I’ve wanted to walk the Wolds Way for donkey’s years, since the middle of the 1990’s in fact. I had just finished the demanding but enjoyable Cleveland Way, a much to be recommended 109 mile jaunt around the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, from Helmsley to Filey. There, on the finishing line on Filey Brigg stood a signpost: “Wolds Way, Hull, 79 miles”.
I bought a book and studied the route, but circumstances always got in the way, until May 2018 when with walking partners Michael and Jennifer we set off to walk from the Humber to Filey (it made sense to end at the seaside rather than the other way round).
By chance a childhood friend who I’ve seen only a couple of times since, lives in Hull and agreed to both look after our car AND drop us at the start a short distance from our home.
“You can’t come to Hull and not have cod and chips,” said Christine, and despatched her partner Tony to the chippy for a heavy-duty set-you-for-the-day lunch. And with just six or so miles to do on the first day it was no real hardship.
Monday June 11th 2018, Day 1 – Hull to Welton
A quick glance on the map suggested the first day’s route was easy, starting at Hessle foreshore, just follow the banks of the mighty Humber, pause a while to wonder at the Humber Bridge (Factoids: it is 2,430 yards or 1.38 miles long and was opened to traffic on 24 June 1981, at that time being the longest of its type in the world. It is a Grade I listed building and carries well over 120,000 paying vehicles a week).
At high tide of course you can’t actually follow the map and have to wind your way through the streets of North Ferriby and then negotiate a busy trunk road interchange. However from there its a woodland stroll into Welton and the end of a short day.
It was here we first met a group of men who became known to us as the walking prophets, a title we adopted when we noticed they said grace before their evening meal at the pub, and almost every time we bumped into them on the route they were at a Church.
Tuesday June 12th, Day 2 – to North Newbald
A great days walk in warm sunshine and our first wold (which incidentally simply means a piece of high uncultivated land) but first Welton Dale and a glimpse of the wonderful scenery that was to become the norm for most of the next few days. Grass as green as grass should be, blue skies dotted with white fluffy clouds and the sound of birdsong.
We were surprised at the number and severity of some of the climbs but there was always the compensation of a downhill stretch to follow and some of the paths, as we pass through Swin Dale, for example followed the contours. On arrival at the Gnu at North Newbald we met our walking prophets again – they’d tried to book rooms but it seems we’d taken the last ones available and they had to beg a lift into nearby Market Weighton.
Wednesday June 13th, Day 3 – to Millington
Disaster! During the previous day Jennifer had complained that, for the first time, she thought she was developing a blister. Arriving at the Gnu she discovered it was enormous, had burst and overnight became so painful she couldn’t even bear to put a boot on. So, as she and Michael took a bus to the nearest walk in clinic in Beverly, I set off alone for the 15 miles to Millington. The first section was a slog on tarmac roads crossing open wolds to Goodmanham, and through the pretty Londesborough Park Estate. This is definitely worth a visit even if you aren’t walking. More road then around the contours to Nunburnholme passing the village church (and the Prophets) and on into Millington. The Carters arrived by car! Having had her foot strapped up and been told to walk no further until the wound healed, they’d travelled by bus back to Christine’s house and collected their car which would be Jennifer’s transport for the final days of our walk.
Thursday June 14th, Day 4 – to Thixendale
After a most comfortable night at the Rambler’s Rest we had the bonus of a lift back to where I had left the route the previous afternoon. Although there was the odd shower amid the sunshine, as we climbed back onto high ground along the edge of Warren Dale we felt the full force of the wind which blew for much of the day. Down we went into Sylvan Dale, before climbing steeply out again, across the top only to drop again into Nettle Dale. From here it was real Wold country. Pasture Dale, Frendal Dale and Tun Dale before a spell of open farmland. The scenery was breathtaking. We particularly enjoyed sitting in the Poet’s seat Huggate alongside was a book where you could add your own piece of poetry if you wished. On the bench itself the words: “We have rippled the earth with our desire to be here not there. We have driven the dale’s wedge of hush home between us. But you move, as we moved, in the ghost of water. A hare rips away from the dead, Thuds down the dyke and out into everywhere the grasses foam.” And so Thixendale itself and the welcome sight of the Cross Keys Inn. Panic – we are too early, the place is closed! We need not have worried as we sat at the tables in the small garden the landlord and his lady appeared as if magic and within minutes we had large glasses of cold alcoholic beverage to slake our thirst. The pub itself has an enjoyable air of neglect – a flash back to another time – but our rooms in the annexe were modern, comfortable and well furnished and there was even a heated boot room where wet clothes and dirty boots could be shed. The evening meal and the breakfast the following day matched the friendliness of our hosts: unfussy but satisfying for even the most hungry walker.
Friday June 16th, Day 5 – to Ganton
Before setting off we took advantage of having Jennifer in her car, to drive us to Robert Fuller’s Gallery outside the village of Thixendale. Robert is one of Britain’s foremost wildlife artists selling paintings all over the world. He’s an authority on wildlife often appearing on television mainly because the garden at his home and gallery is full of wildlife in homes he has created which they have inhabited. All are filmed or photographed.
As we climbed out of Thixendale we reached the highest point of the walk 700ft (215m) and then dropped into Deepdale and the deserted Iron Age settlement of Wharram Percy, although most of the remains are of the village that was abandoned in the 15th century. St Martin’s Church is at least recognisable being in use for a further 400 years after the village was deserted.
Beyond Wharram le Street more climbing to Settrington Beacon. Some pleasant woodland preceded a steep climb down to the tiny hamlet of Rowgate and a road stretch to Wintringham. Climbing steeply out of the village we encountered artwork called Enclosure Rites, which celebrates the abundant archaeology of the area. The final stretch that day offered great views before we dropped down to The Greyhound at Ganton, and their motel like accommodation.
Saturday June 17th, Day 6 – to Filey
The final day! Jennifer walked a short way with us as we headed out of Ganton along field paths and back to the tops – and our first landmark of the day, Staxton Wold, site of an important RAF radar station. The next hour or so was very much up and down: Flixton Wold, Raven Dale, Camp Dale and Stocking Dale, beautiful scenery! Soon we caught glimpses of the sea and our destination. Once in the village of Muston the open pub proved too much of a temptation and we paused awhile before make the last push for Filey and the sea.
Where we stayed:
The Green Dragon, Cowgate, Welton, HU15 1NB, Tel 01482 666700
The Gnu, The Green, North Newbald, YO43 4SA, 01430 827473
The Ramblers Rest, Main St, Millington, YO421TX, 01759 303292
The Cross Keys, Thixendale, Malton, YO17 9TG, 01377 288315
The Middleton Arms, North Grimston, Malton, YO17 8AX, 01944 768255
The Greyhound Inn, Main Road , Ganton, YO12 4NU, 01944 710116
Abbots Leigh Guest House, 7 Rutland Street, Filey, YO14 9JA, 01723 513 334