Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

  • The Peasants’ Revolt — A Local Connection

    The Peasants’ Revolt — A Local Connection

    On this day in 1381, Richard II met the leaders of Wat Tyler’s Peasants’ Revolt on Blackheath. The rebels stormed the Tower of London and entered without resistance. This revolt, though ultimately a failure, came to be seen as a harbinger of the decline of serfdom in medieval England. It heightened awareness among the upper…

  • A Tale of Two Mermaids

    A Tale of Two Mermaids

    Staithes, a charming fishing village known for its historic harbour and cliff-clinging houses, is also the setting for a peculiar old tale. During a fierce storm, with local ships sheltering in the bay, two mermaids battled enormous waves until they were exhausted. Seeing the lights of the village by Cowbar Nab, they struggled to shore,…

  • A Sea of Cotton on Newon Moor

    A Sea of Cotton on Newon Moor

    One of the summer spectacles of acid bogs and wet heaths is the Common cottongrass, Eriophorum angustifolium. This plant, with its silky white seed-heads, creates a striking scene, whitening whole patches of bog. Beyond this visual charm, Cottongrass is rather unremarkable and underutilised. Efforts to produce usable thread from the seed-plumes have failed due to…

  • Rescue at Roseberry: The 1929 Shale Slide

    Rescue at Roseberry: The 1929 Shale Slide

    Back in sunny Cleveland, and I am in search of a new morsel of information to accompany a familiar sight. On this day in 1929, Ralph Elliott, a miner from Great Ayton, had a narrow escape. Working with several others at the “Roseberry mine bank bottom”, he ascended a spoil tip to release shale. Suddenly,…

  • Tulliallan Castle

    Tulliallan Castle

    When it was constructed in the early years of the nineteenth century, this rather ostentatious blend of Gothic and Italian architectural styles would have been deemed an elegant pile for Admiral Lord Keith, erstwhile senior officer to Lord Nelson. It was financed with prize money, purportedly employing French prisoners of war as a labour force.…

  • Castle Law: The Fort of the Maeatae Above the Plains

    Castle Law: The Fort of the Maeatae Above the Plains

    The Ochil Hills extend for 48 kilometres in a west-southwest direction, broadening into an 11-kilometre section without passes in the west. It is a range of hills which I do not know. Dumyat, a hill overlooking Stirling, rises to a modest 418 metres, with a steep southern descent to the Forth-Devon confluence, while its northern…

  • A Splash of Bistort by the River Dee

    A Splash of Bistort by the River Dee

    A timeless scene in the upper reaches of the River Dee, just before the Quoich Water merges with its flow. In the foreground, a splendid display of Bistort, also known as Pudding grass, offers a glimpse into local tradition. This plant, with its bitter leaves, forms the base of “dock pudding,” a dish prepared during…

  • Rebirth of the Caledonian Pines—A Day on the Mar Estate

    Rebirth of the Caledonian Pines—A Day on the Mar Estate

    I wanted to view the regeneration efforts of the National Trust for Scotland on their Mar Estate. After centuries of deforestation of the native Caledonian pine forest, the Trust has implemented an intensive deer culling programme across the estate. This initiative aims to reduce deer populations to a level the land can naturally support, thereby…

  • From Pyres to Stones: The Stone Circle of Tomnaverie

    From Pyres to Stones: The Stone Circle of Tomnaverie

    Tomnaverie is one of several stone circles in the north-east of Scotland distinguished by a recumbent, or flat-lying stone, flanked by two upright stones. It lies amidst grass and heather on a small hill’s crest. To the south-west, Lochnagar commands attention, suggesting it was a focal point for the circle. The arrangement may have been…

  • Morven — The Silent Summit

    Morven — The Silent Summit

    Many Scottish mountains bear descriptive names, with Morven being one such hill. Its name comes from the Gaelic “A’ Mhòr Bheinn,” meaning “the big hill.” Truly informative. The summit of Morven is flat and broad, strewn with pebbles and small rocks, many smothered by patches of deep lichen. In contrast, the summit cairn comprises large…

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