The spectre of the devastating fire on Marsden Moor overshadows life at the farm on the M62 for Jill Thorp

I managed to escape the farm for one day last week and I headed over to my sister and brother-in-law’s farm at Driffield

Jill Thorp watches the fire rage across the moor

Seb, one of our young ponies, will be spending the summer over there keeping another youngster that my sister bred, company.

I loaded up early and had a good clear run the whole way there. I’ve done the drive countless times and never cease to be amazed by the gentle beauty of the Wolds with its undulating hills of chalk and clay loam. The dark peaty soil of home and steep heather clad slopes are in stark contrast to the open rolling countryside, hedgerows and dykes.

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The villages I passed through were quaint and charming. Mellow red brick cottages lining the route, beautifully manicured village greens and ponds.

It’s a truly beautiful part of the world, and as I drove along I was reminded not for the first time of what a wonderfully varied and unique place we live in.

After a mouth-wateringly good lunch at The Old Star at Kilham I headed home. The horsebox was dropped off back at my mum’s before I started the final leg back to Stott Hall.

As the steep-sided hills rose up before me, my heart sunk. Huge plumes of smoke filled the sky, the familiar sweet scent of a moorland fire suddenly filled my nostrils.

I stopped at the top of Deanhead and watched the fire in the distance gorging greedily on huge tussocks of molinia grass. It swept across the flanks of an adjacent stretch of land at an alarming pace, leaving a thick blackened scar in its wake. I heard distant sirens before the fire engines appeared, racing towards the scene.

An unenviable task lay ahead of the fire crews. For most of them, the great vast expanse of moorland with its steep-sided cloughs would be completely foreign territory to them.

I drove home feeling utterly exhausted, the endless driving and the heartbreak of witnessing yet another huge devastating fire on neighbouring moorland was just too much. I woke to clear blue skies the following morning, no signs of smoke.

The fire was out and the damage didn’t look too bad. I was amazed they’d managed to halt it before nightfall but as I learnt later, local farmers and keepers had worked tirelessly through the night in a desperate attempt to avert a disaster on a grand scale.

Sadly, however, by lunchtime fresh billows of smoke rose into the sky.

The surrounding villages nestled in the valley bottoms were engulfed in smoke, more fire crews arrived and the welcome site of a helicopter overhead gave me hope.

As I sit and write this, the fire rages, like a dancer on ice it swirls, spins and moves with the ever-changing wind.

Thankfully, there is no danger to livestock, they were removed from these hills some time ago. The call for rewilding took precedence over our native upland breeds, hefting lost forever.

There’s not an awful lot of ‘wild’ left on Marsden Moor, just a black smouldering wasteland.