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Day 4

Donnington – York Minster (approx 11 Miles)

Our B&B, 5th Milestone cottage, was exactly 5 miles from the Minster in York.  Our route would be slightly more circuitous, heading South over the fields then following the rive Ouse into the City.

It had been freezing again overnight

It had been freezing again overnight

We set off, for the second day in a row, in bright sunlight, walking back down the busy road to the point at which we had left the Minster Way.

Reaching the path, it took a good 5 minutes for a gap in the traffic to appear allowing us to scamper across the road and be on our way.

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Soon the intrusive noise of the road was left behind and we were wandering along farm tracks, green lanes and woodland edges.

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We passed through an unusual thin strip of woodland that only seems to have survived due to the track that runs through it.

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There were a large number of footprints in the snow, suggesting that this was a popular walking route, but in the end we only passed two dog walkers with a young dog that seemed to take exception to us.

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Soon the track gave way to road, and we spent a mile or so slipping and sliding along what was a long straight skating rink.

At the end of the road a footpath took us across a SSSI, an open area that was rich in birdlife – although none of it was making an appearance today!  The area was very open, and the intense sunlight was warm on the back – you could have walked in a t-shirt.  We were thankful for the hard frost though as the path plunged through a wet area that was negotiated with relative ease.  Without the frost a snorkel would have been the order of the day.

From here, we skirted a golf course as we reached the outskirts of York, and made use of a bench close to the path.  As we sat, it started snowing gently, the sun having passed behind the cloud that had seemingly been hanging over York.

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A Waxwing

We set off again, now much colder than we had been 10 minutes previously, enjoying watching the waxwings flitting along a hedgerow.  They were completely unfazed by our presence!

We reached the by-pass, another unwelcome intrusion, and eventually passed over the top.

The path then found its way to the Ouse, which flowed steadily passed with its murky brown water.  A strange set of moorings was passed, looking like there were residential boats here.

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A small ancient church was passed, looking like it was now a residential property, and suddenly we were walking through parkland towards the City Centre.  The Blue Bridge was passed, where two cannons once stood having been captured in the Crimea.  Unfortunately they were melted down for metal during WWII.

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As we approached the centre, we stopped for a quick celebratory pint at the Kings Arms on the waterfront.  A Samuel Smith’s Pub I was amazed to be charged on £3.70 for two pints of bitter.  They weren’t half bad either.  From there it was only a mater of 500m or so to the Minster (a walk up the shambles was quite apt), to take the now traditional finishing photos.

We paid to wander round the building (tickets are valid for 12 months) before heading to our hostel (the ACE) at the Micklegate.  The welcome wasn’t great, and the room was like a freezer – the shower was luke warm at best.  We got changed and went to find some food in the city – this turned into a bit of a pub crawl, (Theakstons Old Peculiar on tap a particular beer highlight) with us ending up in the Old White Swan (or “Mucky Duck” as the locals call it).  We had a fine meal there, but to top it all off was a cracking jazz band that filled the place, rounding off a very enjoyable walk!

Day Rating 6/10

A very enjoyable start to the day was tempered by a lot of road walking, and the disappointing river walk along the Ouse.  Still, another enjoyable days walk, and York is a very interesting city to wander through with a grand finale at the Minster.

Trail Rating 31/40 (78%)

I have added an extra couple of marks for Beverley and York.  These are two places that are well worth visiting, especially the Minsters which are exceedingly impressive buildings.

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There was really only one day of spectacular walking on this route, and it certainly delivered in the snow.  It was difficult to be objective about our first days walk – the snow dealt with that.  The Minster Way is a fine walk, the early stages are purely functional, but it soon turns into a very enjoyable ramble through the countryside.  A mix of fields, green lanes and quite country roads is a nice mix, along with many very pretty little villages and towns.  The walk along the Derwent from Stamford Bridge provides a nice contrast to the rest of the walk and there is always a fine sense of achievement when reaching a finishing point as impressive as York Minster!

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Thoroughly enjoyable walking through Yorkshire, ample hospitality wherever we stopped and no real “bad” bits to the walk I would recommend this as a fine, and fairly easy, introduction to Long Distance Walking.  It is a fine trail with much to enjoy!

 

 

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Day 3

Bishop Walton – Dunnington (12 Miles Approx)

The sleepy village of Bishop Wilton

The sleepy village of Bishop Wilton

Overnight the sky had been clear, with it coming a hard frost.  We sat and watched the sun rise over breakfast, the sky clear of any cloud. It was to be a stunning day.  Eventually we left the B&B which was situated right on the route and gingerly walked along the unusual main street of the village which has a beck and three roads running through it.

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The roads were like an ice rink so it took a while to leave the village, although in the mean time we had a chat with a dog walker, who very kindly took a photo of the two of us.

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Soon though we were off the roads and enjoying a quite delightful walk through the fields, occasionally punctuated with bangs from numerous bird scarers and shooting parties out for a brace of Pheasant.

This was lovely rolling countryside as we meandered between fields and farms.  At one point a herd of sheep made a beeline for us as we walked past, obviously looking for a free meal.  Either that or the socks were getting a bit cheesy!

We passed through the village of Full Sutton (sounds like a wrestling move!) and the prison sporting the same name as we closed in on Stamford Bridge.   There was quite a section of road walking here which was beginning to take its toll on our feet.  At one point a shooting party appeared from a field just as we passed, sporting a few pheasants for the pot.  They soon jumped in their 4×4’s and sped off towards Stamford Bridge – the scene of a minor European scuffle in which the English beat the Norse.  (It’s worth noting that the English went out in the next round only three weeks later, losing heavily to the French!

Stamford Bridge

Stamford Bridge

We stopped at a small cafe for a pot of tea and a cake before crossing the bridge and continuing along the banks of the river Derwent.

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This was now a super little walk to Kexby along the river that was peacefully flowing by.  There seemed to be less snow on the ground here, perhaps thawed a little by the strong sun, and it meant a return to soft ground and being very slippy under foot.

The Derwent

The Derwent

Apart from a couple of dog walkers as we left Stamford Bridge, we had this section entirely to ourselves (and the bird scarers).  In the summer this would be a pleasant evening stroll, today it was wise not to linger too long in the cold!

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We reached Kexby, and immediately suffered the intrusion of the A1011, a very busy route linking York and Beverley.  Fortunately it was only for a few yards as we turned off the road and for a kilometre or so faced the direction we had just come from, giving some fine views of the high ground just beyond Bishop Wilton.

Was this a comment on the level of conversation?

Was this a comment on the level of conversation?

There was one last push through some woodland where a couple of deer plunged into the bushes.  I guess we weren’t very popular, though.  As we walked through the woods a man appeared out of the undergrowth with a rifle (these combat jackets are very effective camouflage) who I guess was in the middle of some deer stalking.  Unlucky mate!

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Soon we were back on the main York road, having to walk down it to our B&B (as the temperature suddenly dropped) which, fortunately, was only 500m or so from the path.  This time, we were able to eat on site and on hearing that the pub was 15 minutes walk, decided that we would have a night off the bevvy!

Day Rating 8/10

Another fine day of walking.  Not spectacular, but a really pleasant wander through farmland and quiet lanes, with a quite outstanding river walk to finish with.  The weather helped – the sun was blazing most of the day – I even ended up with a face like a beetroot!

Great B&B, very comfortable and hospitable – the 5th Milestone Cottage was superb.

 

 

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Day 2

North Dalton to Bishop Wilton (13 Miles approx)

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Fortunately the snow had stopped overnight, and as we sat and had breakfast looking out over the now frozen village pond, the sun came out.  The forecast said it was to be misty in the morning with some sun in the afternoon – fortunately for us it was clear as we left the pub and started off towards the Wolds and Bishop Wilton.

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Soon we were climbing gently, but steadily, and gradually a sea of white opened up around us.  The sun was occasionally appearing from behind a cloud, giving a spectacular light show.  Underfoot was still soft in places, but the combination of frost and meant that we avoided the worst of the mud.  The walking was still hard work though and a biting wind was blowing towards us.

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A concrete farm track was followed for a while before turning onto what seemed to be a road for a short while.  From there the way took to a small ridge along a bridleway, giving some fine views back towards North Dalton.  We passed another walker here, (only a dog walker, but still someone else out walking!), just as the snow started to fall again.

The Sun comes out, briefly

The Sun comes out, briefly

It was here we paused for a few minutes to watch a Fox hunting in the field next to us, all the Hares standing upright with their ears pricked as the light snow rapidly turned into a blizzard.  For the second day in a row we carried on through really heavy snow, and just when my father relented and put his waterproof trousers on, the snow stopped and the sun came out!

The snow comes down again

The snow comes down again

We were rapidly approaching the Yorkshire Wolds Way through some virgin snow.  The route took us through some access land at Nettle Dale where, instead of following the official route to the bottom of the hill, we contoured round the top to avoid a steep descent and climb in the snow.  We were now on the Yorkshire Wolds Way and things were about to get rather entertaining!

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Firstly, we stopped at a bench, left as a memorial to a local walker.  This was a lovely spot overlooking Millington, and in the summer it would be tempting to linger for a while.  We had to push on however and just a few metres away was the steep descent into Sylvan Dale.  Through the gate at the top of the hill we went, and looked down.  In good weather this may have still been tricky, in deep snow, well….

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As an aside here, while we were pondering the best way to get down the hill a rather tame Pheasant approached, seemingly on the scrounge for some food.  A few minutes later I just thought “stuff it”, sat on the ground and pushed.  The speed you get up on a pair of waterproof trousers and a backpack is quite impressive.

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The hawthorns halfway down the slope made things a little more interesting (that could have been a painful accident) but made it down in one piece.

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Just in time to get some action shots of my father following me down the hill.  The Pheasant meanwhile had been following us, and as he slid down the hill on his backside the bird was running after, trying to keep up.

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This has to be one of the strangest sights I have ever witnessed while out walking!

Coming up from Sylvan Dale

Coming up from Sylvan Dale

Once at the bottom we climbed out the other side, a lot easier than the descent, following the Wolds Way for another mile or so before striking off towards Millington.  Now the sun had appeared again and we were furnished with some quite stunning all round views.  As we descended towards the village, Crows nesting in the trees close by started clamouring about something – looking up a Red Kite passed close by followed by no less than six Buzzards.  Must have been a good spot for updrafts.

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We passed the village and walked up the road known locally as “The Balk”.  As the way neared Little Givendale Farm we were treated to some more stunning light moments over the Wolds, as the sun began to set.

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Here we were in the last stages of the walk and passed through the delightful, but small Given Dale.  Eventually we arrived at Great Givendale and turned along an extremely treacherous farm track leading to the edge of the hills.

At Great Given Dale

When the track ended and the view opened we were treated to an astounding vista.

A very muddy track indeed

The Minster Way is funneled between a fence and hedge here and at times it was a struggle to stay upright.

We disturbed two foxes just a few metres ahead of us in a hedge, each making off in different directions.  The smaller of the two (probably the Vixen) stopped running 50 yards away, lay down and waited for the Dog to catch up before they both disappeared into the aptly named Fox Covert!  Soon we were descending towards Bishop Wilton.  The hillside though was criss-crossed by springs and we would often find ourselves up to the ankles in mud or water.

The sun going down above Bishop Wilton

We passed the pub and made our way to the B&B where a roaring fire, tea, scones and biscuits were all waiting for us.  Superb.

Day Rating 9/10

Absolutely astounding days walking.  Very tough though, in these conditions, but it was well worth the effort for the views we got.  I will never forget, though, watching my father arse sledge down a hill, followed by a Pheasant.  Brilliant.

A special mention has to go to Beckside Cottage B&B in Bishops Waldon.  We were looked after brilliantly from the moment we walked through the door.  Super hospitality, especially for a couple of very muddy walkers.  Highly recommended.

 

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The Minster Way

Prelude

Well!

The first long walk of the year, you can’t get much earlier than the third week of January, had been all booked up since October.  We were going to walk this come rain, hail or snow…

We traveled down by car on the Sunday (the train was prohibitively expensive), and even though the ploughs were out on the M74 we weren’t particularly worried about what the weather was to be like (forecast of some snow overnight, followed by some sun – this might be a very pretty walk), especially when all trace of snow cleared at Carlisle.

Beverley Minster on Sunday Night

Beverley Minster on Sunday Night

Our arrival at Beverley was just too late to get in and look round the Minster, so after parking the car (used a website called parkatmyhouse.com) we settled into the Hostel before going for a wander round the town.

The Youth Hostel

The Youth Hostel

The Minster is a quite stunning building, and the market town is delightful and unspoiled by too much modern development.  Many of the new builds in the town are tasteful and fit in with the character of Beverley.

The final mention has to go to Beverley YHA.  This is, or was, a friary – the building a rare survivor from the dissolution.  Period rooms, a delightful lounge, well equipped kitchen, a great hall, 16th Century wall paintings all feature in a building that sits just yards from the Minster.

If you like hosteling, this is a must visit!

Day 1

Beverley Minster to North Dalton

At the start

At the start

There had been a light dusting of snow overnight, as had been forecast.  Leaving the hostel around 8 a.m. we made our way to the steps of the Minster for the obligatory “start” photos.  We were soon on our way, only stopping to raid a bakers on the high street to pick up some lunch.  The route through the town, although not waymarked, is easy to follow and takes you through the impressive market place, the North Bar mediaeval gate (within and without), and some very impressive architecture.

We got lost here - honestly!

We got lost here – honestly!

It wasn’t long before we encountered the first “Minster Way” sign post – and within 100 yards of it we had gone the wrong way.  No biggy – it just meant that we had to wander about a housing estate for a while until we could get back on route.

The by-pass marked the edge of the town, and the last pub we would see until our finish at North Dalton.  We were soon walking through fields and the going was tough underfoot.  The ground was soft, muddy and treacherous with the light covering of snow masking many potential pitfalls.  In the ploughed fields were kites (as in lets go fly a kite etc….), lashed to a pole.  Whenever the wind picked up they would take off and perform aerobatics for a few minutes before returning to hang limply from their strings.

Some light snow on a track near Leconfield

Some light snow on a track near Leconfield

We were soon passing the Army base at Leconfield, complete with large red signs warning walkers to keep off MoD property.  This is the Army driver training centre and as we walked past there was a plethora of vehicles flying around a pretty substantial off road course, along with much beeping of horns.  We also disturbed a couple of deer, both of whom went scampering off towards the off road track.

The fox on the bales

The fox on the bales

Despite it being very slippy underfoot this was easy walking, and we were soon wandering along the bank of Arram Beck.  Two unusual wildlife sitings here – a fox sitting atop a very large pile of hay bales, and what I at first assumed was an albino heron, was more likely to be an Egret – quite possibly a Great Egret.

The way here was purely functional in getting from A to B, and the dull, grey sky didn’t really help matters.  Fields were crossed, several of which had been recently ploughed, and it was a minor miracle that both of us remained upright.

Mud (and some snow starting to fall)

Mud (and some snow starting to fall)

It was as we approached Lockington, quite a substantial village, that the tone of the walk was to change for good.  The snow started, very gently at first and as we progressed it gradually got heavier.

Eventually we passed through a woodland, and where the path left it to enter some fields it was like finding our way into Narnia.

About to enter Narnia

About to enter Narnia

By this time the gentle snow had increased to a steady fall with the ground rapidly getting covered in a white carpet.  In the space of 30 minutes we had gone from no snow to blizzard!

Somewhere in all this, the terrain was slowly changing as we left the flat ground that surrounds Beverley.  The paths started to rise steadily.  There may have been some good views here, but we were now wandering through a white out.  Hadn’t really expected anything like this!

This was taken less than 20 minutes after the last photo

This was taken less than 20 minutes after the last photo

We (snow) ploughed on towards North Dalton while the rest of the world was quite sensibly trying to get as far away from the snow as possible – preferably in doors!

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On a side note, there were Hares everywhere.  Every field we passed had 5 or 6 running around and seemingly thoroughly enjoying the weather!

Thankfully the route was well signed

Thankfully the route was well signed

Eventually we reached our destination, the Star Inn at North Dalton, brushing the 2 inches of snow from the hats and packs, before grabbing a well earned pint in the bar.

Day Rating 6/10

This is a road - welcome to North Dalton

This is a road! – welcome to North Dalton

This may seem a bit harsh, but the early stages were pretty insipid after leaving Beverley.  The ground was soft and waterlogged and the scenery not overly inspiring.  The route was purely functional one feels.  This isn’t to say it was bad, just not particularly great.  The second half of the day is hard to judge objectively, mainly due to the fact we were wandering through a blizzard!  Hey ho.  We spent a very comfortable Night at the Star (there was a wake on in the bar for a 99 year old local – most of the village was there) and had an entertaining evening being well looked after.

Snow?  What snow?

Snow? What snow?

One thing to note though, is the lack of any services between Beverley and North Dalton.  Be warned, there are no pubs, no shops, nothing, not even a post office.  If walking make sure that you supply in Beverley before leaving the town or you are in for a very hungry day walk!

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