Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Vintage snow scene at Arkangel

Barbara emailed a photo taken in 1947 showing snowdrifts by Arkangel where her family used to live. 
In those days machinery was limited and most snow clearing was by hand using shovels.
A few other things are *missing* compared to the modern scene, e.g. cables for power and telephone!
Less trees too.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Low budget film featuring Westerdale

It seems to be a period(ish) musical with religious theme, they managed to avoid any modern farm machines in the background.

As often happens the locations are rather muddled into a 'composite' place.
For example they are show doing field work on Westerdaleside, but the wheat crop (with tractor tramlines!) isn't here.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Hidden Westerdale

Bagdale Beck - culvert outfall near the village

This probably dates to when the Hall was built and the road re-aligned.
On the South side of the road, usually hidden in vegetation stone horse troughs are still in place.
Before this was improved, previously traffic probably went further up the common and crossed the stream below the church (now a footpath) - or perhaps both routes were used and neither were particularly good - so you took your chances!
There was a further crossing point downstream more directly between the Hall and Castleton Road - probably usually too difficult for any kind of vehicle.

Simple bridge over Tower Beck
A basic design and quite roughly built with dry stone wall technique, but the stone slabs are very large, and must have been quite challenging to get to the site and position securely.
So much so that it seems like too much trouble to link little more than two fields - perhaps the ford and footbridge not far downstream superceded it.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Electrofishing survey

Westerdale was featured during a report on Look North recently, about surveying fish stocks in the Esk using electrofishing.
They were filming at the cricket ground and then interviewed someone from Environment Agency who mainly wanted to blame results on climate change and farming (?)

One of the staff doing the job said results were good considering the water level is still unusually low, and showed no problem with water quality.
They found no Salmon but Brown Trout were numerous and they also caught Lamprey and Stone Loach.

Salmon or Sea Trout are regularly seen there, trying to leap over the ford to spawn upstream - but won't be spotted until levels rise later in the Autumn.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The long dry summer

After the unusually snowy spell in early March, the Spring weather was not too bad and by May things were drier than usual with some good warm sunny days - but the east wind was often an issue, bringing sea fog which often persisted all day.
When that happened we stayed chilly and damp, while further inland it was warm.
This tendency persisted into June but as the month went on there were plenty of very warm if not hot days.

Highest June temperature was 25.2C on the 16th, and there was just 14.5mm of rain (-62mm).
Conditions were very favourable for making silage and hay of excellent quality but the crops were mostly lighter than normal.
However any reseeds and fodder crops struggled to get established and in drier spots more or less failed completely

By the end of the month it was so dry that grass growth almost ceased and the fields widely took on a yellow appearance not seen since 1995 if not 1976.
By Mid-July the drought began to bite with little grazing remaining, and some water supplies began to struggle.

 Luckily there was a series of thundery showers on the 16th giving about 34mm, there were more spectacular storms on the 27th an 29th - surprisingly the month total reached 98mm (+18mm)!

Highest temperature in July and probably the year record high was 27.9C on the 26th. While being rather hot that was not particularly impressive as many days further inland and further south reached around 30C.
We can occasionally get similar high temperatures but being close to the sea it is more unusual. For example in 2015 1st of July reached 30C which is the highest recorded here since at least 2009 when the weather station was set up.

 August continued mainly warm with plenty of pleasant sunny days but after the stormy spell the real heat was broken, and it turned out only slightly above normal mean temperature average 14.8C (+0.4C) and highest maximum was 24.3C on the 7th. The dryness persists with 38mm compared to average 86mm.
Surprisingly August is one of the wetter months since when it does rain it will often be heavier than the winter months due to more energy in the system.

It's noteworthy that the usual fine show of heather has been badly affected, presumably small buds were shed at a crucial period in July.
There are some flowers on the plants but nothing like the normal impressive carpet stretching to the horizon.

In early July the drought revealed some prehistoric features such as Iron Age field boundaries around the village, and possibly a previously unknown round house enclosure.
These very rapidly disappeared when the showers arrived.

Teesside Yesteryear run

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Broadband updates

As ever, progress is painstakingly slow.
However Moorsweb are have done some successful tests, and are hoping to extend WiFi broadband to Westerdale probably later this year.

They have recently extended to other problem areas in Glaisdale and Fryup as well as Danby Dale. Moorsweb offer quite fast speeds ate reasonable cost, however most customers would need a separate line rental for phoneline - which is often included in ADSL and fibre deals.

There is still a chance that *eventually* a fibre cabinet might be installed to cover part of the dale but even then the more remote properties might not see any benefit - so the WiFi would likely be best option there.
 In the meantime, since 10th April Castleton exchange has been updated to offer ADSL2 and ADSL2+ This is effectively a way to increase bandwidth on existing lines.
However, as always the further you are from exchange the less any improvement from changing over will be.

 If you get around 5mb or more on ADSL, asking your ISP to enable ADSL2/2+ might give you 1mb or more download speed, and a useful increase in upload speed (typically 0.4mb will go up to 0.5 or 0.6mb). These are only rough estimates and it is possible that some installations might see no improvement at all.

To switch you need to be able to access router settings.
If the ADSL is set on Auto just restart the router after asking the ISP to change you over.
Or manually change it to ADSL2 or 2+
ADSL2+ will potentially give slightly faster speeds - so worth trying.

Strange April

After a cold March, the start of April continued cold and unsettled.
Things seemed very late, but soon after mid-month a few very warm days brought spring growth on rapidly. The wild daffodils were late to start - then were going over in the blink of an eye as the temperature reached 23C on the 19th.

The last few days reverted to cool days and chilly nights, but at least it has been drier - and we largely missed 2 or 3 rain events which affected the south

Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Beast Blizzard

Bitter east winds and frequent snow showers made the start of March exceptionally severe, with serious drifting in the more exposed areas.
 In 2010 it was snowy for longer and much more fell but there was little wind.

The village, being on something of a ridge was as badly affected as anywhere and Arkangel was perhaps the bleakest place to be!
 The road to Castleton was almost impassable for a few hours but the hardworking snowplough and digger team soon beat a way through.
By Saturday afternoon (3rd) all roads were open including the Back Lane and Sugarloaf to Ralphs Cross.

 28th February the maximum was only -2.6C, that was also the lowest temperature of -6.1C at about 7pm. It was the windchill which set this spell apart, calculated at -13C also 28th February. With drifting snow blasting horizontally a truly dangerous period to be outside for too long.

Arkangel Saturday 3rd March

Drifting begins to get serious by Pinfold
Clearing the last blocked road behind the village
Crossroads on Back Lane

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Depths of Winter

January 2018
There seems to have been no shortage of snowy days and icy roads this winter, but nothing too serious as yet.
As Janaury ticks away the days begin to lengthen and light begins to strengthen.

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