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Wednesday Wander 03/08/2022.

This week we had a little trot out from the car park at Clay Bank, thanks to everyone who had a wander with me.

If you have never been to the car park at Clay Bank then you are missing out on a stunning view or two, not to mention some great trails to trot on.

From our start point, we nipped up the bank onto the Cleveland Way before ascending the first of the three sisters, of course, it could be the third depending on which end you start.

We climbed up the stone flags onto White Hill and Hasty Bank which gave us a good leg loosener with about 90 metres or 295ft of elevation in just over a km. Not sure about everyone else but I find handbrake uphill starts much more challenging as I get older.

After a quick regroup we popped through the Wainstones before dropping down to Garfit Gap to start the climb up onto Cold Moor. The sandstone pillars that form much of the Wainstones have been sculptured by the elements since their formation in the Middle Jurassic period some 170 million years ago. These days they are much used by climbers whereby their sculpting continues via the scraping of feet trying to gain purchase on their granular sides. Once at the top we headed south along the backbone of Cold Moor towards Drake Howe. Drake Howe or Odin's grave is a round barrow burial mound believed to be at least 3500 years old, much robbed, it is now marked by a stone cairn.

Leaving Odin to his dreamless sleep we followed an old vehicle track down the side of the moor towards Broadfield farm. At this juncture, I wished I had not gone off on a tangent looking for another path earlier in the day when recceing the route. The FP although detailed on OS mapping was pretty much non-existent and did not appear to cross the vehicle track where it was shown as doing so. After a period of toing and froing we eventually found the path and made our way toward the B1257 where we were then diverted by a green pain-inducing barrier otherwise known as a massive entanglement of nettles and brambles which were growing in great David Bellamy-like profusion across our intended path. So the moral of this little tale is when you are doing a recce make sure you recce that which you started out to recce...

Having to make a detour meant that we had to clip up the road for a short while before turning onto the lane leading to Urra. After a mile or so we left the tarmac and headed across a field before climbing up towards Urra Moor itself. As we started to climb we encountered more rampant vegetation this time it was bracken, extremely thick and tall bracken which made the ascent a lot slower than it should have been. Climbing up the hillside felt like you were passing through a tunnel made up of quivering fronds which were intent on forestalling your passage up the slope.

After much thrashing about we all eventually made it up onto the shoulder of Urra Moor, I'm pretty sure our 4 legged wanderers had an easier climb as in most parts it was clearer nearer the ground and easier to negotiate, especially with four legs I suspect.

By now we were being treated to the sight of helos dropping down into the Western skyline, flooding the moors with golden rays which flowed over the heather turning it into a shining crimson carpet. After a quick regroup and tick check we headed off following the line of a prehistoric dyke which runs for about 4km from just below Midge Hole to the end of Carr ridge above Clay Bank. It is not known exactly when or for what purpose it was built, however, it is believed to be prehistoric, which is to say the time before writing, roughly between 3.3 million years and 5000 years BC. It has various names including Billy's Dike, which is said to stem from troops belonging to William the Conqueror getting lost in the area during the Harrowing of the North between 1069 and 1070.

After crossing Cowkill Well we continued following Billy's Dike up to join the Cleveland way again above Clay Bank. All that was now left to do was the descent off of Carr Ridge which has a great little Strava segment on it called Freefall. It is aptly named as the steepness of the hill in train with the well-worn flags make for sure footing and fast running, well at least in the dryness of high summer anyway.

Once back in the car park we had a swift debrief, of course omitting any errors of navigation occasioned by the bloke at the front and swiftly headed off for a snifter in the Black Swan.

So a nice little trot out on a most clement August evening saw us covering circa 6.5 miles and climbing in the region of 1560ft, thanks to everyone who wandered with me...

Trot on 🦍

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