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Wednesday Wander Broughton Bank...

A little bit late with the blog this week, the only defence I can offer for this is the shortening days which quickly turn one into another.

Our wandering last week started from Clay Bank car park situated on the B1257 Helmsley Road about a mile and a half outside the village of Great Broughton.

By the time we set off, which according to my Strava records was 6;56pm, it was fully dark and artificial illumination was required by everyone.

Our four-legged wanderers have no problems seeing in the dark, having eyes that shine back at us, luminous green reflecting the light of our head torches at us.

As we started running, the route took us along the B1275 for a short way until we turned onto a forest track which ascends into Broughton Plantation, which was established just after the Great war of 1914-1918.

The track is well-worn, with the tracked logging machines compacting the stones and rubble used as its top dressing. This makes for good running, even at night, there is no need to watch your footing too carefully, though if you are like me tripping over on the flattest mill pond is a possibility.

Eventually, the track starts to climb steeply up onto Broughton bank, this is a thigh-burning hill that will make your heart and lungs scream if you push to the top. Even a stroll will set your muscle fibres to tight mode. Nonetheless, it is a great climb that even has a false summit to catch out the unwary. If you have the time do it once then do it again double the effort double the results... A run I sometimes do is to turn around and run back up all the downhill sections of the particular route I am doing, that way getting some extra elevation and bonus mileage.



We regrouped at the junction where the forest track had petered out to become a minor path which joins the FP that runs just above the fence line. This area looks much different, with shattered trunks, split stumps and shredded tree limbs strewn over the hillside between the deep ruts caused by predatory logging vehicles. Our breath caught in the light of our head torches drifting like smoke across the ruined landscape reminding me of the opening scenes of Terminator 2. Upright machines stride forward crushing skulls, bleached by the fire of a nuclear war while humankind fights for their existence, running, desperately dodging the churning tracks of Hunter Killer tanks and the purple plasma beams fired by rank after rank of T-800s. Their skinless endoskeletons glint in and out of the sweeping arc of a thousand searchlights. Ok, I have digressed but Judgement Day was possibly the best of the Terminator franchise...


Leaving Hollywood behind we followed the path down towards Toft Hill Farm and Kirby Scout Hut. Just where the two paths intersect there are two large stone gate posts, I'm sure many of you have passed them many times, but have you noticed that one of them has a benchmark on it?

Benchmarks can be found on many buildings and structures throughout the UK they were used by surveyors to record the height above, mean sea level or ODN, (Ordnance Datum Newlyn) at their particular location.

The horizontal marks were used to support the stable "bench" for a levelling stave to rest on. Hence the name benchmark. All marks were uniform which ensured the stave could be repositioned accurately sometime in the future. There were over 500,000 benchmarks created between 1840 and 1993, when the last traditional arrow-shaped benchmark was carved into a milestone outside the Fountain public House in Loughton, Essex.

On our descent down the bank towards the scout hut, we passed a further three benchmarks positioned on old gate posts and marker stones. Next time you are out trotting, see if you can find one and post a picture along with your run report...

The path the marker stones relate to has recently been renovated and the ancient trod that it follows has been unearthed revealing a line of worn flagstones. The trod was probably laid down sometime in the 12th or 13th century and formed part of a network of trods used by travellers from ecclesiastic houses in the area, like the Abbeys of Rivaulx and Whitby.

Between the 17th and 19th centuries, the trods were used for various reasons, including the movement of alum, and jet to fish and salt.



Once we reached the bottom our route took us across some open moorland on a narrow path heading southwest just below Kirby Bank. Although it is not marked on the map it is still prominent enough to be followed even at night. Just after passing through a gate and fenceline the path rises to meet the lower marked path that contours around the Three Sisters from Lordstones to Claybank. The path is also much-changed evidence of logging activities abundantly clear. Rainfall had also left its mark, large puddles dampening the feet of unwary runners.

One of the better outcomes of the logging that has seen most of the trees cut down along the side of Broughton Bank is that the ancient stones and boulders dotted throughout the area become more easily seen.

We continued along the same track all the way back to Clay Bank car park, which gave us around 6 miles of running with circa 1000ft of elevation. All in all, it was a nice trot out.

Once finished, as we do most weeks we gathered our chattels and made our way to a local hostelry, in this case, the Black Swan, for refreshment.

Thanks to everyone who wandered with me, so until next week, trot on...🦍






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