Shades Of The Past On The North York Moors

We parked the car in Kildale and walked through the village. There was obviously something going on in the Village Hall – lots of cars parked there – but we didn’t actually see a soul. It was eerily quiet.

Battling our way against a manic, freezing cold headwind, we set off uphill – a mile or so of inevitable tarmac taking us high onto the moors.



Initially following a section of the Cleveland Way, the views gradually opened out to miles and miles of heather covered moorland.



With the light already starting to slowly fade, the dark clouds scudding across the sky seemed to add an air of encroaching menace.




We walked and walked, hardly talking at all. The wind in our faces putting paid to easy conversation.

Deep in the moors, we came across an old, abandoned coal mine. This was to be our home for the night.


Pitching the tent amongst the ruins, it was easy to imagine the shades of long ago quietly watching us as we set up camp.



And once settled in the tent, with the wind blowing through the reeds and the sounds of the stream, did we not hear long ago voices? Not quite loud enough to understand the words, but tantalisingly close, whispering in the background.




The slight feeling of unreality continued into the next day, as we were woken by the unmistakable sound of a couple of World War II planes having a dog fight in the skies above us. Try as we might, we never caught a glimpse of them through the clouds, but the noise continued for some time.

Once packed up, strong, arctic winds were to again accompany us throughout the day.


Navigating our way across Baysdale Moor, the wind was thankfully now behind us though, and the constant muttering of grouse kept us company.



Travelling along ancient pathways only added to the atmosphere. How many feet had passed this way over the centuries?



We sought the friendlier feel of the valleys and dropped down into Westerdale.






Here, the sun briefly made an appearance and we picked up the Esk Valley Walk for a few miles, before returning to the high ground.


For a while, heavy rain stopped all photos, followed closely by an arctic wind as we topped out on the disused railway line on Farndale Moor. It was now just too cold to take gloves off and get cameras out.

We were now on the track bed of the old Rosedale Ironstone Railway – an incredibly exposed route, open to all the elements the weather wanted to throw at us. Once again fighting a strong headwind, we covered several miles ’till darkness fell. A reasonable – if rather windy – spot was found for the night, just near a small stream and off to the side of the track.

The wind continued to blow most of the night, rushing through the reeds and the heather. And did we occasionally hear a train in the distance? Slipping its way along the track, carrying coal to and from the long abandoned mines.

Warm enough in the tent for most of the night, the temperature suddenly plummeted by morning. All water droplets on the tent fly – both outside and inside – had turned to ice.



The sun made a welcome attempt at thawing everything out, but it was very weak and the wind still so cold and strong, that it was a slow process.

We packed up and set off in the general direction of the car.



The level path Β stuck to the high moors without any shelter, leaving us feeling battered by the weather.

IMG_0066IMG_0067Then just to cap it all, as we stopped for lunch, the heavens opened and threw a load of horizontal sleet at us for most of the rest of the walk.



And I’d swear I could hear the sound of laughter on the wind.


25 thoughts on “Shades Of The Past On The North York Moors

  1. Fantastic to see you both managing to get out for a couple of days. Last week I was packed up and ready to go and then cancelled due to forecasts of heavy rain and high winds. Lovely photos too.


    1. What a shame having to cancel, Dawn! Some weather is just not worth setting off in though and it has been a bit manic of late. We were very lucky with these last few days I think. πŸ™‚


  2. Wow, a fairly rugged trip it would seem – heroic effort all round!

    Great post – those moors seem rather spooky. I’ve never walked round there, though I’ve driven through the area quite a bit.


    1. Hi Paul, the weather was quite a good test for that tent as well, as it was only the second time we’ve had it out.

      There’s such a lot of history on those moors, they always seem atmospheric to me. I do like a nice bit of spooky, too!


  3. Hi. I loved your post. Loved your focus on those long past. You brought it all to life! While lying in my bag at night I have often heard voices , too low to distinguish words, coming through the chuckle of a stream or the whisper of the breeze in the grasses. – Barrie


  4. We just got heavy rain all day in the Lakes on Saturday – then it froze solid. All your winter camping posts are making me feel cold!

    I love to follow ancient trackways too – there’s a real feeling of atmosphere on them and I’m sure it’s because people have used them for so long. In fact, I always think it’s the spirit of those who’ve used them in the past which we directly experience.


  5. Usually it is nearby sheep who are chatting away whilst working out the best way to murder you in your sleep and steal all your gear. Most unexplained mysteries on the moors are down to sheep.

    Looked like a good backpack.


    1. Most of them are called Shaun, too.

      Shame our neighbours couldn’t have the doggies over a weekend – seems ages since we’ve had a backpack together. Must sort something out soon πŸ™‚


  6. That sounds and looks very atmospheric and cold! I can almost imagine Cathy from Wuthering Heights wandering about along those tracks.
    Like your snow by the way on the blog! πŸ™‚


    1. Actually I couldn’t believe how cold I felt when I woke on the second morning! I decided it must have been the wind that was really bringing the temperature down in the tent. Next trip will definitely be the winter bag πŸ˜€
      The snow is a WordPress thing. Is your blog a WordPress one? I can’t remember….


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