So today we learn that even an expert can get it wrong and not all ‘ends’ are where you expect them to be!
We drive to Ingleby Cross. The weather is unbelievably different to the storm that we left them in only a couple of days ago.
The Blue Bell is such a nice pub and Kathy and Otto seem to have been well looked after. It’s nice to know that they’ve experienced an English pub although as wine drinkers the beer may not have been high on their list.
They’re ready and raring to go as we prepare our rucksacks and double check boots. We have blue skies and the sun is casting autumnal shadows through trees still in full leaf.
We turn right at the crossroad that gives the village its name and head towards the North Yorkshire Moors and the repeater station high on the ridge. We could see it from the road and it’s an intimidating climb although, thankfully, not in a mountaineering sense, our means of ascent is most definitely on foot and without the need for crampons or ropes.
I’m leading and after about a mile I’m a little uncomfortable that the left turn up through the trees has not yet materialised so more checks are conducted using OS Maps on my ‘phone. Eventually, we make the decision to backtrack a couple of hundred yards and take a track that’s, initially, slightly overgrown. It’s only for a few minutes though and we soon find ourselves on a forestry track that’s well used and the old lane that was marked on the map has been infilled with newly planted saplings that are busy establishing themselves as we pass.
Another mile and we reached the junction where we make a left on to the Cleveland Way but not before we take the opportunity to take in the view across the Vale of Mowbray where the Pennines stand in silhouette as clear as we’ll ever see. It’s always like this after serious storms, they may be destructive but they certainly clear the atmosphere and today there is little or no haze. It’s been driven on to the near Continent leaving us with a view to die for.
The Cleveland Way winds itself through the trees and ferns, the latter are the height of ourselves in places and, from personal experience, can deliver several small buckets of water to a passing walker should they be foolish enough to brush past them after heavy rain.
There are countless bird calls in the woods but the crow, or it could be a rook, reminds me that:
“A crow in a crowd is a rook
A rook on its own is a crow”
I think it was my dad that taught me that and he’s been dead since 1963 so it’s lodged itself somewhere in the deepest recesses of my brain and comes out to play on the odd day that I need it, like today!
We exit the trees to access the ridge and discover a natural lookout where the whole panorama of the vale below is visible. The fields and hedges are various shapes evolved over centuries and who knows what bloodshed, contrived marriage and deceit coupled with legitimate transactions and logistical limitations that have contributed to their shape; it’s fascinating and beautiful especially when the atmosphere is this clear.
The Vale of Mowbray and the Harrying Of The North
The vale takes its name from the family who were granted the rights to the land after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Robert de Mowbray, whose family had a stronghold at Thirsk Castle, was given the land by William the Conqueror in 1086. It’s astonishing that William the Conqueror was able to annex most of England in such a short time.
There was a minor hiccup; however, when William threw a tantrum following the murder of his newly-appointed earl, Robert de Comines, in 1069. To explain…
Northumbria, in the 11th Century, was all of the land north of the Humber and took in Yorkshire, Durham and what is now Northumberland i.e. north of the Tyne. William had defeated Harold near Hastings in 1066 and even I remember that date; however, he’d then taken the rest of England and Wales by storm although he was having some difficulties in some parts of the country as the previous occupants were somewhat pissed-off with this sudden change of administration. We’d had 500 years of Anglo-Saxon (Germanic/Danish) rule following the withdrawal of the Romans in the fifth century and were coasting along with the occasional bloody (and usually ‘family’) squabble but now we have a bunch of heavy-handed French imposing their rule.
Anyway, to get back to the tale, William sent a bunch of his knights together with their thugs to teach the recalcitrant Northerners a lesson and through the winter 1069/70, the ‘Harrying of the North’ began. It was an orgy of violence and destruction as women were raped then murdered, men were killed where they stood and if they fought back they would be brutally tortured before death brought its peace, the villages were pillaged before being set on fire and all buildings, forts castles and churches were razed to the ground. As spring approached crops were set on fire and all food burned or stolen to sustain the blood lust of the attackers and enable them to continue the destruction. The intention was to flush out all the rebels and to teach the whole population a lesson, or at least the ones that were lucky, or perhaps, unlucky enough to survive. Even cows, sheep, hens and pigs were killed and burned to ensure the area was not a threat for many years.
It is estimated that 100,000 people died either directly through the bloodletting or later through starvation and the total population of the country was about 2 million so the effect was huge. No-one was exempt not even children. There was an exodus to the hills and forests in an effort to escape but this ‘scorched earth’ campaign proved successful and left huge tracts of the North completely barren.
The ratio of deaths to population makes the death toll of the ‘Harrying’ comparable in magnitude to that of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.
The 12th-century chronicler John of Worcester wrote that food was so scarce in the aftermath that people were reduced to eating the horses, dogs and cats that had been hidden in the forests and hills and when that source ran out they also ate human flesh.
It’s hard to imagine such butchery as we look down on the beautiful serenity of the patchwork of fields stretching out towards the Pennines under a glorious blue sky but a thousand years ago, it was horrendously’ different!
We gather our thoughts and set off along the ridge above Arncliffe Wood and smile as we see a full five bars on our mobile phones, I’ve no idea if there are masts at the TV and Radio repeater station but we’re guaranteed a signal.
We’re over the first ‘up’ now and looking down to Scarth Nick. It’s nice to have some easy going for a while after the long and sometimes steep climbs out of Ingleby and beyond.
The next couple of miles leave us to contemplate the scenery and enjoy the sunshine as we descend into Scugdale. We drop about 500 feet and the ‘rest’ is welcome but now we’re on our way back up again as we start the climb up through ‘Live Wood’ towards ‘Knolls End’. The rain from the storms of the last few days have left the track and steps treacherous and the ascent is done with a mixture of care and anxiety until we reach ‘Live Moor’ where the National Parks volunteers have done an excellent job of paving the track to the top of ‘Round Hill’ and beyond.
The Cleveland Way crosses the moor but still maintains the views across the vale; however, there are dark clouds building, they’re currently a good thirty miles away where they’re watering the Pennines but the prevailing wind is towards us!
We cover the next couple of miles quickly and arrive at Carlton trig point where we stop for a sandwich. The clouds are now only two or three miles away and look very dark, extremely active with huge eddies circulating in both horizontal and vertical axes and various angles in between; they’re quite threatening!
Looking down we can see Lordstones cafe atop Carlton Bank and about 300 feet below us and the black clouds to the west give us an added spring in the step and encourages a lively rate down the hillside to the cafe where we beat the rain but only just.
The break is welcome as we study the accommodation for Kathy and Otto tonight. It’s in the next valley and whilst it’s only a couple of miles away there is the challenge of Cringle Moor set to make life interesting.
It’s still raining when we re-emerge but the torrential stuff has passed and Cringle is visible in the haar. The ascent is about 450 feet and treacherous underfoot due to the rain and exacerbated with the drizzle. There’s a viewpoint at the top where the vista on a good day is astonishing and I would recommend it to you; however, it’s impeded by the rain today so we only take a short break to catch our breath, have a quick word with another couple then head across the top of the moor where Kathy and Otto take their leave.
We can see down into the valley now as the rain begins to clear but then a shout! We look to where the hand is pointing and there, below the cloud and above the beautiful vale, an immense and beautiful double rainbow pointing the way to their accommodation. We’re transfixed and delighted at such a fabulous day that has been sandwiched with great weather either side of a forty-minute spell of rain that’s now passed over to leave us with this glorious end.
A brief hug later and we’re returning to Lordstones whilst our erstwhile chums disappear ‘over the rainbow’ towards their accommodation for tonight.
God-speed the pair of them, we’ll *“si thi int mornin” as they say in these parts.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x
*See thee in the morning
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This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating.
You can read about it here: https://www.yorkshireramblings.com/short-stay-hospital/