Hessle to South Cave
The footpath passes right under the Humber Bridge (when opened in 1981 it was at 1 1/2 miles (2.2km), the longest single span in the World). The statistics of this bridge are rather mind blowing - for instance, did you know that the tops of the towers are 2cm. further apart than the bottoms to allow for the curvature of the earth? It is possible to get an awe-inspiring view of the whole majestic length of it from below the road deck. Since Roman times this has been a crossing point of the estuary, maybe even a ford at low tide, but today dredgers keep the shipping channels deep enough to navigate and ensure that it cannot be forded even at exceptionally low tides.
Here in 1739 a John Palmer was arrested, drunk, after stealing some horses in Lincolnshire and trying to sell them on the other side of the Humber. He turned out to be none other than the legendary and infamous highwayman Dick Turpin.
Welton is probably the first of many typical spring line villages you will come across on the Yorkshire Wolds Way. It once boasted two watermills fed by the springs rising in Welton Dale. Weltons claim to fame can be found at the Green Dragon pub. Here in 1739 a John Palmer was arrested, drunk, after stealing some horses in Lincolnshire and trying to sell them on the other side of the Humber. He turned out to be none other than the legendary and infamous highwayman Dick Turpin. He went from here to be tried at York assizes and the gallows. He is buried in the Catholic cemetery in York.
The foreshore of the Humber estuary, is an area of about 120 square miles (31,000ha) of brackish water and mud flats. The Humber is so substantial that it drains the equivalent of one fifth of England's land surface. It is one of the most important sites for wading birds on the east coast. It has also been an important seaway for ships since the Industrial Revolution using the inland ports of Goole and Selby. The constantly moving sandbars make it tricky to navigate and most ships pick up a pilot to guide them to the ports at Spurn Head 28 miles (45km) downstream.back to top
South Cave to Market Weighton
William Bradley, the Yorkshire Giant
William Bradley was born in Market Weighton in 1787. He grew to an incredible 7ft 9in tall (2.36m) and weighed 27 stone (172kg). He is the tallest Englishman ever recorded and became known as the Yorkshire Giant. Bradley spent his short life amassing a small fortune by travelling the country as a fairground freak. When he died in 1820 at the age of 33, his grave was buried inside the church for fear of graverobbers. His home is now a cycle shop in the town and a memorial tablet records the size of his footprint.
Who would ever think, looking round this quiet little place that such a far-reaching event could have occurred here nearly 14 centuries ago
The village of Goodmanham doesn't strike you as the sort of place where momentous events are likely to occur. However, stand on the church mound, an important enough place to have been enlarged by the addition of an estimated 4000 tonnes of soil brought up by hand from the valley bottom. Imagine instead of the church, a heathen temple. The year is AD627 and the great Christian missionary Paulinus has just persuaded none other than Edwin, the Saxon king of Northumbria and his high priest Coifi to give up paganism, destroy this temple and ride to York to be baptised in a little wooden church standing on the site which will become York Minster. Who would ever think, looking round this quiet little place that such a far-reaching event could have occurred here nearly 14 centuries ago.
This must be the archetypal English village with its large village green surrounded by pretty stone houses, its two pubs and single shop.
The open beck runs in front of the houses in Eastgate, each with their own private bridge. The banks of the stream are planted with flowers by each of the householders. A large flat circular stone on the green known as the whipping stone is probably the base of the old market cross but rumour has it that a man was whipped to death here in 1624. A few steps further on (past the two pubs), is the Church of St. Nicholas, according to the old vicar, the finest Norman church in the north of England with its massive square battlemented central tower on arches over the crossing of nave and transepts. Over the main door is an ancient carving "Christ in Majesty" and on one of the capitals a small carving showing the "Hound of Heaven" straining to gain entry. The iron vestry door handle is in the shape of two intertwined serpents Ð reputedly the original sanctuary handle representing the fact that there are always two sides to any dispute.back to top
Market Weighton to Fridaythrope
This 4 mile (6.4km) race has been held (according to the date on the winning post) since 1519, making Kiplingcotes the oldest racecourse in England. It is held on the third Thursday in March every year, whatever the weather, often so wet that the spectators end up covered with mud, even snow drifts have been known. Winning is more a matter of honour than reward as there is a complicated procedure for working out the prize money. First prize is the interest on a sum of 360 shillings contributed by Lord Burlington and his friends in 1618 (about £20 now). Second prize is virtually all the entry money, it can be two or three times as much!
The powerful Clifford family owned the Londesborough Estate in the 1500's and 1600's before it passed by marriage to the Burlingtons. Richard, 3rd Earl Burlington, was fond of the arts, landscape and architecture and was responsible for creating lakes, cascades, terraces and woodland. In 1753 the estate passed, again by marriage, to the Cavendishes, and it was the 6th Duke of Devonshire who established most of the Wold farms in the area at the time of the Enclosures. It was he who had the house pulled down in 1819. It was said that he later regretted this destruction. The "Railway King", George Hudson, bought the estate in 1845. He wished to live there and to build a railway from York to Market Weighton with his own private station at Shiptonthorpe. A two-mile avenue of trees was planted to line the drive to his house. His stay at Londesborough was short lived though, within five years, his questionable financial practices were exposed and he left in disgrace. The banker Albert Denison bought the estate and set about enlarging the house and improving the grounds. He took the name of the village for his title but the earldom ended with the fourth earl's death in 1937.
To walk in Millington Pastures is to walk in a landscape little changed for hundreds of years. The original main field was common grazing shared into 180 "gaits" controlled by the Pasture Master who was responsible for renting a set number of "gaits" to each local farmer (a "gait" is enough grazing for six sheep or four ewes with lambs). In the early 1960's the pastures were enclosed with wire fences but the steep dale sides mean that sheep grazing is still the best use for this peaceful area and the occasional bleat is the only sound to disturb the tranquillity. When the ancient ash woodland in Lily Dale known as Millington Wood was for sale some years ago the Council bought it and now manages it as a nature reserve and signposted trail.back to top
Fridaythorpe to Sherburn
Thixendale has the dubious distinction of being the most isolated village in the Yorkshire Wolds and villagers are used to being cut off by snow in winter. An incredible "cartwheel" of 16 dales lead into the village. Such has been its isolation that only in 1997 was the village first able to receive television transmissions. Perhaps for this reason it is remarkably self contained with its pub, two shops and church. The red pantiled roofs of the few houses in the valley bottom contrast with the dark green of the steep scrub woodland that rises from their back doors. The water supply used to be a spring fed tank, which was connected to eight taps down the village street.
Wharram Percy is the most famous of over 100 deserted medieval villages in the Yorkshire Wolds.
Not only is it exciting for its beautiful location, but it has been so well researched by Prof. Beresford and his colleagues that many people have heard of it and want to visit the best preserved uninhabited village in England. The Scandinavian form of Wharram (hwerhamm) means "at the bends" and Percy is named after the great northern lords who owned much of this land in the 12th and 13th Centuries. The Black Death, sheep farming and isolation reduced the population until the last house was abandoned in 1500. Ironically the coming of the railway line in 1853 and the nearby chalk quarries which supplied the Redcar steelworks with 99% pure chalk could have justified the continuance of the village, but who could have foreseen that 300 years earlier. After just over 100 years the railway line was also abandoned, the chalk quarry is now a nature reserve (for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust members only) and the nearby Burdale tunnel bricked up. (There is a padlocked doorway into it so naturalists can check the important bat population from time to time).
Wintringham is a street village of low chalk fronted houses facing onto the single lane leading up to the entrance gates of Place Newton - a large country house dating from 1837. The village church of St Peters, is far bigger than you would expect for such a small place, and built of Magnesian limestone from Tadcaster, a stone normally associated with grander buildings like York Minster. The inside has a double-decker pulpit and Jacobean screens and pews. The amusing bellringers instructions from 1723 state:
I pray you Gentlemen beware
And when you ring ye bells take care
For he that rings and breaks a stay
Must pay sixpence without delay.
And if you ring in Spurs or Hatt
You must likewise pay sixpence for that
Sherburn to Filey
Enjoy Stockingdale, because it is the last of the characteristic dry chalk valleys that you will follow on the Yorkshire Wolds Way. The earthworks in Stocking Dale marked on the map as "The Camp" will also be your final deserted village. On the ground a few grassed over bumps give away its location. At nearby Muston Wold, you are on the most northern chalk in Europe.back to top