Tuesday 23 November 2021: Pocklington to Thixendale, 15 miles (13 on Way)
This is a seriously good day – with the first stretch of tomorrow, you’re in the heart of the Wolds, following many dales onto their wolds and then down again. And to cap it all, a gem of a village pub at the end.
Against that, there’s the return plod back from Pocklington, with a golf course bang in the middle of it (though the Buddhist retreat centre at Kilnwick Percy is something of a counterweight). I was soon back on the trail though, and met a guy even older than myself saying “I’m getting too old for this now”. This was about half 10. He’d walked from Fridaythorpe, three hours away for me. He couldn’t have been doing too bad.
I was climbing back onto the scarp, higher up than the last stage, and with a grand view across Millington Bottom to Millington village. The good folk here open up their village hall to Wayfarers with a sleeping bag – others please copy.
The view across to Millington
Then the dales start in earnest. Down into Sylvan Dale, up on a zig-zag; ditto Nettle Dale, then skirt the top of Pasture Dale. There’s a more prosaic stretch either side of the village of Huggate, not quite entered, though if I’d known earlier about its tea shop, I might have done, but scenic splendour resumes with the descent of Horse Dale and the ascent of Holm Dale.
Not far from the head of Holm Dale comes the village of Fridaythorpe – on a main road, quite a shock! Its Seaways café was my lunch target, almost certainly where the older guy had stayed the night. It’s a popular haunt for bikers, and since I was one once, I never mind them. Alas one of today’s group was bleating on about racist banter not being racist.
Still, nothing wrong with a cheese and tomato toastie with a mega mug of tea on a chilly day in late November. Only four miles left on the day, but with two grand dales, Brubber Dale and Thixen Dale. The latter bears a piece of land art, Waves and Time by Chris Drury, and on a tree trunk nearby a couple were sitting waiting for something. Dusk, I guessed. “Wild camping?” I asked; it would be a lovely quiet spot. “No, the sack has just got some mats in it,” he said. Honestly, I’m not going to spill the beans.
Thixen Dale at dusk
From the dale-end, its nearly-eponymous village Thixendale, and my room at its pub the Cross Keys, is a short walk away.
Wednesday 24 November 2021: Thixendale to Manor Wold Farm, 17 miles
There are it seems two Thixen Dales, a longer one running south on which I had entered the village, and a shorter one running west. The Way does not quite take the latter, but there’s a good view of it from the ascent out of the village – and an equally good one looking back to the village itself.
But you’re actually heading out of Water Dale. Over Cow Wold, and a quick shuffle down and up to Back Dale, you’re on Toisland Wold – not its summit, but high enough to reach the high point of the trail at something like 713ft / 217m. Now begins a grand high level sweep, contouring above Deep Dale as the direction changes from east to north. Finally, drop down into the dale, which harbours the abandoned village of Wharram Percy. What a great morning.
Wharram Percy – the derelict church, and outline of abandoned buildings
I thought there might be a lunchtime bench here but no. A couple of miles on, the still-living village of Wharram le Street obliged very nicely with a little cluster of benches, so I stopped there instead. Another couple of miles on, and prepare for a shock. A bridge over a stream. While not exactly unique, this one is in a valley that owes more to the Yorkshire Dales rather than the Wolds. The clue, maybe, comes from the name of the dale that the valley becomes, Nine Spring Dale: enough water to produce a proper beck.
Somewhat further on, there’s a drop down the scarp and with it long views over Wintringham and the final northern outposts of the Wolds, which the Way will follow to Filey.
Woodland before the scarp slope dropping down to Wintringham
Wintringham too has a proper beck, with a couple of little ponds beside them, but for my break I pressed on to the church at the other end of the village. I’m not sure I would have routed the Way along a nondescript path behind the village, if the village street is quiet and pretty. The church itself no longer has enough regular church-goers to hold regular services.
The honest sign post
The way back up to the Wolds is by means of (another) Deep Dale, and it boasts one of the most truly honest signposts on any National Trail. Yes, it’s steep. Short though. Not much further on, you come to the northern escarpment of the Wolds, which the Way follows for most of the distance to Filey. It overlooks the Vale of Pickering, with the North York Moors beyond.
This confirmed something I had suspected. The Moors today, twice the height and more of the Wolds, were today in sunshine while the Wolds had cloud. I could tell from yesterday’s cloud-end that the same was true then. How is this possible? Higher ground equals more cloud surely? Just have to cope with it though.
Rather like the South Downs Way, the trick in walking this part of the route is deciding where and how to drop down to the villages at the bottom of the slope for accommodation. But not quite. There are two opportunities right by the Way, or nearly. If you’ve got a tent, there’s West Farm, which is seasonal. If you haven’t, there’s Manor Wold Farm and its glamping pods. I used one of these in Wales in July and it was ideal, so I went for it.
Thursday 25 November 2021: Manor Wold Farm to Filey, 16 miles
To begin, you’re on farm tracks and paths on the scarp top. For me, the weather seemed more sensible; I had sun, mostly, while the cloud and rainbows to the north showed that the Moors were having some pretty heavy showers.
Looking across to the North York Moors
The Way dips down after a couple of miles till you’re nearly in the village of Sherburn, stays low to Ganton, and then heads up to the radar station of RAF Staxton Wold. From here, there’s one last burst of dale-and-wold activity: down-and-up through Lang Dale, then along Camp Dale – a nice lunch spot – and the wooded Stocking Dale.
A bit more scarp, dropped down with glimpses of the sea, brings you to Muston, and then it’s field walking to Filey.
The end of the Yorkshire Wolds Way at Filey Brigg
Saturday 26 August 2017: Filey to Filey Brigg, one mile (and on to Scarborough by the Cleveland Way, a further eight miles)
We were in Filey for a big family reunion (it’s my sister’s favourite resort), and I got permission for a day out on my own. I knew I wanted to walk both the Cleveland Way and Yorkshire Wolds Way, so it made sense to walk this section, the end of one and the start of the other.
It’s good cliff-top walking but with the Wolds Way section barely half an hour, hardly a challenge. It was however to make my logistics four years later much easier.