Out & About …

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

  • Why is today, 29th February, Leap Day?

    Why is today, 29th February, Leap Day?

    For the first time in God knows how long, today proved unsuccessful in venturing into the hills. So, I am resorted to share one from the archives. On the last Leap Day, the 29th of February, 2020, the skies painted a blue canvas above Roseberry. Oh, those naïve days, as Covid was on the verge…

  • Priest’s Spa Quarry and its elusive spring

    Priest’s Spa Quarry and its elusive spring

    On Hither Moor, this 19th century sandstone quarry overlooks the road winding up the Cod Beck dale between Osmotherley and Scarth Nick. Nowadays, the dale is best known for its reservoir that draws quite the crowd. The quarry, mapped as “Priests’ Spa” by the early Ordnance Survey, owes its name to a spring allegedly blessed…

  • Elfi The Dwarf — The Story Told at Ye Sign of the Fox & Hounds, Urra

    Elfi The Dwarf — The Story Told at Ye Sign of the Fox & Hounds, Urra

    The notion of transcribing these ancient folk tales of Richard Blakeborough, thought to be a splendid idea at first, an idea born during the Covid lockdown, now gnaws at my conscience with growing unease. Recent reports detailing the modification of Roald Dahl’s cherished works, altering words deemed offensive and rewriting character descriptions in an attempt…

  • Hutton Moor — Biodiversity vs. Profit

    Hutton Moor — Biodiversity vs. Profit

    This is Hutton Moor at the northern end of the Percy Cross Rigg track. I see that the self-seeded birch and spruce that have sprouted on the heather moorland have been unceremoniously cut down. The rationale is clear; if left unchecked, the moorland will eventually transform into a birch woodland. However, this does come at…

  • No wheeple from this whaup

    No wheeple from this whaup

    No plaintive cry echoed through the air. It was the silhouette that gave it away: that lengthy and slender bill that bent downward. I casually approached at an oblique angle, yearning for a better shot. Amidst the heather, its speckled brown feathers made spotting it quite a challenge. Alas, my audacious closeness prompted it to…

  • The Enduring Enigma of the Sledge Shoe House Reservoir

    The Enduring Enigma of the Sledge Shoe House Reservoir

    Situated between Blakey Junction and the west calcining kilns, just before the Rosedale Abbey to Hutton-le-Hole road at Bank Top, there lies a small reservoir near the former farmstead of Sledge Shoe House, sustained by moorland springs. Yet, it has been brought to my attention that this presents a puzzle. It is acknowledged that the…

  • From a Scenic View to Deadly Plots: The Cato Street Conspiracy

    From a Scenic View to Deadly Plots: The Cato Street Conspiracy

    On the parish boundary between Easby and Kildale, looking through the self-seeded birch wood toward Ward Nab, a sandstone outcrop the origin of which name escapes my grasp. Therefore, I must lean on hodiurnal past happenings for the rest of this post. In the tumultuous throes of economic strife and political unrest in the early…

  • Easby Moor from Roseberry Topping

    Easby Moor from Roseberry Topping

    The names Easby and Roseberry both derive from Old Scandinavian, but what did the Deiri tribe, nestled snugly between the Humber and the Tees rivers, call these places? Picture Deira as the precursor to Yorkshire, holding court in York. But Deira wasn’t a territorial area. It seems more like a robust dynasty. The exact genesis…

  • Life finds a way

    Life finds a way

    Am I on an arboreal theme this week? A toppled tree trunk, adorned with vibrant green moss and saprophytic reddish-brown fungi. The presence of the latter suggests that the tree has been dead for some time. But is it truly lifeless? Fungi, the decomposers in this woodland ecosystem, toil away, breaking down deceased trees and…

  • The uncertain future of Ayton’s Weeping Ash

    The uncertain future of Ayton’s Weeping Ash

    In the annals of Scandinavian mythology, the ash went by the name ‘Yggdrasil,’ the tree of life, ‘the greatest and best of all trees. Its branches spread all over the world.’ Now, I’m no tree whisperer, and botany isn’t exactly my strong suit. I’m hazarding a guess, but this seems to be the ‘Fraxinus excelsior,’…

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