Storrs Hill; Yorkshire Gold

OLYMPIC GOLD medallist Alistair Brownlee loves to run on the hills of West Yorkshire: “You want to be inspired by your surroundings, and you want to go out and be motivated training in nice places. I like to run anywhere around Otley Chevin.”

Horbury and Ossett have a mini-Chevin, Storrs Hill; and anyone who has struggled up to it at the end of a school cross country deserves some kind of a medal! An acre of golden gorse overlooking the Calder Valley, in Victorian times it was ‘a favourite spot for Sunday afternoon strolls’.

Storrs Hill c.1890 by Frank C.J. Cockburn, from ‘Cockburn’s Ossett Alamanac’.

Unfortunately the free access that we’ve enjoyed for over a century has been very badly abused and there’s been so much vandalism that I’m not surprised that drastic action has been taken to protect the boundary with Rock House.

The panorama path was recently restored but I was sorry to see the once grassy lumps and bumps being levelled, not only because they were part of the landscape but also because in the process I guess that the hill’s colony of Grayling butterflies has been obliterated. Graylings, which aren’t as dull as they sound, are rare and in July 2002 this was the first colony to be discovered in West Yorkshire.

In the Olympic opening ceremony a grassy mound with a stunted thorn on top was used to represent Britain. Wouldn’t it be great if Storrs Hill could remain open to public access; a place for strolls and, for those more energetic than me, for running?

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