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Morning Trot.

A couple of mornings ago I had a short leg stretch from the cottage on a loop of a couple of miles. I decided I would keep my eyes and ears open; this is a cameo of the things I saw and heard...

Stepping from the cottage I was confronted by yet another grey mizzling day, so often a feature of early March. My breath formed whisps of fog in the air, the temperature settled in low single figures, keeping fingers, toes, and ears on the cusp of tingling. Setting off at a slow trot I followed rain sodden fields down towards the River Esk. Mallard ducks huddled in pairs on the transient ponds and water channels that are a feature of a riparian landscape whenever there is heavy rainfall. Even though these water features would disappear in the coming weeks female frogs had laid spawn there, showing that transience repeated over time becomes continuity. Water finds its own way, returning year after year, season after season shaping the land, eventually after many millennia becoming a new tributary or stream feeding into the Esk. Overhead a Heron, like a modern-day pterosaur, glides on a downward plane, landing gracefully with an effortless folding and unfolding of wings and legs. Motionless it stands sentinel beside a freshly turned mole hill, at this time of year the mouldywarp, Old English for mole, are more plentiful than fish and more likely to come to the surface when the ground it is tunnelling through is sodden.

Once on the riverbank I encountered adult alder trees leaning towards the flow of the Esk , which rushes

through their bank side roots. The alder is monoecious, meaning it produces separate male and female catkins which grow on the same branch. It is also virtually impervious to water and has been used as pilings and supports for riverside structures for over 6,000 years.

Leaving the Esk to meander its way to Whitby and the North Sea I climb steeply up onto a broom topped hillock, one of several which run between Egton Banks Farm and the cottage. These small field covered hills are now used for livestock, each one connected by low lying wet areas of marsh, known as swang. It is believed that they are the remnants of landforms called Eskers which were produced as The Devensian Glaciation, the last great ice sheet to cover Britain, started to diminish some 22,000 years ago. Eskers were formed over thousands of years by the build-up of sand and gravel sediments being pushed along underground tunnels and overground channels as the ice melted and its waters slowly retreated. As I reached the top of the bank, I heard the staccato hammering of a Woodpecker, the first of the year, not quite a portent of the coming of Spring like the Cuckoo, but good to hear, nonetheless.

For the last quarter of a mile I followed a fence line across the Eskers onto an old cart track, which in parts is sunken below the hedge lines. The track was once much used, as far back as the 18th century it was the main route into Glaisdale village from Egton Banks. It is now only used by local farmers moving their beasts from field to field. As I neared a gate where the track reaches the edge of an adjoining field a large Jack, hare burst from underneath a big hawthorn bush, its black tipped ears and long limbed stride unmistakeable as it sprinted past me and up the bank and out of site, quicker than a heartbeat or the twitching of a witches nose. Hares have long been believed to be the familiars of witches, for hundreds of years stories have been told about their comings and magical doings throughout the dales and valleys of the North York Moors.

In under 40 minutes I was back indoors happy that I had taken a step outside into the mizzle. Getting out and trotting on the trails and footpaths is so much more than just going for a run especially when you look, listen, and see...

Until next time Trot On.

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