Thursday 10th September
Howsham, Kirkham & the River Derwent
Howsham, Church Farm, Black Plantation, Howsham Wood, Spy Hill, Henlow Lane, Westow, Dark Lane, Firby Hall, Centenary Way, Kirkham, Kirkham Bridge, River Derwent, Howsham Bridge, Howsham (8 miles).
Members; Paul, Stu, Paul ‘Sherlock’ Holmes.
Just three of us out today, which from Monday will be 50% of how many people we can legally have on our fortnightly walks. Anymore than that and we’ll have to resort to an A and B team. The world just gets weirder by the day.
We’ve done this walk, between Howsham Bridge and Kirkham, on numerous occasions and it’s a particularly good one in a lovely part of the county. As there was only one car it was decided that we’d park in the sleepy village of Howsham instead of our usual berth alongside Howsham Bridge.
By a little after half eight we were ready for the off on what promised to be a lovely early autumn day. The sun was shining and it was warming up noticeably although the ground was quite damp with a heavy dew underfoot. We strode out passing Church Farm and headed for Howsham Wood. Hung on a branch of a hawthorn hedge was a discarded face mask, a clear sign of the times.
The steepest climbs occur early on with the first being in Howsham Wood and the 2nd not very far beyond at Spy Hill. This vantage point gave a splendid view over the Vale of York which was highlighted by the morning sun. We mused on the idea of what sort of photo’s could be achieved in such a lovely setting if we had a drone to hand. That certainly would be amazing if we could take photos of our group from high above. Welcome to the 21st century (one day).
We passed through the tiny village of Westow where we were surprised to see that the long-closed tailors’ shop was being converted into a house. The shop had long been a feature in the village with sewing machines and other tailoring equipment and racks of old clothes visible through the grimy shop window having been there, frozen in time, since the day it had closed. At the other end of the village is Mrs. Jam selling, you’ll be surprised to hear, jars of homemade jam. Paul & Sherlock were happy to support the local economy with each buying a jar of raspberry jam. Yum yum!
From Westow we followed the ominously named Dark Lane although, too be honest, there’s nothing particularly ominous about it. We did pass a large pile of smelly manure which was more malodorous than ominous. Just beyond here, and out of range of the pong, we decided it would be a good time to stop for a brew and a butty.
Further on we joined the Centenary Way which took us through the grounds of Firby Hall with its impressive walled garden and cacophony of barking dogs. And onwards to Kirkham where one of our favourite pubs, The Stone Trough, beckoned. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t beckon until 12 midday and as it was only 11 o’clock we took the decision to carry on and forgo any thoughts of refreshments, alcoholic or otherwise.
We strolled down the lane and lingered awhile outside the ruined priory and on Kirkham Bridge. It was that sort of day where we weren’t in any sort of hurry, we were just enjoying the sunshine and scenery. We joined the footpath that runs alongside the River Derwent which was in full flow. It’s an excellent route taking us through woodland and meadows in equal measure. Paul demonstrated his expert knowledge of plants by identifying the profusion of Himalayan balsam growing along the river bank. Sherlock then punctured the moment by speculating that he must have asked Chris what the plant was the last time we walked this route. He wasn’t wrong.
It was such a beautiful day that Stu suggested that we sit by the river bank awhile and just let the world go by, or in this case the river. We saw quite a few brilliantly coloured dragonflies and plenty of butterflies as we sat amongst the peaceful surroundings. But we couldn’t sit here all day enjoying ourselves, there was walking to be done, although not much more today. We meandered off towards Howsham Bridge passing the Archimedes’ screw (not a pub, but a machine used for transferring water into irrigation ditches). Actually, we couldn’t remember the name to start with although we knew it was some Greek geezer. Aristotle screw just didn’t sound right though.
Before too long we were heading over the bridge and into Howsham village at the end of another good day out. And just to round it off we stopped off at the Seaways Cafe in Fridaythorpe for a welcome cuppa. We looked a bit out of place as the cafe was buzzing with aged bikers and retired Hell’s Angels, and that was just the women.
As ever photos of the days adventure can be found on the FAC Photos Facebook page courtesy of Sherlock. He knows how to keep his lens clean and social distancing was observed at all times m’lud.
As Keith will not be with us for the foreseeable future, And after many requests for photos of our walks we’ve set up a Facebook page imaginatively titled “FAC Photos” which can be found here
Our intention is to post photos of our fortnightly walks plus pictures from previous walks. It’s work in progress at the moment but we hope it develops into an interesting and entertaining resource.