Tales from the Trail - Easter Wold on a wet day

27th April 2016

Trail Reporter Dave Greenwood recounts his wet day on the Yorkshire Wolds!

There are villages in the Yorkshire Wolds of which people say “no one ever gets to unless they lose their way”. Quiet places, off the main roads, not on a direct routes to anywhere. It is only when travellers take a turn they ought not to, do they ever reach them ……

Easter was early this year. Easter Monday began cold and wet. As we drove through the Wolds it was raining hard. The lanes were streams, the cloud low and heavy over the Wold tops. It seems a mysterious land indeed. Hidden in the mist and murk, revealing itself only in stolen glimpses.

Our destination was Burton Fleming, a very ‘Wolds’ village. Situated in the East Riding of Yorkshire, close to the border with North Yorkshire, approximately 7 miles (11 km) north-west of Bridlington and 6 miles (10 km) south of Filey.  It is early morning, the village was still asleep, bands of heavy rain swept down the main street.

We were here to test the theory; to take a few wrong turnings, to walk to a few lost places and see what we would find along the way. As with all journeys through the Yorkshire Wolds we were not to be disappointed.

 Our route, an 11 mile circuit, would visit some of the silent villages. Places that seemed far away in the heart of the Wolds. From Burton Fleming we would ramble to Thwing and to Wold Newton on a journey through the Great Wold Valley.  As the rain fell we walked, and slowly we became lost in the landscape.

I will recount only a few of that day's many discoveries; get out into the Wolds and surprise yourselves.

At first our trail led along the quiet endless lanes. The rain gradually began to ease and our horizons expanded. We followed old pathways and tracks, letting them lift us gently to the high chalk-land ridges that overlook secret worlds deep within the green dales. We walked the edges of vast newly planted fields, neatly tilled now, full of seeds dormant now, awaiting their springtime ignition.

Several times in the valley, we encounter the Gypsey Race, a mysterious chalk stream born from natural springs in the valley, with a delightfully romantic name. A survivor for over a thousand years, in a land where a surface water course has always been strategically important and greatly prized. The underlying chalk does its best to swallow up the ‘Gypsies’, a term used on the Wolds to describe these erratic and unreliable streams. But not today. The ‘Race’ was crystal clear in in full flow. It’s strong current charging towards the distant North Sea.

I try not to think of the Wolds folklore: ‘when the Gypsey Race is flowing, bad fortune is at hand’. (It flowed apparently in the year before the great plague of 1664, the restoration of Charles II, and the landing of William of Orange. Wolds folk have long memories).  Today I felt perhaps ‘a global warming’ rather than ‘a plague’ was more to blame.

On our way to Thwing we met Willy Howe, the name of a gigantic late Neolithic round barrow, 7.5 m (25 ft) high.  Visible for miles around, the mound although excavated many times, has never revealed any burials or grave goods. It is a place though, full of folklore and legend. Today a quiet and reflective place to be. Thickly wooded, smothered in the spring gold of daffodils in full show-off mode despite the rain.

I can tell you about our encounter with a meteorite. At Wold Newton, a monument was built to commemorate the great meteorite strike of 1795, like I say they have long memories these Wolds folk. The words carved onto the monumental are as striking as I suspect the event was:

Here On this Spot,

Decr. 13th, 1795

Fell from the Atmosphere

AN EXTRAORDINARY STONE

In Breadth 28 inches

In Length 36 inches

and

Whole Weight was 56 pounds

The Wold Newton Meteorite is the name given to what was believed until recently, to be the first meteorite observed and recorded as having fallen in England. It struck land owned by Mr. Edward Topham - soldier, caricaturist, dramatist, journalist, publisher, sportsman, magistrate, litigant, and landowner - at Wold Cottage, Wold Newton, Yorkshire, around three o'clock in the afternoon of Sunday 13 December 1795. It was witnessed by a farm hand working close by. In 1799, Topham erected a monument on the spot where the stone fell to earth. The meteorite can nowadays be seen in the Natural History Museum in London, sadly today, sight of its crater will have to be created in your imagination.

I could go on; this is a taste of the fascination the Yorkshire Wolds holds. Walk the Yorkshire Wolds Way, but also take the time to wander in the landscape. You will never be disappointed, whatever the weather.

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wet walker on the Wolds - Dave Greenwood
Wolds road view - Dave Greenwood
Meteorite monument - Dave Greenwood
a wolds field - Dave Greenwood