Wednesday 29 June 2022

The North East : Part 1 North York Moors

          Emotions cascade as I view the hazy North East from my high vantage point on the gravelly, almost uncyclable Cleveland Way bridleway. Relief at having almost reached the end of a tough afternoon of push and desolation, I look towards my evening accommodation destination north of Middlesborough and towards the distant Pennines to the west. Ahead of me Roseberry Topping has the distinctive witch's nose appearance and seeing that relaxes me as I cautiously approach one of my favourite areas of Britain, the industrial North East.

 Gripping tightly my bicycle handlebars, I descend from Baysdale with the wheels sliding and bouncing over pebbles and sand. 

           My day had started easily enough, leaving my superb Air B & B in Snainton, east of Pickering, saying goodbye to Richard and Emma. Cycling along the busy, lorry-laden A170 the first fifteen miles was easy enough despite it being warm with a fresh westerly in my face.

          I had stopped on seeing a traditional Gypsy caravan beside the road just outside Pickering and so had met Jim & Milly, older than me Gypsy's with their early twenties sons, Levi and Jonathan. An hour or so spent with this wonderful traveller family was well spent and, after a demonstration of Jim's knive sharpening bicycle, I had turned north at Kirbymoorside.

           Push and plunge, the road had steep flower-filled hedgerow margins and occasional white knuckle cycling drops before it arrived at the high moorland of the North York Moors.

           Curlews sat on drystone walls or curlewed as they fell into long grass to attend to, hopefully, the youngsters hidden amongst the sward.

           Arriving at proper moorland, noticeboards tell of waders to be seen, Lapwing and Curlew, and Merlin but nothing about the larger birds of prey. No Hen Harriers up here!

          Vicious traps found designed to kill non-avian predators, such as Stoat and an immense patchwork of scorched earth areas with young heather patches stretching for miles in all directions told me I had arrived at a Grouse shooting moor. I detest such places. It is an almost birdless desert, totally manufactured for the slaughter of Red Grouse.

          I would have almost ten miles ahead of me, to negotiate a pathway unsuited to my heavily laden hybrid bike. Most of my afternoon was spent pushing, occasionally cycling and more often spent standing on one pedal and moving along, able to jump off if the pebbles and stones caused the bike to slide and fall.

          Birds were almost totally absent. Despite the miles covered, I only saw two adult Red Grouse, a few chicks too, two Golden Plover and a few Meadow Pipits. Some Crows and Curlews were occasionally seen too.

          I keep thinking of the magnificent Ruth Tingay of the website - Raptor Persecution UK. 

and of a great friend, Mark Thomas of the Head of Investigations office at the RSPB.

           The incredible work done by both individuals over a number of years, acting upon the evil practices of too many in the grouse shooting and hunting community, has been phenomenal and both deserve to be nationally recognised.

          So, reaching the moors end is fabulous and after seeing a fly by Tawny Owl, unusual to see one flying in daylight, I cycle towards Middlesborough, eventually to bed down near to Greatham Creek, just north of a favourite RSPB reserve, Saltholme.

BB 2010 Oops, crash and a motorway Abominable Snowman in Hemel Hempstead January 5th

5 th January                                                            Tragedy                                              The Bee Gees   ...