About the North York Moors

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The Moors & Coast of Yorkshire

Geology of the Moors

History of the Moors & Coast

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The Moors, Coast & Wolds of Yorkshire

The backdrop to the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Coast is spectacular wherever you are – the natural land god has been kind in offering a wonderful contrast between the best area of upland moorland in the country, riven with deep valleys and dales, and a glorious coastline of towering cliffs and hidden bays. However when you can get to the villages they are charming, full of character  and many with an interesting history to tell, the more you explore the more you find out.

I have split the area (with some difficulty) in to 4 areas and there is much more detail on each one by clicking the link below.

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Geology of the Moors

Walking on and exploring the Yorkshire Moors has often given me a feeling of being on a tilt, a feeling the land is falling away from me  and I am  being pulled by some unknown force way to the south. Pleased to find I was not yet going mad I discovered that 30 million years ago a large upheavel to the north raised the famous Yorkshire Moor scarp (on a line with the long distance trails of the Cleveland Way and Lyke Wake Walk) and the earth does fall at a tilt to the south.

The oldest rocks of the Jurassic Period became exposed on the higher moors to the north whilst further South the less hardy limestone has remained, best seen on the Tabular Hills area near Helmsley. Where the limestone has been weathered away to the North the hardier sandstone remains although in places this has been weathered down to iron and shales which have tempted the miners of the past. Due to the nature of the coast and the steep cliffs these differing levels of rock can be examined by those in the know to give one of the more accurate pictures of geology in the country.

Glaciation and the passage of water from north to south created the deep valleys of Farndale, Hawnby and many others as the water forced its way in the only direction it could. The valleys offer some fertile lands for farming, especially where the limestone still exists but great chunks of the landscape are formed by the

History of the Moors & Coast

History has dabbled with the North York Moors and nowhere is it most noticeable than in the castles and abbeys of the area. The Normans established castles at Helmsley, Pickering and Scarborough which are still well preserved but also at sites at Dalby, Mulgrave and Ayton where there are only remains. Only a 100 years or so later the great Abbeys of North Yorkshire were built (Whitby, Rievaulx, Mount Grace and Byland) by the local monks, establishing themselves as one of the first great land owners of the area. A visit to one or more of these exceptional buildings is a must for anyone visiting the area and makes me wonder what they may have been like today if Henry VIII  had not dissolved them on the 16th century and let them fall in to disrepair.

Despite these grand buildings history has always been based upon agriculture and mining. Whilst agriculture, sheep and more latterly other livestock farming had always dominated the valleys of more interest are the remains of the once thriving iron ore industry. In Rosedale and the moors near Blakey Top are the best example of the magnetic iron mines which grew up after 1850 (Rosedale’s population grew 6 fold in 10 years) with the old railway lines clearly visible for any walker. Jet, used for jewelry, was mined here as was poor quality coal but, as elsewhere in the country, mining did not last and agriculture became the stable industry once again.

A word too about the North Yorkshire Coast running in my mind from Saltburn to Scarborough and Filey. Fishing has sustained the population near the coast for a thousand years with working ports still established in Whitby, Scarborough and some of the smaller villages. The North Sea provided the playground for the many boats who used to leave the harbvours early in the morning but it was not enough for some locals who established quite an illegal industry bringing in goods from abroad. Sit near the beach in Robin Hood’s Bay or Runswick Bay as the light fades and it is not difficult to imagine the smugglers bringing in their own illicit wares.

Finally though a mention for the most famous resident of these parts, Captain James Cook. The man who ‘discovered ‘ Australia was born in Great Ayton and discoverd his love of the sea at nearby Staithes before heading out to establish his great deeds – possibly the most famous sailor of them all. There is a monument to him near Great Ayton and a heritage centre in Staithes and well worth a look round.

Photos from the

Useful Links

MET office mountain area forecast for the North Yorkshire Moors & Coast

For things to see and do in the Yorkshire Moors click here

See Also

About the Lake District

About the Yorkshire Dales

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