Kettleness

A coastal walk with Graeme Chappell

Kettleness – Cat Beck – Randy Bell End – Hob Holes – Runswick Sands – White Stones – Redscar Hole – Hill Stones – Kettleness Sand – Kettleness Scar – Wind Hole – Long Sand – White Shoot – Maiden Wyke – Lucky Dogs Hole – Kettleness Alum Works

The Fairies long gone, the sound of Claymoor battledores no long ring over Runswick shores.

Hob has flit, kink coughs go untreated.

A whale lays headless and rotting on the rocks at White Stones. The stench of death and decay is all around, even the gulls avoid this place. We push on, scrambling over rocks, mouth breathing.

17th of December 1829. The village and Alum Works of Kettleness slid down the cliff to the sea. No lives were lost. The village and works were swiftly rebuilt.

Ore was gathered from these beaches when Teesside furnaces were still an idle dream.

Iron returns to its source, the sea reclaims its own

Shap Granite, batholith born, ice borne.

The sun is shining, we are bold.

We wade through whin following a cliff-top path to the Alum Works, we watch Gannets. A very good day.

Slapewath

Lockdown walking

The terrier is quite old now, he is happy enough but his days of traipsing across moors have come to an end. The path between Slapewath and Boosbeck is ideal for him, it runs along the bed of an old railway built to service the local ironstone mines. The path is wide with no inclines, just right for a half blind, half deaf border terrier who likes to do things in his own time.

Slapewath is a strange place, at first glance it looks fairly rural but peer into the woods and along the tracks you’ll see scrap and storage yards, workshops and plant yards, most built over old ironstone mining sites. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at least half a dozen mines operated locally, extracting ore to feed the furnaces of Teesside.

Ironstone wasn’t the first extractive industry to leave its scars on this valley. Jet has been quarried from the escarpment edges for millennia, jet is only found in this corner of North Yorkshire and was highly prized by our prehistoric ancestors. Beautifully carved jet objects have been found in high-status prehistoric burials throughout our islands.

Another industry that left its mark on the local landscape was alum production. During the seventeenth century, thousands of tons of rock was quarried and processed to produce alum.

The pathway is very muddy in places, local footpaths have taken a hammering during lockdown. Beneath the footpath is a tunnel /culvert. It’s empty apart from some beer cans and a pair of knee-high ladies boots.

With the summer foliage gone, it is possible to get a better view of the remnants of Carr’s Tilery at Margrove.

Slape Wath – Slippery Ford’ from ON sleipr and vao

Aysdale Gate – Asi’s valley’ from ON Asi and dael

Jet

Jet

More from Camden’s Britannia

Near this place, and elsewhere on this shore is found Black Amber or Geate. Some take it to be the Gagates, which was valued by the Ancients among the rarest stones and jewels. It grows upon the rocks, within a chink or cliff of them; and before it is polish’d, looks rewddish and rusty , but after, is really (as Solinus describes it) Diamond-like, black and shining..

Jeat-stone, almost a gemm, the Lybians find,

But fruitful Britain sends a wonderous kind;

‘Tis black and shining, smooth ever light,

‘Twill draw up straws, if rubb’d till hot and bright,

Oyl makes it cold, but water gives it heat.

 

Camden’s Britannia 1586. Translation & edition of 1722 by Gibson

 

My friend Chris Corner made this lovely animation telling the story of Whitby Jet