Heading for the Hills

Northern England

DRAWING THIS 3D impression of northern England makes me realise how much hill country there is in my new extended study area, which now includes the whole of Yorkshire; Dales, North Yorks Moors, South Pennines and the Wolds. And I don’t intend to ignore the Lake District beyond the north west borders of the county and that for me still slightly mysterious area, the North Pennines, described by Professor Bellamy as ‘England’s Last Wilderness’.

We live a little below the centre of this map so unless we head due east towards the Humber estuary, we’re going to be heading for the hills after an hour or so’s driving in whatever direction we set out.

My current initial research reading is The Naturalists’ Yorkshire compiled by members of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union, published in 1971. This is the second time that I’ve read it, as it was background reading when I worked on my Sketchbook of the Natural History of Wakefield as a student.

It starts with a succinct summary of the geology and structure of Yorkshire which at the time, introducing places and rock formations that I’d never seen, was difficult to grasp. Having spent seven years writing and researching Yorkshire Rock, a journey through time, it now makes sense to me.

The details that I still find a little difficult to visualise are features like the Market Weighton Upwarp, one of the major structural features of east Yorkshire which huge influence on the surrounding geology, and has done since the Jurassic period but which is invisible, except by inference, from the surface.

xplane screenshot
Somewhere near Staithes, screenshot of the VFR Photo Scenery for north east England on Xplane 10.

I’m soon going to get the opportunity to pilot a small Cessna around the county, not in reality you’ll be pleased to hear, but in the virtual environment of the flight simulator Xplane 10. As I write this my computer is halfway through loading VFR Photo Scenery for north east England. This includes detailed aerial photography from Getmapping, who ten or fifteen years ago sent four aircraft off to compile a photographic atlas of Britain.

I’ve got a copy of the atlas which comes in its own attaché case but I’ve never used it as much as I thought I would. Having a three dimensional, interactive version of the same, or rather updated, imagery seems a much better way of getting to know the lie of the land.