Out & About …

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

I walked past the entrance to Sleddale Farm today

There have been several noticeable changes since, in the late 1970s, just before Christmas, I would take a bottle of malt to the Sleddale farmers — two brothers by the name of Proud if I recall — in recognition of them allowing the Guisborough Moors Race to run through their farmyard. Neither of the two Public Footpaths that go to the farm, actually come up this access track.

One Right of Way crosses the fields from the left, and another passes through the moor-gate behind the farm.

According to its FaceBook page, Sleddale is still a working farm, although I can not tell if it’s still in the Proud family. I suspect not.

In 1949, the farmer, Fred Proud, was admired in a booklet titled “Green Ways around Tees-Side“.

“Our Cleveland Moors are unique in the variety of their attractions. On other occasions we have called attention to the striking geological formations, historic associations or magnificent stretches of valley, hill or sea.

Now we sing the praises of Cleveland character.

The vagaries of the weather, the bleakness of the moorland, the tardy charity of the soil and the isolation of many hill farms breed a combination of stern human qualities rarely found outside the covers of serious fiction.

Typical of these sturdy dales farmers is the tenant of the solitary farm house in Sleddale, Fred Proud.

A magnificent figure of a man, almost 17 stone of hard bone and muscle. Fred is a war scarred veteran of the years 1914-1918.

His big frame has been riddled with shrapnel, he has not yet rid himself of the effects of a poisoned system, but his dogged Yorkshire determination to face life boldly remains unaffected.

Neither isolation, nor the recurrent sufferings that his old wounds bring, have been able to damp Fred’s optimism or rob him or his interest in all things concerning human kind.

The multifarious events of to-day and the simpler issues o{ the past find him ever ready to offer a well pondered opinion or put a pertinent query.

Learned archaeologists from our most ancient and honoured universities have sought his help in regard to medieval and prehistoric remains in which Cleveland’s moors abound.

His opinion on boundary questions and old rights of way is respected whenever such topics are discussed.

His memory seems prodigious to townsmen who hear so much, that little seems to stick in their over-burdened minds.

But this dalesman, seeing so little, seems to see all the more thoroughly.

His life seems to link two very different periods in the economic history of the dales.

His father started work as a boy on a Yorkshire farm at the princely salary of two pounds per annum; the gift of a suit was his first rise.

But Fred’s son, by means of a grammar school scholarship, worked his way through successive examinations to a place at the Ministry of Agriculture and may well earn more per day than his grandfather received for his first year’s toil on a moorland farm.

Many hill farmers seem to possess a homing instinct that must be the envy of the aspiring walkers who find it difficult to find their way about, even without the help of the book of words and the ordnance maps.

Caught in an evening mist on the shapeless moorlands above Bilsdale, Fred could tell in some vague unaccountable way when his pony’s feet struck an old monk’s track, invisible to the eye and unknown to the modern mapmaker.

Together they found their way down to habitation and metalled roads.

Sleddale looks a solitary farm, but the farmer is by no means a solitary man.

His wife and family are of the same grand mould as himself.

Without them it would be impossible to wrest a living from this marginal land.

When Fred bestrides his pony and rides off for a periodic stay at the hospital, he leaves behind a self-reliant son in his middle teens who tackles the daily round with all the confidence of a born farmer.”

The first son referred to was John1‘News in Brief | Cleveland Standard | Saturday 12 September 1942 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003490/19420912/002/0001> [accessed 3 January 2023]. And the second would be Tom who played cricket for 52 consecutive years for Kildale Cricket Club2Staff, Echo. 2003. ‘A Passion for Cricket Inspires a Great Innings’, The Northern Echo (The Northern Echo) <https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/7045375.passion-cricket-inspires-great-innings/> [accessed 3 January 2023]. These must have been the brothers I recollected.



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13 responses to “I walked past the entrance to Sleddale Farm today”

  1. Bob Lillie avatar
    Bob Lillie

    George and Fred , George was married to Pat two daughters one is married to Nigel Brooks who was game keeper at Commondale,Carol they call her other daughter was married to Roland Suckling water Bailiff at Lockwood beck I think they also had a son quite a bit younger I will endeavour to find out a bit more , 👍

    1. Fhithich avatar

      Thanks, Bob. I ought to have known you would know.

      Who was Tom then? The cricketer. It says in the newspaper article he farmed at Sleddale.

    2. Christine Webster avatar
      Christine Webster

      Carol is married to Nigel Brooks. Barbara is married to Roland and George’s son is called Martin. Uncle Fred never had children which was such a shame as he was such a wonderful man and a lovely uncle. I have some wonderful photos of them all. My mother was Mary Proud before
      she married my lovely dad and she was born at Sleddale Farm and went to school in Yarm.

  2. Christine Webster avatar
    Christine Webster

    Frederick Proud was my grandfather who died when I was a young child. My uncles George and Fred took on the farm after grandad died. Sadly they are both dead now and there are no Prouds left at Sleddale Farm. I have fond memories of them and qused to love visiting them with my mum and dad. My uncle Tom used to help on the farm and I remember seeing him play cricket.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      Thanks for that info., Christine. Very interesting.

  3. Christine Webster avatar
    Christine Webster

    Carol is married to Nigel Brooks. Barbara is married to Roland and George’s son is called Martin. Uncle Fred never had children which was such a shame as he was such a wonderful man and a lovely uncle. I have some wonderful photos of them all. My mother was Mary Proud before
    she married my lovely dad and she was born at Sleddale Farm and went to school in Yarm.

  4. June Goldsmith avatar
    June Goldsmith

    Frederick Petch Proud was my grandfather too and along with his wife Annie they farmed Sleddale and had seven children,the youngest Margaret is my mother,Uncle Tom is a bit older than Mam and are the only surviving Prouds that were born at Sleddale.Tom married Marion Maynard and have four children ,my mother married Ron Grimston and have me and my two brothers.We spent lots of time at Sleddale as children usually trailing around the moor gathering sheep with George,Fred and Tom,it was a lovely place to roam about and holds a lot of happy memories.

  5. Peter Astle avatar
    Peter Astle

    Anybody passed along the Sleddale bridleway recently? It is now (first observed early December 2023) waymarked as a footpath only rather than a bridleway at two locations, the cattle grid at NZ 61515 11596 and at the path junction NZ 61648 11826. The latter is more puzzling as a marker post there has the path over Codhill Heights waymarked as a footpath when it is not even a right of way. I queried this with NY Moors National Park but have yet to receive an explanation.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      Thanks, I’ll look over that way sometime soon.

    2. Fhithich avatar

      I had a look today, Peter. Looks to me like someone’s cocked it up. I’ll ask for clarification with the NYM NP.

      1. Peter Astle avatar
        Peter Astle

        Hope you receive a better explanation than I did. i.e. none at all!

        1. Fhithich avatar

          I’ve received a reply from the NP:

          “Unfortunately it looks like the farmer (in trying to make things clearer) has got this mixed up. I will call out as soon as possible to correct the waymarking

          You are correct it should be blue arrows for bridleway and there is no public footpath running from the junction

          Thank you for letting us know”

          1. Peter Astle avatar
            Peter Astle

            Well done!

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