Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Coxwold-Gilling Gap

The view towards Kilburn White Horse. The Hambleton Hills in the distance, and the Howardians at our back.

This was on a walk from Kilburn to Byland Abbey on 9th August.

The Coxwold-Gilling Gap is a rift valley formed at the end of the Cretaceous period. The land fell 500-1000ft between the two parallel faults where the Hambleton and Howardian escarpments now face each other, about a mile and a quarter apart.

Odontites vernus
I took some not very inspiring photos - too much breeze! - of Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus, formerly verna), a common semi-parasitic plant of dampish meadows. I assume this is ssp. serotinus, based on the branches being at an angle of >50 degrees from the stem.

The name "Bartsia" has magical connotations for me, because it's also been attached to a number of showier Arctic-Alpine plants that recall happy days in the Swedish fells. (In fact, these species belong not to Odontites but to the related genera Bartsia and Pedicularis.)

Fraxinus excelsior

European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior). Sometimes a very beautiful tree. (Never mind what Alan Mitchell says!)

Byland Abbey

By consulting the ground-plan, it's possible to get an idea of what life must have been like here: the separate dormitories and cloisters for the novices; access to the latter from the monks' quarters (I suppose for the use of instructors); the fire and cookhouse at a junction between the monks' and novices' dormitories, so its heat would spread through both; the monk's quarters acting as a defensive wall around the abbot's magnificent lodgings, with gardens between.

Superb toastie at the cafe over the road from the abbey.

The White Horse from High Kilburn

We came back via Oldstead and High Kilburn. Since it was still only 19:00, we decided to restore our upland balance by taking the car up onto the Moors, pausing briefly to snuff the air and take photos somewhere near the Tabular Hills.

A table of Corallian limestone.

Ling (Calluna vulgaris)

I've never lived close enough to acid moorland or heathland to really get familiar with it. It only seems to support about six species, but I still feel a sensation of novelty, and of course August is the perfect time to visit. 

Bell Heather (Erica cinerea)

Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix)

Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) among buds of Ling.

A tabular hill and Cirsium palustre

Fraxinus excelsior

European Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) again, this time up on the moors

Some sort of rush, Probably Hard Rush (Juncus inflexus), but I've never really got round to understanding rushes as yet.

After this we drove up past Black Hambleton to Osmotherley, trying to spot a non-existent stone circle on the way.*  Then back to Kilburn via the A19 and Thirsk.

* It's actually a collapsed hayloft, and anyway we didn't see it. (  We were also confused by the nearby presence of the words "Osmotherley Stones" on the OS map. This seems to be just a location-name. I don't know what stones it's talking about. Maybe a natural outcrop.



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