Thursday 1st. December 2022
BURYTHORPE & BIRDSALL
Burythorpe, Hermitage, Car Nab Wood, Clombe Wood, Birdsall Grange, St. Mary Church, Birdsall, Manor House, Sheep Dip, Mount Ferrant Farm, Leavening Brow, Fox Covert Plantation, Burythorpe (5.5 miles).
Members; Keith, John,Paul,Chris,
It’s that time of year again when we shorten the walks to take account of the limited daylight and stay a little closer to home in case of inclement weather and there’s always the pub to visit once our walk is completed. However much to our dismay, we discovered a few days beforehand that the Bay Horse in Burythorpe have decided to limit their opening times for the duration of the winter, hence it wouldn’t be open until 4 o’clock and we’d be long gone by then. The Bay Horse is a favourite watering hole of the FAC and we were looking forward to our visit, but the FAC will not be thwarted as there’s always a plan B.
We parked up outside the old school and set off on our merry way towards Birdsall. Keith was sporting a shiny new walking jacket and trousers as well as new boots. It’s good to see that the governments help for heating money hasn’t gone to waste. Of course,, it stands to reason that anyone with new boots would be keen to test them out on a variety of terrains and conditions and who are we to disappoint? First of all, we walked through some long-wet grass which is known to contain more water per stride than wading a stream. Then there were some boggy areas to negotiate followed by an extremely muddy path through Car Nab Wood.
We let Keith wade part way through the mud and mire before informing him that the gate he’d just come through needed closing so he had to wade through the slop once more to close the gate then wade back again. It’s surprising just how quickly new boots become nearly new boots. He then strayed off the path a little with Chis observing that Keith had yet to gain full control over his (nearly) new footwear. Keith claimed he was making for a yellow way marker some way in front of him before realising it was just a yellow leaf snagged on a bush. An easy mistake to make unless you are following that little known trail, The Leaf Walk.
Beyond Car Nab Wood was Birdsall Grange with a number of ancient stone buildings in various stages of decay. The tiny village of Birdsall boasts an imposing church, St. Mary’s, which stands high on a mound making for an impressive sight set amongst some magnificent trees. From the village we followed a quiet lane and passing the Manor House we decided to stop for a brew using the wall of an old brick-built barn as a back rest.
Beyond the Manor House we began to climb a little but it was only gradual and hardly taxing. On the track to Mount Ferrant Farm we spotted four deer in an adjacent field who seemed unsure of which way to run as we got closer to them but they eventually disappeared into a nearby wood. The farm itself had numerous outbuildings crammed with agricultural spare parts galore plus numerous pieces of rusting farm machinery scattered about the place . In other words, just a normal working farm.
From the farm our path became a little steeper as we made our way up towards Leavening Brow but as we almost reached the top our track back down to Burythorpe was heading off to our right towards Fox Covert Plantation. The last time we used this track, which was earlier in the summer, it was in the process of being swallowed up by the surrounding greenery. But in the intervening period it has been cleared of the encroaching undergrowth and was much easier to navigate than on our previous visit.
So, almost at the walks end but there was a sting in the tail. The track itself had fizzled out and we were now walking across open meadow. Heading for a gate in the corner of the field we spied a large area of a mixture of mud, water and cow dung which was between us and the gate. Keith & John decided upon the left-hand route whilst Paul & Chris attempted to circumnavigate the slop by taking the right-hand route.
Neither route had much to recommend it but as Keith & John were restricted by the field edge fence, they had no choice but to plough through the mire. In fact, John decided to wade through the deepest part of the sloppy mess which was soon above his ankles. It was a situation where once you’d decided to go for it there’s no stopping and no turning back. Oh dear.
Luckily there was a stream not far beyond this quagmire so he managed to wash off the worst of it. As for Keith’s (nearly) new boots, they came through with flying colours. Perhaps not the colours they had when new out the box but they were certainly stained with the days toil along muddy tracks and swampy fields.
Back at the car we were soon changed out of our walking togs and ready for plan B. Plan B being a 15-minute drive to the Wolds Inn at Huggate where we enjoyed a welcome drink and a warming fire. It was here we hatched a plan to return here in four weeks’ time, betwixt Christmas and New Year, where a 5 or 6 mile walk will be followed by a tasty meal and a pint or three.
We like walking we do, us.