This walk actually happened on Monday 20th December 2015 but this blog didn’t exist back then. Every year I like to take a decent chunk of time off over the Christmas period. Every year I imagine the cold clear blue skies over the snowy mountains. Something like this. More often than not the reality is grey and drizzly and I end up plodding through a bog somewhere to stave off cabin fever. This year was no different.
December 2015 saw exceptional amounts of rainfall, even for December. With flooding all over the country the water table had risen to roughly ground level. Nevertheless, if I don’t get a regular hill fix then I get very grumpy indeed. Especially if I have little else to do. The North York Moors are my nearest area of hill country but I’ve never spent all that much time there. Every time I do go I promise myself I’ll make more of an effort to explore the area since it’s so close by. I can be ready to start walking within an hour from my front door. Needs must so I parked up at Goathland and set off for what turned out to be a long plod around Wheeldale moor and the surrounding area. I estimated this walk at 10-12 miles but since that was done very roughly from the gridlines on the map I might be flattering myself a bit. Having not been out for several months it felt like a lot further.
After setting off along the dead end road that leads to Hunt House I was able to cut across country to pick up the path that goes across Wheeldale moor via the Blue man i’th moss standing stone. This is Yorkshire where even the map makers are tight with the letters in the placenames. I have to admit the these are not the places I day dream about when I’m sat at home on a cold winter night planning the next walk but I’d still rather be here than being in the office. What you do get in this part of the world is an awful lot of sky. I was brought up in the country and there is a sense of space that just isn’t there when you live in the city.
The next stage of the walk involved some unavoidable tarmac bashing along the minor road of Smith’s Lane. However the tedium was alleviated by the discovery of what looked like marine fossils in a standing stone by the side of the road. Given that this area is roughly 300m above sea level these must have been laid down a very long time ago. The image below suggests some ancient otter-like creature trying to work out how to open a shell at the edge of a long-vanished sea trying to get at the tasty morsel inside.
Not long after passing this stone I turned to cross back over the moor and start heading back to the car. Funnily enough I was paying a lot more attention to the surrounding rocks than I usually do. From this part of the moor you can see all the way to Whitby abbey sitting high on the cliffs. It doesn’t really come out in the picture as the air was too hazy so you’ll just have to take my word for it, it’s there.
After crossing the moor I made my way down the hill to join the path of the Esk valley railway walk and followed it back to Goathland. Until I joined the railway I hadn’t seen another soul since I left the village that morning. Miles and miles of open moor and I had it all to myself. There are worse ways to spend a Monday afternoon.