Rooted in the land – Off piste

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 118From the Haystack we walked along the edge of the moor, following the path to the Pancake Stone where Giant Rombald watches over the dale. The great slab is covered in cup and ring markings and at first glance, seems perched and ready to be once more a rocking stone. Closer inspection shows that too much rubble now rests between the stones to allow them to move. Nevertheless, I have tried many a time… though the legend says  it will only be moved by an honest man, which is why no Yorkshireman ever will…

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 113From here we walked a little further to the ‘scrying bowls’ and the odd rock formation there. We pondered their purpose and sought the faces carved by older forces than man upon its surface; if we could recognise the twin expressions of the stones, our ancestors would have done so too.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 115Our companions headed off towards a pointy stone in the heather, remembering that here they walked amongst many excavated tombs. The Ubiquitous Pointy Stone Theory takes a bit of a bashing every time we come up onto the moors, yet the alignments at Ilkley tend to prove at least my basic premise, even if the edges get a little blurred. There was also an exhortation to keep their eyes on the rocks… many of them here are carved with cups. Two of us trailed behind, still debating the purpose of the stones and were thus lucky enough to come across a recumbent boulder covered with cup marks.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 122An old exhibit at the Ilkley museum in the Manor house, now sadly closed, showed how these things may have been carved… not by chiselling, but by pecking at the stone. A recreation made with a deer-antler pick proved how clearly the fresh carving would have stood out against the weathered rocks all those thousands of years ago. The moor, covered in such carvings, must have been incredible to see when all was new.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 128We rejoined our companions and headed out across the necropolis of Green Crag Slack, amid the innumerable cairns that housed our ancestral dead. Although the heather looks  like a carpet from a distance, don’t be fooled into thinking it makes for easy walking. As soon as you leave the paths you are knee-deep in woody stems.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 139 Anything may be under the heather, from wildlife to rocks and holes. It was well after the breeding season for the ground nesting birds, but it is always better to stick to the paths, particularly if you are up there on your own and just thinking. I recall one memorable occasion near the Crags where a false step saw me wedged by the elbows, dangling above a rocky void…

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 145Here, however, there would be no deep dark holes into which we could tumble, even if the faint path had disappeared and we were now wading through the heather and bracken, surrounded by the cairns. In summer it is impossible to appreciate the extent of the necropolis as so much is buried beneath a green and purple pall, but even in winter the outlines are blurred, the rocks displaced and it would take an expert to make true sense of what is seen over much of the area.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 142Some features are clear, however… too big, or simply too complex to be missed. The two large boulders, for example, one undeniably pointy and the recumbent carved with a multitude of cups, lead the eye to the Haystack on the edge of the moor, whilst beside the worn track lies the Idol Stone.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 130Whilst some carvings may be open to the debate as to whether carved by man or weather, being now so weathered, the Idol Stone leaves no doubt at all. We wondered about its possible uses… all speculation, of course… but the sharing of ideas is an important part of such weekends.  Just beside the stone lies another, perhaps a broken fragment of the original, whilst in the heather lie so many more I would like to see…

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 133We rested a while on the boulders at the top of this level before we climbed a little higher, heading towards the Lanshaw reservoir further up the moor. We were still nowhere near the highest point. The rocks tell so many stories… not just those of our human ancestors, but those of the sea creatures, even more ancient than our kin, and the birth pangs of the earth itself ripple through the rocks.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 149 Small birds watched our progress and grouse fluttered at our passing. There are grouse butts around here… always have been for as long as I can remember, though they used to be of turf and stone and blended well with the landscape. I am not a fan of killing for sport alone, nor are the modern stations my favourite features. But as we neared the water at Lanshaw, a kestrel was hovering over the moor.

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 153The clouds were rolling in as we followed the path that runs beside the dam and could finally see our destination, rather higher on the horizon than you would expect, having already climbed so far. The cluster of stones and the famous shed were all I could remember of the way to reach the Grubstones…

Nick Birds SE Ilkley 2015 uffington avebury cropton Helmsley 148

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Ancient sites, History, Landscape, Photography, Rooted in the Land, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Rooted in the land – Off piste

  1. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on stevetanham and commented:
    We climbed yet further …

    Like

  2. Scyring bowls are cool.
    Those are the witchcraft tools. Amazing.
    Maybe I should go there and look into the future if I am going to be a millionaire someday. hehehe …

    Amazing photos and landscapes.
    I am living at the foot of the Alps and I know such beauty is something one can never change for anything else. I’ll stay where I am till I die. 🙂

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Scrying is not unique to witches, just a way of defocussing the mind and seeing beyond the surface. 🙂
      I miss the hills…

      Liked by 1 person

      • If only modern technology can have a good use on it. That would be nice, I think. 🙂

        You miss the hills? Why is that? Do you live in the city or town?

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        • Sue Vincent says:

          🙂
          I live in a village, in lovely countryside, but the hills of home are very far away.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh, I too, live in a village. There are only like 180 families living in this area. Where I live it is nearing the forest edge exactly at the foot of the mountain. Here it feels as if we are directly standing the mid winter rather than autumn … Extremely cold in the early morning and early evening. We got like a few hours comfortable temperature and it drops down abruptly.
            But still, it is so lovely to be in the mid of nature. And no noises and no traffic. Just a small community who knows each other – more like a close family members. 🙂

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            • Sue Vincent says:

              My village is not so remote… or so friendly 🙂 Just a few miles outside the town.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Oh dear … not so a friendly town. Peoplea are different nowadays and they are more isolated even in their own house.
                We have few strange or not so nice people in the village too. There is one man who is a children-hater who loves to scream outside at them in summer. Scarring children away like that just because they make too much noise playing football or hide and seek. He would just ran out of his house and yelling them.

                One time I had to put him down for touching my son. He hit my son twice on the stomach and left leg. I got out in time to stop him and put him down until the police came. I was hell scared for the kids.

                That was the very first time my children and other children saw me using my karate skill. They thought I was cool, but the truth is I was hell frightened even for my own life. 😛

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              • Sue Vincent says:

                People are people… the good and the not so good, no matter where you live. That sounds like an awful situation, Sherrie.

                Liked by 1 person

              • It was awful. In your whole life, you wish that you never meet or to face any kind of danger. Yes, Sue … People are people …

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              • Sue Vincent says:

                I can imagine, especially when your children are involved.

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  3. I saw you slip that Yorkshireman slight in there!!! 😳
    I could move it, I just can’t be bothered.

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  4. smackedpentax says:

    I have moved the Pancake Stone…NOT!…Great post Sue…btw, have you seen this? http://www.megalithic.co.uk/leaflet_megalith_map.php?country=1

    Like

  5. Another excellently narrated and illustrated post

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  6. roweeee says:

    Thank you Sue for taking me with you on this journey. I was intrigued by your comments about the heather, which really does look like a soft, inviting purple carpet and not a treacherous gap. In Australia, we are advised to stick to the tracks for other reasons. In addition to protecting the vegetation, there are also our reptile friends…I saw one last week. I was so out to it after the long drive to the farm outside Byron Bay, that it barely registered. I needed that morning coffee!

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      There are reptiles on the moors too… and any walking off track is done with heavy feet 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • roweeee says:

        Our reptiles don’t appreciate loud noises either! By the way, I’ve just finished reading Geoff Le Pard’s second book. Loved it. I’m working on a review of sorts. Photographed it under the Sydney Harbour Bridge the other day and had some fun with it. It’s going to a very unconventional piece. I’m just finishing up my posts about my trip to Byron Bay and then I’ll stick it up.

        Like

  7. You know, Sue…I could just sit on one of the rocks with my pen and pad and be very happy, peaceful and content. Ahhhhhhhhh 😊

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  8. I’m going walking in the Yorkshire Dales in a couple of weeks and this post reminds me why I am looking forward to it so much

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  9. Eliza Waters says:

    It seems one could get seriously lost out there in the vastness. Searching from one stone to the next, I’d suddenly look up and think, ‘yikes! where am I?’
    Have you ever flown over the moors? It would be awesome to see the rocks from the air. Small aircraft pilots must offer tours, I would think.

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  10. Great descriptions and pcitures of the moor, Due.

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  11. Great descriptions and pcitures of the moor, Sue.

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  12. macjam47 says:

    Once again, your photos are amazing as is your commentary. I know I said this before, but I am in awe of the moors, and the churches, and the rich history you have been sharing.

    Like

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