Thursday 22nd February 2024
THORNTON & POCKLINGTON CANAL
Melbourne, Pocklington Canal, Church Bridge, Church Road, Thornton, Sand Lane, Woodhouse Farm, Pocklington Canal, Walbut Bridge, Church Bridge, Melbourne (6m).
Members; Chris, Paul, Keith, Col, Sherlock & Stu.
It was another one of those days when the weather forecaster’s mantra was “Stay at home.” We can’t do that; it’s a Thursday walking day, and we need to be out and about somewhere in the surrounding countryside; it’s the law! We knew it was going to be wet, particularly underfoot. We’ve walked in the low-lying countryside around the Pocklington Canal many times before; it can be flooded in the middle of summer during a heatwave! So we knew what to expect in the middle of February after a very wet winter. If it wasn’t going to be wet and soggy, we’d be disappointed. Well, maybe.
Chris, Paul, Keith, and Col were the early starters today, while Sherlock and Stu would join us later in the morning. It was dry to start with, but by the time we’d picked Col up at Beverley Racecourse, it had begun to rain. No matter, we’re out now; there’s no turning back. As we drove up and over the southern edge of the Yorkshire Wolds between Bishop Burton and Market Weighton, it was raining big style. And on the narrow lanes in and around Everingham, there was some flooding, which Chris negotiated with the calmness of a captain on the high seas.
Once at our walk start point in Melbourne, not the Australian one, the one in East Yorkshire, the rain had virtually stopped. We had thought we might park in the village hall car park, but that appears to be an offence akin to sheep rustling or badger baiting around these parts, so we parked on the road outside the hall instead. By now, only light rain was falling, but we thought it prudent to don waterproof clothing, just in case.
If there was going to be a part of the walk most likely to be underwater, it was within the first half mile. North of the Pocklington Canal there are areas named Melbourne Ings and Town’s Ings, and anything with Ings in the name gives a clue to its likely state. In the event, we didn’t even get as far as the canal, as the path leading to it was almost knee deep in muddy water. Not to be beaten, we backtracked through the village and took the track alongside the Melbourne Arms, which led us to a footbridge over the canal.
The footpath alongside the canal is part of Wilberforce Way. This is a 60-mile walk devised to mark the bicentenary of the 1807 Act of Parliament abolishing British involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The trail starts in Hull (where William Wilberforce was born), goes through Pocklington (where he went to school), and finishes in York (where he was declared MP for the County of Yorkshire). We followed the footpath for a short distance as far as Church Bridge, then headed north along the narrow Church Road to the small village of Thornton.
It was quite surreal walking along Church Road with flooded fields on either side of the lane. Fortunately, the lane is on an embankment, albeit not very high, but high enough to keep the flood water on either side of us at bay. Once at Thornton, we turned east, all the while looking for a suitable place to stop for a brew and a bite to eat. We eventually found a spot alongside a field of solar panels. It was just a small pre-fabricated building, but it gave us a backrest while enjoying our vittles. It was raining, but only light, and north of us, we could see brighter skies heading our way.
Once fed and watered, we set off, heading for Woodhouse Farm. Fortunately, the fields along this part of our route were not flooded to the same extent as the areas we’d seen earlier, although some did look like paddy fields in places. Eventually, the farm track we were on took us back to the Pocklington Canal. Beyond Walbut Bridge, we met up with Sherlock and Stu, who’d walked from Melbourne along the bank of the canal and then all six of us followed the canal path back into Melbourne.
After getting changed out of the muddy gear we made for the Melbourne Arms, We’ve used this pub before, but not for some time. The pub has a Facebook page which claimed they’d be open at 12, so that’s where we were heading. Things didn’t look promising though as we walked up to the door, as the place was in darkness, but the door wasn’t locked, so we stepped inside. We were met by the landlord, who told us what we’d already begun to surmised: they were closed.
So it’s plan B, the Altisidora in Bishop Burton. On the way there, Paul looked again at the Melbourne Arms Facebook page to check the opening times, and it clearly said 12 noon. So he fired off a message as to the virtues of keeping the information on opening times up-to-date. A reply came back within a couple of minutes: “Sorry, I thought it had been updated.” I would suggest that a public house not adhering to its advertised trading hours is a far more serious offence than parking in the Melbourne Village Hall car park without due cause. I rest my case, M’lud.
And so ends another day out in the wild and wonderful. Once again we dodged the bullet with the weather; in fact, at one point, we even caught a glimpse of blue sky. There were floods aplenty, but as ever, there’s always an alternative route. It was good to see both Stu and Sherlock out with us once again. And even though our planned pub stop at the Melbourne Arms was thwarted by duff information, the Altisidora was an excellent alternative. All in all, a good day.