Walking: Stride out for a hassle-free day

Walking up the edge of Low Wood with a typical Wolds fieldscape behind.

Walking up the edge of Low Wood with a typical Wolds fieldscape behind.

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Blocked paths? Never heard of them in the Yorkshire Wolds. Barbed wire, broken stiles, poor waymarking, ankle-deep mud? No, none of those are to be found in this beautiful eastern corner of our glorious county.

The picturesque green valleys of the Wolds are a walkers’ paradise and if you have never roused the enthusiasm for a visit, then now is the time. While paths and tracks around Yorkshire are suffering and sinking in one of the wettest winters on record, the chalk uplands of the Wolds remain relatively dry as the rainfall quickly disappears, seeping through the porous surface.

This gentle circuit is a typical Wolds delight - no route-finding problems, no obstructions, good waymarking and pretty solid ground throughout. Give it a bash.

Bainton has an interesting history, being linked to one of the great medieval families of the north, the de Mauleys, builders of Mulgrave Castle, Whitby. The de Mauleys arrived at Bainton in 1214 when Peter de Mauley, an adventurer from Poitou, who had gained the dubious favour of King John, married the heiress of the Fossard dynasty, holders of the estate since the Norman Conquest.

In addition to Bainton, de Mauley acquired the adjoining Fossard manor of Neswick and several other Fossard properties, including Mulgrave where he built a castle which became the main family seat. His family remained at Bainton for 200 years.

In St Andrew’s Church, Bainton, is to be found the magnificent stone tomb of Sir Edmund de Mauley who was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 - he drowned in the burn when the English were put to flight by the victorious Scots under Robert the Bruce.

The last of the de Mauleys, another Peter, died in 1414 and Bainton passed to his sister’s heirs, the Salvins, who remained for a further 150 years.

St Andrew’s dates mainly from the 14th century when it was rebuilt after being desecrated by the rampaging Scots, unstoppable in the north of England after their success at Bannockburn. Much of the rebuilding work - and the de Mauley tomb - has been identified as the craftsmanship of the master mason William of Malton, who originated from nearby Huggate, and who worked at York Minster between 1315 and 1320. He was appointed master mason at Beverley Minster in 1335.

APPROACH and PARKING: Take the A166 from York, through Stamford Bridge, over Garrowby Hill and continue to Wetwang and then turn right along the B1248 for Beverley. As you are about to enter Bainton, turn off left into a large parking area at side of road.

THE WALK

BAINTON and NORTH DALTON

6 ½ miles. Allow: 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Map: O/S Explorer 294 Market Weighton

From the layby on the northern edge of Bainton, walk up into the village via the minor road leading to the church (to left of the main road, B1248). On passing the first house on your right, turn right along Dead Lane to the B1248, cross with care and take the lane opposite, passing Back Lane on your left and continue along West End to end of village.

When the road turns right to become Preston Lane, go off a quarter left to a fingerpost, gate and kissing gate and go over the field in line of fingerpost (no path, despite this being the Minster Way long-distance footpath which links York Minster with Beverley Minster).

On crossing the field, go through kissing gate, turn right to a kissing gate in field corner, pass through and immediately turn left along hedge and then continue along edge of a wood and then turn left (arrow) at end of wood with a house (Westfield) to your left. Enter an access road, cross it and go straight ahead on vehicle track by the hedge (fingerpost).

When the hedge finishes, press on along a green vehicle track towards the houses of North Dalton, turning right at telegraph pole after about 150 yards. Enter road and turn left into North Dalton.

Domesday Book tells us quite a bit about North Dalton. It informs us, for instance, that there was a Saxon church here before the arrival of the Normans and that this early house of worship was quickly replaced by a Norman structure. Surviving from that church, in the east wall of the present building – which is to be found on the extreme western edge of the village - is an intricately-carved doorway. Although badly eroded, the stonework is testament to the church’s great antiquity; it has survived for nearly 1,000 years.

William of Normandy’s exhaustive land survey of 1086 also gives some indication of the size and importance of this agricultural community in the mid-11th century. The manor of North Dalton was so extensive it was shared between three lords, one of them, Aubert, being the pre-Conquest holder. This Saxon magnate lost two-thirds of his estate when the Conqueror carved up England and divided it among his supporters.

The rest of the manor was split two ways between Robert, Count of Mortain, half brother to the king and the biggest land owner in the country after the Crown, and Robert de Tosny, founder of Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, who held extensive properties in 13 counties from Hertfordshire northwards.

De Tosny placed his share of North Dalton into the hands of his second son, Berenger, while the Count of Mortain sub-feud his portion to one of his followers, Nigel Fossard, a powerful man in his own right who held numerous estates throughout Yorkshire, including Bainton.

Many centuries earlier, some time around 1,500BC, these fertile lands were settled by Bronze Age tribes; their burial mounds have been excavated only a couple of miles west of North Dalton.

1: Walk through the village, passing a two-sided Minster Way fingerpost, to pass, eventually, a half-hidden phone box on your right. Now spot the fingerpost ahead on lefthand side of road. At fingerpost (Centre House Farm), turn right and stride out along a fine vehicle track, soon through a gate across the track when the track becomes gravelled for a short section.

Press on up the gentle slope over Bainton Heights for a mile to gain a copse on the skyline. Continue over the brow and gently descend towards Deep Dale, picking up a wire fence on your left. Drop down into Deep Dale, soon descending more steeply to approach two tall trees and a wire fence. About 20 yards before the fence, turn left along vehicle tracks to a waymarked gate on your right.

Pass through and TURN RIGHT – back the way you have come – but with fence/hedge now on your right. Press on to pass through a gate and go straight ahead along right edge of field. Plough on in the same line along edge of fields to arrive – after three-quarters of a mile – at a wood corner with new fencing and a bridlegate.

2: Here, turn RIGHT up side of wood (Low Wood) and then, at end of wood, go straight on along left side of hedge. At field end, do NOT go straight ahead on vehicle track into a narrow belt of trees, but turn LEFT along a wide grass strip with the belt of trees (High Wood) on your right.

Follow this fine track for three-quarters of a mile to the B1248 and turn right along the road walking single file, facing the traffic and stepping on to the grass verge for safety at the approach of any vehicle.

This fairly uncomfortable section finishes after half a mile at a roundabout. Go past right edge of roundabout and straight on for the church tower at Bainton, but now using a footway for complete security. On entering Bainton, cross the road to regain your vehicle.

Hardwick Hall.

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