Tuesday, October 16, 2012

North Yorkshire Moors

Sitting among the heather,
‘Suddenly I saw
‘That all the moor was alive!

Browsing through the blogs I came upon a poem by Kathleen Raine - Heirloom, and thought how apt it was.  The first impression of the moors is the dead brown colour of the heather that greets the eye, yet always my heart skips a beat when first I see these great rolling moors, interspersed with green valleys.  Feel the pulse of the moor and it beats faintly, the tumble of rocks that fill the becks, untidy grey giants in the peat brown musical waters. Sheep stand forlorn amongst the heather, or crowd the road side verges for that useful mouthful of scarce green grass. No pheasants, they are down in the lush green valleys, filling the tiny lanes with their foolish young dicing with death as they stand uncertain in the path of oncoming cars.  No, the moor has  dark grouse with a flash of red, quietly adapted to a life of eating the tender shoots of heather. 

You can tell from the following photos that trees are sparse, they follow the line of the becks clustering, protected from the winds that sweep over these plains, forest planting around Pickering is ugly the dark green monotonous march of the evergreen firs, but the decidous trees below already have that soft touch of autumn colour, lighting up the landscape.
Perhaps there is a large restless spirit that protects this stubbornly impractical large piece of land, hostile to all but sheep and grouse, even walking is restricted to the few public paths, unless you want to wander in the footsteps of a sheep path, not knowing where they will lead.


The burning of heather on the moors

These two trees stand guard at the water's edge, their bark is smudged with white which must be some sort of mold or mildew in this damp climate.

When we came from Lastingham we took a more westerly route over the moors and passed, in the midst of the most barren stretch of the moor, a pub called The Lion, it reminded you of Jamaica Inn on Dartmoor, I think it is on Blakey Ridge.

The whole poem

'Since she saw the living skein
Of which the world is woven,'


  1. Oh yes, 'Jamica Inn'--I reread that almost every year--on a dark and stormy night.

  2. Hi, Yes when I was a child we would drive down to Cornwall for our holidays over the moors, Jamaica Inn and the great Dartmoor prison looming in the distance always scared the life out of me...