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Wednesday Wander Gerrick Moor.

Last Wednesday our wanderings took us from the Jolly Sailor Inn up onto Gerrick Moor and Danby High Moor. The Jolly Sailor on the A171 Whitby road is a grade II listed building and has been on the site since the mid-1700s, which equates to a good few barrels of ale having been quaffed over the last couple of centuries or so...

Leaving the car park we headed up onto Gerrick Moor. Once onto the moor, we followed a good cart track which climbed up towards the Robin Hoods Butts track that runs between Sandy Slack Head and Three Howes Rigg. Gerrick Moor itself is scarred by many rutted tracks many of which date back to the second world war when the area was used as a tank training ground. Like so much of the North Yorkshire Moors, its use goes much further back than the 20th century, indeed as far back as the edges of prehistory to a time before the first written records were kept. A settlement on Gerrick Moor has been identified along with a cross dyke and several barrows dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages. The settlement is believed to have been used primarily as a stock enclosure and not permanently inhabited. The cross dyke which runs near the settlement would have been a visible territorial boundary. The most impressive of the barrows is Herd Howe which is south of the settlement enclosure and can be seen from the A171. This was partly excavated by Rev J T Atkinson of Danby parish in 1863 and amongst many other artefacts, 11 cremation deposits were found.

The photos below show from left to right a collared urn, which contained cremated remains, a battle axehead and a barbed and tanged arrowhead all are from the Neolithic/Bronze age and were excavated from Herd Howe. These are now held in the British Museum.

Leaving Gerrick Moor we ran along the Robin Hoods Butts track before turning off onto the path leading to Siss cross, all that remains is part of the stone shaft, the cross stood on a pack horse route coming from Guisborough towards Danby it also joins up with another old pathway known as the Panniermans causeway.

There is a good descent from the old stone down towards Rosedale Intake with the path being very runnable and easily navigated. On this occasion, we soon left the path and followed a less distinct trod along a line of shooting butts onto Black Beck Swang.

This path eventually widened out into a substantial cart track which was easily followed up to the road leading down into Danby. A quick trot from the junction brought us onto a rough path leading across Gale Swang to join the Panniermans Causeway. This still retains much of the old flags which are bowed inwards smoothed by the countless feet and hooves that have passed over them since they were laid down.

Intermission... Swang is Old English for low, wet grassy land, also derives from Middle English, wang or field. Makes a change from digression...

The causeway is easily followed and climbs steadily up to Elm Ledge and the minor road that leads to Danby Beacon. Once on the road, we had a quick re-group before turning westwards to run down the road for a short distance to meet the Danby Road just south of Sandy Slack Head, which is the point where Sandy Slack starts, Slack being old Norse for Stream in a valley.

By now we were running under the cover of darkness so head torches were in use and truly needed as cloud cover meant there was no moon or starlight to aid our natural night vision.

Now I will digress for a moment, the human eye can discern the naked flame of a flickering candle at night from a distance of 30 miles hence during conflicts since the Crimea War through to the Second World War superstitious soldiers have purportedly not taken the third light for their smokes off of a lit match in fear of being shot by snipers. I always used to hunker right down in the bottom of the trench and make sure I was the one proffering the lit match...

Retracing our steps along Robin Hoods Butts soon brought us back onto Gerrick Moor and the descent towards the lights of the Jolly Sailor, with a new Strava segment from the track junction down the bank all the way to the old bridge just before the pub car park. Worth a punt if you are out and about but go past the bridge before you slow up...

Slightly shorter than usual only just over five miles, with a paltry 500ft of elevation however we did get to the pub earlier...

Thanks for wandering, until next week, get bloody running...

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