Oh, we’ve had some easy walks in our time, but this circuit of the Yorkshire Wolds could go straight to the top of the list.
asically, it is three simple sections – the Hudson Way rail trail, then a sharp turn on to Kiplingcotes Lane and then, for a cracking finish, the Wolds Way. And you’re back in time to sample the fare at the local tea room (as we did!).
The starting point, Goodmanham, just outside Market Weighton, is one of the most important historic sites in the East Riding. This is the place which witnessed the beginning of the end of pagan worship in this country - and the birth place of Christianity in the north.
The village church of All Hallows dates from 1130, but it stands on the site of a building much, much older – a pagan temple of the Dark Ages. This was the main centre of Woden worship in the north of England.
In 625AD, the heathen King Edwin, whose summer palace was at nearby Londesborough, married the Christian princess Ethelburga of Kent. Ethelburga only agreed to the match on condition that she could bring Paulinus, the Pope’s apostle, with her and that he would be free to preach the Christian religion.
In 627AD, Edwin called a Great Council at Londesborough to deliberate the new religion and here Paulinus made a startling first convert - Coifi, the high priest of Woden himself.
Legend says Coifi then leapt on a horse, raced to the pagan temple at Goodmanham and hurled a battle axe at the idols on display there. His followers expected the wrath of the old gods to strike him down, but when nothing happened they took courage and burned the temple to the ground. So ended pagan worship in the north.
Edwin and his council left for York and the king is said to have been baptised at a well in the city. On the site he erected a wooden church and from those humble beginnings sprang York Minster.
Goodmanham – the home of Godmund and his people – continued to be a place of some significance in the Middle Ages. At the time of Domesday Book, the Conqueror’s great land survey of 1086, it was recorded as having no fewer than five shared owners, among them the king himself and the Archbishop of York.
Now it is a sleepy, well-kept community with popular pub, the Goodmanham Arms, and a lovely little tea room, the Fiddle Drill (named after a farm implement found on the premises when they were converted to a cafe).
PARKING: Goodmanham is a mile north-east of Market Weighton. From the centre of Market Weighton, turn left along Londesborough Road and then turn right along Goodmanham Road into Goodmanham and drive though village to the free car park on your left.
GOODMANHAM AND KIPLINGCOTES STATION
8 ½ miles: Allow 3 – 4 hours. Map: O/S Explorer 294 Market Weighton
Exit car park and turn left along road, soon sweeping right past the Goodmanham Arms and All Hallows Church. Just past the Fiddle Drill tea rooms - great coffee and cakes; closed Monday and Tuesday - turn right at fingerpost for Yorkshire Wolds Way along a traffic-free country lane. After about half a mile, go past Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve on your left.
This site was used as a rifle range until World War II. Since the 1950s, it has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest – more than 150 plants have been recorded here.
A short distance farther on, the bed of the old York-Market Weighton-Beverley railway cuts across the road – STOP! Turn left (fingerpost: Rail Trail) along a gravel track, past right side of a gate.
This is the Hudson Way, a 10-mile walking and cycle route between Market Weighton and Beverley, following the bed of the Market Weighton-Beverley railway, and named after the Railway King, George Hudson. The line opened in 1847 and closed in 1965. Hudson (1800-1871) was a railway financier and MP for Sunderland who controlled most of the country’s railway network in the 1840s, earning him the soubriquet of The Railway King.
In 1845, he bought the nearby Londesborough Estate from the 6th Duke of Devonshire for the astronomical sum for that time of £470,000. Hudson was then at the height of his powers and was in the process of building the York–Market Weighton (later extended to Beverley) rail line.
He needed to buy up as much land as possible in the area to drive the line through, including Londesborough’s 12,000 acres. Hudson, who turned his birthplace of York into the railway capital of the north, was about to fall spectacularly from grace. Only four years later, in 1849, he was ruined in a scandal over the fraudulent operation of one of his railway companies.
Now stride out on a lovely level path passing through a car park after three-quarters of a mile and then passing the Kiplingcotes Nature Reserve based upon a massive chalk quarry where operations ceased in 1902.
1: Press on without a care in the world to, eventually, cross the farm access track to Southwold Farm (just visible to your left). Next, you will cross a brick bridge spanning a road to arrive in the car park at the former Kiplingcotes Station still complete with its signal box, goods shed, old platforms and nameplate. What an evocative, nostalgic place! Pause awhile for a look round.
Kiplingcotes is associated with the famous Kiplingcotes Derby which takes place over a four-mile cross-country course, starting just north of this spot on the third Thursday in March. It is the oldest horse race in England having started in 1519.
Here, leave the rail track and slip off left along the car park access road to join the Market Weighton-South Dalton road and turn left, soon passing under the aforementioned brick bridge.
IMMEDIATELY, turn LEFT (blue cycle sign) along Kiplingcotes Lane and follow it for just short of two miles, practically traffic-free (grass verges for safety), to pass a wood on brow of hill and then Arras Cottages.
2: After another 300 yards, just before the A1079, turn right along entry drive to Arras Farm (fingerpost for Wolds Way and Goodmanham on your right). Walk into the middle of the farm with a long, brick barn with arches on your left and a huge dark-green corrugated barn to your right and then turn left at end of brick barn on vehicle track to an immediate fork and take left branch with hedge on your right.
Now enjoy the lovely section over Weighton Wold with extensive views rightwards across miles of typical Yorkshire Wolds countryside. After a mile, at a Wolds Way fingerpost, continue with hedge on your left and a valley called The Dale to your right.
Press on to a kissing gate and continue on a green path down the hedge to enter road at a T-junction. Take the road opposite, soon linking up with the outward leg at the Rail Trail (to left and right of road).
Now retrace your steps to Goodmanham, up the hill, over the top into the village and, at T-junction, turn left through the village to the car park and the finish