Yorkshire Wolds Way Day 4 (Part 2): Wintringham to Ganton

Published 28 April 2019

A signpost pointing to a steep hill
Go up that steep hill. Yes, that one over there.

For 79 miles/127km, the Yorkshire Wolds Way runs from Hessle, near Hull, to Filey. One summer I walked it with a man called Tal, over five days. Days one to three saw brilliant weather. Day four, less so. But even dull sky hadn’t spoiled a morning that featured one of the best views on the whole of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. Wgar would the afternoon bring? Well, weird art, the Vale of York, and an incredibly large portion of scampi.

Beyond Wintringham was Deep Dale Plantation, a wood on a hill overlooking the village. As well as trees, it also features an incredibly steep path up to the top. It’s always difficult to judge gradients but both Tal and myself guessed 1:1. That was – I suspect – rather an exaggeration. It was probably closer to 30% angle, but it was definitely the steepest climb on the whole trail. And the longest, too.  My calves ached with the effort. Could someone have not installed an escalator or something? Or made the path a zig-zag to make it easier? Installing a rope so people could haul themselves up, was another option. But no, no one had felt that any of these were necessary. Using our legs and stamina alone was all we had to rely on to get us to the top. Although when we got there, the effort was forgotten as we found ourselves at a curiously ornate red gate.

The gate led into a field. And in the corner of the field, a piece of art called Enclosure Rights.

Wooden posts, forming part of the Enclosure Rights art installation
It’s art Jim!

I like a bit of art on a walking trail. It feels rather special when you think about how many (or should that be few) people must walk past it. The result is that you’re part of a small, and secret club that gets to enjoy it. I once stayed in a bothy on a walking trail in Scotland and found it was hosting a month long art exhibition. This was a remote part of Scotland, with few visitors. I saw only one other walker that day. The bothy’s visitor book suggested that at most one person stayed in the bothy every night. Now it could be that a few people popped in during the day too, but even so, it would have been a push for fifty people to have couldn’t have seen the exhibition. Sixty at best. And I was one of those lucky people. It felt great to be in that tiny group. Even if I hadn’t particularly understood what all the art was about.

I wasn’t sure I understood Enclosure Rights either, if I’m honest. There were a lot of red painted wooden posts that had been arranged to make two fences, one on either side of the piece. In the middle was a ring of taller wooden posts. Off to one side, some squat white figures standing in rows. And there was a dewpond full of tadpoles. Although I doubt the tadpoles were deliberate.

White wooden statues, part of the Enclosure Rights art installation
Mysterious figures at Enclosure Rights

A sign told us that the artist drew on the Bronze Age for inspiration. And by coincidence, some Bronze Age barrows were uncovered during construction. Of more interest to us were the benches. There were three of them, each with a view looking out over the Vale of York.

Art or no art, it was a good spot to stop for lunch. Hey, who can turn down a good bench? Especially when you’ve just had a steep hill climb.

Well, it turned out that we could. The local birds had been using the benches for target practise, covering them in bird poo. So we sat on the grass instead, finding a perch where we could scoff our sandwiches, crisps and cake.

Picture of a sandwich, held in front a dew pond
Eating lunch at the Enclosure Rights dew pond

“That’s Sherburn down there”, Tal told me, staring at the map, and pointing to a village at the bottom of the hill.

Given that thirty minutes earlier a signpost had said ‘Sherburn – 4½ miles’, I wasn’t sure I believed him.

And so preceded a tussle over map reading skills. Then fisticuffs, and a challenge to a duel at dawn. This carried on until I finally ended it by pointing out that the church at Sherburn was on the far side of the A64 from us. In contrast the church we could see was on the near side. Oh and that that church, that one down there, had a visible spire, yet according to the OS map, the church at Sherburn didn’t. And with that crushing defeat, Tal relented. Humbly he declared my map reading skills to be superior. We agreed that the village we could see was actually East Heslerton. And with that peace broke out once more.

The village of Sherburn, with the Vale of Pickering behind it.
The village of Sherburn, with some sort of hills behind it.

Not that Sherburn was that far away.  We were there soon enough. Walk through some fields, avoid a large group of nettles, and admire a bench of two. Oh and gaze at a chalk pit now covered in wildflowers, and looking all the better for it. And that was that

Three miles on from Sherburn sat the village of Ganton, where we were finishing for the day. Getting there involved walking past a large pig farm that was next to a golf course. Well every walking trail seems to have at least one golf course along its route.

The two neighbours were quite different. We couldn’t help but wonder if the rather piquant smell from the farm put the golfers off. And how many of them finish their round of golf and headed off for a bacon roll.

The aroma from the pigs wasn’t particularly pleasant. Although was that their fault? Pigs have rather a reputation for being dirty and smelly, but it’s rather unfair. Many years earlier I’d lived near a city farm that had pigs. And believe me, their pens never had a smell problem.

Pig farm at Potter Brompton, on the Yorkshire Wolds Way

No, the smell usually is a consequence of man, not pig. Usually the problem comes with the confined spaces that pig farms keep their animals in. The pigs here lived in outdoor pens, of varying size. Smaller pens for smaller pigs and, it goes without saying, bigger pens for the larger animals. But there still didn’t look to be a massive amount of space for each pig. In such circumstances pig waste is going to build up, especially if the pens aren’t cleaned out very often. And it didn’t smell like these were.

So it was rather a relief then to be stood outside the Greyhound Inn at Ganton. Exhaust fumes from vehicles travelling down a busy A-road aren’t the best of smells, but I had smelt worse. And not that far away.

Ganton’s tiny, although it has a large pub. It acts as a refilling point for those driving along the A64 between York and Scarborough. Huge signs outside proffered lunches and basket meals. But don’t stand there at 5:15 like we did. The doors were locked and bolted, and anyone wanting sustenance would have to wait until 6:30.

We could have stayed the night at The Greyhound, but our bed was elsewhere, in a delightful B&B in nearby Flixton. One where the friendly owners proffered tea and cake, and that had an honesty bar stocked with local ale.

The Greyhound pub at Ganton
The Greyhound – end of day four on the Yorkshire Wolds Way. P.s. pub was closed for the afternoon.

But before we could sample them, we needed an evening meal. And that was to be partaken in a pub where big was their middle name.

And I mean BIG. The scampi I ordered included twenty pieces of Whitby breaded shellfish. Tal’s steak and ale pie was so large that the weight of it almost broke the plate.

Now in my experience, there are two approaches pubs can go for with food. There are those that go for quantity over quality. And there are those that go for quality above quantity. But actually the food at the Foxhound Inn managed to something that, in my experience, is very rare.

It did both.

The chips tasted very much like they’d been cut from a potato on the premises, rather than coming in frozen. And Tal’s pie filling was rich and succulent. On a nearby table we watched as a customer had a double burger placed in front of them. It was about 20cm high at least. The burgers themselves looked like they were from a high quality butcher. And all this offered at a reasonable price. We had two massive main courses and a slice wodge of cheesecake. The food bill was less than £25. You could, I am sure, find food that was cheaper. But you’d be hard pushed to find food at a cheaper price that tasted better.

By the look of it, people came from miles around to eat there. Based on the way they chatted with the staff, many of the diners were regulars. But one thing was notable. Pretty much everyone had their food, then went again. This was not a pub to settle in for the evening. This was a pub for eating in, and then heading home.

Perhaps it was the slightly uncomfortable chairs. Perhaps it was the slightly modern, and not particularly cosy decor. Or the bright white lights. Either way, we didn’t feel encouraged to linger, even if our stay was longer than most of the other patrons.

But it didn’t matter. Not when your B&B has an honesty bar. One with a wood panelled room and cosy leather sofas to slump into. A perfect place to play cards and to chat, as it turned out.

And a place to contemplate. We had one more day or walking left. In 24 hour hours we’d be celebrating in Filey. The Yorkshire Wolds Way be complete, and we’d head off in different directions back to our normal lives.

But until then, there was a fridge full of a beer to get through.

Next time: the final day, the slow walk to Filey, a secret base, and a multitude of dales.

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