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A Point on the English Coast

Walking along the England Coast Path between Staithes and Skinningrove in North Yorkshire, the Cleveland Way, in the Parish of Walkers are Welcome Loftus, we pass a modest trig pillar on Boulby Cliff. At this point, there is hidden information to stimulate the thoughts of walkers passing by.

The highest point on the Eastern side of England
At 700 ft (213m) this is the highest point on the eastern side of England with a horizon some 33 miles (53 km) distant. At this height, the curvature of the earth becomes noticeable. The remnants of industrial history are visible from here. Fossils and rocks from the Jurassic period make up the landscape below. The moonscape from centuries of Alum quarrying and the many connecting paths made by men with horses and carts leading from work to homes are still walked today.

The burial place of Beowulf
The old English epic poem Beowulf produced between 975 and 1025 was heroically recovered from the Cotton Library which suffered a tragic fire in 1731 when the library was in temporary storage in London. This tells of the eponymous 6th century Norse hero who defeats the monster Grendel and his mother, thereby rescuing the Danes from a reign of terror before dying in a battle with a dragon. Professor Henry Morley in his first sketch of English Literature in 1873 was tempted to suggest that this cliff at Boulby, the headland where Beowulf was buried, represents the character of a corner of Yorkshire in which the tale of Beowulf seems to have been told, as it now comes to us in first English verse.

Dark skies in the North York Moors National Park
The open skies of the National Park are breath-taking by day and at night when the dark sky panorama is revealed. In December 2020, the National Park was designated an International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark Sky Association, one of 15 in Great Britain. It is reported that in the darkest areas of this park one can see up to 2,000 stars at any one time. For most of human history, people were guided by the faintest colours and light emanating from these dark skies.

Rockcliff Beacon
Just a few metres away from a dry-stone wall near “our point” lies a barrow showing only minimal disturbance known as Rockcliff Beacon. The Rock Art found here dates back to the late Neolithic and Bronze age and is characteristic of similar finds in Northumberland and Durham. Many potsherds of the Bronze age type have been found here.

Standing on “our point” provides a great insight into geological time, the spans of human settlement, and a night sky that has guided all who have and continue to walk these trails.
Marshall Best


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