Yep, we got this one right! Our recce took place on a glorious day in July, one of the best of the summer so far. Everything went according to plan, as it usually does in the Yorkshire Wolds.
And why is that? Simple. This is the most walker-friendly area in Yorkshire. Here, in a land characterised by scores of picturesque green dales and vast, wide-open skies, you will find not a trace of trouble, not a hint of hassle.
Such things as footpath obstructions, broken stiles, barbed wire and poor waymarking are unheard of in this corner of East Yorkshire – everything is loaded in favour of you and me, the walker.
So take advantage of the situation and get out there and enjoy one of the most outstanding circuits this column has had the pleasure of encountering.
Oh, and don’t take too much account of the length of the journey which, at nine miles, may appear a bit on the top side; such is the ease of terrain – and, indeed, the interest – that it feels more like a seven-miler. But the sunshine does help!
Thixendale is tucked away deep in the heart of the Wolds in a most stunning position, a magnet for weekend walkers and cyclists alike. Radiating from the community like the spokes of a wheel are numerous chalk valleys which may give some clue to the village name.
Thixendale was recorded in Domesday Book of 1086 as Sixtedale and this name is believed to refer to the meeting of six dales at the village. But other experts have a less-romantic theory – that Thixendale is named after its Scandinavian founder, Sigsten. Thus, this is Sigsten’s valley.
This trip breaks new ground by tackling gorgeous Brubber Dale, once out of bounds because it has no public rights of way, but now accessible because of the Crow Act which, besides opening up great swathes of Access Land in the Dales and the North York Moors, has also unlocked the door to the majority of the miniature valleys which are the heartbeat of the Wolds.
Thixendale & Brubber Dale
9 miles: allow 4-5 hours
Maps: O/S Explorer 294 Market Weighton and O/S Explorer 300 Howardian Hills
APPROACH and PARKING:
Thixendale is best approached along the A166 from Stamford Bridge, over the top of Garrowby Hill, and then turning first left at the signpost for Thixendale. Roadside parking is available in Main Street – we parked outside the church – but please show consideration to residents by not blocking driveways.
From wherever you park in Thixendale’s Main Street, walk to the eastern end of the village - the way you will have entered by vehicle – and, just before end of village, turn along a “No through road” (fingerpost: Centenary Way) past a white building, The Cross Keys.
Go straight ahead, past a pair of semis and cricket pavilion, to enter Water Dale. Immediately on passing pavilion, go half left up the hillside on a prominent path. The path levels out – press on to cross a dirt vehicle track to gain a stile and fingerpost ahead.
Keep going straight ahead to arrive in another dirt road, cross it and go straight on to a third dirt road and fingerpost and turn right along the dirt road to arrive in the Thixendale-Fimber road. Turn left.
After about 200 yards, turn right through double wooden gates and follow the vehicle track as it sweeps left up the eastern flank of Water Dale with Raisthorpe Manor down to your left. At top of slope, go through gates and turn right to barns and then enter a tarred lane through gate on your right.
Follow this access road - Paradise Cottages on your right - to a T-junction after a short half mile and turn left along Thixendale Road. Now enjoy the carefree downhill, more than adequate compensation for the earlier climb out of Water Dale.
After half a mile, on descending a steep hill and passing the North Yorkshire boundary sign, turn right through metal gates and follow the broad track along Brubber Dale, previously private but opened up by the Crow Act. Sweep left down the centre of the lovely green valley. Soon, Cow Dale opens up to your right with Brubberdale Hill to your left. Plough on down middle of the dale.
1 After three-quarters of a mile, notice a gate and fingerpost to your right – ignore them and continue to the wood (Ings Plantation) ahead and sweep left when Brubber Dale becomes West Dale.
Wind your way through the dale, through a gate and onward to arrive at a second gate where a wire fence runs up to the left past three large trees.
Turn left, past these trees, with fence on your right. Near top of hill, go through kissing gate and continue along a cleared path and then along right edge of field. This leads out into the A166. Turn left along the wide grass verge into Fridaythorpe. Always stay on the grass verge for safety on this very busy road.
The grass verge becomes a pavement on entering Fridaythorpe – now cross the road when it is safe to do so before gaining the red phone box on the bad bend. Just before phone box, turn right along Huggate Lane (fingerpost: Wolds Way). The lane becomes unmade.
Press on to a split in the track at a new fingerpost and take the right branch for a couple of paces only to gain an immediate 3-sided fingerpost on your left. Turn left (Wolds Way) through a gate with twin arrows and turn right (yellow arrow) along edge of field. Holm Dale opens up to your left.
Go through kissing gate to left of a metal gate and onward along the fine vehicle track which eventually sweeps left to continue with hedge on your left. Sweep right and press on to the huge complex at Wold House Farm and go straight through the middle, over concrete apron, with barns on either side, to spot arrows ahead on corner of a corrugated barn to left of silos.
Turn left across a large, tarred open area with ancient brick barns on either side and then turn right along the farm access drive and follow it – don’t overshoot! - for 250 yards to the first hedge which comes into the drive from either side. Spot the half-hidden, low-level marker post in the hedge bottom on your left. Here, turn RIGHT along left side of hedge.
At end of this huge field, enter road through gap in hedge to your left, cross it, turn right to the A166 and turn left, past a grain store, using the wide grass verge which narrows after 200 yards at a concrete bell.
l These bell-shaped concrete markers, complete with Latin inscriptions, were erected by a local landowner in 1960 to mark Roman field sites. They are scattered throughout the district.
2 Continue on the narrow grass verge – never step into the road! - for another 200 yards and then turn right, across the road, to a fingerpost and continue along the drive to Pluckham Farm.
When drive swings right into premises, go straight on, through waymarked gate, and onward along vehicle tracks to pass to left of all buildings .
On arriving at a tower with tank on top of it, there is a fork – take the right branch, soon emerging in field. Continue with hedge on your right until, at double metal gates on your right, you can enter a minor road. Turn left.
After half a mile, go past Gill’s Farm to an immediate fingerpost on your right for Wolds Way and Fridaythorpe. Ignore it! Instead, turn LEFT (fingerpost: Wolds Way and Thixendale) along a delightful bridleway, soon crossing a stile next to gate.
Within a few yards, as the Wolds Way sweeps left – STOP! You can now cut half a mile from the journey by taking a short cut through Access Land. Go straight ahead by the wire fence on your right and then descend the grassy bank - quite steep! - into Thixen Dale to arrive at a gate with arrow. Turn right through gate.
Note: If you want to take the easier route, sweep left with the Wolds Way and then, in the valley bottom, turn right to arrive at the aforementioned waymarked gate. Much longer!
On passing through the waymarked gate, continue with wire fence and tall trees on your left. Go through kissing gate next to a five-barred gate and continue by fence on your left. Press on to emerge in road and turn right for half a mile to Thixendale and the finish