Swainby to Lordstones

Postcard from the North Yorkshire Moors

Outstanding walk today from Swainby to Lordstones and the real heroes walk back too. I’m going one way which is just a smidging under 8km as I have other things on this afternoon.

It’s nearly six weeks since I’ve been walking in Yorkshire and to say I’m looking forward is an understatement.

We assemble with the usual degree of piss-taking and set off with an enthusiastic gate. It’s a great opener that gets the heart rate up as we follow the duck-busy-beck in Swainby and smile at the quacks as something spooks them.

It’s only twenty minutes before we join the Cleveland Way and the rate of climb increases until we reach the small wood at Round Hill. The stones are slippery and I regret not having my stick that’s usually fastened to my rucksack but not today and I find myself cursing the fact that it’s at home and I’m sliding about on very greasy rocks. I’m not alone, there is a fair amount of trepidation as we make our way up the rocky steps. About two-thirds of the way up Dave generously offers his stick, it takes a whole lifetime to create friendships like this.

Round Hill is welcoming if only because of the reduction in the rate of ascent and it does reveal views across the Vale with the wonderfully rounded form of Whorl Hill drawing our attention to the foreground and Faceby hiding behind with the rest of the vale stretching out behind. It’s hard to believe the murder, rape, arson and general mayhem by order of the King in the 11th century. The ‘harrying of the north’ may not have lasted long but it certainly saw off most of the population at the time.

As we reach to the top of Live Moor the wind is really blowing us about and we stop to don more layers. The rain has stopped for the time being which is welcome but it has a chill factor that reaches the bones. There’s what appears to be a rocky cairn that now has a small sign indicating that it is an ancient burial place (a barrow) and that adding rocks to it is disrespectful and forbidden. We take a short break and comply with the sign by not adding anything to it but it’s not difficult to feel the spirits of the long dead up on this bleak moor.

We’re near the top of this first moor and get a welcome descent to a sheltered area in a mini-valley where we’re protected from the vicious wind. Maybe taking a break at the top wasn’t a good idea, but it has prepared us for the luxury of no wind, and whilst we’re down here, it feels positively warm.

We reach the top of Gold Hill out of breath but comfortable in the knowledge that by branching off behind the moor we’re already on the way down to Lordstones and take time to look across the bracken to the wonderfully named Snotterdale Plantation. As we’re gazing around a rambler makes an appearance over the top of the track that we’re about to take and his gate his unique. There are more ribald shouts as George Preston, our usual map-master and tracker. He’s joined us from the Lordstones end and is walking back with us. It’s amazing who you meet when you’re out on the moor!

Lordstones doesn’t disappoint and within a few minutes we’re working our way through sausage sandwiches and scones washed down with copious amounts of tea and coffees in various guises.

Lovely to be back on the moors, even if the weather gradient between here and Spain, where I was last week is ‘challenging’.

�Enjoy the snaps. G x

With Dave Rider, George Renwick, Dave Bowman, Rob Wright, Peter Hymer and latterly George Preston.

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