Out & About …

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

Black Hambleton

The glooming mass of the flat-topped Black Hambleton, the northern end of the calcareous Tabular Hills that range from Roulston Scar in the south.

Climbing up to its right is Hambleton Street, part of the drover’s road that once extended from Scotland along which cattle were driven to be sold at the markets of York, Malton and beyond. The trade was established in medieval times along a route that may originally have been prehistoric.

This ancient highway entered Yorkshire by crossing the River Tees at Yarm, passing through Crathorne and Scarth Nick before climbing up the Hambleton Hills. At Sutton Bank it forked, one way continuing south to York and the other route east over the Howardian Hills to Malton. It crossed the Humber and continued south over the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Black Hambleton was said to have been the abode of Nanny Craister, better known as Witch of Black Hambleton. She was reputed to have leapt in one bound from Freeborough to Fryup, a distance of several miles1BLAKEBOROUGH, RICHD. ‘Notes on North Riding Lore. | Northern Weekly Gazette | Saturday 01 August 1903 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2022. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003075/19030801/090/0010> [accessed 5 December 2022]. With leaps like that, she would have covered the distance to Black Hambleton in no time, where she lived in a cave. But as far as I know, there are no caves on the hill. It was claimed she could summon rats and rabbits to help in her struggles against local priests2Hudson, Martyn. “on blackamoor”. 2020. ISBN 978-1-9164257-9-8.

The pond in the foreground is tucked away in Jenny Brewster’s Gill and is relatively modern. I disturbed a pair of Greylag geese who took to the air most aggrieved.

Which begs the question: who was Jenny Brewster?



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One response to “Black Hambleton”

  1. Bob Howe avatar
    Bob Howe

    I recall that I read somewhere that the name Jenny Brewster was given to areas or tracks related to the old gin smuggling trade, but I could be wrong.
    It is a very common name on the hills.

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