North York Moors CAM

 

Tuesday 20th February 2001

Weather: Fair - cooler on the moor

Today's walk - Rosedale Abbey - Spaunton Moor - Ainhowe Cross

( 8miles )


 

. .

Today's walk begins at the picturesque North York Moors village of Rosedale Abbey
- there's free car parking space near the Milburn Arms Hotel (Grid Ref: 725 960)

Nowadays, the sleepy village's economy relies mainly on tourism along with the farms that scatter the surrounding dale
- however, if you look around there's still plenty of evidence to be seen and found to show us it was a very different picture
in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries

With the discovery of local ore, Rosedale suddenly became the centre of a boom industry - ironstone mining
Coal mines were sunk to supply railway engines and steam driven winches, whilst around the dale's sides,
railway tracks were laid, kilns were built, and small rows of stone cottages were erected to house the growing workforce

 

. .

Visitors to the village of Rosedale Abbey might be disappointed when they arrive expecting to see spectacular ruins
such as those in other parts of North Yorkshire at Rievaulx, Fountains and Whitby
- all that remains here, of a once small priory, is this turret with its spiral staircase standing near the church

The priory was founded c1158 as a Cistercian nunnery - the priory chapel survived the Dissolution of 1538
and remained in use for public worship until 1839 when it was dismantled and replaced by the present church

 

Leave the village in a southerly direction and begin climbing the steep (1 in 3) Chimney Bank until
turning left to follow a track which runs past the front of the White Horse Farm Hotel

In the photo above we look back from the 'beer garden' towards the village and beyond it, to North Dale

 

Follow the wide track in a south-easterly direction past a couple of large sandstone houses . . .

 

. . . until bearing right and uphill between a pair of ancient gateposts near Hollins Farm

Many years ago, on the hillside high above this farm, locals began to notice that during thunderstorms
lightning often struck an outcrop of rock - in fact, it was pure ironstone and so began an industrial revolution in Rosedale

Follow the path round with the stone wall on your left and carry on straight along the contour of the hillside more or less parallel
with the River Seven which flows along the bottom of the dale down to your left

 

. .

A little further on you will reach evidence of an even earlier industry in these parts . . .

. . . as the nearby plaque tells us, this was the site of an Elizabethan glass furnace where
"skilled craftworkers produced objects of great beauty"

The surrounding plants and rocks provided all the ingredients required to make glass,
and from the local forests came the necessary source to fuel the furnace

Today, you can see the reconstructed furnace at Ryedale Folk Museum in nearby Hutton-le-Hole

 

It's pleasant walking along here as the brown and gold colours of the heather and last year's dead bracken
contrast sharply with the green fields and leaves of the trees

There are two or three boggy sections where small springs which run down the hillside have to be crossed
but with the help of a few stones conveniently laid down and some good balance, they don't pose too much of a problem

 

.

About a mile or so further on you reach High Askew Farm - about 500 yards further on at the next gate past the farm
bear right (Grid Ref: 743 908) and follow the stone wall round to the left and then over a stile and downhill to . . .

 

. . . this quiet, picturesque beauty spot at Tranmire Beck (Grid Ref: 741 907) - an ideal place for a sit down and a cup of tea

Cross the beck via the small stepping stones - I think you'll get your feet wet when the beck is a bit fuller!

 

Climb the pleasant grassy track up the other side and follow the direction of the stone wall keeping it on your left . . .

 

. .

. . . until arriving here at Grid Ref: 729 909, just north of Lastingham, a beautiful moorland village that's well worth a visit

 

Unfortunately, today we don't have time so we turn right and head north along a wide, stony track onto Spaunton Moor

In the photo above we look back south towards the smoking chimneys of the cottages of Lastingham village

 

. .

For the next two miles we follow the track as it climbs gradually uphill
- from this small cairn (Grid Ref: 724 933) a narrower path leads us to a prominent feature a mile away on the horizon . . .

 

. . . Ainhowe Cross ( Ana Cross on the OS Map - Grid Ref: 724 938 )

At 12 feet, this is the tallest cross on the moors but it is not the original version,
the head of which stands propped up against a wall in the crypt of St Mary's Church, Lastingham
- the estimated height of the original cross is thought to have been 24ft - the largest known pre-Norman monument in England

 

From Ainhowe Cross, follow the track in a north-westerly direction for about a mile
until you reach the road at the top of Chimney Bank, so called because of the tall engine-house chimney
which once stood prominently close by - a relic of the ironstone industry - until it was demolished in July, 1972

Off to the left of the road and just below the former site of the chimney, but still high on the hillside,
are the impressive ruins of these large kilns into which iron ore was once tipped from above
where it was 'roasted' to drive off water and carbonic acid gas, a process known as calcification
- this greatly reduced the weight of the ore making it more economic to transport by rail to the steelworks on Teesside

 

Follow the road steeply downhill and back to the village of Rosedale Abbey
of which we get a good view from the bends half-way down

 

Back on boulder-strewn Spaunton Moor, as the sun goes down, the view west across to Gillamoor, Fadmoor
and beyond, to the distant Hambleton Hills . . .

 

. . . and finally, as it has done for hundreds of years, Ainhowe Cross still stands proud at the end of the day

 



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