Eskdale’s stolen water

The sandstone boundary stone on the left is inscribed “RC” the initials of Robert Chaloner, the 19th-century landowner and lord of the manor of Guisborough, but it is the waterlogged ditch in front which took my interest today. Mapped as “The Race” it is a leat semi-circumventing Hutton Moor, capturing the water runoff from draining into Sleddale Beck, a tributary of the River Esk, and diverting it north into Hutton Beck. I had assumed that this leat was constructed for the ironstone mines in Hutton village but I recently learnt of a 18th-century dispute between mill owners in the Esk valley and Robert Chaloner. The millers claimed that Chaloner had stolen their water to provide more water for his mill at Howl Beck on the north side of Guisborough. I am pretty sure this is the watercourse at the centre of the dispute. Today, even after from last night’s rain, no flow can be discerned in the leat but it does provide an interesting if wet handrail for a contour of the moor. A route I have used many times. In the distance, just below the low cloud is Highcliffe Nab.
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