A view east from Hawnby Hill

Bilsdale Moor West. A beam of sunshine is shining on Wethercote Farm which must be one of the highest farms in the area. The land is recorded as belonging to Rievaulx Abbey around 1145 and contains quarries from which stone was used in the construction of the abbey. In the 18th century, coal was mined here. Small-scale mining using bell pits with the coal being used locally for fuel and for burning lime which was then used to “improve” the moorland. But perhaps it is modern times which provides the most unusual piece of history for Wethercote Farm. In 1971 Mrs Edna Crow of Stone House Farm, sued Mr Robin Wood, the farmer at Wethercote, for allowing his sheep to stray into her land, a tort of cattle trespass. Apparently, the moor was in common ownership where each had the right to graze sheep. When Mrs Crow purchased her land, the right to graze sheep was maintained as an easement. Mrs Crow chose not to exercise that right but Mr Wood did. However, Mrs Crow ceased to maintain her boundary fence and Wethercote sheep entered her land. The case went to appeal and Lord Denning no less ruled that Mrs Crow was in breach of her duty to maintain a fence and therefore she could not complain of cattle trespass. The case may still be cited today when easements are involved.
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