Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pointless Signs

Half way between Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay on the Cleveland Way is this gem.  Actually there are two identical signs.  Rather obvious in my opinion.  But perhaps they are for the blind?  Nope!  Close examination tells me there's no braille either.

I hope to collect some more on my travels.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Peat Cutting - North York Moors

High above Glaisdale head in grid square NZ7300 are  the last peat banks on the North Yorkshire Moors, there were once active peat cuttings immediately below Randy Mire reservoir just west of Beck Hole. These were last worked around the late 1970's and there are the faint trace of peat cuttings near Pike Hill Moss although these have not been worked for at least 50 years or more.

Ligging out or removing the peat uses a special peat spade and is carried out early in spring, they are then left to partially dry out. 

They are then stacked into rickles to fully  dry out 

Traditionally many farmers on or around the moors had rights to gather peat but The last cutters here are John Drew from Low Gill Farm and Mr J Thompson from Plumbtree Farm both in Glaisdale.

Peat when burnt has a particular smell and burns with little flame and leaves only a fine ash in the hearth.

I have al,so just seen some pictures taken a couple of years ago of peat cutting near the Falcon Inn on the Scarborough Rd.  It shows peak stacks next to some forestry but I do not know the exact location.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Cotton Grass this year on the North York Moors has been rather spectacular and the best display of seed heads I remember seeing.

Cotton Grass is actually a sedge.  After a rather cool and wet start we've had very warm weather (24c), lots of sun and little wind.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What To Do In Robin Hood's Bay

Apart from the usual - look at the sea, go for a drink and puff your way back up Bay bank, try looking around:-  There's plenty of this sort of thing:-
This, at the top of the bank is probably the first thing you'll pass without noticing.  A WWII mine.  Once it had a number of projecting fuses around the top.  They made fine holes in ships.  Rusted, they could still be seen washed up when I was younger on quiet beaches and covees in the 1960s and probably later too.  My grandmother who lived in Robin Hood's Bay when she was younger can remember ships blowing up off the Bay in the 1st world war too!
The next thing you'll fail to see is this across the road from the WWII Mine.  It's a tribute to the efforts of the lifeboat crew and the public who once pulled the Whitby lifeboat all the way to Robin Hoods Bay, in winter, to rescue the brig, the Visitor.

you've probably been to the pub by now, so you'll most probably miss this too.  A genuine bit of 'Mouseman' Thompson's work at the entrance to the old police station. A few feet away see if you can spot the fake Thompson mouse?
Focused on heading directly to the sea, it's unlikely you'll see these old sperm whale jaw bones. Herbert FitzWalter owned three brigs, the Peacock, the Folly and the Averil which were equipped for whaling.  Whales were for a time processed in the area that once was the gas works site, these are the only trace of the industry left here. These stand in the back garden of FitzWalter's old cottage, Peacock cottage on Brig Garth. (These probably date from the very early 1800's)
There were a number of old whalebones standing around the Whitby area up until the 1970's , including a pair at Sleights  almost opposite Botham's shop.  Now, there are no originals left as far as I know.
Coffin Windows
The small window above the door is called a coffin window.  Not common now, this may be only one or two remaining.  They were once used to extract the dead in coffins - These old cottages often had stairs, steps and corners making it impossible to get a coffin in through the doors in the normal way.

The Sign

Only seen by the few.  As you Scoff your fish and chips outside the chippy if you walk towards the steps you'll see this on the wall and the original below.  Clearly once a dispute!  

The Fish
 The smallest listed building in the UK  Probably the most expensive too.  Recently restored it was sent away for painting.  This cost in excess of £14,000!  Its been there a long time.  Its been stolen too and dragged up the village.  This broke the tail off and you can still see the weld.

Wesley Cottage
John Wesley of methodist fame came to Robin Hood's Bay to preach.  He stayed here.

The Square

Many of the older buildings in the village have these vertically arranged stones around the windows.  So I'm told, these are re-used stone mullions which were the stones dividing much older, stone framed windows.  There are a number of examples around the village.

 Fire certificate - The Square
Before the modern fire service was created there were private ones.  No insurance - no fire service.  So when the fire brigade was called out they'd make sure you were insured by looking for the insurance 'certificate' on the wall.  Thee's another one on another building in the Square.

Oh, and don't forget to see the lovely little museum which is in the old coroner's room!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


'Tramways' or rutways as they are generally called can be found in several places along the North Yorkshire Coast.  These are small parallel ruts cut into the scaurs (rock) below the cliffs and are associated with various mining and other activities along the coast.  They were presumably cut to facilitate the ease of pulling & guiding horses &  wagons across wet slippery rocks.  

But the only ones I've seen  inland are a remarkable example near Ravenscar at at Howdale  (NZ952022)   There is a small quarry nearby and also a track which was once a narrow  gauge tramway running from Stoney Marl Quarry (NS951004) to the SW, to the Peak Quarries.  This once transported the hard Gannister rock from Stony Marl moor and passes close to the small Howdale quarry.  
 The rut way is probably only around 50 yards long and is built at the steepest part of the route from Stoney Marl.  On my recent visit I noticed that much of the gorse had been cut back otherwise it would soon cover this interesting relec of past industry.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ginnels in Robin Hood's Bay! Wots them?

The're called Ginnels", the person saId to the group,  pointing down one of the streets down the bottom of bay bank.

Even one of the information boards in the national park caravan states that the narrow streets and alleyways in Bay are called "Ginnels".  This is wrong!!  They are NOT called ginnels here.  Ginnels is is a West Yorkshire word describing alleys and not a word used in any shape or form on the north east coast  It is not used in York either but I understand it is used in Harrogate.

I was born in Whitby, and spent most of my life there and  now live in Bay,  I have never heard the word Ginnels used locally other than by folk from west Yorkshire.   Just to be certain I  consulted a couple of my relatives, both have been life long residents in the village, one, now in his eighties  is probably the oldest long term resident of Bay . I've also checked with other native speakers in Scarborough, RHB, Whitby & Staithes.  Not one  of those consulted identified 'ginnels' as a word they would use locally to describe ANY feature along the NE coast let alone alleyways or passageways.

Nor is it an older word no longer used as none of the older books on Whitby (such as Charlton"s History....etc.,) & the coast contain the word, or more recent offerings such as 'A History of Robin Hood's Bay  by B.Farnill published by the NYMNP  (1960's) or , Robin Hood's Bay As I have known it, by R P Pennock (2002), another life long local family with long family tradition of living here.

The word 'Yard' is a description  is the word used in Whitby to describe narrow passageways between rows of houses, such as Blackburns Yard and so on, along with 'Ghaut' which describes a yard which leads down to the harbour or foreshore.   However neither of these words have ever been used locally in RHB to describe narrow passages or streets.

In York, Staithes, Whitby,  Scarborough, & RHB  or indeed further inland on the moors, the nearest word would be 'snicket
 "'  but this is used more in the countryside locally for gaps and shortcuts.

Most of us would simply describe the named alleys and passages simply as streets, allyes or lanes.  A snicket might connect two lanes though!.

So please use the right word!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Oldest Farm Building?

Along Lealhom side in the Esk valley there is a an delapitated old farm and several run down buildings.  Above one on the lintel is carved the date  1680 and in two separate panels, the initials 'TT" & 'TT' in the second panel also.

This is probably the oldest dated building in the North Yorkshire Moors.  Like the rest of the buildings it is in a poor condition and will, eventually fall down.  A shame if it does

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Water Trough, Hempsyke

Between Littlebeck and Ugglebarnby you'll find this at the side of the road. 
The fountain was converted from a spring by the landowner John Allen, a shiponer born in Whitby in 1790.  
Three verses on zinc plates have been placed.
'Man made the trough,
The water God bestows,\Then praise His Name
From whom the blessing flows.'
To read the rest you'll have to do a bit of searching on foot, or the internet.

Much more intriguing a few yards away on the opposite side of the road is this offering high on the gable end of this building.  It's been there ever since I can remember and looks older  than me!!Hawsker,a few miles from Whitby has this lovely roadside well on the road to RHB.  Initialled TC & dated 1790, this was probably the well for the whole village until mains water was supplied in the early 1900's.  When my grandparents owned the Hare & Hounds in the village from the 1920s to 1957 there were still a couple of hand-pumps in the village, one of which was next to the pub at Crete cottage.