My favourite Sunday walk was straight up the road beyond Greetland Church, then right along a lane called Moor Bottom where the wind always whistled tunefully through some telephone wires going to the last house of Greetland proper. I felt so good up there where the wind blew, the shiny grass blew flat, the birds blew about, into and out of the trees that had been planted round the last house in an attempt to protect the occupants from the blast. We didn’t often meet other people out walking once we were away from the houses. Many years later when I was visiting my parents at Elland, George and I went to a rugby Union match in a field on Moor Bottom, and certainly it was as windy as I had remembered. It must have been impossible to find a field further down the hill; they would never have had that field as their first choice!
A little way along Moor Bottom we turned up an overgrown tummocky track and passed Bilberry Hall. What a wonderful name! We were on to the Moor then, and its many delights. The open moor was difficult to walk over, as the heather in most places was old and tall; the surface underneath was very uneven, with quite deep holes at times, so it became quite interesting when you couldn’t see your feet or what they were landing on. I enjoyed walking through the heather though, and some parts were ‘swealed’ or burnt, I didn’t understand why. When the heather had been burnt, the thickest old twigs were still standing but were brittle, and the lovely snappy sound and feeling of walking across those patches was one of life’s pleasures. Where there were paths, it seemed every little hollow filled up with beautiful silvery grit, coarse or powder-fine. Sometime up there we would see a group of men playing knurr and spell which intrigued me but I never got near enough to discover quite what they were doing. The game was played with white, pot noggies which were, I think suspended in little slings on a stick, above the heather, and then whacked. How they ever found them I don’t know but when they weren’t playing we often found a noggy or two. Some things don’t change, the heather smelt wonderful as you walked it, and it sill does.
Dad, me and Maurice on Norland Moor
The Game of Knurr and Spell
Watch a video of Knurr and Spell being played (courtesy of Yorkshire Film Archive Online)