Yorkshire Wolds Way - 2011

A DAMP STARTHALFWAY AT FRIDAYTHORPEA BETTER FINISH

Seventy ON FILEY BRIGnine miles is the length of this National Trail making it one of the shortest and thus very suitable for our Away Weekend. The Yorkshire Wolds Way is a journey from the Humber estuary to the Cleveland coast at Filey passing through typical downland scenery with its rolling chalk hills, woodlands and dry valleys. We found that the frequent distinctive National Trail acorn waymarks made route finding exceptionally easy (ie we hardly ever got lost). In addition there were occasional acorn sculptures every few miles in the early stages of the Way giving exact mileages from the start and to the finish.  A series of sculptural ‘Spring’ benches made of steamed oak was another unusual feature. Curving up from the ground to mimic a stream springing from a chalky down they were also inscribed with poetry – ‘We shed them one by one’ started one prophetically! Sadly there rarely seemed time to use them as intended.

 

 Nine members of the Group were joined by four guests which despite superstitious misgivings proved to be an ideal number for both walking and socialising. The logistics of accommodation and transport along the Way meant that a single centre holiday was the most efficient and we were lucky to find an excellent base at the Fox & Coney Inn in South Cave. We were treated to a friendly reception and enjoyed first rate food and service throughout our four day stay.

 

Day 1 was travelling day as we all met for midday drinks at the Inn before piling into three cars and driving to the start in the shadow of the Humber Bridge at Hessle. A dismal forecast proved correct so having taken the mandatory photos at the start a damp stand up lunch was ‘enjoyed ‘ after less than half a mile in relative shelter under the massive bridge whose single span is not much short of a mile. The walk proper then started with a level three mile section along the Humber estuary which is formed by the confluence of Ouse and Trent.

 

Thirteen miles back to base was the target for the afternoon as we turned inland with the bridge receding into the distance and walked through pleasant wooded country passing North Ferriby into Welton where we took a short stop on the outskirts of this our first Wolds village. The rain had eased to a drizzle as we passed Wauldby Dam but returned with vigour by the time Brantingham church was reached. It was not too far to the end, however, and the last half mile of road into South Cave after leaving the Way was enlivened by refreshing showers courtesy of passing motorists! Luckily this was to be our shortest day of walking so well within five hours of starting it was possible to regroup and dry out in the comfort of our cosy rooms before sampling the delights of the bar and dining room.

 

Fortunately Saturday morning dawned bright and clear and we were able to make an early start just after 8am. The next two days would prove to be the crux of the weekend as both were billed as 25+ milers. Easy walking on good tracks and disused railway lines spread out the group and the hares soon arrived at Goodmanham passing messages back that both pub and church were open. After exploring bON THE LONDESBOROUGH ESTATEoth and enjoying either a coffee break or early lunch in the sunny churchyard group integrity was eventually restored and we moved on to pass through the extensive Londesborough Estate with its interesting lake and impressive church.

 

By the time we arrived at Nunburnholme the weather was deteriorating with impending rain and distant thunder. Yet another church was therefore investigated and its Anglo-Saxon cross admired as we enjoyed a definitive lunch stop while sheltering and waiting for the weather to improve. It was soon time to press on as with nearly ten miles still to travel the afternoon was fast ticking away. There followed an exhilarating march along the top of the chalk escarpment above Millington with a couple of excursions steeply in and out of the valley bottom to keep the pulse rate nicely elevated. Long views as far as the Pennines as well as the cooling towers of several power stations were well contrasted by the ever present miscellany of wild flowers prominent among which was the ubiquitous red poppy.

 

Journey’s end was the village of Huggate with the vanguard disappointed by the closed sign on the local pub. Fortunately a handy bench was available for the most weary as we again regrouped while awaiting the arrival of Pat the driver, previously summonsed as arranged. Luckily for us his apparent lack of knowledge of the area was rescued by his state of the art Sat-Nav and the sight of his little red bus appearing over the horizon was a great relief to all (not least the organiser)!

 

Nine hours of walking were soon unwound in 30 minutes of travel giving us time to prepare for another evening of feasting and drinking. Invitations to the sister pub to attend an evening of live music and entertainment on the occasion of Pat’s daughter’s engagement party were largely ignored as tired bodies rapidly dropped off the radar in preparation for the next day’s exertions.

 

Sunday morning soon arrived and was again dry and bright with the promise of another fine day. Delays over breakfast caused by a sleepy chef (and 13 different orders!) meant a start from Huggate was slightly later than anticipated at 9am. The party had shrunk a little with three deciding to avoid another long day and do their own thing exploring more locally. For the remaining ten the objective for the day was the village of Sherburn on the A64, a further 25 miles North and East of the starting point.

 

First objective was the quaintly named village of Fridaythorpe reached by traversing the classic dry chalk valleys of Horse Dale and Holme Dale at the junction of which is the site of a medieval village wiped out by DESCENDING INTO THIXEN DALEthe Black Death. Having safely avoided infection we embarked on the second half of the Way descending into delightful Thixendale passing an earthy artwork ‘Spiral’ before entering the village itself. This tranquil place lies at the junction of several dales and even more happily the Village Hall was open and serving hot drinks and home made cakes. After a suitable interlude we travelled on to the next highlight – the medieval settlement of Wharram Percy deserted since around 1500. As well as admiring the ruined church and earthworks we were entertained by a group of dowsers with their metal divining rods in search of ley lines, water courses etc. Whatever we thought of their peculiar hobby (and they of ours) it was a pleasure to interact with them for a few minutes and also to have a go ourselves!

 

Now in warm sunshine and marching firmly northwards with only a brief lunch interlude on a warm and grassy bank the miles fell away as the North York Moors became ever more prominent. After Settrington Beacon a long descent took us into and out of Wintringham – yet another village with a fine prominent church which is built with Tadcaster limestone as is York Minster. Now a group of eight we puzzled over the whereabouts of the missing two who had passed on the delights on offer at faraway Thixendale. Contact with mobile phone proved difficult as it transpired that they hadn’t one between them so we proceeded in hope that they were blazing a trail ahead – luckily this proved the correct supposition!

 

After a steep wooded ascent we admired more artwork by Jony Easterby at Knapton Brow. Entitled Enclosure Rites this involved a dew pond, wildflower meadow and collection of warrior sculptures. Apparently DEW POND AT ENCLOSURE RITESthe artist worked with local archaeologists to create a work that reflected the rich cultural heritage of the area. After this unexpected brush with culture we hurried on now Eastward, the sea increasingly in view, along the escarpment of East Hesterton Brow. Gradually descending again the day’s destination was soon in sight and on entering the village we discovered not only an open pub but the two missing wanderers safely ensconced. Great timing saw the arrival of Mr. ‘Sat-Nav’ Pat as we downed a swift pint and listened to his surprised comments about how far away we had got as he whisked us back to civilisation once again.

 

The weather continued to be kind for our fourth and final day as we were returned to Sherburn to start the last leg. This was to be a short hop of 15 miles finishing on the cliff tops of Filey Brigg. Initial field and lane walking lead through Ganton famous for its golf course before climbing to pass the radar station at RAF Staxton Wold. More airy walking above Camp Dale and into Stocking Dale brought us unerringly to the centre of Muston where a regrouping at the friendly pub allowed refuelling before the final push into Filey.

 

This proved to be a further culture shock as we mingled with the bank holiday crowds through the town and along the prom passing the lifeboat and Coble landing before climbing to the relative peace of the Way’s end sculpture high above the sea. It only remained to amble back through the Country Park while enjoying the local ice cream to rendezvous with Pat at the bottom of Church Ravine. A final journey back to South Cave and we dispersed after another successful venture.