Swinsow Dale

Freebrough Hill dominates the view east on the climb up Smeathorns Road onto Moorsholm Moor. But the haze spoiled the view of Freya’s hill, so my interest turned to the small ‘dry valley’ of Swinsow Dale.

Elgee calls Freebrough Hill a “roche moutonnée“, explaining that it was completely by the ice, which gave it its beautiful smoothed summit1Elgee, F. Geological Notes. | Northern Weekly Gazette | Saturday 24 January 1903 | British Newspaper Archive. [online] Available at: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003075/19030124/066/0007 [Accessed 16 Apr. 2022].. Now I thought that a roche moutonnée was a rock formation, certainly caused by the passing of a glacier, but I am in awe of Elgee so I must accept his wisdom but with the proviso that  he did write these words in 1903 so scientific terminology may have changed.

It is difficult to imagine a great sheet of ice towering above us, sweeping southwards, covering Freebrough and blocking the watershed of the moors to my left — Moorsholm and Danby Low Moors.

But the evidence is right before me in the dry valley of Swinsow Dale and its main stem, Haredale.

The ice having backed up against the slope of the hills, forced the drainage eastwards, hence forming these valleys. Upon the retreat of the ice, a natural course ensued, leaving them dry and carrying no drainage.

Freebrough stands completely isolated from the surrounding moors, which makes it very conspicuous, although its height is only 250 metres. Legend has it that it is the resting place of King Arthur and his Knights, sleeping in its depths until Britain needs their services once more2Writers cafe (2022). King Arthur and Freebrough Hill. [online] Blogspot.com. Available at: https://bardsandauthors.blogspot.com/2015/10/king-arthur-and-freebrough-hill.html [Accessed 16 Apr. 2022]..

Well, Britain certainly needs help now, so wake up, Arthur and save us from this kakistocracy in which we now find ourselves.

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