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Day 2

Howtown (via low route) to Pooley Bridge 5 miles (approx)

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Setting off from the Hostel

The second day was purposely be a relatively short day as I was very conscious of the fact that this was my nephew’s first trail, and with a relatively hard day behind him, he might be feeling a bit worn out on day 2.  Realistically, though, had we gone past Pooley Bridge it would have made for an exceeding long day.  As it was, this walk would prove to be enough.

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The walk from the Hostel was pretty spectacular too

We left the hostel under a pretty grey sky to an initial chorus of “why can’t we take the car down?”, which quickly dissipated as we set off.  (You’re on a walking holiday pal, we don’t use the car! (is that too unsympathetic?)).  There was a convenient shop in Glenridding where we stocked up on some very nice local produce for lunch.

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Starting to climb

It was a mile or so down to the pier, give or take, but we left plenty of time to catch the boat to Howtown.  Once on the boat we settled down to enjoy the ride, getting a unique 360 degree view of the hills surrounding Ullswater.  It wasn’t the warmest on deck, nothing that couldn’t be sorted with a fleece, although the odd spot of rain did threaten – it may just have been a bit of spray off the water.  There were plenty of walkers out on the track already, a steady stream heading in both directions between Howtown and Patterdale.

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Gaining height after leaving Howtown

I’d planned the times carefully as well so we would have plenty of time before the last boat back from Pooley Bridge, you never know what might happen, and it’s always better to leave more time than necessary.  There’s nothing worse than chasing public transport to ruin a walk!

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Where the path splits

Once at the pier we set off straight away, the path rising steadily away from the lakeside. While it wasn’t steep the slope was unrelenting and we were plodding along at a relative snails pace, along with plenty of encouragement.  The upside to this was plenty of opportunity to look back over the lake.  It really is stunning.

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Booby trapped stile

We had planned to take the upper route, mainly to take in the stone circle called “the Cockpit” at the top of the hill, again part of the Westmorland Way Pooley Bridge to Patterdale section we’d walked in reverse a couple of years earlier.

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Field Work

The track so far had been like a boundary marking the edge of the relatively pastoral fields below and the rough open fell above.  Reaching the point where the path split we asked the question – he wasn’t keen on the upper route, and had we forced the issue, some consumer resistance might have come into play.

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Still enjoying it “Honest guv!”

We took to the low route, and the character of the path changed completely.  Having been on bridleway we were now walking through gentle fields, in many of which the grass had been left to grow long for winter feed.  The only downside was the occasional booby trapped step stile over walls.  The kind with the sprung gate that slams shut and tries to propel you off the top of the wall.  Evil things!

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The weather had closed in

We were dropping back down towards the water side now and passed through a quite lovely campsite at Cross Dormont.  It was on quite a slope though so I’m not sure I’d like to stay there in my backpacking tent – it could prove a bit awkward to sleep on the ground there!

The path took to a minor single track road, remarkably busy with traffic, a steady stream heading back and forth.  It just shows how popular this area is.  The road didn’t last for very long and we entered a second campsite which hugged the waters edge.  There were picnic benches here and we stopped a while to refuel.  Meanwhile, the wind had picked up and rain started to fall.  It wasn’t long before the cold set in, and to another chorus of complaints we set off again.

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Heading Back

From here there was only a mile or so to go into Pooley Bridge, firstly through the campsite, busy with tents and camper vans, then along the stoney beaches of the Lakeside, busy with walkers and families walking back and forth from the campsite.

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Out enjoying the Lake

We passed the slipway, so close but inaccessible over the water before a narrow little path deposited us virtually in the middle of the village.  With a little time to spare we took a wander round the village before heading to the pub for a well earned…ahem…lemonade.  From there it was a short walk to the pier to catch the boat back to Glenridding, giving a nice long rest before the walk back up the hill to the hostel.

Day rating 9/10

Although quite short, another lovely section of path with super views over the Lake.  The only negative the short walk along the road.  Taking the lower route brought a nice change in character from the previous day, with nice soft field walking, rather than the hard surface of the bridleway.  Pooley Bridge is lovely, slightly busier than our previous visit before the floods, and there was a real buzz about the place.

 

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Day 1

Glenridding to Howtown 6.5 Miles

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Home for the weekend

A long weekend in early August saw a chance to introduce my 10 year old nephew, not only his first long distance walk, but a first hosteling experience.  I’d booked the four of us into YHA Helvellyn for the weekend, a fine location high up a track above Glenridding.  We drove up the track to the hostel on the Thursday evening and parked the car, the last time we would use it until the journey home.

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Setting off

The hostel was busy and bustling with a nice relaxed buzz about the place.  I always like spending time at Youth Hostels, there’s always a special atmosphere about them.

We’d split the route into four stages using the hostel as a base and traveling round the lake using the Ullswater Steamers.

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The hills over Glenridding

After a fairly early breakfast we started with the walk from the hostel down to Glenridding,  which was still recovering from the catastrophic floods of 2015, and made our way to the Steamers Pier.  The Steamers do an Ullswater Way Pass, valid for 5 days, and while fairly expensive (£41.60 adult and £24.95 kids at the time of writing), it still represents pretty good value.

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Back on route

I’d planned to walk anticlockwise so we would be finishing the day at Howtown and coming back on the boat.  We purchased our tickets from the still relatively quiet Glennridding Pier and made our way back out to the road.  The morning was overcast and surprisingly cool.  The sky threatened rain, which to be fair, is nothing unusual in the Lakes, and as a result we were all carrying waterproofs – just in case.

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Lunch Stop

The last time we had walked here on the Westmorland Way, it had rained all the way from Howtown to Patterdale, hopefully today would be different.   We didn’t get off to the best start, missing the turning across the head of the Lake, and instead adding around half a mile to the journey by making for the minor road which would take us to the small  group of buildings at Rooking.

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The way ahead

We were now back on route, and the well worn path kept a fine height above the Lake.  Surrounded by woodland it would open out periodically to give dramatic glimpses over the water.  This was all familiar territory as the memories came flooding back from our previous visit, including how hard the stony surface was on the feet.  At Silver Point we stopped to refuel short legs who had been chattering away constantly from the start.

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Still Smiling

The path is quite undulating here, but is a really rewarding experience and as we continued round the Lake the first walkers appeared who had caught the first boat out from Glenridding, a trickle at first increasing to a steady stream.

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Starting to get busy

Just before reaching Sandwick we passed what looked like a relatively new walkers cafe, but it was decided that it was really still too early to stop for a coffee. so we pushed on towards Howtown.

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Leaving Sandwick

After Sandwick the path stuck to the water edge, a pleasant walk through fields and woods, past the spectacular Geodie’s Crag.  This heralded the approach to Howtown.  We pottered down to the pier to check the time of the boat back, before heading up to the Hotel and its tiny bar.

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Day Rating 9/10

A walk that was quite hard on the feet.  My nephew was pretty knackered at the end, but enjoyed it thoroughly.  A super days walk, the rain stayed off and it was a very enjoyable trip back to Glenridding on the boat.

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Day 6

Boat of Garten to Aviemore 6 miles

The penultimate evening was spent in the Boat Hotel, situated next to the station, along with good food and beer.  The place was surprisingly busy for a snowy December evening and there was a pleasant buzz around the place.  It did mean a precarious walk back to the B&B, as the outside temperature dropped and the ground was began to freeze.

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Boat of Garten Station

Breakfast was left until a civilised hour, with only six mile to walk we could afford to take our time.  Not too much time, there was still a train to catch!  We left around 9, after enjoying a breakfast side show of our host shouting at his theiving dog, who would pinch things from the kitchen worktop given any small oppertunity.

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This was treacherous

Outside it was freezing, the clodest start so far.  Overnight the snow had turned to ice, and both the road and pavement were like walking on a skating rink.  Ice skates would’ve been more appropriate than walking boots!

Leaving Boat of Garten we passed a series of houses, all well spaced from each other along a metalled road.  It was like learning to walk all over again, as we tottered on our way to Aviemore, the smallest slope becoming a major challenge.  I love my walking poles!

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The tarmac gradually turned to gravel, although it was difficult to tell where, and the houses thinned out, leaving the occasional isolated cottage, smoke gently rising from chimneys.  A runner passed us coming the other way, and I thought we were daft until I saw him.   A little further on a large human shaped mark in the snow betrayed where he had slipped an fallen over.

The path crossed under the railway and took to a rather attractive path leading over moorland.  There were fantastic open views of the hills around us, they seemed to have crept close without us even noticing.  I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed too, there was a sense that the Speyside Way was just beginning to get really good.

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Skis would have been better!

The railway was a companion for most of the walk, and I could just imagine the steam trains trundling past in the summer, full of happy tourists, trundling past.  It was all quiet now though as we gradually approached Aviemore.

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Snowy Path

We reached a golf course which, along with a few dog walkers, heralded our approach to the outskirts of Aviemore.  It had also started to sleet, a quite horrible mix of rain and ice.    It was now a case of heads down, as we crossed under the two railway lines, the first preserved, the second the main line, and skirted a housing estate to the main road through the town.  As always on these walks busy traffic comes as a bit of a shock to the system after days of relative seclusion, and this was no different.  Despite the weather there was a bustle about the town.

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Hills looking very atmospheric

The waymarked route headed off across the road, part of the new extension towards Kincraig while we turned left to head down the mainstreet towards the station, the town looking rather gray and forlorn in the dreich weather.  We’d left plenty of time to complete the walk, so with a couple of hours or so before our train, we investigated a couple of the outdoor shops, before settling down for some tea and a baked potato in a cafe as the sleet turned to heavy rain outside.  We’d finished just in the nick of time!

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Day Rating 7/10

While a short day a pleasant enough walk between Boat of Garten and Aviemore.  The moorland section would be a delight in the summer with wildlife abounding, plus there is the railway interest as well.

Overall Rating 46/60 77%

I have to admit that my expectations for the Speyside Way were unusually low, mainly as I had a preconcieved idea that much of the walking was along old railway track bed, which I find tends to get very tedious.  In the end it was only really the one day, and while at times, it did get a little boring, there was enough about the route to keep up interest – distilleries and preserved stations coming thick and fast.

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The weather closing in near Aviemore (the camera didn’t like the sleet)

The rest of the route, however, was a very enjoyable hike without being spectacular.  The initial coastal walk (the dolphins a real bonus), the pine forest, wildlife to mention just a few few things – the weather made things interesting too.  It’s safe to say that my expectations were exceeded comfortably.  All that remains is to complete the Tomintul Spur (a weekend jaunt) to complete the route.  The only downside is that the route feels like it is just starting to get really good as you approach Aviemore, as you’re about to finish.

However, there is the potential to link in a longer walk with the (currently unwaymarked) East Highland Way which links from Aviemore to Fort William, giving a much more interesting route of around 150 miles, give or take.

It’s also a great trail to cut you’re teeth on if new to the game, as in general the walking is pretty gentle.  The worst part was the enclosed path through the farmland, which was quite frankly a pain.

So overall, an enjoyable trail without being especially outstanding and perfect for any time of year.  Oh, and there’s whisky.  What’s not to like!

 

 

 

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YWW Day 8

Staxton to Filey Brigg (12 miles)

It was an early start this morning as we had a train to catch from Filey.  With an hourly service from the station it meant that if we missed it, it would have a knock on effect for our connections to get back to Glasgow.

Ready for an early start

Ready for an early start

I had woken at around half past four, even before the alarm had gone off.  Rather than lie there, I found out if my father was awake (he was) and suggested that we get on with it.  A petrol station across the road had provided us with breakfast/lunch so there was no need to break open the stove, meaning we pitched the tent and packed up in what was an eerie, still silence.  It was pitch black, or would have been if not for the street lights on the road.

Early morning light over Flixton Wold

Early morning light over Flixton Wold

It wasn’t long before we were on our way, the walking poles clacking loudly on the tarmac just as the first light began to creep in from the East.   We were heading for Wold Lane which would take us back up to Staxton Wold, a stiff climb to start the day.  It was slow work, not helped that half way up the hill where a track crossed our way we missed the path and spent 10 minutes wandering about an old quarry.  It’s amazing how easily one can miss the correct path in the dark.

Eventually we emerged into the fields at the top of the Wold and passed the RAF base, feeling a little bit naughty with all the CCTV cameras around.  The place was well lit up giving a strange luminescence to the surrounding land.

Crossing Flixton Wold

Crossing Flixton Wold

The base was quickly left behind as the path started to descend into a sunken lane, plunging us into near darkness.  Thank god for head torches!  As the path dropped we slowed our pace, keeping a lookout for the left turn that was coming up.  We needn’t have worried as the fingerpost loomed out of the dark showing us where to go.  The path here was a steep climb in between hedgerows with a soft, almost sandy/chalky surface.  It was also pitch black in there, such was the denseness of the vegetation, almost like entering a tunnel.

Part of the Flixton Wold roller coaster ride

Part of the Flixton Wold roller coaster ride

At the top, the Wold opened out before us, grey and muted in the limp light.  It was a bit of a roller coaster here, the path following every lump and bump towards Flixton Wold as the light increased to full, if somewhat greyish and overcast, daylight.  To add to the atmosphere, early morning mist had gathered at the bottom of some of the dales, especially Lang Dale, adding to the eeriness of the morning.

Mist in Lang Dale

Mist in Lang Dale

On reaching a quiet road, we stopped for a while to have breakfast – it was still only around 7 a.m. – as I’d not really been hungry when we set off.  The next stage was a drab little walk along the road to Camp Dale, the last of the Wolds we would encounter on the trail.  The track crossed the dale then climbed up onto the bank on the other side giving fine views down its length.  Here there was a final Wolds Way bench and acorn telling us that there was only 7 miles to go.  We should be finished by lunchtime then!

Camp Dale - only 7 miles to go.

Camp Dale – only 7 miles to go.

The path here dropped into the dale and turned into Stocking Dale (saying goodbye to the Centenary Way which had been sharing a route with us for a long time), this place being another site of a deserted medieval village, although there really is nothing to be seen on the ground.  Stocking Dale, unlike many of the other dales we had walked through, was quite heavily wooded, lots of scrub trees amongst the more mature ones.  It was also rising steadily, the dale petering out on a farm track, the only evidence of its existence just a small dip in the ground.

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There was a real feeling that this was the final stretch to Filey and as we crossed a road at Stockendale Farm the sun threatened to appear for a while.  To the north there were fine views towards the North York Moors, with the lower ground in-between covered in low lying mist.

The small village of Muston heralded the outskirts of Filey, we stopped on a bench for a while to rest before walking through the village.  It was still stupidly early, so unsurprisingly the pub wasn’t open for business.  The path passed up what looked like a garden path alongside some pretty houses before we had to take our lives in our hands crossing the A165, busy with rush hour traffic.  From there it was downhill, skirting hedges and the local secondary school, before we were walking through the streets of Filey itself.

Close to Muston

Close to Muston

Once in the centre, it was straight to the Tourist Information Centre with an ulterior motive.  I collect cloth badges from these walks, and was happy to find that the Wolds Way had its own, which was duly bought.  There was also the small matter of ditching the backpacks, which the staff there kindly allowed us to do (though it was, apparently, strictly against their rules) meaning we could walk unencumbered up to Filey Brigg.

Filey

Filey

The route here wasn’t well signed, but you couldn’t really go wrong – turn left at the beach and walk to the long sticky out bit. There was one last kick in the backside, a steep climb up steps to get back up to the correct hight for the finish, leaving us with a gentle stroll to the monument that marks the end (or start) of both the Wolds Way and the Cleveland Way.

Turning towards the Brigg

Turning towards the Brigg

It was so tempting just to keep walking!

Still, there was a train to catch, so we retraced our steps, this time taking a route along the beach, to the TIC, picked up the sacks and made our way towards the station with plenty of time to spare.  This meant there was the chance to stop for some celebratory fish and chips before the short shuffle (I had certainly stiffened up) to the station, just as the rain started.

The finish

The finish

Day Rating 7/10

Not the most exciting of days, but had some pleasant and interesting sections on it.  The path over Flixton Wold was surprisingly hard work and Camp Dale made a fine finale to the Wolds experience.  The finish at Filey Brigg was a bonus, and although we didn’t go all the way onto the Brigg it certainly added to the finish.  A nice symmetry with the start on the Humber.

Overall Rating 67/80 (83%)

Now to walk back!

Now to walk back!

A fine trail that rates in the middle for me – not one of the best, there were no what I would call “outstanding” days.  That isn’t to say that the trail is bad – far from it (it possibly didn’t help that we were walking in late summer/early autumn, when most of the wild flowers and summer vegetation were over).  What I would say is that this is a hugely enjoyable trail with some great scenery, history, lovely little villages that nestle in the Wolds and some cracking surprises – it is also not as easy as it looks – while most of the walking is gentle there are quite a few ups and downs for the unsuspecting walkers.  This also has to be one of the quietest trails I’ve walked, with very few users on it – only the occasional dog walkers near villages.  This isn’t that surprising as the route is actually quite remote – there are very places that are passed through between stops.  One real bonus (that many other paths are lacking) are the number of benches on the route.  The carved trail benches are a work of art in themselves, and every single one of them has been placed thoughtfully at a great location.  Not only that they always seem to appear at just the right moment.

Well worth doing, and to risk a cliché, a very good trail for an introduction to trail walking and those who are looking to cut their teeth on a long distance path.

 

 

 

 

 

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YWW Day 7

On the trail again

On the trail again

Wolds Way Campsite to Staxton (12 miles)

Peeking out the tent after waking up I found the morning was cloudy.  The sort of grey black stuff that looked a little threatening, rain a real possibility.  Still, it was dry so we swiftly packed the tent up and started an ad hoc breakfast of beans, bacon and cheese, plus a little porridge on the benches outside the utility block.  As we tucked into our al fresco grub we were presented with the sight of a very large range rover depositing its very large driver into the toilet block.  He must have driven no more than around 100m from his caravan to the toilet block.  Words fail me.

Pesky Wabbits

Pesky Wabbits

The walk to Staxton would be different from the previous days, more along the line of a ridge with views out towards the North York Moors.  Leaving the campsite we dropped down the hill to rejoin the main route, passing along the edge of a large mixed plantation, again with a plethora of “private” and “keep out” signs.  There was even one warning dog owners of Fox snares located in the wood.  All in all it was a very pleasant  woodland walk to start the day, and the temperature was perfect.

The offending path.  This was full of Lupine booby traps

The offending path. This was full of bunny booby traps

At the edge of the wood the views suddenly opened out north and we were walking through fields again.  A rather novel warning sign appeared.  “Rabbits at Work”.  It was needed – without it I would imagine there would be a queue of people at A&E with various broken bones in their feet and legs.  The critters seemed to be engaging in some sort of civil engineering project judging by the size of some of the (well hidden) potholes adorning the path!

The view North

The view North

The only downside was the lingering cloud.  On a better day we would have been able to see the sea!  This was a great ridge walk which meandered its way along field edges, hedgerows and woodland, all the while the world spread out on our left shoulders.  Another Wolds Way bench appeared and we spent a little time conjecturing on the unusual layout of the church and spire in East Heslerton.

An unusual church

An unusual church

A large pig farm was passed, hidden in the trees, the noise and smell incredible.  I’m fairly sure I can still smell it now!

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This was open country with big views, arguably one of the best sections of the trail.  Suddenly we were back on road again, dropping steeply towards Sherburn, and here for once is a nice bonus, the path having been routed through an adjacent field to avoid the road.  Much nicer.  It was still a bit early to stop, so we stayed with the trail (which bypasses the village) cutting along a sandy farm track before a short road walk led to a steep, but mercifully brief climb.  This section was a bit of a roller coaster, up and down the hill on a bridleway and through woodland complete with shooting butts.

Panorama

Panorama

The guidebook mentioned another tea room at Potter Brompton, and once again we diverted off on the assumption it would be open.  Fortunately this one was, and although a little expensive, the fare was superb.  We even managed to eat outside in their pretty gardens as the sun began to make an appearance.

Another bench looking weathered

Another bench looking weathered

As we walked back up the lane to the trail an old chap caught us up, he had seen us pass on the way down.  He joined us for the walk and we chatted all the way up to Staxton Wold where he left us to walk back.  It seems he loves walking in the area, but there are so few people that he can walk with he takes to ambushing walkers and tags along with them for a while.  He could fair shift for his age though (he was carrying a bit less than us).

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From there we walked up to the RAF base, a station that was one of the places where radar was pioneered in the early stages of the second world war.  We left the trail here, turning left to walk down a green lane to the village of Staxton itself, a steep drop that we would have to revisit in the morning.  Our campsite for the night was a big field (campsite apparently) next to a pretty little camping and caravanning club site, part of a larger complex which included a carvery pub and an antiques centre.

Acorn

Acorn

To be honest the carvery was average at best and the beer not particularly great (their Theakstons was ok), but it was food and drink and hot, which is all that really matters.  The facilities on the campsite were pretty decent, but the big problem was the noise from the busy A64 which didn’t let up until well after midnight.  In retrospect we could have pushed on and wild camped somewhere better, but that’s never really a good idea near a military installation!

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Day Rating 9/10

The tearoom

The tearoom

The Wolds Way campsite was great (if a little breezy) and at least had a small shop meaning we could cobble together stuff for an evening meal and breakfast.  A really enjoyable and varied walk with constantly changing wide open views.  A great lunch stop as well not too far off route.  Just a pity about the campsite – ok for one night – I wouldn’t want to holiday there!

Our impromptu walking companion (on the right)

Our impromptu walking companion (on the right)

 

 

 

 

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YWW Day 6

North Grimston to Wolds Way Campsite (7.5 miles)

It was quite simply a stunning morning.  Clear blue skies and not too warm. Again, with a relatively short distance to go there was no great rush to be off, so we sorted breakfast and gave the tent some time to dry off the dew that had formed overnight.  While we were waiting the father-in-law of the farmer, a Hungarian, had been working round the farm, finally coming into the orchard and picking fruit from the trees.  As well as apple there was plum, and he offered us some fresh from the trees.  The plums were amazing, ripe and sweet.  He spoke little english, but we did have a conversation of sorts.  Hungary he said, is “very beautiful”, but is being ruined. “Politicians – idiots!” I guess some things are exactly the same the world over.

Back on the path (campsite in background)

Back on the path (campsite in background)

While we had been talking and sampling the produce, amusingly, cattle in the next field were getting impatient for their breakfast and had begun to show their displeasure by rattling their gate and complaining loudly about the service. It wasn’t far to drop down a steep track from the farm and then up a lane to which would turn into the Wolds Way.  This lane climbed steadily and on the odd occasion we paused for breath the views back to the campsite and the Vale of Pickering were superb.  As the land was rising, the lane started to contour and it passed through a pretty farm – Wood House.  Eventually we reached the top of the climb, opening out into more arable land and a lovely patch of wild flowers growing in amongst some wild rape.

Looking back from Wood House Farm

Looking back from Wood House Farm

Suddenly the path was weaving in and out of woodland on the long climb through Settrington Wood eventually reaching a set of rather industrial looking farm buildings near Settrington Beacon.  Next was a large woodland plantation of mixed conifer and broadleaf trees with plenty of evidence of recent thinning work.  The woodland was quite lovely and very peaceful, but once again there was a plethora of signs warning walkers not to stray from the path onto private property.  We had also started to go downhill again.

Plodding

Plodding

Emerging from the wood we found ourselves on top of the scarp looking north over Wintringham, the North York Moors rising in the distance.  The scene below was also a hive of activity, a large number of beaters with flags making their way across the farmland below.  There was another shoot in progress. There was a bench here and we lingered a while, watching the beaters make their methodical way across the front of us.  Suddenly birds started flapping overhead from the woodland behind us, followed soon after by the rather undignified noise of someone clattering through undergrowth.  Another beater emerging from the woodland.  He stopped to check that we weren’t heading in the direction of the guns, and we set off along a chalky lane towards Wintringham.  Here we passed over a very unusual sight on the Wolds Way (if you don’t include the Humber) – running water.  Wintringham Beck must have been the first (visible) watercourse we had passed over on the trail.

Leaving the woods

Leaving the woods

The guide book mentioned that there was a tearoom close to Wintringham, a place called “Wolds Way Lavander”.  It would surely be open on a Saturday in September.  To get to it was a diversion of about 1km.  It wasn’t.  Open.  Bugger.  (While the guidebook does say check opening, they do advertise the tea room from a  Waymarker in Wintringham.  It would be nice if they put the opening times there as well!). There was a lot of muttering going on as we made our way back to the path which skirted round the village before stopping for a rest at St Peter’s church, usually locked, but open for visitors for the day.  This medieval church is no longer used by a regular congregation, but is preserved by the Churches Conservation Trust and has a fascinating interior, including some stunning wood carvings.

In the church

In the church

There was another of the carved acorns where the path leaves the village before entering Deep Dale plantation.  The walk through the woodland was very pleasant, once again, until we met a finger post which was set at a rather jaunty angle.  On closer inspection it turned out to be intentional, the inscription “steep gradient” giving us the final clue as to why.  Fortunately the steep gradient was relatively short but it still left me gasping for breath at the top.  The good news was that we were close to our campsite for the night and as we left the woodland there were quite a few people here out for an afternoon stroll.  There was a rather attractive art installation here too, along with a recreation of a dew pond, buzzing with all sorts of insect life.

Understatement!

Understatement!

15 minutes later we were pitching the tent in the campsite, a wonderful location high on the Wolds.

Day Rating 9/10

Another fine and varied day.  Good views mixed in with some woodland walking and the interesting church at St Peters was a bonus.  The campsite had limited supplies in it’s meagre shop, though, so we had to be a little bit creative about our evening meal! P1030908

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YWW Day 5

Thixendale to North Grimston (7 miles)

There was no rush to be away today, as we only had a short hop to a farm campsite just above North Grimston.  Breakfast was waiting for us in the bar and it is quite possibly the finest full English Breakfast I have ever experienced.  What a great set up for the day.

Thixendale

Thixendale

Not being in any hurry we sat and nattered with the Landlord Steve who was a font of knowledge about the village and the area.

It was 10 o’clock by the time we were on our way, with a forecast of clearing skies for the afternoon.  The route took us through the village, snuggled down at the bottom of a Dale.  It’s a lovely place with bags of character, including the village hall.  It had once been leased as a Youth Hostel (YHA), opening only for the season during the summer.  It closed in 1999 after the YHA wanted to upgrade it, the village council understandably wanted to increase the rent after the upgrade which the YHA then refused to accept.  They also wouldn’t continue running the hostel without the upgrade, resulting in its closure.  It’s a sad story which has been mirrored by many small and valuable hostels around the country which are sadly no longer with us.

Leaving Thixen Dale behind

Leaving Thixen Dale behind

The village was soon left behind, climbing steeply up the side of the dale along a chalk farm track.  Below the village sat nestled sleepily in the valley.  A quite wonderful setting in the heart of the Wolds.  At the top of the hill we could see up two spectacular dry valleys, one Thixen Dale, the other Water Dale.  There were even a couple of walkers meandering slowly up it – it was nice to see some other walkers, even at a distance!  The Wolds Way here was something of a footpath super highway, with no less than four paths sharing the same route at varying points – the Centenary Way, the Chalkland Way and the Wolds walk as well as the Wolds Way, all interesting looking paths.

P1030832

It was a short hop over Cow Wold into Vessey Pasture Dale which was a hive of activity.  At first it looked like walkers, spread out coming the opposite way, but it soon became clear that they weren’t walkers at all as they were hanging about in fields well away from the path.  All became clear when they eventually started off in the same direction waving flags that we had mistaken for backpacks (at distance).  The loud “thwacks” that was made by the fast moving flags in the air soon came thick and fast and as we descended the steep wold the first volleys of gunfire came from somewhere to our right.

 

Vessey Pasture Dale

Vessey Pasture Dale

There was no walk along the dale here, instead the path heading straight up the other side, quite steeply.  Leaving the pheasant shoot behind we emerged at the very top of Deep Dale, here no more than a small dimple in the ground.  It was a pleasant, if unspectacular walk along the top of the dale, and as it deepened we stayed to the top, following it all the way to the site of a deserted medieval village, Wharram Percy.  Originally the Wolds Way bypassed this completely taking a more direct route away from the dale.  Thankfully what had been an optional diversion is now the official route which runs straight through the site.

 

First glimpse of Wharram Percy

First glimpse of Wharram Percy

The village is in a lovely setting and all that remains are the ruins of the church, a millpond, and a renovated farmstead which housed the archeologists during the extensive digs that had been ongoing for over half a century.

There were quite a few visitors to the site, despite the relatively remote location. The lumps and bumps of the village supplemented by interpretation boards.  Surprisingly it wasn’t plague that did for the village, but the landowner.  They evicted the residents, seemingly wanting to use the land to graze livestock.  The site was very peaceful and we lingered a while enjoying the sun. At the request of a concerned little old lady I even managed to rescue a Partridge that had become stuck in the wire mesh that surrounded the trunk of an old Yew.  My good deed for the day, unless of course, it found its way onto the gun line from earlier…

Wharram Percy pond

Wharram Percy pond

Eventually we left the site, crossing the old trackbed of the former Yorkshire Wolds Railway and climbing steeply up the path to the car park, a considerable walk of almost 1km for visitors to the site!  Here there were some super views to the north and when we turned onto the quiet country road we had the Vale of York spread out before us once more.

Ruind Church

Ruind Church

This was now a steady plod in fine weather to Wharram le Street, a very small village with not much more than a church and telephone box.  The last stretch is up a stony track and I finally manage to get a photograph of one of the many butterflies which have been flitting about as it sunned itself on the path.

Our campsite was a little off route on a farm near North Grimston and involved a walk down the verge of a busy B road.  In retrospect we should have stayed on the path which would have taken us to a track which led to the farm.

P1030857

The site itself is a Caravanning & Camping club CL, although they allow backpackers in to camp as well.  The caravan section was a stunning location, sitting on the edge of a ridge with wide open views.  I must admit to being a little disappointed that we weren’t allowed to pitch there.  Instead we were led to the farms orchard, which was in a far more sheltered spot.  There were apple and plum trees here, all thick with fruit, and in itself was a delightful little spot.  A nice addition was the rustic “thunder box” which adorned the centre of the orchard, complete with transparent plastic roof (great for star gazing while on the job – so to speak).

Panorama from the campsite

Panorama from the campsite

The place was also full of free range hens, one of which was just sitting in a rather peculiar position with her wings outstretched.  On closer inspection she had a cluster of chicks huddled under her wings

Day Rating 9/10

Once again another fine day with some super scenery good weather and some interesting history.  Short and sweet.

Thunderbox is go

Thunderbox is go

 

 

 

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