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Glorious August

Free Photos, North York Moors, North Yorkshire

Article By: Dave Roberts

First Published: 15 August 2011

One of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the world is the North York Moors National Park. It became a national park in 1952 covering an area of over 550 square miles, presenting spectacular vistas of rolling hills, dales, forests, tranquil villages and not least the most spectacular sections of the Yorkshire Coast.

The three images in this article show the moors just above Blakey Ridge. Passing the Lion Inn on my left, about a country mile later I came to Ralph's Cross where I turned left, descending steadily towards Westerdale and Castleton.

On a clear day this road to Westerdale presents outstanding views over the moors to the North Sea, but today: Sunday 14 August 2011, that view was blotted out by the mist in the valleys.

Although the views to the sea is what I had hoped to capture with my camera, one of the things I have learnt about the moors is what it takes away with one hand - it often gives back with the other. In years gone by, the Lion Inn at Blakey used to have open air music festivals in the fields alongside the Inn. On a couple of occasions I was invited along to photograph these events, during which I discovered the changeable weather up on Blakey. In one hour and almost every hour it was possible to experience sunshine, followed by gales, followed by sleet, followed by rain, followed by sunshine. Added to this, the vast valley below Blakey permits a preview of the weather heading that way, these occasions remain truly memorable and will stay with me through my life.

Today, the weather was just as lively, now in mid August - when I left Pickering the sun was shining and to coin a phrase, it was t-shirt weather. But 20 minutes later and just above Westerdale it was cold, windy and the sky was full of dark Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds which were telling their own story.

According to an article published on the Wikipedia the climate in the area is described as: "Warm summers and relatively mild winters." I invite whoever wrote that to take a good look at the photos published on the Lion Inn at Blakey Website where last winter a JCB was used to dig staff and visitors. OK, that was a bit extreme, but it wasn't the first time and it certainly isn't likely to be the last. Weather conditions in these parts can be extraordinary to say the least, taking the point that the Wiki writer was writing in general terms.

The North York Moors National Park Authority say on their website that culture and traditions are as much a part of the North York Moors National Park as the landscape itself. Its depth of cultural heritage and history of human interaction with the environment are what sets this National Park apart and which make it important and distinctive on a national and even global scale.

That is so true, as the landscape which is the National Park is everything but completely natural. On the contrary, over time the moors have been intensively farmed to produce food for humans and a habitat for Grouse. It is this habitat and farming management which presents the wonderful heather vistas which are so popular with visitors to the area.

Grouse shooting is important to landowners within the moors because they create wealth by organising shoots. In order to sustain this, the landowners manage the moorland heather which benefits the grouse. It is fair to say then that neither the heather nor the grouse are natural, but they certainly do make wonderful scenery for visitors and locals alike, and if you enjoy the meat too, then it is unlikely you will find a more free-range product. About 40 per cent of the National Park is still farmed, yet almost all of it is managed.

If you are thinking of staying in this area of the North York Moors, my tip is to take a look at: Swallow Holiday Cottage, situated in the beautiful valley just below where these images were shot, where the views are outstanding to say the least.





Find related articles: North York Moors | National Park | Moors

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