-26a_View over Stoupe Brow (Railway Bridge + Quarry)I’d just grabbed a bite to eat from my rucksack (I always walk with more than enough for the day) and a bought cup of coffee from the National Trust info’ centre, and it didn’t take long for me to feel a little rested. However, as I was running somewhat late regarding walk timings and as the overcast skies turned to light drizzle, I didn’t tarry very long. So, I threw my sack on my back, and headed up Raven Hall Road, heading generally south passing a ribbon of houses; the road walking didn’t much bother me as I 20170329-26b_View over Stoupe Brow (Railway Bridge)knew it wasn’t for long and there were good views out to the bay over Stoupe Brow, with a glimpse of the old railway, a stone bridge, clumps of gorse coming into flower, and an old alum quarry all blending seamlessly into each other in the landscape. I ignored Church Road/Bent Rigg Lane on the left, as the road bent slightly to the right, to then turn off on the next road/track on the right (Robin 20170329-27_Mast above Ravenscar (Scarborough Road)Hood Road) to pass a few slightly isolated buildings.

Near the end of the track as it headed off into some scrubby moorland. I chose a path on the left following the line of the field boundary wall on my left, rising really quite steeply, certainly enough to raise the heart rate and had me puffing somewhat. Even more extensive views opened behind/below 20170329-28_Robin Hoods Bay (from above Ravenscar)me, but my next destination was above me : a radio mast pointing skywards. The route to get there was via a single-track path at the bottom of a narrow heather clad gully/ditch, not overly exciting perhaps, but this is the end of an ancient medieval earthwork (ditch and bank) system called20170329-29_Green Dyke Ancient Earthworks Near Ravenscar “Green Dike” heading south over the highest part of the moors hereabouts. The gully, wide enough for single file only, rises to reach a minor road (Scarborough Road) very near to the radio mast. I believe this marks one end (normally the finishing point) of The Lyke Wake Challenge Walk.

 

After crossing the road, the medieval Green Dike (designated a monument scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979), continues southwards from here, but my route was to be just south of an almost due westerly direction, heading into the now pretty much flat 20170329-30_Trig-Point - North Yorkshire Moors (near Ravenscar)moorland terrain. There were several paths/tracks that could be chosen, so I referred to my compass, took a bearing and started out noting the trig point off a little on my left.

My map shows the height here is 266m (about 873 ft) above sea level, indicating the height climbed since leaving Stoupe Beck Sands some 3-miles or so earlier in the walk. 20170329-31_Straight Path Through Howdale Moor + Helwath GrainsThe well-defined track heads out over Howdale Moor, which, still in its bleak winter colours of grey and brown, was a complete contrast to the softer, lusher, farmland below Ravenscar. There was little variation in the landscape, except for a lone pool just off the track, its waters a deep peaty black looking ever slightly sinister (or was I allowing my imagination to run wild again) and an odd standing stone, with 1902, an arrow and other lettering carved into the hard surface.

20170329-32_Moorland Pool between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

20170329-33_Standing Stone between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

20170329-34_Standing Stone Engraving 1902 (Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains)

20170329-35_Me on North York Moors

After about a mile of the track, there was a divergence of paths. I wanted the more northerly option. It’d be very easy to miss this junction, especially in poor visibility, or I can imagine 20170329-36_Path dropping to Cook House on Stony Marl Moorjust chatting to colleagues/daydreaming as you walked would quite easily suffice to inadvertently miss this northern option. However, it wouldn’t have been a disaster if I had, as the overall route could’ve been picked up again later.

20170329-37_Pool-Pond at Cook House on Stony Marl MoorMy route through or across the moors [between Howdale Moor and Stony Marl Moor] swung around to the left, dropping gently into a shallow valley to reach Cook House (farm). There was a degree of manicured-ness (is that a word) near the farmstead with a sizable wild looking pond glimpsed on the left. This pond isn’t marked on my old map (I wonder if it’s made it onto newer printings), however the farm track 20170329-38_Fast Taffic on A171heading away from the farm was on my map and that marked my route to rise up to meet the A171 main Scarborough to Whitby road.

If you do this walk, please be very vigilant and careful here, as traffic can be travelling at high speeds in both directions. As you might have 20170329-39_Burn Howe Dale and Jugger Howe Moorgathered, the route crosses straight over here to continue directly on the other side, crossing into a long grassy field, effectively on a bit of a ridge; the landscape dropping on both the right with wide views over the landscape and more steeply on the left into the shallow valley of 20170329-40_Distant Lone Walker on Jugger Howe MoorBurn Howe Dale, the opposite valley side rising up onto Jugger Howe Moor. I believe the Lyke Wake Walk takes the track across Jugger Howe Moor and if you wanted to, it would be perfectly OK as an alternative to the route I took. A lone walker heading eastwards in the distance added a scale to the scene, he looked quite diminutive, small and insignificant and against the grey sky. [Please see my earlier post about a mini-wander on Jugger Howe Moor whilst on holiday with my family from some years ago].

20170329-41_Burn Howe Dale Joining Jugger Howe Beck ValleyI’d chosen to stay north of Burn Howe Dale, where after about ¾ of a mile the indistinct path drops through some rough woodland, across a small stream via a footbridge, and then another small rise and descent across scrubby moorland to meet Jugger Howe Beck all on paths little more than sheep tracks. With the route in the 20170329-42_Jugger Howe Beck Valleyvalley bottom now heading southwards for a short distance, it took quite a bit of concentration to find a footbridge to cross Jugger Howe Beck and make my way through the vegetation.

 

 

20170329-43_Jugger Howe Beck

20170329-44_Flagged Path Through Jugger Howe Beck Valley

I needed to pick up a path heading east-west, marked as a tiny dotted black line on my map indicating it may not be an official right of way, so I was surprised to find it was flagged (stone slabs) as it crosses the flat boggy valley floor and picks up where the track across Jugger Howe Moor drops into the valley (there’s another small footbridge over the beck here). I turned right onto the flags, crossed the valley floor heading almost due west, soon starting to rise steeply up onto the huge area of Fylingdales Moor.

The weather had deteriorated somewhat, to the point where I donned waterproofs and I began to wish I had windscreen wipers on 20170329-45_Me (Jugger Howe Moor Behind)my glasses. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was now back on the route of The Lyke Wake walk, the way ahead marked by deep muddy ruts cutting a path through let’s face it was a quite bleak terrain. I anticipate this would be much more appealing in late summer/autumn with the heather in bloom under 20170329-46_Lyke Wake Walk - Fylingdales Moorblue skies and a warm breeze. That dream was a long way from today’s reality however as there was a decided chill in the rain, although I soon started feeling rather warm and sweaty inside my cag’.

There was now a good stretch of this moorland rising gently (but quite insistently) ahead of me, maybe for the best part of three miles or so, so I now “got my head down”, upped my pace (as much as the terrain allowed). At any one time, the terrain underfoot, the gradient and navigating was nothing to speak of, the hardest part was perhaps the monotony of the landscape. There was little variation to the dreary winter colours of the heathers [browns and greys] almost reflecting the moody flat grey clouds above and patches of drizzle/rain coming (mostly straight into my face) and going interspersed with drier periods.

20170329-47_Police Tape - North Yorkshire MoorsAn oddity that I came across that I hadn’t anticipated at-all though was finding some blue and white police incident tape flapping around in the breeze, one end tied to a post stuck in the ground. This was way out on the moor, and again imagination could lead to all sorts of conclusions: was it a crime scene, a TV set, or perhaps a training event …. Whatever it was or had been, the plastic ribbon had been abandoned to just litter the moors – very unsightly!

It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on you, as I started to feel that I’d walked too far and with no definitive features to take a bearing on, I slowed, stopped, consulted my map, moved on a bit further and rose up a steeper rise for a good stretch. I even back-tracked for a while to review if/where a few tracks had merged across the moors, trying to work out a precise location … a GPS unit might have helped or even a smart phone (which I now own with a grid-ref app installed, but I didn’t have at the time). In the end, I decided to trust my instincts that I needed to go a bit further, so re-ascended the steeper rise and pressed on for a bit longer, scanning the terrain for clues. My decision turned out to be correct (of course it did!) soon reaching the trig point I wanted to reach at Stony Leas just off the main track on the right.

The area is home to a raised piece of land, which I take to be an ancient tumulus or burial mound and there are also some standing stones, again with engravings. The 20170329-48_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moorlargest of the stones still shows the marks where it was roughhewn and dressed to shape and large C and + carvings suggest to me a Christian root to it’s purpose. Maybe the standing stones were to usurp/claim the pre-Christian burial mound for the church, or as a boundary marker between abbey land-ownership or just parish boundary points. Whatever they signify, it had stopped raining, so became a good spot for a drink of soup and bite to eat to 20170329-49_Carvings_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moorreplenish lost energies on the walk up to here.

Whatever the significance of the stones, this was the highest point of the entire walk (299m / 981 feet above sea level) and also the furthest west I was to go. From here, there are wide, open, extensive views all around, it felt very remote. To the north was a sizeable area of forest (Newton House Plantation), eastwards was from where I’d come from, west was MOD land and if you could cross here as the crow flies, would take you across the moors to the A169 road and then on to Goathland village.

South and south-west is again MOD property, marked on my map as danger areas (I assume unexploded bombs/shells and potentially live firing ranges) leading across to a huge triangular, odd-looking, almost pyramidal looking building in the distance. 20170329-50_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moor + RAF Radar StationThis is the RAF early warning facility, part of Britain and NATO’s defence system on Fylingdales/Lockton High Moors. Strangely, it isn’t marked on the map; because it’s a secret/sensitive site I think; but everyone and his dog world-wide probably knows it’s here. The current incarnation of the radar building has replaced the iconic “golf balls” that have been so well documented in tourist photos whilst travelling past on the A169 (just google it). I must admit the golf ball buildings had a much more photographic quality about them. I wonder if they were completely destroyed in the upgrade or if they are in pieces ready to be reassembled as a museum piece somewhere in the future?

Anyway, as this was the highest, most westerly point of the walk, it would seem a good place to stop this post to be continued on post-5, to follow later.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings so far …. 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 #2 of 5 …. Peak Alum Works … Ravenscar.

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #2 of 5 …. Peak Alum Works … Ravenscar.

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular WalkSummary : Some extra info about Ravenscar Alum Works site, which I walked through during a circular walk from Boggle Hole.

Where : On the North Yorkshire Moors and Coast, near to Ravenscar village, on the Eastern edge of The North York Moors National Park …. North of Scarborough and south of Whitby/Robin Hood’s Bay (village) and overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay (part of the North Sea).

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.

20170329-03_Coastal Cliffs _ Boggle HoleYou may well have come across this diary entry via my earlier post where I’d walked from Boggle Hole, along the beach to Stoupe Beck Sands and then followed the coast path on The Cleveland Way to Ravenscar village, which, if that’s the case you’ll already know the route had taken me right through the site of the old Alum Works.

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-B_Cleveland Way route through Peak Alum Works (Ravenscar)However, if you’ve just come to this post directly and not via my walks diary, none of the above really matters, as the site can be reached on foot from Ravenscar village, via tracks and footpaths.

So, what is or was the site of Peak Alum Works ?

I’ll just pick out a good selection of the info from the information boards that were dotted around the site, and if you want to know more, you could open my photo’s (when added) and zoom in on the text. Please forgive the odd precis and paraphrasing.

20170329-G_Information Board - Peak Alum Works +Ravenscar - Location MapWhat Is The Site ?
An important industrial heritage/archaeological site, in the care of The National Trust since 1979.

What Is Alum ?
Alum is a crystal containing aluminium sulphate produced by a chemical process. It was ground into a “flour” used as a fixing agent in the textile dyeing industry and as a preservative for tanning leather.

Why Are The Alum Works Here ?
20170329-16_Wave Cut Platform - Ravenscar - Robin Hoods BayFrom 1650 Peak was a thriving hub of alum production for over 200 years. It closed in 1860 after the introduction of cheaper manufacturing methods. Peak was an ideal location; the vast amounts of alum shale required for the process could be quarried from the hills nearby. Other materials such as human urine and seaweed were easily transported by boat. They docked at the foot of the cliffs below the Alum House from where the final product “alum flour” was transported across Britain and Europe.

20170329-F_Information Board - The Peak Alum Works - RavenscarThe Work Force
Alum production was very labour intensive. Up to 150 men quarried shale, converted aluminium sulphate into a soluble form then processed this in the Alum House complex. They were housed in small communities below the quarries and near the Alum House.

One of Britain’s First Chemical Industries
Alum was one of Britain’s first chemical industries. Following the discovery of alum-bearing shale in North Yorkshire, over 30 alum sites were established in the 17th and 18th centuries. By about 1780 they were producing 5,000 tons of alum a year; at Peak, output was about 10% of the total. By-products of the process included Epsom salts used in the production of medicine.

20170329-C_Information Board - Peak Alum Works - Transport - RavenscarBoats
The cheapest way of bringing materials in and out of the works was on small sailing boats. They could carry between 50 and 80 tons. From about 1650, boats would berth on the rocky shore below the Alum House. During the 1800s a narrow inlet was blasted into the rock to allow boats to get near the foot of the cliffs. A steep causeway and an inclined railway were used to haul materials up and down the cliffs.

Materials Per Year
IN: 3,500 tons of coal; 400 tons of kelp; 200 tons of urine; lead, timber and iron.
OUT: Up to 600 tons of alum across Britain and Europe.

20170329-E_Information Board - Peak Alum Works - Quarries - RavenscarThe Quarries
Nearby are the remains of two quarries containing alum-bearing shale. Quarrying of this Jurassic rock began in 1650. Pickmen extracted a measured volume or “task” of shale; they had to quarry 100 tons of shale to produce just 1 ton of alum.

 

Extraction, Burning and Liquor Production
• Before shale could be extracted the “overburden” (unwanted soil and rock) had to be removed.
• Exposed shale was cut down.
• The shale was then carted by “barrowmen” on raised walkways to the base of the quarry.
• Brushwood was used to ignite the heaps of shale that were up to 100 ft high and 200 ft long. The “clamps” burnt for almost a year, producing an acid which converted the aluminium sulphate in the shale to soluble form.
• The grey shale turned bright red after burning for a year.
• The “liquorman” then washed the shale with water to produce a raw alum liquor.
• The liquor was channelled from the stone steeping pits to quarry cisterns; from there it passed down a wooden trough to the Alum House for storage in preparation for the crystallisation process.

20170329-D_Information Board - Peak Alum Works - The Alum House - RavenscarThe Alum House, Crystal Production and The Final Product.
• The Alum House complex is where alum was converted from a liquid to a solid crystal. The process took 3-weeks.
• Buildings were arranged so that liquid flowed by gravity and included central reservoirs for storing water and alum liquor.
• The alum liquor was boiled then left to stand, allowing impurities to settle.
• The liquor was concentrated to produce alum crystals. It was boiled over a coal-fired furnace for 24 hours.
• An alkali was added to reduce the acidity of the liquor, either potash from burnt seaweed or stale human urine containing ammonia.
• After four days the first alum crystals had formed.
• Further washing, dissolving and recrystallising was carried out and after 8 days the crystals had formed a solid block weighing over a ton.
• After standing for another 8 days and the draining off of any remaining liquor, the alum block was ground into alum “flour” ready for transporting.

Well, that’s a rather cut down version of what was on the information boards around the site. But a NT gentleman I got talking to added a bit more info’ that is, arguably, a little more interesting and some is certainly more controversial.

20170329-20_Ravenscar Alum Works (NT) (Ruins)• A lot of the human urine was transported up from London in barrels, probably not a nice cargo to carry (I feel for the crew members on board ship). The urine had to be collected around the streets of London and to encourage the populace to keep their wee for collection, they were paid a small amount. This is the root of the saying “to spend a penny”.

• A follow on from this, and maybe it’s not altogether true, but the word is that the emptied urine barrels were then reused to send Yorkshire butter back down to London …. BUT …. Without washing them out first!, thus adding the saltiness of the butter. Truth? Maybe, maybe not. However I reckon the story itself perhaps says how much love is lost between the north and south of our quite small country. Even today we often talk/hear of the north-south divide, even in recent weeks there were reports of Yorkshire wanting a degree of devolution from central government in London, similar to Scotland and Wales. Now, being from slap bang in the middle of the country, I can attest no political affiliation to neither north nor south; ‘cause northerners consider The Midlands to be the south yet southerners consider The Midlands to be in the north.

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.