Out & About …

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

Highcliff Gate — From Glacial Spillway to Forgotten Farm Track

The recent felling of Guisborough Forest has completely changed the landscape, evident even on this dreary spring day. Down in the valleys, vernal signs are everywhere: hawthorn buds are emerging, and the woods are alive with birdsong, and some birds are even gathering nest stuff. But up here on Potter’s Ridge, winter’s still holding its ground.

That ruined dry-stone wall, standing between the desolate moor and the aftermath of the felling, likely traces the medieval southern boundary of the deer park belonging to Gisborough Priory, sprawled along the escarpment slope. Where there’s a clear cliff edge, it would’ve made for a practical boundary, but in places where it’s a bit fuzzy, they took the easy route of drawing a straight line away from the edge1“Guisborough Before 1900”. Edited by B.J.D. Harrison and G. Dixon. Page 69. 1982. ISBN 0 9507827 0 X..

The low point is Highcliff Gate, a windswept spot that once served as the track to Sleddale Farm. But long before that, and we’re talking countless millennia back, it came to be as a spillway from lakes created by glacial ice flowing down the Tees valley. Those waters made their way to Sleddale and eventually reached Lake Eskdale2‘Percy Fry Kendall | Yorkshire Philosophical Society’. 2023. Ypsyork.org <https://www.ypsyork.org/resources/yorkshire-scientists-and-innovators/kendall/#:~:text=Some%20along%20the,of%20Lake%20Pickering> [accessed 9 March 2024].







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