|A two for the price of one fieldnote. My first attempt at Blakey Topping was on the 6th July when I parked at the carpark that overlooks the Hole of Horcum, and walked east along the Old Wife’s Way. A little way down the track the hill starts to become visible and as you continue its strange shape becomes clearer, my first though was that it resembled the hill in Close Encounters and I was tickled when I got home and read that Julian had the same impression. From this western angle Blakey Topping is less a ‘tit’ hill and more a giant nipple. I decided not to continue on to the stones at the base this time as it seemed just too much of a walk and decided to approach the hill from the opposite side on another occasion, which turned out to be a week later.
This time I drove along the same forest track that leads past Howden Hill and parked next to Dargate Dyke – there is a charge for driving through this part of Dalby Forest, an unreasonable 4 quid. From here Blakey is about 2 miles to the northwest but I had thrown my old bike into the back of the car and was prepared for a leisurely peddle to the hill and stones – not so. First of all I took the wrong track due to having to rely on my map reading skills as the tree cover was playing havoc with my GPS. Twenty minutes and one detached chain later I managed to find my way back to where I had parked the car... Setting off again on the right track this time the land immediately drops down nearly 100 metres in a distance of only 500 metres which was pretty hairy on an old bike with iffy brakes, but safely at the bottom I turned left and continued west to Grain Beck where I was greeted by a couple of barking dogs from the house at the southeast end of Thompson’s Rigg. The dogs were quickly pacified and I continued onto the flattish plain of Thompson’s Rigg. From here the still distant Blakey appears a completely different shape to the western approach. The flat top and steep sides are replaced with a conical form that seems to almost exactly mirror Howden Hill when seen from the same direction – the southeast, which I found rather peculiar.
Compare these pictures of Blakey-
and Howden -
Again like Howden the effect diminishes as you move round to the southwest where the stones are and it become just another hill (a very pretty one nevertheless). All the way along the track I had been careful to re-close all the gates I had been through but as I reached the fence and gate that the stone setting stood behind I found the gate wide open, and just beyond it close to the stones were some young cows. Wanting to avoid the beasties I took a right turn and went along the edge of the fence and had to content myself by viewing the stones from over it so I can’t really say if they form part of a circle or an alignment as the scheduling report suggests. If I had had the presence of mind I would have stormed the gate and closed it before the cows could come through it, which only occurred to me as I made my way back. Turning round I started back to the gate only to find the cows had already come through to meet a walker who was heading north along the fence, he didn’t seem at all bothered by them but there was no way I was going past them - maybe next time...
Posted by Chris Collyer
15th July 2003ce