Black Scar House

The small shelter of Black Scar House and its adjoining washfold pens
The small shelter of Black Scar House and its adjoining washfold pens

After peeking into the hay-scented recesses of Crook Seal during an outing in the Birkdale wilds, I headed further along the road that skirts the Eastern flank of the Dale and eventually came to this tiny nomadic outpost which just precedes the Northern boundary of the national park, right before the bulbous topography quickly declines towards the horizontal close to the village of Nateby, separating the moors from the altogether more fertile lowlands of the Eden Valley that stretch out below them.

I’m not sure I’ve ever described a ruin as “cute” before, but Black Scar House (as it’s so designated on Ordnance Survey maps), with its dinky one-room setup and maze of surrounding dry stone wall enclosures seems to fit the bill — looking not unlike the kind of simplistic, fairytalesque dwelling a sufficiently enchanted toddler might sketch if left alone with ample drawing materials, and Disney’s back-catalogue playing on a nearby television.

Looking towards the shelter from the rear, over one of the washfold sections
Looking towards the shelter from the rear, over one of the washfold sections

This place was almost certainly once some manner of temporary accommodation for hill-farming shepherds tending their flocks in these windswept upland areas of the Yorkshire Dales — a place to rest in solitude for a night or two after dipping or shearing the hardy sheep breeds they introduced here: ones that could easily endure the unforgiving climate and less nutritious fodder of these higher altitude regions.

Small herds of them roam the surrounding land which is obviously still used for grazing, and the pens surrounding the hut show recent signs of use and upkeep. The building itself though is in a state of disrepair with a gaping hole in the roof, and walls that have mostly shedded their plaster skin — like in Crook Seal though, on the sections that remain, there are the faint tracings of notes pencilled long ago (accompanied by more current graffiti), most of which are too smudged and faded to be legible, but from the few that were, I gleaned that they formed some kind of log of the local weather; consisting of a date, and a brief description of the conditions outside — the earliest I saw going all the way back to 1813 if I read it correctly.

Inside the lone refuge of Black Scar House
Inside the lone refuge of Black Scar House
A faint message on a portion of the remaining plaster. I think the first word might have been
A faint message on a portion of the remaining plaster. I think the first word might have been "clear" followed by the date, the only portion of which I can make out is the year: 1813.
The huge limestone roof slates have been locked together in traditional fashion using wooden pegs.
The huge limestone roof slates have been locked together in traditional fashion using wooden pegs.
Another ancient weather report:
Another ancient weather report: "Jan ?? 1896, wet"

It’s intriguing to think of some lonely soul, overnighting here over 2 centuries ago — rain pouring outside — whilst they while away the hours and trace a the conditions of their present on the bothy walls, never imagining for a second that someone might come along all those years later and be interested enough to commit their handiwork to silicon, before injecting it into cyberspace and thus making it accessible to the entire world.

The unkempt wilds of Northern Birkdale surrounding the tiny refuge
The unkempt wilds of Northern Birkdale surrounding the tiny refuge
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