Out & About …

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

Proposal to explode a nuke under the North York Moors

Cracking sunrise this morning as I was running over Simon Howe Rigg, south of Goathland. Just the tetrahedron of R.A.F. Fylingdales breaking the horizon.

I recalled the old golf balls of R.A.F. Fylingdales — built in the early 60s — now replaced by the tetrahedron. It’s not quite the same.

Portrait photo of the weatherworn sandstone standing stone known as 'Blue Man-i'-th'-Moss'
Blue Man-i’-th’-Moss

Yesterday I ventured onto Wheeldale Moor to the pre-historic standing stone known as Blue Man-i’-th’-Moss1‘Heritage Gateway – Results’. 2023. Heritagegateway.org.uk <https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=60434&resourceID=19191> [accessed 29 January 2023].

I remember the stone as being a significant landmark on the Lyke Wake Walk which I first did in 1969.

The Lyke Wake Walk crosses Wheeldale Moor east to west and to the north of the moor lies Wheeldale Gill. It’s now come to light that the same year that I first did that walk, the Government was considering exploding a nuclear bomb 2,000ft beneath our very feet, below Wheeldale Gill2Macaskill, Jamie. 2022. ‘The Secret Plot to Blow up a Nuclear Bomb in North Yorkshire Moors’, YorkshireLive <https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/local-news/secret-plot-blow-up-nuclear-23159257> [accessed 29 January 2023].

The proposal was detailed in a recently declassified paper called ‘Possible Sites for Completely Contained Nuclear Explosions in North Yorkshire’ and intended to “create underground storage for gas or oil” or to “stimulate natural gas production”,  better known to us now as fracking.

The plan would have involved an explosion of 25 kilotons — bigger than the atomic blast which destroyed Nagasaki in 1945 — and cost £165,000, or about £3m in today’s money. Apparently this was cost effective in spite of the evacuation of 1,000 residents, compulsary purchase of a mile of surrounding land, and compensation to houseowners for expected damage caused by the aftershock. The aftershock would have been felt in Whitby and Pickering.

It seems the the plan eventually died a death and in any case peaceful nuclear explosions were later banned under disarmament treaties.

This YouTube video by Tom Scott who uncovered the documents gives furth details:







3 responses to “Proposal to explode a nuke under the North York Moors”

  1. SuSan Armstrong avatar
    SuSan Armstrong

    However – it makes me think of another proposed underground desecration (to my mind, at least) – the tunnel roadway beneath Stonehenge. I’m in the US – read about it quite a while back – & the subsequent protests. Was it defeated or – just shelved & waiting for the right politicians to be in power ?
    Hope I don’t offend –

    1. Fhithich avatar

      The Stonehenge tunnel is still a risk I believe, a good summary is here https://wildhunt.org/2022/12/the-latest-on-the-stonehenge-tunnel.html

  2. John Richardson avatar

    I can’t believe that little Governmental gem. Incredible. I remember when I was sketching out on Fylingdales Moor in the sixties, because I found the ‘golf balls interesting, and some RAF Police turned up in a blue Landrover. they questioned me, decided it was all very innocent, took my name and address and tore three pages or so out of my book! My only brush with the ‘Cold War’.
    ATB, John

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