Picture Post: Autumn nears as moors turn into a purple haze

The North York Moors National Park isn’t short of claims to fame.

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme

It’s home to the steepest road in England (Rosedale’s aptly-named Chimney Bank), at Duncombe Park it boasts Britain’s tallest lime tree and, given that not much changes around here, it should probably come as no surprise that it’s the venue for the oldest surviving gooseberry show in the country.

That particular annual event is held each August at Egton Bridge on the River Esk, where this photograph was taken.

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The park boasts one of the largest expanses of heather in the UK. It might not be immediately obvious most of the year, but as the summer gives way to autumn the moors turn purple for as far as the eye can see.

It’s 62 years since the area was awarded National Park status and while today it looks much as it did centuries ago, it’s only because successive generations have fought for and protected the landscape.

Just as campaigners in the late 1960s successfully saw off plans to build a gigantic reservoir, which would have left Farndale’s wild daffodils under water, proposals for unslightly television masts, imposing potash mines and large-scale conifer plantations have also been thrown out.

These days some seven million people visit the area each year and its status as a National Park is something to be treasured. However, it wasn’t always that way.

When the possibility of designation was first being discussed, many of those who lived the moorland villages of Coxwold, Hutton-le-Hole and Thornton-le-Dale viewed the proposals with some suspicion.

They feared that, while protecting the landscape, National Park policy would essentially see the area preserved in aspic and those stone-built working villages would become museum pieces.

Those suspicions ultimately proved unfounded and today, as this image demonstrates, the North York Moors National Park remains home to some of the county’s most dramatic and picturesque scenery.

Technical details: Nikon D3s camera, 12-24mm lens, exposure 250th sec at f11 iso 200, with flash).