The Hermitage a lost pleasure park and fish pond of Littlebeck
Colin Richardson was brought up in Littlebeck and spent many happy hours with his brothers roaming the local
woods and advises that:-
Unknown to many walkers who use the footpath through the woods from Littlebeck to Falling Foss, about quarter
of a mile from the village there are the remains of an open air concrete swimming pool and small boating lake.
The bathing pool was opened approximately 1934 but it is possible that it was hardly ever used because by 1945
it was full of silt, bullrushes and populated by a vast number of frogs. Up to a few years ago all that remained to
show that a pool had been there, was a slab of concrete holding an iron plate which is thought to be the outlet
gate. The boating lake has long since reverted to a bog full of trees and bullrushes. Before the second
world war a local man had the idea if making the area a pleasure park but it never seemed to take off.
Further along the footpath there is a large rock which has been hollowed out and is called The Hermitage.
It is in fact a folly and was carved out of the rock about 1760 by an out of work seaman on the instructions
of the local schoolmaster. 2 wishing chairs were placed on the top of the Hermitage, it is said that if you made
a wish in one, you must then sit in the other one to make it come true. Shortly after passing the Hermitage the
footpath forms part of the Coast to Coast walk.
Continuing your journey up the valley you will come across two tributary becks of May Beck and Parsley Beck,
which converge to form Little Beck. Parsley Beck meanders in a westerly direction up a shallow valley where shortly it
passes Lees Head Farm. Here, again before the war, a local landowner blocked the stream with 2 very large iron doors
similar to the loch gates on a canal and so formed a lake which was stocked with fish. This lake is known locally by
the unimaginative name of the Fish Pond. It now seems to have been forgotten and returned to it's natural state, but
still remains very attractive with an island in the middle and at the opposite end to the dam there is a large area
of rhododendron bushes which in the late spring are a blaze of colour.
After leaving Falling Foss in a southerly direction, one can follow May Beck to a car park and then at the
eastern side of the beck a pleasant walk commences, passing some attractive small waterfalls and follows the
course of Blea Hill Beck. The stream is crossed in various places by footbridges and passes the ruin of John Bonds
Sheep House before reaching the Old Robin Hoods Bay Fish Road which is really only a track over the moors which was
used extensively in mediaeval times. Approximately a mile past the old road one can join the route of the Lyke Wake
Walk for the last few miles to Ravenscar.
A WWII training ground and decoy to deceive the Luftwaffe
Littlebeck was once regarded as being fairly isolated and possibly because it was so, the valley played an
important part during the 1939/45 war. Maybecks is a continuation of the valley that peters out on the
moor near the Fylingdales Early Warning Station. This area was used by the army for training and after the
war it was quite common to find vast quantities of used 303 rifle cartridge cases and occasionally live rounds
lying amongst the heather and bracken. Several years ago people were still finding them with a metal detector.
On the area of moor above Littlebeck known as Sneaton Low Moor the RAF devised a system of lights to simulate
street lighting which was activated at night along with fires and controlled explosions to give the effect of a
town undergoing an air-raid. This area was on the flight path of the Luftwaffe approaching the industrial areas of
Teesside and it was hoped that the crews would be deceived into thinking they had reached their target and drop their
bomb load prematurely. It is not known how successful the ruse was but quite a number of bombs were dropped on the
surrounding moors. It is still possible to see the remains of one of the brick/concrete bunkers used by the RAF
personnel to control the explosions etc outside the entrance to the caravan site on the Maybeck road.
If you have any knowledge or have information about local history, folklore, Geology & Archaeology which you think would be of interest to other please contact us.
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