Howard Selina – Artist




I first began to document local walks, using a sequence of 12 images, fairly early on in 2020; and it was idea that emerged from two different sources.

In 2019 I made a 12 image photo-piece to illustrate a poem by R S Thomas; extracting individual words, in sequence, from the poem, and linking them to 12 small, almost abstract, images. And in the previous winter I had photographed various collections of twigs on the freshly ‘snow-covered-towpath’ of my local canal.

So, when lock-down descended on us all in late March 2020, I suddenly found myself retracing local track-ways and paths, that were to become increasingly familiar. And in that repeated retracing, I became increasingly aware that there was another landscape beneath my feet; one that reflected, in many ways, the landscape around me, but that also carried a story and a beauty of its own.

And so the first work, in what was to become an on-going series of works, was born. ‘Still Traces:1’, used 12 images, with words, to document a walk from canal-bridge 56, quite near where I live in Marsden, to the banks of the infant river Colne, a little way up the valley.

But the year moved on; and by September, when the travel restrictions that had affected all of us began to relax, the faithful, old, converted-VW-van – imaginatively christened Van Rouge on account of the colour! – could once again be pointed at a semi-distant landscape for exploring.

Having been born in Leeds – and having been lucky enough to possess a bicycle at a time when roads could be enjoyably cycled on – the coast of Yorkshire was always a favourite destination. And as anyone who has cycled from almost anywhere to Whitby will testify – the North York Moors are quite difficult to ignore!

But if one looks beyond their obvious, and formidable, ‘physical presence’, they also represent an incredible diversity of both natural and human history; and it was my discovery – mainly through gazing intently at Ordnance Survey maps and wondering, it has to be said – of the now vanished industries that once flourished on the moors, that has triggered numerous visits to the area over the years; be it to the old limekilns above Rosedale, or the, slightly mind-boggling in scale, Ingleby Incline.

However, the track-bed of the old railway in Rosedale had always fascinated me – especially the distinct ‘horse-shoe’ loop at Rosedale Head – and so, one morning in September 2020, Van Rouge was fired into action and we headed for the moors.

After parking on Daleside Road, and climbing the track on the western edge of Swine Stye Hill, I think the first thing that will hit any first-time visitor to this section of track-bed is the sheer scale of the workings at the old East Mines – a cross between, for me at least, some ancient Egyptian monument, and a colossal mausoleum. But whatever one might make of it, the scale of the industrial operation that took place around the area is quite astonishing to contemplate.

The 12 images, and the words, are just one small ‘response’, to a truly magical landscape…


The photographs were taken in the sequence presented, starting just before East Mines and ending on the farm track leading back to Daleside Road – the only one that might cause ‘puzzlement’ I would guess being the rabbit: An image for which I can offer no explanation. That is was dead, and very recently, was obvious. But why it had died, remains a mystery.

‘Rosedale Head’ and other works in the ‘Another Landscape’ series can be found at:

Along with other artwork – both documented and physical – dating back to 1972.

A to Z: an exaggeration of Es



There are a number of Ebenezer Chapels in the North York Moors. These were generally built during the 19th century in the evangelical revivals in response to changes across society bringing uncertainty and upsetting traditional beliefs and controls. Being geographically ‘separate’ to some extent the North York Moors has tended to be on the edge of conventional authority and control; it has a long history of non-establishment religious belief. With influxes of people to work in the booming industry in the North York Moors non-conformist denominations flourished – such as the Primitive Methodists and Strict Baptists. Chapels were sometimes given the name ‘Ebenezer’ because it means ‘rock of help’ (a good name for a stone built building) and reminds the congregation of God’s protection for his repentant people.

Ebenezer Chapel, Rosedale built 1872 -

EELS (Anguilla anguilla)

The European eel has an amazing lifecycle – use this link to access a great illustrative video put together by the Zoological Society of London.

The European eel is a critically endangered species fish species which was once common in the rivers of the North York Moors. Its numbers have declined by over 90% since the 1970s due to a number of cumulative factors such as barriers to migration (such as weirs), pollution, overfishing, a parasitic nematode (worm), and also changes in climate. The presence of eels is often used as an indicator of water quality in a river.

European eels -

Dr Frank ELGEE

Frank Elgee was born in North Ormesby near Middlesbrough in 1880 – his father worked as a book keeper for one of the town’s Iron Masters. He suffered a litany of childhood diseases which limited his formal education and culminated in him being sent home from hospital to die at the age of 17 – but this didn’t happen. With a body somewhat confined and debilitated by his bad health his mind flourished and grasped at everything: history, literature, philosophy, languages, astrology and in particular local natural history and archaeology. As his health improved somewhat he applied himself to practical investigation in order to draw his own rational conclusions, heading off into the hills and moorland of the North York Moors. He became the Assistant Curator at the newly opened Dorman Memorial Museum in 1904 and he began to write.

Photo of Dr F Elgee from A Man of the Moors: extracts the Diaries and Letters of Frank Elgee edited by Harriet W Elgee, 1957His first and now most famous book was ‘The Moorlands of North-eastern Yorkshire; their
Natural History and Origin
’ which after much self-doubt and revision was finally published in 1912. He and his family relocated in 1920 to Commondale within the North York Moors – surrounded by the moorland that so stimulated him. He became Curator at the Dorman Museum in 1923. He continued to research and write leading, probably inevitably, to his health breaking down on a number of occasions, although as his wife recorded he continued to write from his sick bed. He was recognised by the awarding of a Doctorate in Philosophy from Leeds University in 1933.

Harriet his wife, who always provided stirling support, gave Frank Elgee a heartfelt epitaph after his death in 1944 – ‘his labours had been Herculean; his physical strength was nothing but frailty; his monetary resources were meagre…he stands for the triumph of mind over body, of spirit over matter…a scholar-saint of the Yorkshire Moorlands, as having entered fully into his rights of pre-eminent domain as their genius loci, unto whom all is revealed’.

Below is an extract from A Man of the Moors: extracts from the Diaries and Letters of Frank Elgee edited by Harriet W Elgee, 1957. It is interesting to consider whether what Frank Elgee saw and experienced over 100 years ago, can still be seen and experienced today.

Wooded slopes in Baysdale 2008 - copyright NYMNPA

Jan 19 1908 In Baysdale

  A misty, frosty morning becoming brilliantly sunny at mid-day. Went up Baysdale Beck beyond the Westerdale-Kildale road. Along the slopes the cowberry is extremely abundant, even growing among bilberry which only here and there preserves its leaves, the square wiry stalks standing up like thistles. Trees grow along the beck slopes and include oak, birch, holly, hawthorn, and one small juniper bush, the first I have seen for several years.

 Under heather growing on blocks of sandstone two or three small Lepidoptera [butterflies] were found, whilst under a stone Zonites alliarius [snails] were noted.

 Along the streams are one or two old slag heaps evidently made in olden days when the ironstone of the Ellerbeck Bed was worked.

 In the afternoon I walked as far as Howl Syke and back. From the railway bridge there is a fine view of the Lealholm moraine and Cunkley Gill, and it is clear how the Esk has been deviated by an ice barrier at this place, the level at which it began to cut down being considerably higher than the lowest point of the moraine.

 To me the Moorlands of Cleveland [northern part of the North York Moor] have been a source of physical and intellectual development. On them I have found that health which the town cannot give; and they have forwarded, and I hope they will continue to forward, my intellectual career.”

There is a memorial stone to Frank Elgee on Blakey Ridge, erected by the Natural History and Archaeological Society of Yorkshire in 1953.

Frank Elgee Memorial -


Since medieval times, here and there land often farmed under an ‘Open Field system’ had been enclosed and holdings established out of owned and tenanted fields. During the 17th century the practice of using an Act of Parliament to enclose land took off. Enclosure was a way for landowners to make the most of their assets and at the same time expedite investment to increase productivity – hence the 18th century ‘agricultural revolution’ in England.

Enclosure enhanced agricultural productivity and meant more and more land was able to be managed/cultivated for agricultural use. It therefore had a big effect on the landscape, as the area of cultivated ‘improved’ land grew, and stock numbers increased considerably. Many (but not all) of the ‘traditional’ boundaries such as hedgerows and walls that divide up the countryside and are so valued today, came about due to Enclosure – as well as demarcating ownership divisions the boundaries were needed to manage stock. The enclosed field systems with square or rectangular parcels of land are still visible if fields have not been subsequently amalgamated, particularly around villages where individual villagers received a division of the previously ‘common’ land. In contrast the remains of ridge and furrow can also still sometimes be seen – for instance on aerial photographs – revealing the ploughing regime of a previous ‘Open Field system’.

The effects of Enclosure on local communities is still widely debated, and are bound up with the effects of the industrial revolution taking place around the same time. Productivity increases alongside the introduction of machinery meant less labour was required on the land, and parts of the population left without any or too little enclosed land needed to seek a living elsewhere not withstanding the lure of a more regular industrial wage. Increased productivity of farmed land was then even more important – in order to feed a growing urban population, without the wherewithal to feed themselves.

There were so many individual bills coming before Parliament regarding Enclosure that the first General Enclosure Act was passed in 1801 which did away with the need for private bills. The final General Enclosure Act of 1845 included a number of exceptions like village greens, but otherwise was the legal consummation of the ‘inclosure and improvement of commons and lands held in common’ in England.

In the North York Moors, as in other areas, there remain a number of un-enclosed ‘Commons’.


These are European Protected Species*, found in and around the North York Moors, which are protected by European law across the European Union. In addition national law protects other species that are thought to be particularly important.

European otterEuropean otter

Great crested newtGreat crested newt -

All bat species (currently 10 species in the North York Moors – soprano pipistrelle, noctule, brown long-eared, common pipistrelle, Nathusius’ pipistrelle, whiskered, Brandt’s, Daubenton’s, Natterer’s bats and Alcathoe).Alcathoe Bat

Killarney fern Killarney fern

Bottle nose dolphins, Harbour porpoises, Whales – Fin, Minke, Sei, Pilot and HumpbackSei Whale - balaenoptera_borealis-karin_hartman_nova_atlantis_foundation - from

*Doesn’t include any lichens, fungi or birds which are protected through seperate legislation.


Extensive farming – as opposed to intensive farming – is a term used to describe the farming of areas of land that are managed using less inputs relative to the area of land being farmed. Upland areas of the UK, like most of the North York Moors, are normally farmed extensively, due to the physical limitations of the climate and soil resulting in lower productivity. The majority of these upland farms consist of extensive livestock grazing of natural and semi-natural vegetation.

Extensive farming - muck spreading in Fryup Dale - copyright NYMNPA

Accepting that yields cannot be as high as in lowland areas and so minimising inputs can profit the surrounding environment. Inputs change the environment – and this can in the extreme include the acidification of land and the eutrophication of water systems.

Extensive grazing benefits many plants, insects and birds and so provides a higher biodiversity than in both intensively grazed fields and in ungrazed fields. Extensive farms generally run less livestock per hectare than intensive farms. This is due to the lower growth rate of plants in upland areas with minimal inputs and so fewer stock can be supported. Fewer stock avoids the chance of overgrazing, and in catchment areas minimises the siltation ending up in rivers.

Feeding livestock hay from unimproved (i.e. no inputs) hay meadow habitats instead of silage from improved grasslands gives a purpose to maintaining upland hay meadows, and some people suggest the end product – i.e. meat – therefore tastes better. One of the downside of a more ‘natural’ system is that the livestock takes longer to reach maturity; this can be offset somewhat by selling the meat at a premium for this improved taste. The premium can also be justified to consumers with the idea of helping to conserve the upland hay meadows as a by-product of raising the livestock that way.

Elements of extensive farming can also assist more intensive farming. When planting insect pollinated arable crops (usually an intensive process), it has been shown that managing the lower yield edges and corners of arable fields as habitat buffers can increase overall crop yield on a farm. This can be explained by the increased presence of pollinators attracted by the cornfield and wild flower plants growing in these edge habitats without damaging inputs.

EYEBRIGHT (Euphrasia sp.)

This is a common plant on short (e.g. grazed) grassland/heathland habitats. It has small white/mauve flowers with purple/yellow markings and ‘frilly’ petals. It is semi-parasitic because it collects nutrients off the roots of neighbouring grasses and plants, demonstrating in its own small way the vital interconnections that make up biodiversity.

Its common name came from the traditional use of a tonic made from the plant to treat eye ailments. Like most plants it can also have detrimental (poisonous) effects.

Eyebright has numerous species and hybrids hence the general binomial Latin name given above – with a generic name Euphrasia first but with sp. instead of a species name second to indicate the particular species is unknown/unidentified.

Eyebright (Euphrasia sp) - copyright NYMNPA

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

Last year’s top 5 posts … and what happens next with TEL

View from Sil Howe Mine - copyright NYMNPA

1. Hangover cure

The work at Sil Howe was carried out. Samples are being collected by the University of Hull in order to measure the impacts of the created reed bed on the iron sediment suspended in the water discharge from the abandoned mine. The University and the Environment Agency are planning to carry out a similar project this winter at Clitherbecks, above Danby.

Miss Bell - Keystone View Company - from Iron Lady

Ionic Temple, Duncombe Park - copyright NYMNPA

3. A Classical Restoration

In October an opening ceremony was held to mark the completion of the restoration project of the Ionic Temple at Duncombe Park (Grade 1 Registered Parks and Gardens). The National Park received a commendation from Historic England’s Angel Awards in recognition of the work that went into the fundraising and the quality of the repairs. The companion Tuscan Temple at Duncombe Park is to be restored through a Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

2015 expedition down one of the Ryedale Windy Pits - copyright NYMNPA

4. Down below

The Ryedale Windypits (Antofts, Ashberry, Bucklands and Slip Gill) are considered to be nationally significant because of their geological interest (mass movement caves), their ecological interest (swarming sites/hibernation roosts for bats), and their archaeological interest (Bronze Age/Iron Age remains) – The Ryedale Windypits Conservation Statement and Management Plan 2006.

LiDAR - Beck Hole Ironworks - a number of industrial structures are served by sidings from the railway line. Bluesky/NYMNPA.5. Falling leaves divulge our industrial past

Top Posts 1, 2 and 5 are all related to the This Exploited Land (TEL) Landscape Partnership application. The development stage was completed at the end of October.



NYMNP-logo_92-pixel c


What we did in the TEL development stage

Landscape Conservation Action Plan

All Landscape Partnership Schemes need an Action Plan – this details the scheme, its significance (Part 1) and the 52 prioritised projects (Parts 2 & 3) that will be made possible by HLF funding.

Cultural Heritage

We carried out archaeological and engineering surveys of the key heritage sites within the TEL scheme area. We needed to know what was there, what condition it was in and how soon it was going to fall down, and what we could do to conserve the structures in their current condition. When this was completed we prioritised what was ‘essential’, and then talked to landowners, Historic England and Natural England in order to secure permissions to carry out the works should funding be achieved.

Warren Moor Ironstone Mine Chimney, Kildale - copyright NYMNPA

Heritage at risk - Rosedale - copyright NYMNPARosedale East Mines and Railway Trackbed - copyright Paddy ChambersWe also commissioned a LiDAR survey to better understand the landscape character and industrial archaeology along the Murk Esk Valley from Goathland to Grosmont (see Top Post 5).

Natural Heritage

We carried out surveys across the TEL area to identify the most important natural environment issues and the most critical sites – the living, breathing, growing aspects of the landscape e.g. woodlands, watercourses (see Top Post 1), hay meadows, water voles, ring ouzels, wild daffodils, that are ‘at risk’ and need a helping hand to survive and flourish.

Farmland in the TEL area - copyright NYMNPA

Natural heritage at risk - Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site - copyright NYMNPA

Natural heritage at risk - Ring Ouzel - copyright John KnightWe worked with a range of landowners and others to develop initial plans that will start to deliver those helping hands, to conserve and create bigger, better and more connected sites across the TEL landscape which will benefit the wildlife species.

Access, Interpretation and Engagement

We carried out surveys of current visitors and non-visitors to the TEL area to identify why people visit, why they don’t, and to find out about the interest in industrial heritage and its landscape legacy.

Ingleby Incline Volunteer Survey 2015 - copyright NYMNPA

We used these surveys to develop an interpretation strategy which encompasses a range of different audiences and we plan to tell the story of This Exploited Land in lots of different ways. The strategy includes the creation of interpretation hubs, the setting up of a community grants scheme, the establishment of an ambitious volunteer programme and the roll out of an education programme. We hope this will ensure positive outcomes and opportunities for people to engage with their landscape and its heritage.

Revising the boundary

The scheme area has to reflect a landscape that tells the story of ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ industry and the ways in which humans have intervened and changed the landscape through time. The rationale of the TEL area is the ‘story-telling’ role of the landscape (from east to west) – the story of early railway and ironstone exploitation that emerged in the key century of industry on the North York Moors c. 1830s-1920s.

We reviewed the boundary in the development stage and made some amendments to reflect the underlying geology and the existing Landscape Character better.

Finalised TEL area outlined in red - copyright NYMNPA

The TEL landscape sits within the North York Moors and shares many of its special qualities including “great diversity of landscapes” and “sudden contrasts associated with this”. For example – upland and valley, nature and industry. The TEL landscape presents a distinct identity based upon the sense of discovery that these now apparently ‘natural’ places were sites of extraordinary industrial expansion, and just as rapid industrial retraction. The ‘feeling’ of remoteness and quietness experienced now on the moorland is confronted by the knowledge that a working railway ran high across Farndale and Baysdale Moors connecting beyond the Cleveland Hills to County Durham, and that the moorland edges of Rosedale reverberated with the sounds of iron production.

Ingleby Incline and views towards Teeesside - copyright NYMNPA

Ghosts in the landscape: Ingleby Incline - copyright John Davies (Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group)

Geoff Taylor from the Kirby, Great Broughton & Ingleby Greenhow Local History Group and member of the TEL Executive Group sums up the TEL area as “connected by history, separated by geography”. This has become one of the mantras during the project development. The connections between Rosedale, Grosmont, and Kildale are not always obvious given the complex topography and modern transport networks, but these communities are connected by their shared history of iron exploration and railways. There are also important connections from the TEL area out to Teesside, Middlesbrough and Redcar, which became the focus for the iron industries of the North-East (see Top Post 2), and beyond across the world.

What now…

We are now waiting on a funding decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund and hope (IF all goes to plan) we will be able to start on delivering the exciting projects that make up the 5 year programme in late spring 2016.

Grosmont - copyright Chris Ceaser

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

Sam Witham – Conservation Research Student

Sam Witham, Conservation Student Intern - copyright NYMNPAHello, I am Sam Witham, the new conservation intern student from the University of York. During my year with the National Park, I’ll be undertaking a research project as part of my degree looking at the restoration of plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS). Although I am still undecided on my actual hypothesis, currently I am thinking of comparing the biodiversity and success of planted deciduous forests to forests formed by natural regeneration.

I’ve been here since the beginning of September and I’ve been involved with a wide variety of work so far to get a feel for what people do in the Conservation Department.

UK National Tree Seed Project - collecting in the North York Moors - copyright NYMNPARecently I’ve been involved in tree seed collecting for the UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) with a team from Kew. A genetically representative collection of all UK tree/shrub species is needed, and one of the important seed zones includes the North York Moors.

Within each UK seed zone, seeds from all locally native tree species need to be collected. Where possible, these seeds are collected from altitudes above and below 300m.

Only trees from ancient semi-natural woodland are collected from, because planted trees might
not be of local origin and therefore will not UK National Tree Seed Project - collecting in the North York Moors - copyright NYMNPArepresent the local gene pool.

The seeds will be stored at the Millennium Seed Bank in West Sussex. Along with seed samples, herbarium samples (pressed plant samples) are taken to show how features such as leaf structure vary across the UK. DNA samples are also taken.

When out in the field, the GPS coordinates of each tree the seeds are taken from are recorded, and a tag added to the tree so it can be found again in the future. Seeds are only collected from branches, as seeds found on the floor will have a greatly reduced lifespan in storage due to damage by pests or pathogens. Seeds are taken from as many branches of the tree as possible as each flower on the tree is likely to have been pollinated by a different male tree.UK National Tree Seed Project - collecting in the North York Moors - copyright NYMNPA

Interestingly, acorns from oak trees are not collected as currently there is no way of storing them for long periods as they die when they dry out and are also easily infected by fungal diseases. Trials of storage using liquid nitrogen are ongoing but the majority of the acorns even with this method still become unviable and will not germinate.

So at the moment the only way to preserve our local gene pool of oaks is to help keep oaks growing here.

The National Park Authority attempts to collect 30,000 locally sourced acorns per year
from around the North York Moors – and around a third of these are expected to germinate. The acorns are grown on and planted out around the area and not only does this help preserve the local gene pool and maintain the area’s natural heritage but it also creates and reinvigorates valuable native woodland habitat for many species. Also, using locally sourced and grown trees helps reduce the risk of transmission of tree diseases around the country.

Acorns collected to be grown on - copyright NYMNPA

Sam and a couple of oak trees - copyright NYMNPAI will keep you posted on the interesting things I get up to during my time at the National Park!

Telling the TEL story

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

A personal book review of ‘The Moor’

I have an immense soft spot for travel writing and nature writing, with my book shelves over piled with more discursive and anecdotal tales of places and things. I find these more informal and less academic accounts really helpful in piecing together what it is about a place or a landscape that makes it special. In the UK Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane the late Roger Deakin are all part of a long-line of storytelling about natural places and natural things that stretch back to the eighteenth century and Gilbert White in Selborne, Hampshire. Robert Macfarlane is perhaps responsible for the very recent “explosion” of new nature writing (or writing more broadly about places) that has tried to capture everything from geology to local traditions and everything in between. The products of that explosion in nature writing is quite mixed: some is fantastic, and some doesn’t quite hit the mark. The idea has even been hotly debated – extract from The Guardian 18.7.13.

Front cover from Moor – Lives Landscape Literature’ by William Atkins (published 2014) fits within this outburst of ‘nature writing’. The book is an ambitious attempt to tell the story of some of the upland areas in England. Atkins looks at the different areas* and presents on the lives and literature that are associated with them, whilst also reflecting more personally on his own visits and the people he meets.

* Bodmin Moor, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Saddleworth Moor, the Calder Valley, the Haworth Moors, Alston Moor, Otterburn and our own North York Moors. 

Atkin’s chapter on the North York Moors highlights the work of Canon Atkinson (Forty years in a Moorland Parish published 1891) and Frank Elgee (Early Man in North-East Yorkshire published 1930). He also discusses the presence and impact of RAF Fylingdales. More than anything he reflects on the practices, tensions and benefits associated with management of the moors for grouse shooting which have such a large effect on the landscape.

I think that there are some obvious “could have done with an edit” moments; perhaps featuring fewer areas would have helped Atkins do more with ‘The Moor’, especially as at times the balance between detail (e.g. the colour of his bath water) and more sweeping issues (e.g. the impacts of tourism on fragile upland areas) is a little perplexing. But overall ‘The Moor’ is an easy way to get into some of the less well known upland areas of England (like the North York Moors) and I would recommend it.


One of the tasks I am undertaking at the moment in the development stage of This Exploited Land (HLF Landscape Partnership) is writing a Statement of Significance to articulate what it is about the programme area that makes it distinctive. It was partly to get a popular understanding of the landscape (or at least understanding its ‘aesthetic values’) that encouraged me to pick up ‘The Moor’ earlier in the year. I suppose I wish William Atkins had talked to us about the very intimate connections between geology, and past and present uses of the land that are so integral to our This Exploited Land story. These connections are shown not just on the moor tops but in the bottom of the interjecting dales too – for instance at Beck Hole where the former mineral workings are virtually ‘lost’ within the woodland there.

Lovely spider web in Beck Hole woodland (forgotten part of the NYM upland)

Our This Exploited Land (TEL) story is very much about challenging the artificial divide between ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ heritage. The landscape today is the result of past exploitation, and active current management (or ‘curation’). Perhaps in a few years times when our story of pioneering early railways and ironstone mining is better known (thanks to the efforts of our TEL programme), a follow up to ‘The Moor’ might focus on the This Exploited Land story as an elemental part of what makes the North York Moors distinctive as an example of a human-made and human-maintained landscape.

Beck Hole Woodlands - NYMNPA

View across Rosedale from moorland edge - NYMNPARosedale farmland - NYMNPA


This Exploited Land: under development

Louise Cooke – This Exploited Land Heritage Officer

In late 2013 the North York Moors National Park Authority received a 1st round pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Programme for ‘This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the North York Moors’


This Exploited Land (TEL) will tell the story of pioneering ironstone exploitation and iron making together with the early development of railways along the remote valleys of the North York Moors, as well as their forgotten communities. It will reveal the impact this sudden explosion of industrialisation had on the landscape, and its national and international significance. In practical terms the Programme will record, conserve and protect the now fragile remains from a period of about 100 years starting in 1830 and ending with the closure of the Rosedale Railway in 1929.


I’ve been in post as the Heritage Officer for just over a month now, forming a small TEL team of myself (part-time), and Stephen Croft (full-time Project Officer). It has been a fantastic month getting to grips with the project and how the National Park Authority works.

Over the next 18 months we will be working towards submitting our required Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP) which will detail the projects and physical works we’ll be looking to carry out in the third stage of the Programme from 2016 to 2021. As long as the Heritage Lottery Fund are happy with our Action Plan we can have the funding (up to £3 million) to deliver this third stage.

At this early development stage site visits are one of the most important elements. The initial visits we’ve been making have been about identifying possible works and schemes. They are also about getting to know the sites better, looking at their condition and their conservation needs and potential, as well as getting to grips with how we can tell the landscape’s stories of the past in the present.


TEL is the culmination of many years of work on the often forgotten industrial archaeology of the North York Moors, so the ‘shopping basket’ of ‘things we would like to be able to do if we had the money’ is not inconsiderable. As we work on the next stage of our submission to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stephen and I have to manage the tricky process of converting our ‘shopping basket’ of ideas into projects and initiatives we can then deliver with our partners and within our budget.DSCF8516

Some of the most fascinating aspects I’ve found so far are the little things – the small features that add to the significance of the whole landscape, linking the production of iron and the creation of railways, to the people and the landscape as we perceive it today. The metal fixtures on the historic bridges along the Rail Trail around Beck Hole may seem a rather small element (especially when compared with the iconic large scale landscapes of Rosedale) but they are an important detail in the This Exploited Land story.DSCF8608

We’ll keep you posted as TEL develops.

Money to make things happen

Rachel Pickering – Conservation Officer

We’ve been banging on about community grants over the last few weeks. But we’re not finished yet. 

Despite the challenging economic climate the National Park Authority is still really keen to continue to offer grants to the local community for special projects. The Authority’s own Community Grant fund is open for business again in 2014 and is available for a wide range of projects which benefit the local environment, cultural heritage and community facilities.

This is the second year of this particular fund. The fund picks up from the LEADER Boy photoSmall Scale Enhancements Scheme. We are looking for small scale projects within the North York Moors like the one in Hutton Buscel which involved improving their churchyard habitat for wildlife as well as educating young children from the school next door about their local bugs and beasties. The school used the adjacent churchyard as their outdoor classroom and the children loved getting hands on to make bug hotels and the like.

Last year the Community Grant funded 23 projects in all which totalled £58,000 of grant funding. We funded some really good projects including energy efficiency improvements for village halls to make them more sustainable, archiving of historic resources to make them more accessible, and the renovation of two war memorials to help conserve these esteemed features. One of our favourite projects was at Hutton Park near Guisborough where volunteers set themselves up as a new community group and began a tree replanting programme. The aim is to preserve the historic character of the parkland landscape at Hutton Lowcross, where many of the large old parkland trees have been lost over the years. Individual local provenance trees were planted and protected from cattle and wildlife (like deer) with tree guards and fencing.

Just a little bit of funding support can help community groups achieve great things that make a difference.

So if you are in the North York Moors and you have a project in mind that might fit the bill then please have a look at our Community Grant flier 2014 or on our website for more information and to access the simple application form.

Applications need to be in by 30 June 2014




This Exploited Land

Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer

Imagine you are living and working in a quiet rural area, in a peaceful valley…when, suddenly, industry arrives on your doorstep…

It’s the 1830s. The fields below your farmhouse in the Esk Valley echo with the shouts and hammering from the navvies engaged in construction of the new-fangled means of transport – a railway – which your landlord has consented to being built through your fields along the floor of the valley. The railway has been designed by George Stephenson at the request of merchants and traders in Whitby to help improve access from the port to the inland towns and settlements of North Yorkshire.

Within a few years, ironstone deposits have been discovered by engineers in the bed of the river near the railway works which they were visiting. The ‘beds’ offer thicker deposits of ironstone than are otherwise known and, in a short time, the first ironstone mining within the region commences here. As the mines develop, a focus for settlement is created and the village of Grosmont starts to take shape and grow.

The ironstone from around Grosmont is plentiful and the new horse-drawn railway provides an efficient means of transport through to Whitby from where it is exported (known as ‘Whitby ironstone’) to ironworks in the North East, on the Rivers Tyne and Wear. This new source of ironstone transforms and stimulates the development of the North East’s iron industry. In the years up to 1850, there are about ten ironworks in production in the North East and seven of these are using ‘Whitby ironstone’.

As time passed, more ironstone deposits are sought out and more mines started, associated with the construction and development of the local rail network to enable the ironstone and iron products to be exported from the region.

Thus began the North of England’s rise to the position of the largest iron producing district in the world, a position it achieved by the mid 1860s. By 1873, just over 40 mines had been opened in the Main Seam ironstone alone, and (locally) Grosmont and Rosedale districts were at their busiest. Total output for the Cleveland mines exceeded 5 million tons for the first time that year and, between 1873-1914 (inclusive), the Cleveland mining industry (in terms of tonnage of iron output) produced on average 38% of total British ore output.

Now it’s 2013. This Exploited Land is the project the National Park has been shaping in partnership with local people – focusing on industrial heritage preservation, environmental conservation, and providing opportunities for access, involvement, education and interpretation – and based around the Esk and Murk Esk valleys, and Rosedale in the North York Moors. Recently the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded us a Landscape Partnership development grant and over the next 18 months we’ll be working up the project into an application for £3 million funding (+ £2 million matched funding/in kind contributions) to enable delivery on the ground.

It’s very exciting to have this long term aspiration turning into something actual. It’s about time that the importance of the North York Moors in the wider region’s industrial revolution is remembered.

We’ll let you know how it’s going …………….