Thursday 2nd. December 2021
Kilnwick, Cawkeld Sinks, Wedding Wood, Bracken Cottages, Point 32, Old Field, Bustardnest Fox Covert, Little Bustard Farm, Point 31, Hobman Lane, Hutton Cranswick (The White Horse), The Green, Footbridge, Watton Abbey, Watton, Mill, Tall Trees, Kilnwick Beck, Highthorpe Farm, Kilnwick (10 miles).
Members; Paul, John, Keith & Col.
6 a.m., and not a flake of snow on the ground, but by 7.30 as we were leaving Keith’s gaff it was coming down and looking like it was meaning to stay. Should we venture out in such conditions? Well, the FAC has a long tradition of not letting a little thing like inclement weather stand between us and a day’s walking. The criteria is if we can get to where our walk is planned to start then we do the walk.
Today we were heading for the tiny village of Kilnwick which lies roughly between Middleton-on-the-Wolds and Hutton Cranswick. We headed north along the B1248, which despite the prevailing conditions, was quite navigable. Being long time users of this stretch of road we know where the potential accident spots are, some of which still bear the scars of those motorists who weren’t paying attention to the road and/or conditions.
Our only concern was for Col heading south to Kilnwick from Driffield. For him it’s only a 15 minute journey but if you’re someone who can mix up North Frodingham with North Newbald then it’s quite feasible he could confuse Kilnwick for Kilnsea. Our fears were allayed when he rang Keith to ask how far away we were. We were relieved to hear he was already at Kilnwick and not staring out across the North Sea at Kilnsea.
By 8.15 we were under starters orders, some of us with waterproofs on as the snow continued to fall. A lady resident of the village was on her drive when she spied us readying for the off. She said we were brave to be out on such a day but she was probably thinking we were mad, but was just too polite to mention it.
She might not have been so polite if she’d seen the way her son (we guessed) reversed his Audi (of course) out of the drive almost colliding with her car which was parked in the road. Col shouted for him to stop, which thankfully he did. He hadn’t even bothered to scrape the snow of his windows, but being an Audi driver how could he be expected to know he wouldn’t be able to see very much with snow obscuring his vision. Foolish boy.
So off we strode down Main Street with Paul showing off his new boots. They stayed new for as long as it took to reach our first footpath which on such a day was a mixture of icy snow and sloppy mud instantly relegating his boots into the nearly new category. Although we’ve walked in this area before, although not for a long time, it isn’t as familiar as some places we visit. There are paths leading every which way so it was a case of constantly checking the SatNav to make sure we stayed on track.
Once past Bracken Cottages we were on open farmland. The paths were not particularly distinct and any clues on the ground were covered in snow. At Old Field we headed off in an easterly direction along a farm track which was a bit easier going. We were now walking head on into the falling snow although fortunately there was very little wind blowing or we’d have quickly taken on the appearance of snowmen.
Ahead of us there were thick grey clouds full of snow rolling down the east coast but behind us on the western horizon there was a distinct brightening in the sky. The forecast had been for snow till mid-morning followed by clear skies and sunshine and that turned out to be the case. It was break time so we decided to head for cover amongst the trees in the delightfully named Bustardnest Fox Covert. The cover was sparse to say the least but at least the snow had ceased and the sun was out. Break times tend to be short on days like these as we soon began to chill off on a day struggling to get above zero degrees.
Once fed and watered off we trod heading for Hutton Cranswick. The path to the village was alongside a huge field gently sloping upwards, it was very likely the closest we’d get to a hill on today’s walk. As we plodded along the muddy path, we spotted a walker in the distance heading towards us. He’d been the first person we’d seen since we’d left Kilnwick earlier in the day. About 50 yards away he must have seen us as he promptly turned around and walked quite quickly back in the direction he’d just come. There was a car parked beyond a gate in the distance and the bloke got in and drove away at speed. All very odd.
At just about the spot where the guy had turned around, we came across a dead hare which clearly hadn’t been there very long. We’ve no reason to believe the bloke had anything to do with it but his behaviour seemed very strange and the dead hare was just a puzzle. Maybe the kidnappers (what kidnappers?) had told him to walk down the long path until he reached the freshly killed hare and leave the money there. He clearly hadn’t bargained for the FAC being out and about on such a chilly day and our presence must have spooked him. Or maybe I should just get on with the report.
We were heading for The White Horse in Hutton Cranswick, a pub, which if we’ve visited it before, can only have been once. There was still 20 minutes to go before beer o’clock so we hung about on the village green waiting for opening time. Meanwhile Col had disappeared down the side of the pub although we could hear him talking to someone. After standing around in the cold for a while we decided to find out what Col was up to. It turns out he was chatting to the landlord who’d said we could sit inside the warm pub to wait while he opened at 12. True to form Col was too busy chatting instead of letting the rest of us know we could get out of the cold and into the warm.
The White Horse was warm and the beer was good but the interior decor betrays its past life as a music and entertainment venue. Back in the day coach loads of people would visit the pub on a weekend purely for the entertainment on offer. These days it offers overnight stays and fine dining but the warm ambience usually associated with village pubs is somewhat lacking. That’s just an observation, not a criticism, as any pub open on a weekday lunchtime is a plus in our book.
Still, it was a pleasant 45 minutes or so but all good things must come to an end and it was soon time to head back out into the chilly afternoon air. We’d already decided to amend, as in shorten, the afternoon route by a mile or so missing out a trek along Sheepman Lane and walking along the banks of Scurf Dike. Instead, we headed due south with the low sun in our eyes towards the remains of Watton Abbey.
Very little remains of the abbey itself which was founded around 1150. Our footpath took us past a large brick built farm building which apparently dates from the late 15th century and there’s an old house adjacent to the abbey site which was orginally the prior’s lodgings with parts of it looking to be of a similar vintage. From there we walked through Watton village and then headed towards Tall Trees which is a wood alongside Watton Beck. The path through the wood was quite muddy and slippery and care had to be taken not to end up going A over T especially as our chief photographer has a well-trained eye for people who are about to get a quick mud bath…smile!
We had a short break on the sunny side of Tall Trees before walking the short distance back to Kilnwick. All agreed it had been a good walk and a great day out despite the snowy start. A walk to be done again at a warmer time of year.