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Wednesday Wander Bousdale Wood...

On Wednesday, we began our wanderings at a small car park just outside of Newton Under Roseberry. Thanks to Kevin, Alison, Kirsten, Jordan, Daz, Sam and Lilla for braving the weather and wandering with me.

Over the last few weeks, the longer nights have continued to advance towards our starting time of 7 pm. As a result, darkness had already fallen on us as we prepared ourselves for the off. On the plus side, the rain that had been falling all afternoon had stopped. From the car park, we ran alongside the A173 past the King's Head, where we would later enjoy post-run refreshments. Leaving the road we followed the farm track that ascends steadily to the base of Roseberry Topping. Marked on Ordnance Survey mapping as Roseberry Lane it ends as it reaches Newton Wood where it joins Brant Gate Path. This path, along with several others, meanders across Roseberry Common in the general direction of Hanging Stone Wood. There are many paths in this area which follow a similar line, some are well-trodden others require the use of a machete. Especially during the summer season when the bracken can grow to well over five feet in height…

Leaving Roseberry Common behind we followed the prominent forest track into Hanging Stone Wood. This track leads down to Hutton Gate and is used by an eclectic group of outdoor enthusiasts. Followed either eastwards or westwards by ramblers, mountain bikers, horse riders, dog walkers, runners and Joe Public. Until they branch off onto secluded paths and trails leading them to their very own special part of the North Yorkshire Moors. On this occasion, we did not head up into the woods, the route that Sam had plotted taking us across fields towards Bousdale Farm. After passing the farm buildings, which are mostly used for holiday lets, we followed a concrete track which runs off of Bousdale Hill between Lee’s Wood and Thomas’s Wood. Once the track began to flatten out we took a well-used forest track which led us Eastwards, uphill through Thomas’s Wood. Oddly, neither appear to be named on OS mapping but are marked as such on Strava…

Incidentally, there are 17 named woods in the area stretching from Roseberry Topping to Slapewath.

"Hmm" could there be an event lurking "in them there woods"?

After a mile or so we came out of the woods and joined the track that would lead us back to Bousdale Farm. At the edge of the buildings, a minor path takes you across a crop field into Bousdale Wood. Once inside the woods the path quickly turns technical. The trail is barely wide enough for runners to run in a single file due to trees with exposed roots crowding its edges. Rocks poke through the compacted earth like mini icebergs, waiting to catch misplaced feet. The wood, which is part coniferous and part deciduous, has grown up on the side of a landform that includes The Hanging Stone. If you look at the contours of the area on a map you will notice how tightly packed they are. This is only truly appreciated when you are running through the woods. To one side of you, there are trees and a fence onto open fields. On the other side is a steep descent into a natural maze of trees, leading to the V-shaped valley below. This path is especially fun to run at night as you have to keep your concentration levels tuned in. If you daydream or cruise on autopilot, you will fall over. We all know what happened to one of the chief protagonists at the Battle of Hastings when he “switched off”. The path eventually leads you to a crossroads of similar-sized paths, which is ideal for regrouping. I know I have the propensity to digress now and then and I will do so now.

Wandering off on a tangent or two shouldn't be that problematic in one blog...

Concerning valleys, those with steep sides are normally formed by water erosion over time. On the other hand, U-shaped valleys are formed by glaciation. When glaciers move from higher ground, they crush everything at the bottom of the valley as they go, widening and rounding it in the process. Generally, U-shaped valleys tend to be straighter than V-shaped river valleys as glaciers bulldoze their way through the landscape. Whereas water carves a winding path, taking the least line of resistance. The Devensian Ice Sheet started to recede about 27,000 years ago after covering much of Britain and Ireland. Incredibly it is thought that it did not cover the North Yorkshire Moors. Instead, it virtually encircled it with a wall of ice some 800 metres high, dwarfing the local hills by almost 500 metres. This meant that the whole area had a periglacial climate, meaning it bordered a glacial environment. And its distinctive landscape would have been shaped over thousands of years by the constant freezing and melting of ice...

After everyone was accounted for and found to be unscathed, we started the short climb up through the woods to join another of the main forest tracks. From there we took a mountain bike path which winds its way up through Hutton Low Cross Wood. Although it has not been a subject of the art of the cartographer it is easily followed without the aid of a map. The track is made up of sweeping bends and tight switchbacks. Having been carved into the hillside by the knobbly tyres of the many mountain bikes that have followed its riverine perambulations. Let's hope not everything that flows off the moor ends up in the Esk-we were ok we were heading upwards. It was muddy underfoot which made the ascent harder than usual, especially where rocks were exposed and wet. Parts of the ascent turned into a scramble with four points of contact being the only way to maintain an upward trajectory. A Strava segment aptly named "Watch out for bikes" lasts for the whole climb. It is recorded as being 0.32 of a mile, but it feels like much more. Something to do with the 284 ft of vertical ascent. We all love hills, right? At the top, you come out onto the track that runs just above Hanging Stone. This is just about at the point where your lungs feel like they might come out of your chest and join you.

After a short interlude of listening to the sound of blood surging through our veins accompanied by the pounding of our hardworking hearts, we trotted, slowly, off towards Roseberry Topping. A few minutes later, we passed through the gate above Roseberry Common and trotted down the flagstones next to Little Roseberry. From there we took the minor path which runs around Roseberry Topping, roughly following the 200-metre contour line. This path eventually joined up with the Brant Gate path we had run along earlier on the way out, which in turn led us back to Roseberry Lane. And our starting point.

So the tale of the tape this week, just over 6.5 miles and 1200ft of elevation for the Wednesday Wander. Not too shabby on the elevation count considering we didn't climb up The Topping.

The libations in the Kings' Head were welcome as always.

Until next week, trot on...🦍

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