A to Z: a number of Ns and Os

N and O

NATRIX NATRIX

There are three native UK snake species*. Although Adders and Slow worms are common in the North York Moors, Grass snakes (Natrix natrix) aren’t. However they are found at at least one known site on the western edge of the National Park which makes them locally rare. They like rough grassland near to water and are known to swim (they’re also sometimes called Water snakes). Neither Grass snakes nor Slow worms are venomous, but Adders are.

Natrix natrix from www.herpetofauna.co.uk

All native snake species are protected. Please leave them alone and they should leave you alone.

*Actually, there are now four. The barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica) is now recognised as a species in its own right, with the Natrix natrix (as found occasionally in the North York Moors) now known as the eastern grass snake.

NETWORKS

What is a network? In ecological terms it is basically the infrastructure through which species and habitats survive and flourish. In our 2012 Management Plan we identified the key ecological networks that we wanted to consolidate and enhance. Following the Lawton Principles (More, Bigger, Better and Joined) we’re working to ensure these networks and the associated habitats and species not only survive but become more resilient and sustainable into the future.

So what does a network actually look like? When we talk about networks and connectivity (which we do quite a lot on this Blog) we mean all sorts of things corridors, connections, linkages and stepping stones which whilst contributing to the same ecological goal, might look very different on the ground. For example, the Rivers Rye and Esk are important riparian linear networks, winding their way through other interconnected patchwork woodland and farmland networks. Some networks might be important for their great trophic diversity whilst others are essential for the survival of a particularly rare species. Promoting one particular network over another may impact on different species in different ways. For example, some farmland waders such as lapwing tend to nest in open fields with a low or short structure and areas of bare ground. One posited reason for preferring these open and large fields is that Lapwing want a clear line of site to any potential danger approaching their nests. So then planting hedgerows, usually a positive way to increase network connectivity, through good lapwing territory may negatively impact on this wader species. Similarly, native broadleaf woodland planting is usually something to be encouraged but not if it would break up a precious species-rich grassland network and adversely impact upon the important species that rely on it.

The North York Moors hosts a diversity of plants, animals and habitats. The challenge we’re grappling with is a putting together a jigsaw of different habitats and species; connecting up networks at varying spatial levels all within a framework of unpredictable future land use and climate change. It’s as difficult as it sounds.

And talking of different types of network, the National Park Authority is keen to foster a network of land managers in the North York Moors so we can share information and opportunities, and enable the North York Moors area to be a sounding board for new ideas in relation to land management and land use. If you are a local land manager and you’d be interesting in joining in – please contact us.

NEWTONDALE

Newtondale is a narrow valley cutting through the southern central moorland. It is the narrowness and steepness of Newtondale and its resulting inaccessibility which makes this dale unusual in the North York Moors which is renowned for its open landscapes. It contains important SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) successional habitats including wet woodland, flush communities and species rich grassland.

Newtondale - copyright NYMNPA

Newtondale was formed in the last Ice Age at least partly as subaerial overflow from the glacial lake in Eskdale to the north of the higher ground drained south into the glacial lake in the Vale of Pickering. The two lakes formed from meltwaters dammed in the west by the ice sheet in the Vale of York and in the east by the massive North Sea ice sheet. Recently it has been suggested that Newtondale existed already at this time and the overflow scoured and deepened an already existing feature.

This naturally formed cutting was exploited by the always practical George Stephenson when he built the Pickering to Whitby railway (opened 1836). The railway connected up the northern and southern parts of the North York Moors divided by the large central area of high moorland. For centuries the only connections had being inhospitable and difficult trods and tracks. The railway line is still used – by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and Newtondale has its own request stop.

NICHOLAS POSTGATE

Nicholas Postgate was born in or near to Egton Bridge in Eskdale at the end of the 16th century. He was a Catholic. Although Anglican Protestantism was the official state religion by this time, there was much insecurity and uncertainty and an international element was attached to Roman Catholicism that meant not following the protestant religion as prescribed by the state implied potential treachery. In the first half of the 17th century refusing to attend Anglican Protestant services was illegal, this recusancy marked people out as non-compliant and dangerous .

Nicholas Postgate decided to be an active Catholic when passivity was definitely safer. He went to a seminary in France where he was ordained a priest and returned to England where after ministering to catholic gentry families he finally came back to Eskdale in the 1660s to practice his faith and serve persevering Catholics in the wider North York Moors travelling from house to house. The situation of the North York Moors, on the edge and out of the way, has allowed non conformist religions to survive and flourish over the centuries.

Father Postgate survived the Civil War and Commonwealth periods in England, but the Restoration re-ignited the fear of Catholicism which blew up into the Popish Plot in 1678. The plot didn’t need much substance, it suggested that internationalist Catholics were conspiring to murder the King and destroy the State just as many Protestants had long feared and gave credence to some not very latent animosity towards Catholicism and Catholics. There followed a short lived period of persecution and settling of scores.

Father Postgate was arrested in Littlebeck near Whitby, reportedly carrying out a christening. He was charged with being a Catholic priest in England and therefore causing Catholicism to spread ‘of purpose…not only to withdraw … subjects from their due obedience … also to stir up and move sedition, rebellion and open hostility … to the great endangering  … and to the utter ruin, desolation and overthrow of the whole realm’ (Act Against Jesuits and Seminarists, 1585). In line with the punishment for high treason as the highest crime imaginable, Father Postgate was hanged, drawn (disembowelled) and quartered at York on 7 August, 1679. He was 83.

Nicholas Postgate has been beautified by the Catholic Church as one of 85 English Martyrs. His beatification means he is known as the Blessed Nicholas Postgate, intercessional prayers can be addressed to him, and his image and relics are venerated. Reportedly a lock of his white hair is kept in a reliquary at Egton Bridge, a jawbone at English Martyrs Church in York, and a hand with a blood soaked cloth at Ampleforth Abbey.

There is an annual local rally in honour of the Blessed Nicholas Postgate, held alternatively in Egton Bridge (where he was born) and Ugthorpe (where he lived up to his death).

NORTH YORK MOORS

A lot of people get the name wrong. The North York Moors means the moors north of the city of York. There are other areas of North Yorkshire moors and moorland, but only one North (of) York Moors.

OPPOSITE-LEAVED GOLDEN SAXIFRAGE (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium)

Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage is a creeping perennial plant which can form extensive mats in damp, shady areas. So look out for it alongside becks, flushes and springs. It produces tiny golden flowers (3 to 5 mm) from February through to July. The plant has square-stems with directly opposite pairs of leaves.

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium from freenatureimages.eu

To make identification more complicated there is also an Alternate-leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium alternifolium) which shares the same genus. This species is very similar to the Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage except, as the name suggests, the leaves are alternate rather than opposite, and on triangular shaped stems. Its flowers can also be a bit bigger and brighter. The Alternate-leaved golden saxifrage is less common than its Opposite-leaved relative and it prefers a more limey habitat, but occasionally the different species can be found growing together.

Chrysosplenium alternifolium from freenatureimages.eu

ORCHARDS

In the North York Moors 19th and early 20th century farms and a lot of village houses had their own small orchards (still visible on Ordnance Survey historic mapping). Orchard fruit and other soft fruit provided part of a multi source income to people living hand to mouth and making the most of what they had. The fruit season ran from July through to winter – starting with gooseberries, then red and black currants and raspberries, then plums and finishing with apples and pears. The fruit wasn’t just sold at local markets, fruit could be sold on and because of the railways could end up in towns like Scarborough or end up in jam factories in Liverpool and Grimsby, or at the Rowntree’s factory in York to make jelly.

Apple and pear trees, as well as other tree species, are susceptible to canker (fungus). To counter this people used to whitewash orchard tree trunks with lime and spread lime on the orchard floor. Lime is still used as a fungicide.

Main local orchard species for the moors and dales are recorded as being:
Cooking Apples: Bramley’s Seedling, Lane’s Prince Albert, Old Cockpit
Eating Apples: Green Balsams, Winer Pippins
Pears: Hazels

Taken from Life and Tradition in the Moorlands of North-East Yorkshire by Marie Hartley and Joan Ingleby

The loss of orchards since WWII has been a major change in the landscape, biodiversity and culture of the North York Moors.

ORTHOSTATIC WALLING

An orthostat is a vertical ‘upright’ set stone. If its old enough i.e. prehistoric, it is likely to be called a standing stone. Less dramatic orthostats can also be found in drystone walls where farmers have made use of the stones to hand. Big stones have been reused over time and set vertically into the ground amongst the horizontally laid smaller stones more commonly found in drystone walls. Orthostats are also very useful within a wall as gate posts or as the edges of a sheep creep (to allow sheep but no other stock to rove) providing added strength and structure.

Orthostatic walling is rare enough here that where it does occur the walls are often recorded on the NYM Historic Environment Record.

Stone sheep creep built into wall in Raisdale - copyright Ami Walker, NYMNPA

Previously on the North York Moors A to Z … A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M

Historical curios and curious patterns

Beth Davies – Building Conservation Officer

We visit a huge number of sites throughout the North York Moors during the course of our work and occasionally we’re lucky enough to come across something on the more unusual side.

Like this stone noticed on a farm in Danby – we think it was used as an egg cooler.

Egg cooler? carved stone on farm in Danby - copyright NYMNPA.

This stone (below) is in a field in Glaisdale and the owner advised me it was an apple press. There certainly appears to be a drain on the near side which would suggest it was used to collect some form of liquid.

Apple press? Glaisdale - copyright NYMNPA.It’s noticeable that the cross shape is very similar to those found on ‘witches posts’ in vernacular long houses, especially those in recusant Catholic outposts like Glaisdale. Did the cross have a purely functional purpose in getting the juice to run out in channels? … did it help protect the juice from evil misdoings by witches? … did the cross shape signify covert faithfulness to the old religion after the Reformation?

'Witch post' - Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole. From Hidden Teesside http://www.hidden-teesside.co.uk/2014/08/06/witch-post-hutton-le-hole/

This (above) is a picture of a ‘witch post’ trans-located along with the rest of Stang End Cottage from Danby to the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton le Hole. The post is supporting the bressumar beam above and there is the heck (draught proof screen) behind. It’s called a ‘witch post’ because of the pattern carved at the top which is thought to be there to protect the house and the hearth. Similar carved posts in houses seem to be a particular feature of the North York Moors, but it’s not clear when they were first associated with witches.

The North York Moors contains a number of ‘cup and ring’ stones (see below). These are usually in-situ rocks which have been engraved in prehistoric times with patterns – the ‘cup’ markings are concave shapes and the ‘ring’ markings are concentric circles. These types of engraving are found in a number of places in Europe and beyond and it is this similarity of the ‘cup and ring’ patterns in different places that makes them particularly significant. There are various explanations of how and why involving semiotics, cryptography and mythology, as well as archaeology.

Cup and Ring stone near Roxby - more cup than ring - copyright NYMNPA.

Cup and Ring Stone near Fylingdales - copyright Blaise Vyner.

Cup and Ring Stone near Goathland - copyright NYMNPA.People like to leave their mark. Below is an example of 19th century rock art (graffiti) at an ironstone industrial railway site in the North York Moors – it shows a man in a top hat, and a bird. I don’t suppose there is any meaning behind it other than someone passing the time and representing what they were seeing around them.

Carved picture stone - copyright NYMNPA.

We’re always keen to hear about odd cultural remnants in the North York Moors and different interpretations of their functions. Please let us know if you can help.

Large engraved stone within drystone wall - copyright Roy McGhie, NYMNPA.

 

Making a contribution

Over the years the National Park have had a number of grant initiatives allowing us to provide grant to support projects that help achieve National Park purposes and duties and to conserve the special qualities of the North York Moors. Some of our grant schemes tend to be targeted which means we usually approach the land manager and offer the grant (for instance, to enhance habitat connectivity), and others are open to application and awarded through a competitive process.

So at the beginning of a new financial year with a new round of grants available, it’s these schemes, the ones generally open to application, which are described below.

Our Traditional Boundary Scheme provides grant assistance (up to a maximum of £2,000 per holding per year) towards the cost of rebuilding drystone walls* and plantingDerelict hedge - copyright NYMNPATBS hedge planting - copyright NYMNPA/restoring hedgerows. Traditional field boundaries are an important cultural element and landscape feature of the North York Moors. They also act as effective wildlife corridors. For more information – contact us.

Collapsed drystone walling - copyright NYMNPA

TBS restored drystone walling - copyright NYMNPA

There are lots of historic buildings in the National Park which are of great value both in terms of the landscape and cultural heritage, so we want to help ensure that as many as possible are kept in good repair. Around 3,000 buildings are specifically listed for their special architectural or historic interest. Historic Building Grants are available for Head House, before repair - copyright NYMNPAHistoric Building Grant - Head House, after repair - copyright NYMNPArepairs to Listed Buildings on the Authority’s “at risk” register. Grants are 50% of the cost of eligible works, up to a maximum of £7,500.

 

There are also 42 Conservation Areas in the National Park. These are areas within villages which have been designated because they are of particular historic or Modern downstairs window - Robin Hood's Bay - copyright NYMNPAConservation Area Enhancement Grant - downstairs window replaced, in keeping with historic character - Robin Hood's Bay - copyright NYMNPAarchitectural importance. Conservation Area Enhancement Grants are available for re-instating lost architectural features such as windows and doors and using traditional roofing materials on historic buildings, within Conservation Areas. Grants will be 50% of the cost of eligible works, up to £1,500 per project.

For more information on either of these two Building Conservation grants – see here.

Our Local Distinctiveness & Tourism Fund aims to raise the profile of the North York Moors and promote its local distinctiveness. Grants are awarded to projects in the National Park area and surroundings which increase awareness of the North York Moors brand. Ideas need to utilise the area’s local distinctiveness and at the same time ensuring that any increase in visitors has no adverse impacts. For more information – see here.

We’ve also got our Community Grant offering grant of up to £3,500 (up to 70% of total project costs) to local community groups for small scale projects which meet one of the following priorities:

    • environmental benefits e.g. recycling project or wildlife habitat improvements;
    • cultural heritage and local history conservation e.g. restoring a village monument or archiving data;
    • community facility improvements e.g. disabled access for a community building or improvements to a play area.

Projects need to show clear community benefit and value for money. This particular grant has a short application window – for 2016/17 we need to receive applications by 30 June 2016. For more information – see here.

The Community Grant is now into its fourth year. We’ve assisted a variety of functional  projects over that time, one of which was the setting up of the Farndale Film Club by providing grant towards the purchase of equipment. We’re very grateful to the Club for the following report on its first year which shows just how beneficial local community projects can be with just a little grant assistance.

Farndale Village Hall Report for North York Moors National Park

Grant awarded summer 2014 for Film Club equipment and costs – £2,791.60

Farndale Village Hall - copyright Farndale Village Hall CommitteeThe Village Hall committee were very pleased to be awarded the grant to enable us to start our own community Film Club. The equipment and licences were bought in the early part of 2015, and installed by a community member with technical, IT and audio-visual expertise, and one of our trustees who is a qualified electrician and computer expert.

Our first screening was on the 1st May 2015. The film was ‘What we did on our holidays’ – a British comedy, which was a real success. We had 24 people attending, and had organised refreshments, crisps and chocolate bars. Feedback from attendees was excellent. The blackout blinds worked really well in summer to keep the hall dark. The sound system was great, and the big screen made it feel as though you really were at the cinema!

We decided to hold monthly screenings. Information about the screenings is given in our member’s community newsletter, on an email circular, and on posters inside the hall. Members are regularly asked what films they might want to see and all suggestions are welcome.

Farndale Film Club - copyright Farndale Village Hall CommitteeWe have had a wide range so far of films, including comedies, a western and recent films like Gravity and The Imitation Game. We have held eight general monthly film nights for members, which have had 142 individual attendances.

We also held a screening of a new independent film ‘Addicted to Sheep’ in October. This was a licensed film and we were able to publicise and promote the screening, and charge for attendance. We decided to charge £3.00, really just to cover the costs of the film (£150). We also sold ice creams, snacks and drinks. Overall at this film, we had 60 people attending, and contributed over £100 towards our 1st year costs. Everyone who came said they had had a really good evening.

The Farndale Kids Club is also taking advantage of the equipment, and so far have shown three films – ‘Paddington’ in June; ‘Hotel Transylvania’ at a Halloween party in October, and ‘Elf’ in December. The children had a brilliant time. At these films we had overall attendance of 71. The children made themselves comfortable on rugs and cushions on the floor, and had ice creams and snacks.

So overall, we have held three films for the Kids Club, eight films for the usual members club, and held an ‘open’ screening. Overall attendance of the 12 films has been 273.

In the summer, we made another grant application to the Two Ridings Community Foundation – Grassroots Fund towards funding for some more comfortable seating, and were pleased to have the grant agreed in September. We have since purchased 30 new upholstered and padded chairs for use at the film club, and so far members have been very pleased with them. They are a big improvement on the old plastic chairs we had.

Farndale Film Club - copyright Farndale Village Hall Committee

Since we started, we have covered the overall equipment and first year’s costs of the Film Club – largely through your grant, also the income from our recycling Bags Collection, from members’ donations, and through snacks and soft drinks donations at the screenings.

All the people who have so far come to the Farndale Film Club and Kids Film Club have been very positive about having a local venue where they can see films. Comments have been made about how good it is not to have to travel miles to see films, and also how nice it is to spend time with neighbours and friends in a different arena. For some of us, it is the only time we have been to a cinema in many years! Thank you again for your generous grant, it is much appreciated by all.

Gill Aconley, Committee Member, Farndale Village Hall

James Thurtell, Chairman, Farndale Village Hall

*And talking of film, our Agri-Environment Team spent a few hours recently learning the basics of drystone walling in order to better understand this traditional craft. Here’s what happened…

Agri-Environment Team endlessly practising drystone walling at Sutton Bank - copyright NYMNPA

A to Z – a deluge of Ds

D

DAFFODILS

The true wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, is the only species of wild daffodil that is native to the UK. Wild daffodils thrive in partially shaded areas such as woodlands, on river banks and in fields with clay or loam soils that are not too acidic. It Wild daffodil, Rosedale - copyright NYMNPAis locally abundant in the North York Moors, with Farndale being a well-known location.

The wild daffodil differs from the varieties we are so used to seeing in our gardens; the plants are smaller and the flowers are a pale yellow. Despite their diminutive size, there is always an impressive display each spring at locations across the National Park. We aim to promote the importance of the wild daffodil and there are guided walks each spring led by our Voluntary Rangers to explain the wild flowers to visitors and to present them in all their glory.

The National Park Authority’s Species Action Wild daffodils - copyright NYMNPAPlan for the daffodil also includes a target to monitor the population of wild daffodils within the National Park. Monitoring takes place each spring time in Farndale and Rosedale to record the size and extent of the population. Dedicated volunteers take photos from a fixed point each year when the daffodils are at their best; this is a great way to compare populations year by year. The daffodils in Farndale have been monitored for many years and a baseline survey was undertaken in Rosedale in 2013 so that monitoring can take place in subsequent years. Threats to the wild daffodil include invasive non-native plant species, incompatible grazing regimes and trampling by stock and people; we work closely with land owners and managers to make sure that the daffodils can be conserved and encouraged.

DEER PARKS

Deer Parks were essentially mediaeval game reserves, enclosed by an internal ditch and outer bank to make escape for the animals more difficult, the latter often topped with a wooden fence or even – as time went on – a wall. The boundaries would generally also include deer leaps which made it easy for deer to jump into an emparked area but very difficult to jump out again – thus increasing the size of the ‘trapped’ herd. Some early parks are thought to date from the Anglo-Saxon period but the number increased greatly under the Normans, where they were used as hunting preserves principally for sport. The name ‘park’ and also ‘hay’, a term also used, refer to the fence or hedge which enclosed the parks, and thus came to also mean the area enclosed. Initially largely a royal prerogative, members of the nobility and landed gentry also came to be allowed to hold and maintain Deer Parks which would also be valued as additional sources of winter food from a self-supporting herd of deer. These exclusive game reserves meant that an important potential food supply was legally denied to the local common people.

Creation of a Deer Park generally seems to have required a royal licence (for which payment would, of course, be due) but many examples are known for which no licences have yet been found. It is thought that if your land was remote from the monarch’s deer parks and forests, you might chance your arm and create your own prestigious park without seeking royal permission. Although more exotic animals are recorded at times within certain royal parks, the ‘beasts’ within would normally be fallow and red deer.

In the North York Moors we have records of at least 20 Deer Parks, varying in size from c.51 acres at Danby Old Park up to c.2,240 acres at Duncombe Park, considered at one time to be the 6th largest Deer Park in England. The parks are likely to have varied in size over time – both shrinking and enlarging as their boundaries were moved to better fit the landscape, using valleys and rivers, and to reflect changes in land ownership, wealth and taste. The post-medieval representation of Deer Parks on maps is likely to portray their later function as prestige structures within managed landscapes alongside great houses. They were considered to be of sufficient importance in the early days of national surveying in the 16/17th centuries to be mapped by Christopher Saxton, John Speed and others – a good indication of their viability and continued existence – although Saxton’s survey did miss out a number of important local Deer Parks in this area which were almost certainly still in existence at the time (such as Carlton, Fylingdales, Ingleby Greenhow, Kildale).

DIALECT

Some local dialect words tend to hang on in some way despite of or because of the universality of modern communication, and new words are always being invented and adapted, whilst others just seem to disappear.

From a Dialect Glossary of words and idioms in use in the North Riding of Yorkshire by Richard Blakeborough published in Saltburn by the Sea in 1912, here are some past (?) examples:

A Pig is a Dakky, a Swift is a Devil-screamer, and a Ladybird is a Doody or Dundy-cow.

A Donnot is a dirty-bottomed (untrustworthy in every way) immoral female and is no doubt a daudle (a slovenly idle person) as well, probably bedecked in danglements (superfluous trinkets) and all set on an evening of dilldrum (boisterous merry making).

At darkening, dal’d oot ‘n dowly Daytalman mayk’s ‘is way ‘oam down’t road through drazzle, ‘n feels t’ deeath-smear as ‘ee stumbles on’t dozzen’d deear-stan ‘n lays deeazment ‘n deafly.

DOORS

The North York Moors provide a variety of architectural characteristics and influences which add to the special qualities of our built heritage which can be seen today. Whilst there are many distinguishing features to talk about, for the purposes of this particular blog post (i.e. things starting with D) we are looking at doors and the array of different styles throughout the National Park.

Panel Door, notice the unequal width of the planks. Copyright NYMNPA.Planked doors – The earliest timber doors were of a simple planked construction consisting of vertical planks, sometimes up to 12 inches wide and unequal in width, with a simple pencil mould detail fixed to horizontal timber ledges. These types of doors are characteristic of the small moorland farmsteads and cottages where buildings were simple and functional. The more modern equivalents are often made up of narrower boards (around 6 inches) with a plain v-groove (rather than a traditional pencil mould detail) surrounded by a frame and lack the character, detail and interest found with the older doors.

This door shows a typical bolection mould, where the moulding projects beyond the face of the frame. Copyright NYMNPA.A typical Georgian period door with raised and fielded panels. Copyright NYMNPA.Panelled doors – These styles of doors are a feature within our villages and towns as home owners often remodelled their properties to keep up with the then current architectural style. Panelled doors are used to describe the doors from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras and are usually divided into four or six sections with some panels filled with glass. Unlike the modern off the peg doors of today, a joiner made door can incorporate traditional details such as ‘raised and fielded’ panels or the use of a ‘bolection mould’ which are distinctive features of good quality historic door.

1930s style doors in Staithes - copyright NYMNPANon-vernacular style doors – The coastal villages of the North York Moors such as Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay are perhaps where you find the greatest variety of styles. It is clear to see in Staithes that the village underwent somewhat of a 1930’s re-vamp as these styles of doors are common throughout the village and now add to its architectural character and interest.

Robin Hood’s Bay is perhaps more unique with a host of different styles incorporating elaborate panelling, frames and canopies.

Robin Hood's Bay house door - copyright NYMNPARobin Hood's Bay house door - copyright NYMNPARobin Hood's Bay house door - copyright NYMNPARobin Hood's Bay house door - copyright NYMNPA

 

Robin Hood's Bay house doors - copyright NYMNPA

In order to help protect these features, many of the designated Conservation Areas within the North York Moors are covered by an Article 4 Direction which means that planning permission is required for the alteration or replacement of doors and other features such as windows and boundary treatments. If you are thinking on carrying out alterations to your property it is always best to seek advice first from the Local Planning Authority.

DRACULA

Needing a local celebrity starting with D, and it being around Halloween, and although Whitby isn’t actually within the National Park it is an iconic town in the North York Moors, and although he is a fictional rather than a real character …Bram Stoker was real, and he definitely visited the environs of the North York Moors.

“(PASTED IN MINA MURRAY’S JOURNAL)

From a correspondent.

Whitby.

One of the greatest and suddenest storms on record has just been experienced here, with results both strange and unique. The weather had been somewhat sultry, but not to any degree uncommon in the month of August. Saturday evening was as fine as was ever known, and the great body of holiday-makers laid out yesterday for visits to Mulgrave Woods, Robin Hood’s Bay, Rig Mill, Runswick, Staithes, and the various trips in the neighborhood of Whitby…

…Shortly before ten o’clock the stillness of the air grew quite oppressive, and the silence was so marked that the bleating of a sheep inland or the barking of a dog in the town was distinctly heard, and the band on the pier, with its lively French air, was like a dischord in the great harmony of nature’s silence. A little after midnight came a strange sound from over the sea, and high overhead the air began to carry a strange, faint, hollow booming…

…Then without warning the tempest broke. With a rapidity which, at the time, seemed incredible, and even afterwards is impossible to realize, the whole aspect of nature at once became convulsed. The waves rose in growing fury, each overtopping its fellow, till in a very few minutes the lately glassy sea was like a roaring and devouring monster. Whitecrested waves beat madly on the level sands and rushed up the shelving cliffs. Others broke over the piers, and with their spume swept the lanthorns of the lighthouses which rise from the end of either pier of Whitby Harbour.

… The wind suddenly shifted to the northeast, and the remnant of the sea fog melted in the blast. And then, mirabile dictu, between the piers, leaping from wave to wave as it rushed at headlong speed, swept the strange schooner before the blast, with all sail set, and gained the safety of the harbour. The searchlight followed her, and a shudder ran through all who saw her, for lashed to the helm was a corpse, with drooping head, which swung horribly to and fro at each motion of the ship. No other form could be seen on the deck at all.

A great awe came on all as they realised that the ship, as if by a miracle, had found the harbour, unsteered save by the hand of a dead man! However, all took place more quickly than it takes to write these words. The schooner paused not, but rushing across the harbour, pitched herself on that accumulation of sand and gravel washed by many tides and many storms into the southeast corner of the pier jutting under the East Cliff, known locally as Tate Hill Pier.

There was of course a considerable concussion as the vessel drove up on the sand heap. Every spar, rope, and stay was strained, and some of the `top-hammer’ came crashing down. But, strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below, as if shot up by the concussion, and running forward, jumped from the bow on the sand.

Making straight for the steep cliff, where the churchyard hangs over the laneway to the East Pier so steeply that some of the flat tombstones, thruffsteans or through-stones, as they call them in Whitby vernacular, actually project over where the sustaining cliff has fallen away, it disappeared in the darkness, which seemed intensified just beyond the focus of the searchlight.

…Already the sudden storm is passing, and its fierceness is abating. Crowds are scattering backward, and the sky is beginning to redden over the Yorkshire wolds…”

From Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1897.

DROVE ROAD

Along the western edge of the North York Moors are the Hambleton Hills which form an escarpment edge to the plateau of the Moors. Running along this edge is the Hambleton Drove Road part of a long distance north-south route used by Drovers moving herds of cattle down from Scotland and through England to market towns, the biggest destination being Smithfield Market in London.

Moving cattle (i.e. wealth) around  has gone on for 1000s of years. Where more animals could be raised than were needed for subsistence a value could be realised and hence a trade developed and it was only sensible to move the cattle alive under their own steam to where they would raise the best price. Large scale droving reached its peak in Britain in the 16th to 18th centuries before changes in agriculture and transportation negated the need.

The Hambleton Drove Road route itself is known to be a prehistoric ridgeway valued for its panoramic views by subsequent Drovers as well as the original Iron Age farmers. The Drovers appreciated the same higher ground for security from wild animals and dangerous people. The uplands also provided wide verges and free grazing, and to some extent softer ground for the cattle’s feet. In the 18th century when toll roads were built, the green trackways of the uplands remained unobstructed and free of charge.

Section of the Hambleton Drove Road now surfaced - copyright NYMNPA

The Hambleton Drove Road survives as a trackway route worn by feet, hooves and cart wheels over centuries of droving.

DRYSTONE WALLS

Drystone walls (or dykes in Scotland) are walls built without any mortar to bind the stones together. The skill in their construction comes from interlocking stones and using compressional forces to construct a solid boundary (hence why if building a wall on a slope you start at the bottom and work your way to the top). They are typically seen in areas where there is abundant stone in the landscape or where the weather conditions are unfavourable for supporting a hedge boundary. Drystone walls are part of the heritage of the North York Moors, having crisscrossed the landscape for generations.

Farmed landscape - Rosedale - copyright Ami Walker, NYMNPA

Drystone walls vary from location to location. Even within one area such as this National Park there are many different building styles. Most walls consist of a layer of foundation stones at the bottom, with stone then built up in layers and finished off with coping stones at the top. Every join on the wall should be bridged by a stone above. Double skinned walls have two outside ‘skins’ of stone which are filled with hearting stones. The two skins should taper from bottom to top (this is known as the batter) and throughstones should be used which help bind the wall together. Single skinned walls on the other hand consist of only one skin of stone, and therefore don’t use heartings.

Side view of rebuilt drystone wall - copyright NYMNPA

Coping stone style varies from wall to wall as well. Some walls use large upright coping stones, whilst others use thinner pieces laid at an angle. Some even use coping stones laid face down.

There are many features of interest often built into drystone walls. Smoots (or bolt-holes) are used to give water and small animals passage through the wall. Sheep-creeps (or lunkys) on the other hand allow larger animals like sheep to pass through the wall, and in historic times would be blocked off or opened up with a large stone as and when needed.

Gap built into drystone wall for beck - copyright NYMNPA

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it

And spills the upper boulders in the sun,

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast…

Robert Frost’s words in Mending Wall strike a chord for many of our drystone walls in the North York Moors. Although a well-built drystone wall will usually stand for at least 20 years, the sheer number of walls in our National Park means that at any one time many are in a state of disrepair. The National Park Authority’s Traditional Boundary Scheme aims to help land managers conserve some of the most visible walls in the North York Moors.

Broken down wall - copyright NYMNPA

It is common practice when building a wall that will be used as a stock-proof boundary to also use either top wire or top netting. This helps ensure that cattle or sheep don’t cause unnecessary damage.

There are miles of drystone walls across the North York Moors, with some believed to demarcate boundaries going back to the Iron Age. It is certain that they are of historic and cultural importance to the area so here’s hoping that they will still be standing in another thousand years!

Drystone wall - Farndale - copyright NYMNPA

DUKE OF BURGUNDY (Hamearis lucina)

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly is found in scattered colonies in central southern England, but isolated colonies also remain in the south of Cumbria and the southern edge of the North York Moors.The species is in decline nationally; at sites monitored by transect, numbers have decreased by 49% between 1979 and 2012 (source: www.ukbms.org.uk). It is now one of the rarest butterflies in Britain.

Duke of Burgundy female - www.britishbutterflies.co.ukThe Duke of Burgundy likes a habitat mosaic either scrubby grasslands or sunny woodland clearings, and requires large lush cowslip or primrose plants where the female can lay her eggs on the undersides of the leaves and which the larvae eat when they hatch. The sun can make a real difference – following warm spring weather the butterfly can emerge 2 to 3 weeks earlier on south facing slopes compared to north facing slopes and so extend the season.

The butterfly faces a series of threats, in particular inappropriate habitat management (e.g. too much/not enough scrub control, too much/not enough grazing), habitat fragmentation and population isolation. Habitat stepping stones and corridor connections between sites are important to improve gene transfer between the small populations and to enable recolonization within the local range.

Butterfly Conservation has been leading a project in the south of the North York Moors aimed at stabalising the existing Duke of Burgundy colonies, re-colonising extinct sites and establishing new colonies through re-introduction. Work undertaken has included an extensive programme of habitat management to open up sites and establish the conditions best suited to the species.

Previously on the North York Moors A to Z … A, B, C

Landscape matters

Gallery

This gallery contains 27 photos.

David Renwick – Director of Conservation It is my feeling that landscape is a construct of the interaction between the environment (in its broadest sense) and mankind’s influences, actions and emotions. But it’s more than the sum of its parts. Whilst … Continue reading

Four seasons of the Traditional Boundary Scheme

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

The Traditional Boundary Scheme (TBS) is now into its third year, helping to restore hedges and drystone walls across the North York Moors landscape throughout the seasons.

Autumn haze - TBS - NYMNPAFog - TBS - NYMNPARain - TBS - NYMNPAAutumn brings out beautiful colours and dampening mists, and the chance to get going on hedge restoration tasks, such as hedge-laying and coppicing, as the plants become dormant.

Snow - TBS - NYMNPAFog & snow - TBS - NYMNPASnow - TBS - NYMNPA

 

 

 

Winter snow tends to put a stop to all TBS work, as the conditions make it difficult for moving heavy stones, and hedge plants aren’t going to appreciate being planted out.

Spring planting - TBS - NYMNPAHedge planting - TBS - NYMNPAEarly spring sun - TBS - NYMNPASpring means the leaves break out along the restored hedges. In a few years time birds will be searching out nest sites amongst the thorny branches, and the bees collecting the nectar and pollen from the blooming hedgerow flowers.

Summer sun - TBS - NYMNPALate summer breeze - TBS - NYMNPAHedge - NYMNPASummer sees derelict walls disappear beneath the fast-growing grasses and bracken, whilst the hedges and trees form a luscious, green network across the landscape. This is a great time to be getting on with dry stone walling, while the weather is fine and the ground is dry.

The new application period for TBS grant is now open. Please have a look at our website.

 

Criss crossing the landscape

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

The landscape and land managers in the North York Moors have benefited from grants totalling £64,400 through the 2014/15 round of our Traditional Boundary Scheme. The grant supported the restoration of hedgerows and drystone walls which aren’t being picked up through national agri-environment schemes. The work builds on that carried out in 2013/14 which was the first year of the Scheme. This year’s funding has enabled the restoration of over 2,600 square metres of traditional drystone wall and over 2,800 metres of hedge planting, coppicing and laying.

Hedge laying - Kirsty Brown

Hedge laying is traditionally carried out in the autumn and winter when the plants are dormant. Importantly this also avoids the bird nesting season. A rural craft which has been widely practised for hundreds of years across Europe, hedge laying has largely disappeared apart from in  a handful of countries including the UK. It involves partially cutting through the upright stems of shrubs, bending them down and weaving them around stakes driven into the line of the hedge. There are around ten different regional styles of hedge laying within the UK including a ‘Yorkshire style’ which is traditionally very narrow, laid flattish and no more than three foot in height.

Hedge laying is obviously more skilled and time consuming than hedge cutting and coppicing, and has been dying out as a traditional craft. But the availability of targeted support funding and an awareness and appreciation of the benefits of hedgerows as wildlife corridors, habitats and food sources, as well as landscape features, is assisting the survival and re-burgeoning of hedgerow management skills like laying. And don’t think that drystone walls are second best to hedgerows in terms of biodiversity and wildlife. Walls can provide corridors for species movement and homes for a world of biodiversity from saxifrages to spiders to slow worms etc. Fortunately we have a number of skilled hedging contractors as well as drystone wallers working in the North York Moors and the wider area, maintaining boundary structures and practising their craft.

Rebuilt drystone wall - Kirsty Brown

I would like to thank all the land managers and contractors who have undertaken work to restore and reinstate valuable boundaries in the North York Moors this year. Various dry stone walls in the National Park are believed to demarcate boundaries going back to the Iron Age or earlier, with some on the coast being noted from Viking times, while some of our hedgerows are remnants of ancient woodland margins. In addition to supporting our local farms and benefiting wildlife, up keeping our walls and hedges has economic elements too employing local contractors and making the area more appealing to visitors. The National Park Authority is keen therefore to do what it can to support the continuation of these traditional boundaries and despite considerable cuts to our core funding, we are still hoping to be able to offer the Traditional Boundary Scheme again in 2015/16 (keep a look out on our website).

Drystone walls in the NYM landscape - Kirsty Brown

Boundaries restored

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

Following on from my previous update, the first year of the National Park Authority’s new Traditional Boundary Scheme (TBS) is now completed.

Approximately £92,700 in grant aid was provided through TBS agreements, resulting in:

  • 3670 square metres of drystone wall restored
  • 3785 metres of hedgerow planted/gapped up
  • 30 metres of hedgerow coppiced
  • 210 metres of hedgerow laid

2013-09 Red Legged Partridge on ds wall - Old Byland

North of Lastingham (2)The good news is that the TBS will be available this year too, providing grants of up to £2,000 to help land managers restore hedgerows and dry stone walls within the North York Moors National Park.

We’re still keen to help restore and sustain traditional boundaries which help manage stock, provide habitat and connecting corridors for wildlife, mark traditional field patterns and are such an important element of the North York Moors landscape.East of Osmotherley

North of Lastingham (3)Further information and the application form have a look at our website. Otherwise give me a ring on 01439 772700 or email me.

The application deadline is 6 June 2014. All work grant aided this financial year will need to be completed by mid-December 2014.

TBS Hedge Laying, Moors National Park Centre Danby - completed

Honey Bee Boles: part 2

Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer

Following on from Kirsty’s post last September it is very pleasing to report that the conservation of the bee boles wall on the south side of Glaisdale is now complete.

The funding for the work was provided by Natural England through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), with project management supplied by us on behalf of the HLS agreement holder/landowner. The work was completed by Donald Gunn, an expert in building and restoring dry stone walls, using photographs and historic knowledge of the site.

The row of bee boles at GR 477038 503548 is easy enough to visit if you get the chance as they face onto the public footpath which runs along the south-eastern side of Glaisdale, between William Howe (off the road up from Delves) and High Gill Beck.


It’s brilliant to see such a striking feature of our local historic and cultural environment conserved for the future.