A Ramble on the Moors
As I picked my way across the heather-clad moorland following a rocky peat-stained rivulet, I realised I was out with a couple of hardened ramblers - my parents.
When I'd suggested to them that we do a walk together in the North York Moors, I had in mind a gentle stroll through the patchwork fields of the undulating dales - and maybe - here's hoping - a teashop at the end to reward us for our efforts.
My Dad is never without a map on his rambles - an item that I am discovering is definitely more of a necessity than something you might need just in case. Incidentally, if you don't know how to read grid references have a look here on the Ramblers' website for how to do it. Basically, to read or take a six-figure grid reference, you start with the eastings, the first three figures along the top, then move onto the northings, the first three figures up - an easy way to remember this is along the corridor and up the stairs.
So, my Dad had chosen a walk starting out at Hartoft Rigg, a patch of open heather moorland between two forests in the Western part of the North York Moors. You are actually on the other side of Rosedale Abbey here and the walk takes you across moorland, through pastures and the occasional farm, giving you the most fantastic views back across the valleys. The thing I always notice with walks on the Moors is the almost palpable silence - no birdsong even, except the occasional ear-piercing squawk and flapping wings of a pheasant taking flight. Otherwise, absolute stillness.
The leaves are looking stunning at the moment. I couldn't help getting my camera out to capture the coppery, auburn tones especially the beech trees which are looking incredibly vibrant against the dark green of the conifers.
After a pitstop for a snack, we continued on our way - and into the forest of conifers before reaching a wide track, which was not only a public footpath, but also part of the Moor to Sea Cycle Network, a great cycle route that connects moorland, forests and coastal loops.
Emerging from the forest we began hunting for a lunch spot - with a view, which we found, just as the drizzling rain started picking up pace, turning into a proper shower. It was over and done with by the time we set off again.
We passed a vast stone merchant yard which we'd actually spotted from across the valley earlier on in the walk. I couldn't help noticing an old stone propped up by the yard...
Sobering stuff eh? Still, the mood didn't seem too laden here as the diggers moved around, the lads in the yard chatted and pop music drifted out from the radio - the only sounds to break the tranquility of the area.
It had been one of those days where the sky stays a washed-out, pale grey colour - quite appropriate for a moody moorland scene. The sun finally came out, highlighting the gorgeous amber shades of the dale opposite.
A steep climb through some thick, dense woods took us back onto the road we had parked on...my Mum did mention Hansel and Gretel at this point and asked my Dad if he'd laid down any crumbs of bread to help us find our way home!
We didn't quite make it for tea and cake this time - that will have to wait for my next ramble in the moors. Well done Dad on a great walk - I certainly know the difference between a ramble and a walk now.
If you'd like to explore this area yourself, get your walking boots on, grab yourself an OS map and do have a wonderful time in the great outdoors.