My next walking excursion after my ascent of Roseberry Topping was in April, when we visited Hadrian's Wall, but as I've blogged about this already I'm now jumping forward to June 2013 and a delightful walk on the North York Moors.

We started this walk from the Hole of Horcum (the 'r' in Horcum is silent by the way), which is part of Newtondale in the North York Moors National Park.  Leaving from the roadside car park on the main road midway between Pickering and Whitby (the starting point for several moorland walks of varying distances), we completed an eight mile circular route, part of which overlooked a particularly spectacular section of the North York Moors Railway.  My intention was for us to have a picnic lunch at Skelton's Tower, the ruins of a two-storey tower which was built in 1850 as a shooting lodge by a former vicar of Levisham, the Reverend Robert Skelton. Some say that he wrote his sermons in the lodge but it is also rumoured that he escaped here to enjoy a quiet drink!

The reason I wished to linger a while at Skelton's Tower (which was approximately half way around our eight mile circuit) was that it overlooked an especially picturesque section of the railway line.  I hoped to be able to sit there long enough to catch a train passing through in full steam.  Plenty of other people had the same idea it seems and in spite of a chilly wind it was quite crowded in this usually isolated place with everyone huddling around the walls waiting for the tell-tale sound of a distant train whistle.  I consulted the NYMR timetable on my iphone and found myself a perch just in time for the 1215 from Grosmont which typically coincided with the disappearance of the sun.  It seems that on this particular section of track a good head of steam was not required, so not only did I have to do my best in Photoshop to enhance the light, contrast and colours, I also had to cheat and paint a bit of steam in too.  Nevertheless, it was a wonderful place for a picnic.  No doubt I'll go back there one day and try and get the "ultimate" steam train pic (I do love steam trains!).


The Hole of Horcum, the start and finishing point for our walk, is a valley formed by the action of springs along a boundary of two rock layers. Springs and rainwater seep through porous rocks, and the water gradually erodes the sides of the hole and enlarges it over many thousands of years.  Locally it is also known as "the Devil's Punchbowl" and there are a couple of myths about the valley, both involving a giant called Wade.  According to the legend Wade was arguing with his wife one day and scooped out a large fistful of earth to throw in her direction.  The version of the story I first heard tells that the earth fell close to the town of Scarborough, forming the hill today known as Oliver's Mount, but another version has the earth falling in the opposite direction at Blakey Ridge.  Whichever way he hurled it, luckily for his wife he missed! 

By the time I'd got back round to the car park at the top of the Hole of Horcum the light was very subdued and my photo certainly doesn't do the scenery justice.  I've always found this to be the case at this particular viewpoint.  It just seems to be one of those places that looks wonderful to the naked eye but not so amazing from the camera.  Or maybe it's just that I have yet to work out the best angle and light to capture the true beauty of the place.

I'm very fortunate to live only an hour's drive away from this lovely place, so maybe one day I'll achieve my aim of capturing the Hole of Horcum in its best light and maybe even one of those lovely trains in full steam.


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