The North York Moors are a National park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, wild and sparsely populated. There was a time however, long before the Park was set up when some areas were industrial sites. Iron ore, the catalyst for the iron and steel revolution had been discovered in the hills around Middlesbrough at the turn of the nineteenth century and in order to extract it, railway lines were laid up into the moors. Much of the area is defined by a steep escarpment so it was not easy to get railway wagons up to the plateau.
One way in was the valley extending from Ingleby Greenhow into the escarpment and the north-east side of the valley was used to build the Ingleby Incline. Started around 1850, this standard gauge track worked on the principle of descending wagons, full of iron-ore, hauling empties up the 1430yd, steep 1 in 5 gradient, attached to long steel ropes revolving in opposite directions around a huge drum and controlled by a brake. It was used to bring out iron ore from workings in Rosedale in the heart of the moors.
The ore ran out and the inclined railway was closed in 1929. The surrounding slopes were subsequently planted with coniferous trees and they are now being harvested. The old track bed remains today as a straight line route up to the moors.
This is how it looked with railway tracks and few trees!
You can see this track from a car-park way across the valley and I have often thought that I must walk that one day. So, here I am having parked the car on a warm sunny day in May looking forward to a couple of hours walking.
To the right of the path is farmland, mostly pasture and to the left is forest. In places the early coniferous trees have been felled and mixed woodland planted in its place.
The verges are a great habitat for wild flowers.
The track runs straight and level along past some old railway cottages that have been modernised and now used by forest employees. There are still some logs remaining from the felling which mostly took place a few years ago.
About a mile and a half brought me to the beginning of the incline.
This led through an area with old conifers on the right and mixed planting on the left. The stroll was getting to be a bit more like hard work, but the views were getting more extensive.
The local inhabitants wanted to know what I was doing in their territory
Closer to the summit you could see the work that had gone into making the track. They had to cut through here.
Near the top, looking back
New growth on the blueberry bushes across the hillside made a splash of colour on the grey rocks.
At the incline top, the land levels out across the plateau of the moors and you could see the few remains of the winding house and other railway buildings.
While taking this photo, I thought I could hear my mobile phone beeping, quietly as if the battery warning was on, but when I took it out of my pocket and listened to it, I realised it wasn’t the phone. Casting around, the only bird I could see, that might be making the noise was this one, sitting on a post some hundred yards away.
Sorry it is such a poor shot, I had to use most of the zoom on the camera. I had to put it in though, because I don’t think I have seen one before, possibly a golden plover? Beep……… Beep
They had been felling trees more recently across the valley on the north-east facing escarpment.
The other notable thing I came across at the top was this colourful moss, which when I went to stand near it, I realised was more or less floating on water.
Time was now getting on and I had to retrace my steps. This time, I hoped gravity would greatly assist my passage. Indeed, as I started down the path it felt as though I was in an airplane about to start its descent to land
You may just be able to make out the cyclist walking his bike down this stretch. It was much easier going and I was soon well on the way to the car. Facing the other direction I was able to see this other local landmark along the way. Again I had to use the zoom on the camera to pick it out.
At just over a thousand feet high the distinctive shape was caused by the combination of a geological fault and a mining collapse in 1912. It has made the hill the most beloved landmark in the Tees Valley area. With its half-cone summit and jagged cliff, some say it reminds them of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
I made it back to the car ok, but by then I was certainly ready for a sit down and a cup of tea. A great walk in great Spring sunshine.
I hope you enjoy.