Post 75: Day 12 – Helmsley Youth Hostel to Lastingham – 15½ miles
We left the hostel at 9.30am in bright sunshine, which lifted our spirits considerably after the heavy rain of the previous day.
We stopped for coffee on a log near a clearing in the woods of Riccall Dale, frequently used by scouts for camping. Crossing the River Riccall near Hasty Bank Farm, we met a young lady who was digging out the track.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked, mystified by her actions.
‘During yesterday’s heavy rain the water ran straight down the track, then through the kitchen. I’m trying to divert the flow of the water.’
‘That’s rough,’ I said sympathetically, knowing how much rain had fallen on us the previous day.
We soon joined a tarmac lane leading past Low Farm, Middle farm and High Farm; needless to say we were ascending. Photograph of Canadian, Tara Corcoran, walking past High Farm in 2015 in high winds and heavy rain.
I was a little bit disappointed that we had not yet seen what I would regard as true North York Moors moorland. When we arrived at the Rollgate Bank Ordnance Survey column (also known as triangulation pillars or trig pillars), I was stunned by the three hundred and sixty degree view around me; the moors opened up their isolated and expansive beauty for the first time on the walk. We savoured the peace and fine open views. Unlike many trig points this one was surrounded by a fine carpet of grass and provided a perfect back-rest as we scanned the patchwork quilt of heather and fields before our eyes.
It was about this time that the Ordnance Survey announced that, due to the introduction of satellites, their 4,904 Ordnance Columns were redundant. Lengthy and passionate debates had raged as to what should happen to them. Should they be demolished and removed, be listed as of architectural interest, become memorials to the long-departed or just left as they are. To Alfred Wainwright and other enthusiastic hill-walkers trig pillars were more than concrete lumps on the tops of hills: they were visual poems, proud guardians of the landscape, which welcomed walkers and surveyors alike at the end of a gruelling climb. A wise Ordnance Survey employee decided that the trig pillars would be made available for adoption.
Forget adopting children, adopt a trig pillar instead, far less noisy (no CD player continuously emitting sounds of Oasis or Verve), troublesome and expensive! All that is needed is a little bit of painting every few years with a fantastic view!
Penny, also Canadian, who helped me paint the trig point on a cold February day and is now there forever and forever young.. sadly missed.
I had to adopt this particular trig pillar at Rollgate Bank and I decided there and then I will have my ashes scattered there. My application to the Ordnance Survey was successful, although I didn’t seem to get the character assessments, family inquisitions and screening that occurs with a child adoption. However, it was not until 21 January 1997, on my forty-fifth birthday, after paying £10 to the Land Registry to identify the landowner, that I finally received permission from the landowner to have access to maintain my adopted trig point. I now have to keep an eye on the pillar and paint it from time to time. I was very lucky to have been accepted for adoption as, due to excessive demand, waiting lists were closed quite quickly, the country being full of sentimental eccentrics like myself. The Ordnance Survey kindly issued detailed notes on the construction of my pillar and how to maintain it.
A gentle descent into Sleightholme Dale was soon followed by pleasant walking over Harland Moor, then a steep descent to Dale End Bridge and Lower Farndale, famous in spring for its daffodils.
The River Dove was followed to pass by the peaceful Lowna Burial Ground, which forms the Quaker burial ground where 114 Friends were buried between 1675 and 1837.
We continued past the many sheep to Lowna Bridge, renowned for being visited by the ghost of Sarkless Kitty. We spent at least fifteen minutes waiting for Kitty to appear, but with no success.
After a climb, the picturesque village of Hutton-le-Hole was reached.
Here there was the most welcome Crown Inn, well-stocked ice-cream shops and a number of gift shops; all characteristic of a tourist honeypot. Dan insisted on holding up the queue as he tried to decide which flavours to have in his double cone ice-cream. He interrogated the poor girl behind the counter in great detail as to the content and flavour of the multitude of varieties on sale; she must have been glad to see the back of us.
Hutton-le-Hole appears as Hoton in the great Domesday survey of 1085/86, thereafter undergoing several name changes from Hege-Hoton, Hoton under Heg and Newton, to Hutton-in-the-Hole by the 17th century; the present form dates from only the 19th century.
Alongside the strong craft tradition in the area, in particular spinning and weaving, other industries such as tanning and milling, lime-burning, and coal mining have left their marks and two centuries ago the village would have seemed a very different place from the quiet and well-manicured spot admired by visitors today.
However, of most interest was the Ryedale Folk Museum ,which won the 1995 National Heritage Museum of the Year award. The museum, spread over 2½ acres of land, contains a reconstructed hamlet of workshops, thatched cottages and a thatched manor house. There are also barns, mills, a medieval glass kiln, an early photographer’s studio and wagon sheds. The museum has a number of special craft demonstration days each year. The Museum also runs an annual Merrills contest, this is an ancient, skilled board game that has been played regularly in the area and is now, in fact, increasing in popularity.
After a steep climb out of the village, we admired a super view back towards my adopted trig point.
We reached Victoria Cross, which was erected in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and the opening of the road up Lidsty Hill on which the cross now stands.
The view towards Lastingham is particularly stunning in late summer when the heather is out.
Lastingham was chosen as a site for a monastery by St Cedd in 654, but it was destroyed by the Danes about two hundred years later. In 1078 some monks from Whitby re-founded the abbey but after ten years moved on to York where they founded St Mary’s Abbey. The present church has a remarkable crypt, which is probably still as it was nearly 1,000 years ago. It is reached down a stairway inside the church and is unique in England in having a nave and side aisles. It is believed to have been used at one time for cockfighting. I particularly enjoyed sitting in the crypt on my own and listening to the silence and sense of history of such a place.
Dan was clearly feeling really hungry and, as a thank you for dragging him on this walk, offered to treat me to a meal in the restaurant. During the meal, we met a family from the Midlands, who had chosen Lastingham as their eventual retirement home. The evening turned into a very sociable and enjoyable occasion, not finishing until the early hours of the morning.