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Wednesday Wander Hand-stone on Ingleby Moor.

"Thunderbolts and lightning very very frightening trot on Wanderers trot on..."

The Wander last Wednesday started from Bank Foot just outside of Ingleby Greenhow.

Meeting as normal at 6:45pm we trotted off up towards Turkey Nab and Ingleby Bank in bright sunshine though like a portent of things to come there was a jumble of dark clouds gathering to our west. Climbing straight up onto the rocky track that runs parallel to the CW made sure our lungs and hearts were well and truly working by the time we reached the track junction near to Tidy Brown Hill which according to The register Booke of Ingle-bye iuxta Greenhow is a bastardisation of Tarry Brown Hill. If anyone knows why it is so called please let us know. It does have a burial mound on its summit which is of the barrow type and believed to be from the Bronze Age like so many of the funerary relics on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Having reached the CW we followed it for about half a mile before crossing the heather to have a look at a handstand some 30 yards off the path. The way marker was erected in the 18th century and shows direction to Stoxley (Stokesley), Guisborough, Helmsley and Whitby with carved hands denoting the direction of travel. At the time the stone was placed there the track was a major North / South route known as the Thurkilsti or Thurkills route which is an ancient drovers route from Kildale to Kirkbymoorside. Interestingly and worth pondering there is an Earl Thurkill, possibly Thorkill The Tall a Dane mentioned in the Saxon Chronicles who was given lands in east Anglia after fighting with King AEthelred against Sweyn Forkbeard, who later became the only Scandinavian King of England, all be it only for 5 weeks...

Yes I digress somewhat.

About a mile further on we reached Burton Howe, another Bronze Age round barrow burial mound and turned off the Cleveland Way and headed along Middle Head Top. We were now trotting beneath huge black thunderheads, cumulonimbus clouds which had billowed into huge hulks above us forming a squall line covering the western horizon. As the first rumbles of thunder began to reach our ears large raindrops began falling on our collective heads. Moments later fork lightning raked downwards followed milliseconds later by a brighter bolt going back up to the cloud illuminating the sky with a neon orange glow behind us. We were now running under the storm which was heaped above us in a tumbling mass of raindrops and energy. Rain was now falling with increasing intensity as we upped the pace and trotted round onto Ingleby Moor. Waterproof jackets suddenly becoming a must have fashion accessory, well for most of us anyway...

The time between peels of thunder and the flashes of lightning was soon lessening as the storm closed in around us, as if Wade the giant and his wife Bell were striding above us hurling stone trenchers at each other.

The lights of Teesside are usually the brightest glow to be seen when night running on the moors, especially now since the demise of Bilsdale mast during a similar weather event . But on Wednesday we were witness to a spectacular light show of much greater intensity, Power and raw natural magic than anything as yet emanating from the now ubiquitous illuminant which messers Davy, Swan, de la Rue, Edison and others strove so hard to be the first to perfect in the 19th century...

By the time we reached the top of Ingleby Bank we were all distinctly damp and looking forward to getting off the high ground and back down to our vehicles. The descent down the rutted track back to Bank Foot was a slow, curse filled, ankle turning, bumbling affair which could have been likened to the retreat of a certain infamous one armed Frenchman's troops from Moscow, a death march of bedraggled and disheartened men and animals defeated by the hand of nature as much as that of their enemies. Tchaikovskys 1812 Overture at full crescendo would not have been out of place accompanying the report of cannon fire thunder and muzzle flash lightning bolts arcing across the hills as we picked our way down Ingleby Bank.

Once at the bottom we bobbed heads to ensure there were still the correct number attached to shoulders, dried ourselves off and marched the drumhead to the Dudley Arms for a service of thanksgiving and liquid refreshment.

The lesson to be garnered from this weeks storm tossed Wander is a kit list is a kit list for a very good reason, no-one, not even the great Michael Fish, can accurately predict the vagaries of the omnium-gatherum of meteorological occurrences that make up our Great British Weather....

Until Wednesday Trot on...💪🦍

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