Thursday 29th. July 2021
Kirby Underdale-Bishop Wilton
Kirby Underdale, The Sikes, Glebe Farm, Gorman Castle, Longhowes Plantation, Barf Lane, Awnhams Beck, Catherine Closes, Awnham’s Bridge, Minster Way, Bishop Wilton (The Fleece Inn), Miller Wood, Old Wood, Worsen Dale, Mendlesham Brow, Kirby Underdale (9 miles).
Members: John, Stu, Stan, Keith, Col.
Due to health issues, there was only 5 of us today including guest Stan. John picked Keith and Stan up and drove to Stu’s where we all transferred into Stu’s car. We met Col in Wetwang and Keith, playing musical cars, rode shotgun cum navigator for Col.
Kirby Underdale was our starting point today and we arrived around 0820 with very little traffic to hinder our journey. We usually park in the village Hall car park but couldn’t make out whether this was now a private house. So, we parked at the side of the road which was wide enough to accommodate the 2 cars. An old gentleman, walking 2 dogs, approached us. ‘Are you going walking’ he said. As we all were decked out in walking boots and rucksacks, we thought it was very perceptive of him. Resisting the urge to answer ‘No, we’re going swimming’ We had a little chat with him. He pointed to the car park we had just ignored, ‘there’s free parking in there you know’. Oh ok, we thought it was a private house. ‘No it’s the village Hall’ he said. We weren’t showing a lot of interest in this information, so he finished with ‘perhaps you’d be better off moving you cars and parking them in the car park provided’. Point taken…why didn’t he just say, ‘You can’t park there mate’.
The village telephone is sited in someone’s garden abutting the front wall. You have to go through the front gate in order to use it. Whether or not the occupant of the house has the phone ‘wired’ in order to listen to village gossip is open to conjecture. Above the phone booth is a plaque informing all visitors that Kirby Underdale is mentioned in the doomsday book. Of course, you avid doomsday book readers will know that already. Kirby Underdale is also well known for it’s church (which is a grade 1 listed building) and a very slippery pavement.
So, we set off under darkening skies which threatened to open up and drown us any minute but after a couple of tiny showers it remained dry but windy for the rest of the day. The going was easy with a mixture of field headlands and country lanes. We passed a building grandly named Gorman Castle, it wasn’t a castle, just a farm selling fresh eggs. We left the road and walked along Primrose Hill which is little but a mound, they sure like pretentious names in these parts!
But now things got interesting. At Longhowes plantation a sign advised of an alternate route to avoid a bull, cows and their calves. A car drew up and the driver asked if we were lost or looking for a path. We told him we were ok and he pulled into the driveway of a house and he and a woman (presumably his wife) stood watching us. We decided to avoid the alternative route because who’s scared of a few cows? We walked a few yards in the wrong direction before realizing and turned around. The couple started getting excited now and started pointing at a waymarker on a gate which we’d already seen.
We went through the gate and the path brought us to the rear of the house where the helpful couple were watching us again (we really brought some excitement to their day!). Across the field we could see the gate we needed closely guarded by a herd of cattle. The couple were by now getting really excited pointing across the field to the gate we had already decided we needed.
We decided to cross straight to the boundary of the field giving the herd a wide berth in case things got ugly. A newly erected barb wire fence stopped our forward progress, so we followed it to the edge of the field. In fact to the very alternative path we had ignored. There was no way in to where the cattle were grazing so what was all that about? Why didn’t the sign at the plantation tell us of a diversion and more to the point…. why didn’t that couple? Even stranger, on the other side of the gate was a waymarker pointing into the field of cattle. Any unsuspecting hiker would go through the gate and, provided he wasn’t trampled to death, wouldn’t be able to get out because of the barbed wire fence.
We crossed the main Garrowby Hill Rd at Kitty hill and had a sarnie and brew at Catherine Closes. We spent 15 minutes googling ‘Catherine Closes’ but are still none the wiser. We turned into a field named Awnhams Meadow complete with plaque informing us that this pasture, full of fauna and flora had been unchanged in 250 years. The fact was, it had just been freshly mowed and the wildlife had long since scarpered and the only flora was grass.
We got into Bishop Wilton a few minutes before noon, we had walked just over 6 miles along lanes and rock-hard field headlands. We were feeling weary, and our feet needed to be rested. But lo and behold, The Fleece Inn was open for business. It must be under new ownership because it hasn’t open at lunchtime for 2 or 3 years. Talk about an oasis! and the beer (Midnight Bell) was like nectar (whatever nectar tastes like).
Bishop Wilton is worth a visit. It also has a grade 1 listed church and a babbling brook flows through the village. Whether it’s in the Doomsday book, I don’t know but perhaps some of you have read the book and will let us know.
The second half of the walk, although only 3 miles or so was mainly uphill so we resisted the temptation to have a session on the ale, girded up our loins, took a deep breath and resumed the walk.
We have done this part of the walk often; it is part of our Christmas dinner walk and so we know it well. The only difference is we were walking the opposite direction and the long downhill was now a long uphill. The views are marvelous across the vale of York, it was a joy to be out. Some intriguing names too which google could shed no light on. Worsen Dale, Stonetable Hill and Cheesecake Wold to name but three. Just before we reached the main road at Garrowby Hill top we had another brew and sarnie and all agreed that this walk should be a regular part of our programme.
After we had crossed the road the route was downhill all the way back to the cars. A great day out it was! And the cars hadn’t been clamped! See you in a fortnight.