Sunday, 22 September 2013

What a difference a rail makes.

As you may have noticed by the "More interesting stuff...." links down the right hand side,  I like reading other people's blogs and websites. This is for loads of reasons,  not least because they show me areas and walks that I know nothing about.  This of course leads to me wanting to go and see these places for myself, which then leads to me dragging Peter in whichever direction has taken my fancy this time.  (Not actually true, Peter is always as keen as I am......  after a little bit of pushing)

So this walk is one I ripped off  from Alen's Because they're there....... blog which I very much liked the look of.  Thank you Alen. 

The walk mostly follows a disused railway track around the very lovely valley of Rosedale. (Map on Alen's blog).

We started the walk from the car park just a little south of the Lion Inn.   Following the old railway heading North.
Following an old railway line is easy walking.  It's not boggy, tussocky or uneven, and remains pretty level without steep inclines or descents.  You don't have to concentrate on where you're putting your feet all the time and instead your eyes can soak up the scenery whilst you're walking.  On such a beautiful day, there was loads to soak up.
We have no idea why this little pool of water exists.  Something to do with the railway line I'm sure.  It was crystal clear

Approaching Rosedale Head. As Summer gets ready to handover to Autumn, the colours are wonderful. 
Approaching Reeking Gill .  What a fantastic name
The fantastic thing about Reeking Gill is the enbankment that crosses it. Walkers and cyclists don't have to climb down into the gill and then back up the other side.  You could consider that the countryside would look better without that great bank of earth across the little ravine, and maybe you're right.  But to be honest on today's walk I wasn't really thinking about that, my lazy side was just loving it.

Looking back from Sturdy Bank ( She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes..........)
Just lovely. 
I loved this little ruin.  Such a tiny little building, and I loved the fact the fireplace and chimney were just about intact.  I'm not sure what it was used for.  A signalman perhaps.  There are steps going down to the back of the building as well as a path leading from the front to the railway line.   It all makes you wonder. 
We were now approaching remnants of the ironstone industry and the reason why the railway was built in the first place.  Abandoned Communities. Rosedale  tells the short history.

Calcining kilns set one.  Apparently these didn't work as well as they should, and a different design was tried. 
These huge structures had Peter and I scratching our heads trying to work out what they were.  The English Heritage boards explained that they were kilns used for roasting ironstone to reduce it, (known as calcining).  It was then lighter and easier to take away.
Calcining kilns set two,  a few hundred yards a way from the first.  English Heritage has taken over both sets of  ruins. 
As I said earlier.  The walk follows the railway line around the very lovely Rosedale.  Alen's route then crossed the valley back to Blakey Ridge, although I think you can carry on following the railway route to complete the circle.  We followed Alen's route and descended into Rosedale, past Hill Cottages and the waiting dog (see Only a Rosedale, I give you...), and Craven Garth Farm
Looking back at the remants of an industrial age. 
You can see from all the photographs it was a truly wonderful day. Really sunny and warm. Actually, maybe a little bit too warm, especially on the climb up out of the valley onto Blakey Ridge.
That part of the walk was a little bit of an adventure to be honest.  The bracken had grown high, and neither we, nor the two people walking in front of us, or the three people walking towards us, could work out where the path was.    
Can you see the path...........?  No.........?  Neither could we, but we followed one through that lot anyway. 
We blundered through, and did manage to find something resembling a path.  You can see from the photo that even though seven people had trampled the same invisible path through the bracken,  it remained hidden, ready to defy the next batch of walkers trying to enjoy a simple day out.
Looking back on a beautiful dale at the end of a beautiful day. 
OK, so we got to the top a little bit hot and sticky.  But the whole walk was well worth it, it was a shame for it to come to an end to be honest, but we did have a little treat to make up for it in the shape of a very welcome pint in The Lion Inn.  Considering it's in the middle of nowhere, The Lion Inn is a surprisingly large and well established pub and eatery.  Somewhere to keep in mind for the future.

So a lovely end to a lovely afternoon.  7 ½ miles in record time. The easy walking meant our normally walking speed increased by nearly a third. So that's the difference the rail makes.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Helmsley Castle and The Birds of Prey Centre, Duncombe Park

We'd decided to visit Helmsley for the day to see what we could see.

Actually, there's quite a lot to see in the area surrounding the market town, and we had these places in mind when as we drove into the car park.  We knew Helmsley Castle was near the town centre. What we didn't know was that we'd parked the car right next to it!  Peter spotted the entrance as we were walking out of the car park, so that was it, we decided to go look see.

I have to say, looking at the English Heritage website pictures of Helmsley Castle, I wasn't expecting much, but I was wrong. We were wandering around for a good hour and a half and really quite enjoyed the place. Here are the photo's.

The castle has a moat.........   Actually, it has two moats.
And a Keep
The Keep looks kinda cool from this side. 
Like all good castles, it has really really thick walls
And of course a strong gate.  A sign of wealth and power

Then there are the living quarters for the lords and ladies.  This hall is quite impressive inside. 
I really like these windows, I think this is the older part of the hall.

All those fireplaces.  They were as many on the opposite wall.  You'd need them in a place like this I think. 

This is in the new part of the hall, all the original panelling and fittings from Elizabethan times.
Yep. Helmsley Castle is definitely worth a visit if you like old ruins and your in the area. 

Once we'd left the castle we headed into town for a cuppa and a sandwich, but  met a young lady with an owl on her arm instead.  She was encouraging people to visit The Bird of Prey Centre at Duncombe Park. We couldn't resist.  (We did get our cup of tea and a bite to eat first though.)

Duncombe Park
We arrived with plenty of time to walk around the centre and admire the birds before the next flying demonstration.  There are over a hundred, owls, hawks, buzzards and eagles.  The sea eagles are massive and there were even a couple of rescued vultures.  "The Hawk Walk" is an area where the trained birds sit without fencing, and you can get close enough to really appreciate those sharp beaks and talons. 
Hybrid Peregrine Falcon.  Apparently full bred Peregrines are too difficult to train. 


Yellow Billed Kite

Harris Hawk

Grey Buzzard Eagle

Steppe Eagle. 
And then it was time to watch the flying demonstration. We watched a massive owl who was absolutely silent, the grey buzzard eagle, a couple of hawks and then the hybrid peregrine falcon.  I have to say the falcon was amazing to watch, literally dive bombing the handler with incredible skill.  Amazing.  
I didn't take any photographs of the birds flying.  I was too busy watching.  Awesome.

So that was our day in Helmsley.  Tomorrow we have walked planned, and I'm really looking foward to it. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Gunnerside to Blakethwaite Dams

Visiting the ruins of the lead mine industry along Gunnerside Beck and Blakethwaite Gill has become a favourite walk of mine, and I wanted to show Peter how brilliant it is.  Both of us are well out of condition, so I planned today's walk to be as short as possible.  This meant a direct route alongside the streams from Gunnerside Village to Blakethwaite Dam and then just as directly back.  I've never walked all the way alongside the becks before, so I was looking forward to investigating new paths.

We parked next to the Village Hall In Gunnerside, and crossed over Gunnerside Beck to start our walk on it's east side, following the path northwards.
Gunnerside Beck just north of Gunnerside Village
Greater Burdock
This tree was such a vibrant red, it stood out for miles.  Weirdly, it was the only tree in the area showing Autumn colours.
Rowan, or Mountain Ash
Botchers Gill Nook.  What a brilliant name!
Walking further along, the slopes start to look more ravaged and scarred. Spoil heaps and Hushes break up the greens and browns of the bracken and heather.  You'd think it would be ugly, but it isn't.

Looking back on Lownathwaite Lead Mines. 
Upstream, at the point where Blind Gill and Blakethwaite Gill meet to become Gunnerside Beck, more smelt mills were built.  Every time I walk the paths up this way, I wonder about the people who used to work here and if they walked these paths every day to and from work.  I imagine the little dale would have looked so different.  I think the air would be full of the fumes and soot of the smelt mills, and the greens and browns of the plants would be gone, with only the dull grey of the rocks to look at.
Would they understand why we walk these miles to see what they left behind?  Maybe.  Maybe not. From here we go right to follow Blakethwaite Gill.
Blakethwaite smelt mill ruins.  I like it here.
Further upstream the OS maps suggest a ford just south of Eweleap Scar.  We planned use it on our way back, but realised it's now very difficult to cross at that point.  Although the stream is low, the bank has slipped away on the west side, leaving a slippery muddy clamber up, (or down).
Eweleap Scar.  Quite an impressive little cliff, considering it's only a little cliff. 
We kept following Blakethwaite Gill, on and on as it curved around Gunnerside Moor.   I was keen for Blakethwaite Dams to come into view, but they seemed to take forever.  Then at last we could see them.  They are just ruins now, but the waterfall from the top dam is still impressive.
Blakethwaite Dams
We took a break on the top dam, enjoying the views and speculating over the effect the dams have had on the surroundings.
View looking down Blakethwaite Gill from the top dam
The land behind the top dam.  This would once have been a large pool of water that must have silted up over time.  
Rested and rejuvenated, it was time to find our way back.  We returned the way we had come, walking alongside Blakethwaite Gill until we reached the Blakethwaite smelt mills.  Here it is easy to safely cross the streams, and then follow the track along the west side of Gunnerside Beck.  
Looking down on the Blakethwaite smelt mills.  As I've said before, I like it here.  

The very last stretch of the walk breaks off the track and follows a ROW directly back to the village.  As always, paths on the map do not always match what you can see on the ground.  Or not see as the case may be.  We couldn't see a path. We headed in the general direction of the village anyway, and came out of the field at a gate marked as a ROW.  Exactly as we should have done. 

Just over 7 miles and 1600 ft of up.