Well here we all are once again part way through our 53rd year….and they said it would never last. This year we’ve walked a grand total of 242 miles of which 240 seemed to be uphill. During the year we made a conscious decision to cut down our fortnightly mileage a bit and to highlight that our total mileage this year is two miles less than last year. Maybe we need to cut it down a bit more.
The stats for 2018 are 16 days out on the Wolds, East Yorkshire or Howardian Hills, 6 walks on the North York Moors and 3 trips into Lincolnshire.
Whereas 2017 will be remembered for it’s wet and muddy walking days 2018 will probably go down as our most sunniest year ever with 15 predominantly sunny days out. We had an unbroken spell between June 7th and October 25th where we were blessed with sunshine on every walk we did with July & August being particularly hot & steamy.
It wasn’t all sunshine and blue skies though as we had 6 cloudy days, 3 wet walks and one snowy day in mid January in the Fridaythorpe/Huggate area.
Our first walk of the 2018 programme was actually on December 21st 2017 as we meandered around and about close to the River Derwent, although not close enough to get our feet wet. We celebrated the winter solstice tucking into delicious haddock & chips courtesy of Martin & Alan in the Wadkin Arms in Osgodby.
Continuing our culinary walks we should have been gorging ourselves on egg & chips at the Cross Keys at Thixendale on our first walk of the new year but Steve the landlord had decided to remain firmly closed on mid week lunchtimes. A disappointment it has to be said as it was always an eagerly anticipated fixture at the beginning of our walking year. But as the old cliche goes ‘As one door closes another one opens’ our alternative walk on that rainy day in early January found us at the Green Dragon in Welton where it seems that egg & chips might well be on the menu for our first walk of 2019. We will see.
February 1st found us staying fairly local with a walk from Sancton. But before we could put our best foot forward we awaited the arrival of Col driving down from Driffield. Wondering where he’d got to Keith eventually received a phone call from a rather harassed sounding Col and the conversation went as follows…Col “Whereabouts are you?”, Keith “Parked up at Sancton”, Col “Oh I know Sancton really well”, Keith “Where are you?”, Col “Pocklington”.
On March 1st, and for the first time in quite a long time, the FAC had to forgo a walk due to the so called Beast from the East. But a fortnight later we were back out again this time heading for Sinnington. Apparently Col had been in Holy Trinity Church earlier in the week praying for a dry walking day but all that seemed to do was annoy the Big Fella as it rained all day. Once parked up at Sinnington we got ourselves ready for the day ahead, that is until some local curtain twitcher felt the need to tell us we couldn’t park on our chosen pitch. We were in the car park outside the village hall but apparently we couldn’t park there as he claimed there was a big event being held in the hall later in the day. Not wishing to upset the locals we relocated to the wet and soggy grass verge wondering if the event at the hall was a meeting to discuss visitors parking on the grass verge. We wondered if curtain twitchers did irony?
Late March found us up at The Hole of Horcum where Col was sporting some very snazzy gaiters in electric blue. We’d only been parked up for a matter of minutes when a fire engine from Pickering entered one end of the car park and slowly drove by before driving back out onto the main road. We can only assume they were investigating a report of a flare being seen over the Hole of Horcum when in fact it was just Col’s luminous gaiters. The plan on this day was to head for the Fox & Rabbit but someone, who shall remain nameless…although his initials are Keith Bilton, suggested we take the path along Levisham Brow in lieu of the path alongside Dundale Griff and being a democratic organisation we rashly agreed to his suggestion. But it was very slow going due to the poor state of the footpath and it soon became apparent the Fox & Rabbit would be out of reach this side of midnight. So we headed for The Horeshoe Inn at Levisham were a good time was had by all. The moral there is always have a Plan B.
On April 26th there was just me, Chris & Sherlock venturing across the River Humber and into yeller belly country. Mention must be made of our morning grub stop. We’ve stopped for a break in some weird and wonderful places over the years. There was the vile hut at Pluckham Farm and the tumbledown caravan in Bradeham Dale, both on the Wolds. Other grub stops of disrepute were the Canklow hut alongside the North York Moors Railway and the chicken shed high up in Northdale on the North York Moors to name but a few of the more memorable ones. But this is the first time any of us could remember that we’d used a bird hide for our grub stop. We entered by a set of wooden steps but once inside it was warm and cosy plus we could keep an eye on any local wild life passing by. However the graffiti etched into the wooden interior would suggest that the hide has rather less salubrious uses other than bird watching, but who were we to judge?
Into May and we were heading for Terrington. As ever Col didn’t disappoint in his choice of walking gear on this spring day. Looking like an extra from the film ‘The Desert Fox’ he was dressed in sandy coloured walking attire which would be ideal for a trip across the Sahara or possibly a trek through the Gobi Desert. As ever Col took the mickey taking in good part but being dressed as Rommel on a day out on Filey beach he could hardly do anything else.
Into July and on a hot & sunny day we parked up on a grass verge just outside the village of Thorpe Bassett. On the way back we passed the farm at Rowgate and got into conversation with the farmer who on hearing where we were parked told us he’d seen someone from the local council taking an interest in our cars even taking a picture of them. The reason for this became readily apparent as we approached our parked vehicles as we discovered the grass verge had been cut except for where our cars were. So if you’re in the Thorpe Bassett area and you wonder why the grass is six foot taller than anywhere else in the vicinity then wonder no more.
Mid July saw us up on the North York Moors on yet another hot and steamy day. All was going well as we meandered through typical moorland scenery via the tumbledown farms of Higher and Lower Row Mires. It was only when we reached the far north west corner of Cropton Forest that things started to unravel. Initially the path was clearly marked but as we got deeper into the dark heart of the forest the path disappeared under a tangle of branches, fallen trees, almost impenetrable undergrowth and some really vicious looking brambles, some of which were of head height. We lost Sherlock for a short while as he was swallowed up by the North York Moors version of the Amazon rain forest and all we could hear were his distant cries as he stumbled and crashed into various unseen objects hidden beneath his feet. This was another walk where Plan B had to be called on so instead of heading for the White Horse Farm Inn on the western slopes of Rosedale we made for the nearer Coach House Inn at Rosedale Abbey.
Early August saw us re-acquainted with the Bay Horse in Burythorpe which has recently re-opened after being closed for a good five years or more. The pub is very dimly lit with what can be best described as subdued lighting along with lit candles in bottles placed on the tables. It’s the sort of place where much plotting could be discussed in its dark nooks and crannies. Paul, Chris & Col had got seated with their respective drinks while Col, in hushed tones, related a tale of the unexpected. Right on cue the (fortunately) unlit candle on our table suddenly popped out of the bottle top and landed on the table with a thump…very spooky. Now that was unexpected.
During the afternoon we were engaged in a bit of ‘constructive route finding’ as we headed for the village of Langton. As we neared the village we could see someone sat on a grass cutter who was heading our way and was clearly going to question our justification for being ‘off route’. We explained that the path had run out and we just followed the black dotted line as shown on the O.S. map. She contended that it wasn’t a footpath but a parish boundary but there was nothing to be gained by arguing the point as it wasn’t a right of way, footpath or not, and we knew it. We parted amicably with the trespassers pleased to have cut down on some of the road walking we would have done following our original route while the landowner was happy that she had a tale to tell about some bloody walkers on her land. Honours even I’d say.
Late September and another sortie’ into deepest darkest Lincolnshire. If the Bay Horse in Burythorpe was the most atmospheric pub of the year then the Green Man in Scamblesby was by far the strangest. The landlord was clearly having ‘issues’ ranging from his difficulties moving around as he was on crutches to his obvious distress at his seriously ill wife being in hospital. And then there was his exuberant Rottweiler Alfie with possibly the loudest WOOF! in Lincolnshire. Alfie certainly had an eye for Ray. Not surprisingly the pub was empty apart from us but with Alfie stalking the place and the landlord looking like an extra from ‘The Shinning’ I imagine the locals used to cross the road when passing The Green Man never mind actually entering the place.
Mid October and we were in the Hovingham area where we practised the ancient art of the right to roam in Nunnington right across someones neatly clipped lawn. This is what happens when a path is diverted but the signs detailing the new route are missing. The Malt Shovel in Hovingham is always a good place to visit where apart from the beer on offer the landlord plied us with some giant size Hobnobs…or maybe that should be Hovnobs as they were made in the nearby village bakery. Throughout the day Col had been in full on Fagin mode as he filled his rucksack with apples, supped some of Keith’s beer and tried to make off with a bike leant up against the bakery wall in Hovingham. Mind you he met his match in Nunnington as he tried to borrow a bike off a young lad who soon gave Col short shrift.
October 25th saw John Suddaby venturing out with us after a gap of around 5 years. That day 5 years ago must have left him deeply traumatised and only after extensive counselling did he feel strong enough in mind and body to step out once more with the intrepid FAC. He chose a good walk too as it was our annual trek from Levisham to Goathland returning by steam train.
After our grub stop at Newton Dale Halt loin’s have to be girded before we struggle up the murderous climb out of Newton Dale towards Wardle Green. As John reached the top he exclaimed “That was certainly a climb and a half!”. Welcome to the FAC John.
November 8th and we were up on the northern edge of the Wolds and yet again Col did himself proud in the sartorial elegance steaks as he turned up sporting some natty headgear which brought to mind the character Harry Lime in the film The Third Man. Actually on the next walk around North Newbald Chris got it just about right as he christened Col…Indiana Johnson.
As ever a great years walking with much to remember and we look forward to further adventures as we tramp uphill and down dale, as well as downing ale, during 2019.
Some words of thanks and appreciation are in order especially to our chief photographer and FAC web designer Keith for publishing our fortnightly walks on the Internet for all to read and enjoy, particularly Col’s lawyers. Also included in those thanks are Sherlock who has also provided photos for the FAC blog, he certainly has a talent for photo graphing people at their most inopportune moments.
I’d also like to warmly thank our chauffeur John who unstintingly gets us here and back in one piece each and every year. Whether we will be able to enjoy the delights of our usual East Yorkshire mini coach in future years remains to be seen but with John’s connections at Scarborough depot it’s possible we may be travelling home on one of their open toppers next year. I speak for all of us John when I say that we very much appreciate what you do.
I’d like to thank mine hosts Stuart & Helen for looking after us today on our 30th year at this venue. 30 years!!…we’re almost a part of the furniture. We must be among The Gait’s most regular customers as we’re in here at the same time every year without fail.
And lastly, but not leastly, I’d like to thank each and every one of you here, for without you there would be no FAC.
To the FAC!…..I wish I was there!