Post 246: How to adopt a Trig Pillar and get away from it all.
There has recently been a lot on the 1,000 Mile Country Walking Magazine Facegroup Group about trig pillars (also known as trig points and ordnance survey columns) and so I have decided to tell my story about my adopted trig point north east of Helmsley on the North York Moors. It is a story of what happens when you put one foot in front of the other and things turn out in a way that you could never imagine.
As this Evening Press photograph shows it really is the place to get away from it all.
I first discovered it when I was planning my ‘The North of England Way’ coast to coast walking route, which was published in 1997.
Walking from Sutton Bank, which James Herriot described as ‘the finest view in England’, I had been disappointed that I had not really come across what I regard as the definitive character of the Moors, that is heather clad open moorland. I was walking up a dead straight lane past Low Farm, Middle Farm and High Farm just north of Pockley. Below is Canadian Tara who was walking this section of my coast to coast in August 2015 in heavy rain. I felt very sorry for her to travel all the way from Canada and walk solo 162 miles to find it pouring down with rain at this point. Canadian ladies are tough and determined.
It is possible to park carefully at High Farm as I had done on this occasion, but do not to block any farm entrances. After the farms the tarmacked lane became a track leading to Beadlam Rigg Plantation. From Middle Farm to the trig point it is about 2 miles. I emerged from the woods to follow a heather lined, ascending track.On reaching a gate at the top I reached the escarpment of Rollgate Bank and a huge expansive view, as far as the eyes could see, of an open heather clad moorland – a ‘patchwork quilt’ that on a good sunny day will take your breath away.
I then turned right along the track to find the trig pillar. I knew then my book would be completed and published.
Trig Pillars are looked on favourably by walkers as they usually indicated the highest point in the area and give 360 degree views as this one does. If lost in mist or fog when you find one you should be able to identify your position from the trig symbol on your map. Even Bill Bryson included them in his list of favourite British items in his 2015 book The Road to Little Dribbling.
I also learnt in 1992 that trig pillars were coming up for adoption. I already had two children and this seemed a lot easier than adopting children They don’t answer back, they don’t keep moving, they don’t request pocket money, they don’t need to go to the Doctors or A&E, they don’t require feeding, they don’t smoke, take drugs or drink, they don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends. What could be easier?
I wrote off to Ordnance Survey and my interest was registered in December 1992.
They also issued guidance on how I ‘care’ for my new friend.
My Adoption was eventually agreed and in 1997 I decided it definitely needed a coat of paint before my coast to coast route opened up. I first had to get the approval of the owner of the land and got this in January 1997.
The only person I could persuade to join me in the painting ceremony was Penny, another Canadian walking friend. It was a cold but sunny February day!
The place clearly left a great impression on Penny as some years later, when she became seriously and terminally ill in Canada and then Australia, she left instructions that this should be one of her final resting places. I had already indicated in the Conclusion of my book that this should also be my final resting place and so I will be in the company of another great lover of walking and the outdoors.
I have been back to the trig pillar with friends on other walks which pass this way. Sid the Yorkshireman, Geordie Caz, Alf and Victoria.
There is even a bench just a little further on down from the trig pillar off Rollgate Bank. A fabulous place to listen to the silence, feel the breeze in your hair (if you have any) and admire the views.
The trig pillar is at a height of 971 feet and there are circular walks in the area.
I only request that if you pass this way (very few people do) leave no litter and please respect this is a ‘special’ place. Leave it as you find it.
Or, if you are a really keen walker, you can walk 38 miles to the North Sea at Scarborough or 162 miles to the Irish Sea at Ravenglass on The North of England Way!
I will finish with a beautiful poem, which fits the scene perfectly.
I came across in Dent Youth Hostel in an old Dalesman Magazine. I have tried to trace the author without success.
From age to age.
Yet ever changing
Moment to moment
Fleeting over their vast beauty.
A tangible peace
By the trickling becks
The best is yet to be
Our birth into Eternity
PS: I have recently checked and the adoption scheme is no longer running. However, with the landowner’s permission you may go to a trig point and keep an eye on it and report any issues regarding it to the Ordnance Survey.