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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2 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.

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