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Thursday
Dec062007

Ancient Tracks on the North Yorkshire Moors

About 400 metres west of Hob Hole, a set of tracks descend from Little Hograh Moor to cross Baysdale Beck.  Old tracks can be found all over the North Yorkshire Moors.  Often they form intertwining braids like this, as if the line of a single road has meandered from side to side over many years.  I suppose it is most likely that they were made in mediaeval times by  sheep and cattle being driven to and from moorland farms owned by the many abbeys and priories in the area.  However, I like to think that their origin is much older, dating back to the Bronze Age and the beginnings of agriculture in the area, but this is just speculation on my part.  (Image from Google Maps.)

Reader Comments (2)

Could they have been created by water draining from a lake or a flood plain? But would there have been so many?
December 10 | Unregistered CommenterAydin
They have almost certainly been deepened by rainwater running off along them. Indeed, I suspect that it is more water erosion rather than foot (or hoof) erosion that is what makes them 'hollow'. I came to realize this one day when I was caught in a heavy shower on the open moor and the unsurfaced track I was walking on turned into a small river. However, on other parts of the moor there are hollow ways that run alongside existing roads and these are obviously earlier 'versions' of those roads, so I think that foot/hoof erosion is probably necessary to get them started.

I did think of trying to estimate how fast the existing tracks are eroded and from that derive a figure for how long the hollow ways were in use. I assume that when they become disused the heather that grows back over them prevent any further significant erosion.
December 10 | Unregistered CommenterTristram

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