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Wednesday Wander Ingleby Cross. 22/02/23

Thanks to everyone who came for a Wander last night, it was a good trot out with an extra mile or so thrown in for good measure...

Some of us parked at the church leaving a few to run the extra bit from the Bluebell, well extra mileage is never wasted...

The first mile or so was a steady uphill climb which took us past the impressive edifice that is Ingleby Hall—a Grade II-listed building built in the 1750s at the behest of the Mauleverer family.

The house it replaced had been in their possession since 1437. The site had seen habitation of one form or another since the early part of the 14th century when it was in the hands of Sir Robert Coleville who is likely to have fought at the battle of Bannockburn, for Edward II, in June 1314.

Although fairly steep in places, the hill up to where the Coast-to-Coast path joins the Cleveland Way is runnable and makes for a good hill climb. The track itself is wide and well looked after, primarily for the use of forestry vehicles and gamekeepers. In consequence, you do not have to be too careful where you place your feet, which means you can lean into the hill and wind your way up without too much likelihood of a mishap. This also stands true when you later descend and are able to really quicken your leg speed. The uphill trend can be added to by heading northeast along the Cleveland Way to the telecommunications masts situated on Beacon Hill. On this occasion, we went the other way and followed the Cleveland Way on the new section up to Lady Chapel, which sits high on the ridge above Osmotherley on the wonderfully named Summer Game Hill. Lady's Chapel was built in the 15th century by a Prior of Mount Grace Priory as a secluded place of worship. The prior being the monastic superior in some religious orders. Both Mount Grace priory and lady Chapel were founded by monks of the Carthusian order. The present building dates from the early 1960s.

Leaving Lady Chapel behind we followed a vehicle track which descends off the side of Ruebury Hill to rejoin the Cleveland Way. Once there we turned back on ourselves and ran back up the rerouted Cleveland way towards Lady Chapel. This is another very runnable hill giving you about 30 metres of elevation climbed in a little under 500 metres. It definitely lends itself to being a good location for a short hill repeat session.

Continuing along the Cleveland way we dropped down slightly before ascending again towards the TV and radio masts situated on Beacon Hill. Although long since gone there may have been a beacon on its summit where there is now a triangulation pillar. Beacons were lit to warn of invasion or imminent attack and would have been part of a nationwide network of fire beacons. Throughout Osmotherleys history it may well have been lit on numerous occasions. William of Normandy devastated the surrounding area during his Harrying of the North, a couple of years after his victory over the last King of the Saxons, Harold Godwinson at the battle of Hastings in 1066. During the 14th century, the village was again laid to waste during the wars between England and Scotland; to such an extent that it was excused from taxation due to the severity of its devastation. Later in the same century, the Black Death caused nearly half of the population of Osmotherley to have an earlier-than-expected return to the earth.

As we continued to follow the Cleveland Way across Scarth Wood Moor a light drizzle began to drift in from the east, although only falling lightly, drizzle or mizzle in some dialects, is the sort of precipitation that quickly soaks you down to the marrow. Luckily for us, we were soon to leave the Cleveland Way and cut through Arncliff Wood before dropping back down to Arncliff Hall. It was quickly apparent as we passed through a gate in a dry stone wall dividing the open moorland from what should have been the edge of the plantation that the loggers had been plying their trade in the area. Scarth Wood now resembled a scene from the recent remake of the WWI film All Quiet on the Western Front. All that was left of the plantation was shattered, trunks, stunted stumps, and shredded branches laying haphazardly like discarded Kerplunk sticks within the deeply rutted tracks made by lumbering logging machines which had moved through the plantation like a herd of ravenous Mastodons.

After a few moments of tree stump hop-scotch I realised the path we should have been using to take us back down to the church had been subsumed into a labyrinth of tractor tracks crisscrossing the hillside, joining the tree stumps one to another like a huge dot-to-dot puzzle.

I gave myself a mental scalding, regarding the utility of doing a thorough recce before plotting an intended route; and headed back to the Cleveland Way in order to retrace our steps back to the start

On the plus side, we gained about a mile in distance on the route and had the joy of a fast descent to finish off with. In all our Wander ended up being just over 7 miles long with a little under 1300ft of elevation climbed.

Having shaken the cloying mizzle from our shoulders we retired to the Bluebell at Ingleby Cross for some liquid refreshment, which at £3.90 for a pretty good pint of black Sheep was certainly worth lifting one's arm for...

Until next week "Trot On "

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