Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Snow - Goathland

Last week we had snow and frost. The first snow outside the mountains of Ireland I'd seen in ages. And It was something I'd missed and been looking forward to seeing again. So quickly after we arrived in yorkshire was a surprise especially as everyone was telling me about global warming!
So a walk over one of my favourite areas, Goathland & Wheeldale moor to Pinkney's Hunt was called for. As always in the snow it was difficult to find somewhere to park in Goathland but the existing car park was flat and I guessed I could drive out. Hopefully the sun which was creeping out from behind the clouds would melt the snow off the main roads on my return journey.

Goathland, the scene of the Heartbeat series had changed over the fifteen years of my absence. Pavements, shops with 'Aidensfield' signs, numerous directional signs and double yellow lines signified huge numbers of visitors. And there were the incomers. Bling or what, The Stone House with its mullioned windows now had a brand new drystone wall outside, a challenger tank parked outside and many of the fine old trees had been chopped down. Glancing over the new wall I could see why. A helicopter landing pad!!

The mere was frozen solid and numerous cairns had sprouted in my absence, some of which I demolished. The snow lay several inches deep across the fields and even deeper in Wheeldale plantation. Jilly enjoyed the deep snow and spent most of time running in every direction possible. It was her first experience of snow outside the Irish mountains.

Just over an hour after leaving Goathland I arrived at Pinkney's, a Mountain Bothy Association Hut. From the comments in the log book it was obvious that many groups were using and abusing this place and some had been holding drinks parties, leaving behind much filth and litter. I have spent many enjoyable evenings in this place before moving to Ireland but there would be little chance of spending a night here in peace anymore judging by the use it was now getting. My first visit was probably in 1965 when it was little known and only used as a shooting house for shooting parties.

We walked back via the plantation spotting many grouse and a few reed buntings on the way. In the distance I could see that a quad bike had crossed my path during my walk to the hut earlier. Probably a farmer checking his sheep.

This hut, burned down by vandals several years ago has been rebuilt. It was once an iron and wood affair and predated the second world war. The whole area had been used as a training ground and I recall being able to look at bullet holes which in many cases went completely through the sides of the hut. Needless to say there are many unexploded shells - I've found many - and several places where there are piles of discarded machine gun bullets.
All in a good day. It was like meeting old friends

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