Walked: Yorkshire Wolds Way
Date: 24-29 March 2016
Distance: 79 miles
Walked with: Eleanor, Sally & Mike
Weather: Surprisingly good
Booking a six day walking holiday, in Yorkshire, in March – well, it was always a high risk activity. Dire warnings of high winds and torrential rain abound, and the pessimistic Hull taxi driver who dropped us off at the start informed us that the drizzly day would be the best we would get.
Which made what actually happened so brilliant: while much of the rest of the country had dreadful weather, we had a lot of sunshine, barely a drop of rain, and on the days when there was wind, it kept changing direction to push us along to our next destination. Also (and here’s a top tip to winter walkers), the Wolds Way is almost entirely chalky underfoot – which seems to lead to such well drained soil that our boots saw very little in the way of mud. In March! In England! Awesome.
The signage on the Yorkshire Wolds Way was also the best I’ve seen on any of the National Trails, so we didn’t get lost once and I rarely had to use my map. Add to that a series of lovely pubs, good ale, well cooked food and excellent company and you’ve got a great Easter walking break.
It’s a lovely landscape to wander through: lots of narrow dry valleys, steep banks and chalk downs that hint of fairytale kingdoms just around the corner… or, in the case of Deep Dale, the abandoned medieval village of Wharram Percy, with its picturesque church ruins. This is predominately ‘posh’ farming country – most of the farms we passed through felt like they were more of a hobby than a livelihood, with their immaculately kept lands and properties, and you walk through a number of very large estates, including the impressive Londesborough Estate, the site of a well-connected country ‘pile’ since the 16th century, the one time home of George Hudson (19th century ‘Railway King’), and now home to a banking family.
The one issue with this otherwise lovely walk is the scarcity of accommodation. With the exception of the quite brilliant Cross Keys pub in the beautiful (and beautifully situated) village of Thixendale, we had to walk off route (or get picked up) to get to all our B&Bs. I felt every step of the steep walk down to Millington, after a 19 mile day… although the climb back up again, after a good night’s rest, felt much easier! That said, both Millington and Thixendale are lovely villages, and the Gait Inn at Millington and the aforementioned Cross Keys were terrific, thriving village pubs with good, solid food, excellent ales and friendly staff that I can’t recommend enough. The Cross Keys in particular is a surprise; from the outside it looks seriously unpromising, but both the pub and its excellent B&B accommodation deserve all the plaudits they’ve already received elsewhere on line.
Another village worth a mention is Goodmanham, which we walked through on our second day. It’s got a fantastic pub, the Goodmanham Arms, in which we would have loved to have spent more time. It’s also got tens of bizarre little signs next to all the daffodils outside the church, entreating people not to stand on them. Quite took away from the otherwise beautiful display of these lovely spring flowers and made us mock whoever had put them there for the rest of the walk.
Anyway, all said, if you haven’t walked a national trail yet, this relatively short one is a great introduction to long distance walking in England. And as far as extended pub crawls go – as I’ve hopefully established – there are some cracking stops along the way!
Photos: Near South Cave (Day 1); Newbold Wold (Day 2); Frankly bizarre instructions not to stand on the daffodils in Goodmanham (Day 2); One of the fab Wolds Way ‘bendy’ benchs, this one at Huggate Sheepwalk (Day 3); Looking out from the ruins of the church at Wharram Percy (Day 4); View from Bassett Brow (Day 4); Rainbow over Winteringham (Day 4); View from Staxton Wold (Day 6); Filey Beach (Day 6)