Oswald, his Mother and The Whorlton Anti Terrorist Squad

One dark and stormy night Oswald’s mum had been sitting by the fire when she realised there was not enough wood to see them through the night so she set out to gather more. In those days it was a case of finding broken branches and twigs from the trees that grew in the fields and on the moors.
It was snowing and the biting cold wind had blown through the gaps in the hedges to form drifts that were approaching the bottom of the roofs of some of the cottages. She had wrapped up well but the combination of wind, snow and intense cold was beginning to penetrate her meagre clothes and she’d begun to shiver and convulse as her muscles and nerves went into a freezing shock that preceded the sudden feeling of warmth and well being. In less than fifteen minutes she’d collapsed and the snow was beginning to cover her.
Oswald was known locally as Os, but no-one would dare to use the diminutive in front of his mum. He’d waited patiently for an hour then slowly began to worry as the wind howled around the outside of the cottage. It was threatening to lift the roof and rattled the shutters giving him false hope that this was his mother returning and the shutters were the sound of the door.
After a dozen episodes of these sounds he accepted that it was an empty wish and he would have to go out to find her. He’d only been out in the intense cold for twenty minutes when he discovered her frozen and lifeless body lying partially covered in drifting snow. He screamed at her to get up and took hold of her arm in an effort to help but realised it was too late as he felt the stiffness in her fingers and saw her lifeless, staring eyes that were unflinching as large flakes of cold snow landed on them.
Oswald was distraught and threw himself on to his mother wrapping his arms around her in a bid to conduct heat from his own body to hers and within minutes he too was dead both lives claimed by the snow and the cold, cold wind.
They were found several days later and the hamlet that grew as new cottages were built was named after the victims of this tragedy. “OS by his MOTHER LAY”.
Who’d have thought that many years later the hamlet would be a good-sized village. It’s name has slightly changed, Osmotherley with an ‘ey’ at the end, but its still such a jewel on on the North Yorkshire Moors. It has its own school, three pubs, several places of worship, a cafe, shops, a chippy and a toilet that’s won awards as the best in the country – (several times!). Os and his mum would have been proud…


So, yet again, we’ve used the excellent Abbott’s bus service and with the benefit of our old farts passes (OFPs) we’re in Osmotherley, poor Oswald’s village of birth and tragic death, only this week, it’s not covered with snow.

We leave the bus and take the same route as last week towards Cod Beck Reservoir. It’s an easy climb up the hill which leaves us slightly out of breath and enjoying the views down to Cote Ghyll, although, last week’s winter wonderland was rather more impressive.

I’ve added a few photographs from last week to illustrate the Yorkshire taciturn weather – see the snaps!

At Sheepwash we turn neither right nor left this time and take the route well trodden over Near Moor towards Whorlton Moor. It’s a steady climb and there’s a fair amount of water still running down the track although there is less mud than expected.

The wind blowing across the moors is from a friendly southerly direction but it must have been somewhere else before that because it’s as cold as it was on Os’s last night, but at least there’s no snow.  As we turn right to walk parallel to Clain Wood a drystone wall makes a welcome appearance and shelters us from the wind’s cutting edge.

We stop to enjoy a banana break and take advantage of some snow drifts that have survived the warmer winds and rain that have washed the covering from these hills over the last four days. A group photo is called for so there’s a stampede to avoid it but no-one wins and the proof is herewith.

After 20 minutes we’re off again this time towards Stoney Ridge where the tracks join together in a ‘Y’ junction and we take the return leg doubling back towards wonderful Scugdale.

Scugdale was named after the wild Scugs that populated the area. The Scugs would look after the land and on ‘new moon’ nights they would do acts of charity for those in greatest need. Then came The Whorlton Anti Terrorist Squad hiding behind the mask of ‘official landowners’. They removed the Scugs in a spectacular operation that’s still talked about as the lunar cycle takes its course.

As we approach the gate and cattle grid we’re confronted with a large chain and a sign erected by
The Whorlton Anti Terrorist Squad stating that this area is now private, there’s also another one next to it that challenges the claim with a single word, ‘bullshit’. Ah well, it looks like the Scugs are not leaving without a fight.

Cardiac Hill is significant when approached from Swainby, indeed, George explains that when we first started walking together it would be seventy-five minutes to get up here to the cattle grid but nowadays it takes about fifty. Out fitness levels have increased and so has our stamina. Today; however, we’re going down so there’s no issue with either but it does tug on the fronts of our legs and tends to leave us with some sensitivity around the knees.

The views through the trees are wonderful with Whorl Hill in the foreground and Roseberry in the distance. It’s yet another day looking at the same countryside but seeing something quite different.


Towards the bottom of the hill, we meet two men one of whom is nursing a newly rebuilt heel and is reintroducing the concept of walking with significant care and it’s good to see that his friend is ensuring his safety. It reminds me of the care and attention that I received from my friends whilst recuperating from a ‘AAA’ operation over two years ago and the ready acceptance of the group when Alan joined us prior to starting his own journey of recovery treatment over the next few months – you really can’t beat good friends.

A few more yards and we’re on the road and walking past some harbingers of spring, aconites showing their brilliant yellow petals through the winter jaded grass and white snowdrops gazing down at the earth like naughty puppies, just beautiful.



We reach the Rusty Bike Cafe in Swainby yet again and all feel the hug of warmth as we enter. The food, drinks, and staff are excellent and I would urge you to give it a try, the pies are extraordinarily good!

An hour later and we’re back on the Abbott’s bus OFP’s in hand for our free return trip.

It’s 11km (just under 7 miles. Enjoy the snaps…G..x

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