Wuthering Heights or Sliding Lows?

adventures into the wilderness of the local Yorkshire Moors to record a fundraising short film

Image: Poppy Townson

Going to the North York Moors is something I’ve wanted to do since the start of first year. For a short car journey out of York its landscape, vastly different to the urban – if still pretty – City of York, of rolling jade hills and stark grey cliff edges is second to none.

We set out to Levisham Moor, about a 50 minute drive from the city as a group of eight Film and TV students, set on making a fundraising video for our third year film project.

Why the North York Moors you say? Well, our film is set on the Isle of Man, so until we get there next February, the rugged landscape, populated with violet heather works as a great stand in, even if the autumnal climate meant that the heather wasn’t exactly in full bloom.

In hindsight we’d somewhat underestimated our task. We hadn’t scouted the site before we visited, rather we simply Google Imaged a location, found the postcode for a car park, and pitched up.

We could see the perfect spot for our shoot in the distance – the only issue was that we first had to get down a thin, slippy path down the side of the escarpment. After an onlocation risk assessment (and a briefing that told everyone to take their time and be very careful), we were on our way.

After eventually reaching the bottom with no disasters, the task afoot was to find the best spot – the most picturesque backdrop for our shots – and, luckily for us, there was an abundance to choose from. For each separate shot and piece to camera, we were able to use a different background. My shot even managed to feature some sheep in the background which, needless to say, I was ecstatic about.

There was a steady trickle of walkers passing our little crew, and it goes without saying we must have been quite a sight. Not only was all the kit a sight to behold (although we did travel lightly, we had to get it all down the escarpment to the “set”) but the eight of us also didn’t look like typical moors walkers, as we were dressed, head to toe, in 70s garbs – the film is a period piece, because of course it is. RIP my poor shoes.

After the calls to action where we were speaking to the camera, and a quick lunch break (where amazingly three people hadn’t brought lunch despite knowing we were travelling to the middle of nowhere), we headed on further into the landscape to get some group shots, B-roll footage, and the all important campaign profile pictures.

Despite just how tired and cold everyone was by the end of the day (good practice though for an almost entirely outside shoot in February) I think every single one of us was incredibly glad we made the decision to come to Levisham. The awe-inspiring landscape is really something else. Against the force of land around us we felt so small and insignificant, but as an escape from the hustle and bustle of fast paced university life, it was a great breath of fresh air.

The moors are literally on our doorstep, and you don’t even need to have a car to get there, with the university Outdoor Society running trips there across the year. Most of us only have three years here – make sure that within that time, you spend at least one day living in the landscape. You won’t regret it.