Bickley is situated at the northern edge of Ebberston Parish, and consists of twenty dwellings, including several farms and small-holdings. It is approximately six miles from Ebberston village, and nine miles from Scarborough. There are historical references that 40 acres of the area were ‘assarted’ by Thomas de Ebberston, lord of the manor, on which he built a house.
The majority of the farm land in Bickley is now farmed by one local family, but most of the bungalows have some land attached and are still run as small-holding, but none are owned by forestry workers, nearly all this work is now put out to tender.
During the depression of the 1920’s the lands of Bickley, along with Hackness and Dalby were acquired by the newly formed Forestry Commision, and extensively planted with mainly Pines, Larches and Spruce. The majority of the work-force were immigrant work gangs from the North East, including unemployed Durham miners.
In 1927, the Commission built several agricultural small-holdings for the forestry workers, and attached around 10-15 acres of grazing land to each one. In 1929, a pair of bungalows were built in Deepdale for £600.
During the 1980’s many of these holdings were sold by the Forestry Commission as they became vacant, and the last property owned by them, the old School House, was sold around 2002.
In the Spring of 1960 the popular Dalby Forest Drive was opened and this provided a road which connected Dalby to the county council road at Bickley and then onto Hackness. In order to maintain this route a toll charge of 4s was introduced in 1969, which apparently caused an outcry from locals, who felt they should have right to enter free into “State Forests”.
In the late 1960’s, natural gas was found in the underlying Permian rocks near Ebberston Common farm, but the supply was not commercial viable and the well is now capped. There has over the last forty years or so seen an increase in the volume of traffic using the narrow lanes through Bickley, but the area has not experienced an increase in visitor attractions that has been seen in Dalby Forest. Visitors to Bickley mainly enjoy the quiet tracks which are popular with walkers, bikers and horse-riders.
Wildlife at Bickley Gate
A small car park and picnic place giving access to the northern edge of the plateau and dales. This is the starting point for two good wildlife trails. The easy-access Waitcliffe and the more strenuous Deepdale Habitat Trail.
Mammals: Roe deer and badger are very common but rarely seen. Quiet walks in the late afternoon or early morning are the best time to see roe deer.
Birds: Quite a good ‘birding’ area this. There are good views over the upper Derwent valley on the Waitcliffe Trail and the diversity of Deepdale makes it attractive to a wide range of species particularly migrant warblers such as chiff chaff, willow warbler, black cap and garden warbler.
Insects and reptiles: A good area for the more common butterflies and adders and lizards, particularly in Deepdale.
Habitats: Bickley Gate is surrounded by mixed coniferous forest of a variety of ages. The limestone road verges in the area make it quite a good wild flower area. Deepdale, reached from here and explored by the Deepdale Habitat Trail is very diverse.