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Wednesday Wander Danby Rigg 20/06/2022..

Thanks to Jan, Andrew, Daz, Paul, Hannah, Stephen, Sam, as well as Lilla and Rupert the dogs who all came a wandering last night.

Further thanks to Kevin, Alison and Pete who joined us for libations at the end. Special mention to Pete who brought a lot of his old maps and certificates detailing his many worthy performances in many mountain marathons and LDWA events over the years. Especially of note completing the 55 mile Cleveland Classic in well under ten hours three years on the bounce, top trotting Pete.

On leaving Danby Lodge Car park we followed part of the Esk Valley Walk before joining a FP running along the edge of mature corn fields beside Creak Hill into Ainthorpe Village.

From there we headed up the road for a short while before heading off onto the moor towards the top of the rigg. This path is of medieval origin and was used by travellers moving between Danby and Fryup. Much of the rigg is covered in field systems, burial mounds and dykes which range in age from the middle to late bronze age through to the 9th and 10th centuries. Evidence of early Viking use of the area can be seen by the remains of slag heaps above the buried remnants of bloomeries, which were clay furnaces about 3ft in diameter used to fire iron ore and charcoal to produce iron and slag waste, called blooms, which would eventually be worked into tools and weapons. These were in use in one form or another from around 1000 BC to 1000 AD.

Once we reached the top of the rigg we paused for a while looking down into Little Fryup Dale from Crossley side. Unfortunately Lilla had other ideas and our regroup was interrupted when she decided it was time to chase a passing Grouse and dragged me up the path as the aforementioned Grouse squawked away into the evening sky.

We continued along the minor path that runs along the North Western shoulder of the rigg until it joined up with the second of the ancient tracks coming up from Danby. This again is of medieval or dark age origins coming up from Danby before running over the rigg into Little Fryup Dale. It is marked by numerous way stones which are spaced at 262ft or 80 metre intervals from the much newer wall and field line up to the top of the rigg. There is also a triangulation pillar situated beside the last of the way marker stones at a height of 312 metres. The amount of way marker stones stands testament to how important the track must have been. Their presence ensuring that the route could be navigated in all weathers and seasons. Most of the stones are about five feet tall so would have been visible even in the worst of snowfalls.

Leaving the summit behind we turned southwards for the descent down towards Plum Tree House and North End Farm. The track has been widely used by vehicles over the years and is deeply rutted, however it still makes for a good run down at pace especially in dry conditions. Towards the bottom bracken takes over and you need to thrash your way through to keep sight of the path. The line of the old track then continues up onto Tofts Lane which it joins to the North of Danby Church.

From here we had a good trot down the road for about a mile, most of which was trending to a gradual descent so we were able to pick up the pace.

Further on down the road we passed the Old Vicarage built circa 1850 which was the home to Rev J C Atkinson, author of Forty Years in a Moorland Parish, until his death in 1900.

Once into Ainthorpe we crossed fields before hitting the tarmac again then following the Esk valley walk back to the starting point of our Wander. Just as we hit the road we saw what we thought was a creature straight out of mythology stretching up and eating leaves from the top of a rather large hawthorn bush. Closer inspection revealed that it was infact a rather large old and grizzled Billy Goat, needless to say we didn't venture any closer and trotted off whilst it was still ruminating the hedgerow.

After dusting ourselves down and collecting our monkeys and parrots we retired to The Duke of Wellington for a pint and a pickled egg, or three……

Homework read up on crenelations and what number was near to the small culvert adjacent to the our friend Billy Goat Gruff...

Thanks for Wandering....Trot on 🦍

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