Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Yorkshire Moors

Sutton Bank, White Horse at Kilburn and Gormire Lake

The Nickson arm is out of plaster, and finally it is time to resume normal activities (apart from work). One of the too-easy-to-forget things about a broken limb is how a couple of little fractures, probably less than 10 mm long can restrict all normal activities. It is only this weekend, six(?) weeks after my bike accident, that while I still cannot pick up Toshack and hurl him across the room (he is a very heavy cat) without sudden pain (I have tried, repeatedly,to throw the feline, usually at 6.00am when he pokes my nose with is paw in order to inform me that it is now playtime and the day is a-wastin') I feel confident enough to drive and therefore go somewhere interesting to hike.

We head for the Yorkshire Moors and Roulston Scar, an incredible line of limestone cliffs, 300m high that gaze westwards over a heavily farmed glacial landscape. The walk has several highlights, the amazing Gormire Lake, hard to get to, and therefore silent, which has no in, or out-flowing streams above ground. It is very spooky, limestone sand filling the bottom, and it exudes age. Thankfully there are no boats, picnic areas or fishermen (sorry,Canada, I believe 'fishers' is the politically acceptable term) allowed so the lake has preserved it's atmosphere, which is completely primeval. I could happily picnic here, after a quick spot of gender neutral fishing from my canoe.

The walk is circular, four miles along the cliffs of Roulston Scar and four miles in the forest below. This landscape has been settled for over 5000 years, with a line of Mesolithic Hill forts along the top of the Scar looking out over the rich (even then, wheat was grown here) farmland below. As we climb back up from the valley from Gormire Lake to reach the top of the Scar, two things happen. Firstly, the ancient earthen banks are everywhere, and I point them out to Nel breathlessly, excited by this find. She replies equally breathlessly, "I'm friggin knackered" as we clamber up the better than 45 degrees slope. We've gone off track, and this is where the second thing happens. I cannot properly complete the scramble with only three limbs fully operational, and the gammy elbow is getting pretty badly jolted, so we make one of those "That could have been really bad" decisions that I'm sure we'll laugh about in years to come. We decide to go completely off track and climb straight up, in order to get the thing over with as quickly as possible. We begin our climb, 180 metres straight up, scrambling trees roots and rocks but we get to the top, amazingly no more (new) broken limbs. It could have been a really bad decision though.

Later on in the day, we come across another really stupid decision, the White Horse of Kilburn. The horse "was the brainchild of a local Victorian schoolmaster, John Hodgson" who wanted to create a figure 'similar' to the Famous Neolithic White Horse carved into the chalk on the South Downs of England. I've visited the 'real' White Horse and it is truly amazing, beautiful and in my opinion, badly overlooked in NOT being a World Heritage site. The same cannot be said for Mr Hodgson's horse. It is simply crap. It is so crap in fact that it is worth visiting just to see how crap it is. I sincerely hope Mr Hodgson did'nt teach art. Needless to say there is an ice cream van in the carpark below the horse(ice cream vans being de-riguer in England at any attraction, no matter the weather), but in the freezing temperatures we eschew the cold stuff, and make tracks for home. It has been a tough 8 miles, and we've seen some great landscapes, some excellent wildlife (including a pond of frogs, mating noisily) and a crap White Horse.

My new, partially regained mobility has also allowed several museum visits recently. Hull's museum is fascinating, mostly because it is so old, and in serious need of renovation. It attracts almost no visitors, but the peeling heavy red wallpaper, badly typewritten descriptions and dusty displays make it feel like one of those private roadside museums from North America . The only acceptable day to visit this type of museum is Wednesday afternoon, it just would'nt work on any other day of the week.

The building is magnificent 'they just do'nt build them like that anymore', but inside, two semi-uniformed employees do crosswords, and I ask them if the museum is open. The guards look surprised, but advise me to take a look at the ship models. Accordingly, I do; there are at least forty exquisite models of boats, unseen by anyone this afternoon apart from me and whoever owns the footsteps that I keep hearing, echoing spookily two galleries behind me. Whale tusks are nailed to walls, weird chairs made from Right Whale ribs and a small, but complete Right Whale Skeleton are crammed into the space without any of the 'interpretation' that is deemed so necessary in recently built exhibits, but the saddest exhibit is a mouldy stuffed Polar Bear,the fading fur full of holes, shrunken to be no bigger than a large dog. Another sign of the age of this place are the displays of trawling, this time with commentary, which enthusiastically describe the efficiencies of drag netting. As with Nova Scotia, drag netting has killed Hull's fishing industry with an efficiency that was probably unpredicted when this museum was built.

Museum day out

On the way out, moving quickly because I've started to get spooked by the footsteps that seem to echo behind me, I ask the guards if anyone else is in the museum. "Did'nt see anyone, mate," says one of the guards and goes back to his crossword.

No comments: