Tuesday, 26 August 2014


"The waters of Gormire, once sparkling and bright, to the blackness of ink were changed in that night..."
This is an ancient landscape, ingrained with thousands of years worth of myths and folk tales. Here is the deep water of Gormire Lake, left behind by the Ice Age, on the edge of the vast Plain of York. It is over-shadowed by Whitestone Cliff...


...sometimes called White Mare's Crag, where one fateful night, so the story goes, the Devil disguised as the Abbott of Rievaulx (or was it the other way round ?) drove an ignoble nobleman who had stolen his beloved white stallion, over the precipice to his watery grave.
"To that terrible spot where Hambleton Heath
Breaks in a cliff to the valley beneath;
Eight hundred feet sheer by plummet-line sounded
And nought but some heather the precipice bounded.
'Tis a terrible cliff, e'en the stoutest grow pale,
As they stand on the brink and look down the vale."
   Another story tells of a witch chased across Hambleton Moor into the woods...

...shh, she's still here.
When she reached Whitestone Cliff she leapt into Gormire. Legend tells us that the lake is bottomless and that a current swept her along the course of an underground stream until she emerged, unscathed, at a well 9 miles away.
If you turn and look to the left of Gormire you will see Hood Hill, scene of two tragic RAF crashes in the mid-20th century, in the second of which a plane flew into a 20 ton boulder, known to locals as The Altar and alleged to be an ancient druid sacrificial stone. Hood Hill is also the site of a late 11th/early 12th century motte and bailey castle, as yet unexplored.
It seems you can survey almost the whole of the county from this cliff - beyond Hood Hill are the towers of South Yorkshire power stations and a little further West are the faint outlines of the moors above Haworth. Look north and you'll see the angular fells of Wensleydale looming through the mist.

Turner drew only a quick pencil sketch of this scenery on a Yorkshire tour and  John Sell Cotman made it look a bit too much like Wales for my liking in this watercolour. 
William Wordsworth had a go at describing it, but even he didn't quite capture the magic.
"I turn and view thy awful heights
Stupendous HAMBLETON! Thy dreadful wilds,
Thy gilded cliffs and blue expanded sides
At once infusing horror and delight!"
He was recently married to a local girl when he wrote this, so I think we can forgive him for not being on top form. Perhaps he was visiting his in-laws.


  1. Wonderful huge vistas. I love an expansive view. The woods do look like a witchy kind of place. And a bottomless pond certainly can send shivers down your spine. A dramatic landscape for sure.

    1. We've lived in this landscape for 26 years and only just found time to wander along the Cleveland Way and look across to our village. It was well worth it!

  2. Such jaw dropping views. Mother nature is thrilling.

    Jean x

    1. Isn't she just - but thrilling as this landscape is it doesn't match the chalk downs of Kent & Sussex. Not for me anyway.

  3. Hello,

    This landscape is not familiar terrain for us and we have very much enjoyed being immersed in your fabulous photographs and captivating words. The great expanses of land and sky are amazing and how beautiful it must be to stand on the cliff top and survey this glorious scene.

    Turner does capture a magic in his paintings. Nobody does it better....

    1. Thank you so much for looking and I hope that one day you might explore Yorkshire's thrilling landscapes and magnificent country houses.

  4. If ever I need a reminder about why I spend half my time in England...and mostly in Yorkshire....I will re view this post. Beautiful Nilly....just beautiful, Jx

    1. As I mentioned above, it's taken us 26 years to explore these views. Next stop - Hardcastle Crags!