North Grimston (Middleton Arms).
Thursday 31st January 2019
Route Bella Farm, White Hill, Station House, Lane, Picksharp House, Beggarman Field, Birdsall, Mill Beck, Wandales, Grimston Plantation, North Grimston (Middleton Arms), Grimston Hill, The Peak, Broad Balk, Wharram le Street, Station Road, Bella Farm (10 miles)
Members Paul, Chris, Keith, Paul ‘Sherlock’ Holmes, Ray, Col.
Even in the dark depths of winter on such a freezing cold day as today the FAC can be relied upon to collectively drag itself out into the frosty morning air and head for them there hills. It was a murky foggy start to the day and the traffic getting out of Hull was worse than it normally is but once onto the B1248 the fog cleared and the day suddenly seemed very promising.
Not forgetting to gather up Col in Wetwang we were heading for the small car park close to Bella Farm high up on the Wolds. It was certainly crisp underfoot after a hard overnight frost but with the sun not long risen and and a cloudless sky it was a perfect winters day to be out. In among the nearby trees Sherlock spotted a squirrel frozen to the bare branches but on closer inspection it turned out to be a squirrel of the stuffed toy variety albeit a camera shy one.
We slipped and slithered our way down the track that leads to the remains of the church at Wharram Percy and it was odds on that someone was likely take a tumble on the icy track and indeed it was Ray who had that honour. Ice 1 Ray 0. At the bottom of the track we headed north along the long closed (1958) Driffield to Malton railway line destined for the old station house on the site of Wharram Station. On the way we passed a derelict silo slowly being swallowed up by the surrounding trees and bushes. We were intrigued as to its purpose which the ever helpful Mr. Google tells us it was used to load railway wagons with chalk from the nearby quarry.
From the Station House we’d be on tarmac for quite a way making our way through to the village of Birdsall and beyond. Walking along this quiet narrow lane made for good walking with only the occasional farm vehicle or passing postman to disturb the peace. There wasn’t a breath of wind and with the bright sunshine lighting up the surrounding frosty fields, trees and hills the views were spectacular.
We stopped for a brew and a butty adjacent to the quaintly named Beggarman Field before continuing on to the small but perfectly formed village of Birdsall and its grand St Mary’s Church with snowdrops bursting forth every where we looked. Still following the Centenary Way we eventually left the lane at Mill Beck. Prior to this, and on more than one occasion, Keith had wondered out loud why he’d bothered to put his snow gaiters on as up to this point the walk had been mud free not least because any mud we’d had to negotiate was frozen hard.
The ground along Wandales was quite chewed up in places no doubt as a result of the attentions of the local bovine population. Although still frozen the sun had got to work and it had begun to thaw in places and had the temperature gone up by a degree or two we’d have really been wallowing in it. At this point Keith claimed he was glad he’d worn his snow gaiters after all. Eventually the outer environs of North Grimston hove into view which meant it was pub time. Every good walk should have one.
The current landlady of the Middleton Arms in North Grimston has decked out the pub with a collection of easy chairs and bar stools which gives it the look of someone’s living room. On top of that the first time the FAC visited the pub after the new landlady had taken over found her in a somewhat prickly mood no doubt alarmed at these dishevelled men of the hills lounging about on her nice new furniture. The last time we visited the Middleton Arms it was besieged by visiting Irish farmers which found her stressed out even more.
However our latest visit found her in a much more welcoming mood as she waded through her paperwork at one end of the pub whilst her able assistant Daisy looked after us at the other end. There was a big old black dog laid in a recumbent position on one of the settees and he clearly wasn’t going to move for anyone. We didn’t want him to move anyway, it’s his house and we were only passing through.
The landlady was quite chatty between bouts of work on her laptop and with a roaring fire warming us up and decent ale we whiled away a pleasant hour or so. Apart from a bloke delivering frozen fish and a meter reader we were the only paying customers which may have accounted for the landlady being somewhat friendlier than on our previous visits. Keith did get a little anxious when he went for a second pint which took a bit longer than it should have done as Daisy was busy fixing a light in the restaurant area. Of course he could have offered to sort the light out while Daisy pulled his pint but being a retired trades union chairman he had no wish to become involved in any demarcation disputes.
Eventually though we had to venture outside into the cold afternoon where the sun was still shinning so without much further ado we set off for on the 2nd leg of our walk. The afternoon portion of our walk was shorter in length but there would be a bit more climbing than during the morning. Well it wouldn’t be the Wolds without a bit of climbing now would it? We followed the farm track at the bottom of Grimston Hill strangely meeting a Police van coming in the opposite direction. As the track veered off we exercised our right to roam by crossing some rough pasture until meeting the Wolds Way path.
The Wolds Way climbs steeply from this point up to the appropriately named Peak before turning due south towards Wharram le Street. Crossing the lane that runs from Duggleby to North Grimston the finger post claimed it was only half a mile to Wharram but if that’s the case it’s the longest half mile any of us have walked. There was some dispute between the temperature readings on Paul & Keith’s phones with Paul claiming it was minus 6 and Keith asserting it was plus 1. One thing is for certain though the temperature struggled to reach zero despite the wall to wall sunshine so when we stopped for a well earned brew on Broad Balk we didn’t linger for too long.
After our brief break we walked down to Wharram le Street and continued along the Wolds Way to Bella Farm and our cars. By this point Ray was suffering a bit so he was definitely pleased to get back to the cars to give his knees some respite. The frozen squirrel was still clinging to the tree branch even though the sun had melted its frosty overcoat although he didn’t look any happier than when we’d encountered him earlier in the day.
Weather wise we couldn’t have wished for a better day with unbroken sunshine from start to the finish. It had been a good Wolds walk and the pub was better then we might have expected. The strange thing is once we’d set off to return home we’d only driven about 5 miles when we drove into thick fog and it was like that all the way back to Hull.
It’s said that the sun always shines on the righteous but it would appear that if they’re busy the FAC are next in line.