Moors and the cultural landscape

Moors and the cultural landscape

On Friday we spent the day walking across three of North Yorkshire’s glorious moors. Their names are intriguing: Live Moor, Carlton Moor, Cringle Moor. An Aussie hiker had asked me at breakfast to explain what a moor was. The question had surprised me and my reply, I’m sure, did not do justice to the moors. In the evening, over a beer with an Australian couple we’ve met over the days of this journey, I realised that ‘moors’ are something which Australia does not possess in the way that we do, for which its inhabitants have no proxy. This led to a conversation about cultural landscapes, about spiritual landscapes, about aboriginal Songlines, creeks and rocks, about bogs, moors and stone walls.

In an exchange of messages with Natasha, I asked what the Spanish word is for ‘moor’. And there is none, at least no true equivalent. Why should a Spaniard or an Australian need to describe these soft, heather-clad, wondrous bits of landscape with their strange plants and treeless expanses?

Yesterday we continued our journey over moors – Urra, High Blakey – and I grasped that moors are set deep in my cultural heritage. They are a piece of my past and my present, part of my sense of being home.

And today, again, we walked under a scorching sun across Danby Moor high above the sweeping sheath of Great Fryup Dale (a name to have you scratching your head for a clue to its etymology!). This is pastoral beauty at its peak, a patchwork of crops and livestock, walls and hedges, stone farms and tiled roofs, nature’s greens revelling in a gentle dance.

Tomorrow we finish. We’ve done 181 miles and have 15 left for tomorrow. We will cross our last moor, Sleights Moor, before we reach the sea.