Saturday, 31 July 2010

High Wolds Heritage Group

Just found the website of this organisation whilst looking for the phone number of the pub in Acklam! Lots of interesting material on that part of the Yorkshire Wolds. I haven't had chance to have a proper look yet but will be re-visiting the site soon to have a better look. you can read the website by clicking here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What a difference

I thought my old camera took a reasonable picture in the right light conditions but the quality of image with my new Sony A390 is far superior. Steping up from a compact to a DSLR appears to have been worth the expense. The camera is rated as 14 megapixels double that of my previous camera.

The photo pictured was taken yesterday evening pointing from south west to north east with the setting sun shining across the picture. I'm not sure whether  the quality on here after upload will do justice to the way the camera captures that magical quality of late evening summer sunshine but it certainly has on the original image. It was taken on the "auto" setting of the camera. Many other functions are available and I'll be able to use those after taking the time to read the user manual but for now I'm satisfied with my purchase.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New camera arrived

My new camera has just arrived! I decided to make the step from a compact to an entry level digital SLR so have just purchased a Sony A390. Tonight will be spent taking copious amounts of photo's. Then studying them carefully and trying to work out whether the extra money was worth it. Hopefully, I'll be able to post some great new pictures on here and keep a record of the places we go and the things we see as we visit various parts of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Barn Owls and wide verges

Summer evenings offer great opportunities to observe barn owls hunting the verges of the local roads. As we drove home one evening we managed to keep pace with a barn owl as it drifted along the verge and over the hedges. Though, it proved much harder to get a photograph of one and after many attempts I did manage to get two pictures as the owl waited to pounce. It came up empty handed and flew off across a field and we lost sight of it.

Not many nights go by when we don't see a Barn Owl and the numbers on the Yorkshire Wolds appear to be good. This may well be due to many local roads having wide verges compared to many areas. These relatively untouched strips of grass will provide an ideal habitat for the Mice, Shrews and Voles that the Owls prey upon.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Around Kirby Underdale

Kirby Underdale was the start and finish point of a Sunday afternoon walk. Walking on this western side of the Wolds always offers fantastic views across the Vale of York and on clear days to the Pennines. First, though, we had to earn the views and a gentle uphill walk from the village was required to do that.

We parked on a graveled area near the church and the public footpath immediately took us through the churchyard. The churchyard is the last resting place of the previous Earls and Countesses of Halifax; the family seat is the nearby Garrowby Hall. At the far corner of the Churchyard we crossed a small stream and the path then immediately headed uphill away from the village. We followed a series of paths which then brought us to the high point of the walk as we followed the footpath from east to west in front of Mount Pleasant Farm. As we headed west we could see far across the Vale of York even though it was a murky kind of day. From this and similar points on a clear day you can see the foothills of the Pennines. Distinctive features can be picked out. One that does stand out and helps you get your bearing is the "golfballs" at Menwith Hill. These stand just west of Harrogate and by my reckoning are some 40 miles distant.

Soon, we turned south and headed gently downhill towards Salamanca Beck. We stopped and idled on a bridge for a while and we saw two Brown Trout dart away from our gaze. We then followed a track down to the road and headed back to and through the pretty and well kept village of Kirby Underdale. We arrived back at the car reflecting on a short (about 3 mile) but good walk that mixed a fine Yorshire Wolds landscape with great views further afield.  The Royal Air Force even joined in as the Red Arrows gave us our own private flypast as they flew overhead.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Acceptable food waste?

This evening we walked across a field that had recently been vined for it's crop of peas. At first sight as we walked towards the field it appeared that what a few days ago had been a field full of pea plants had been turned in to a barren wasteland covered in the remnants of that crop. As we drew closer it became apparent that a large number of birds where present in the field. The vining operation hadn't quite managed to clear the field with 100% efficiency as pods of peas could be seen amongst the remnants of the crop. I could see Crows, Lapwing, Wood Pigeon, a few Gulls and a pair of Snipe. Whether all these particular birds where feasting on the leftovers I don't know but some local wildlife will benefit. Much is said in the press about our wasting of  food but on this occasion I think some food waste was acceptable,

Thursday, 22 July 2010

What a difference a day makes

After enjoying a hot summer's day whilst at Driffield Show yesterday it was a real contrast today with grey clouds and low temperatures. Yesterday it was over 22 degrees centigrade at 8pm. Today it hasn't got over 16 degrees all day. The show committee definitely got the timing right.

The temperatures were measured at RAF Leconfield just on the very edge of the Yorkshire Wolds. You can check out the latest weather observations on the Met Office website at Leconfield Weather. The rainfall radar feature helps you identify whether it's going to rain in the next few hours and can be useful when going for a short walk or to visit a local attraction.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sunset Wednesday 21st July 2010

Main Street, Etton

Road west of Holme on the Wolds
Road west of Holme on the Wolds

Driffield Show - Letting the train take the strain and a good day out

When we saw the traffic queues it confirmed to me that we'd the right decision to catch the train. Anticipating the delays we decided to park up at Hutton Cranswick and get the train in to Driffield. When we got to Cranswick we joined the traffic queue for Driffield! Fortunately, we could then peel off to the station. The fare was only a couple of pounds and it entitled us to a pound off the entrance fee. So, a good deal all round.

Once at the show a vast array of displays, stalls and entertainment was an offer to entertain the tens of thousands of vistors. The White Helmets - the Motorcycle Display Team of the Royal Signals drew gasps from the crowds with their stunts and tricks and received loud applause for their polished display. 

A large part of what was on display also reflected the agricultural heritage of the show. Machinery suppliers, agricultural merchants and services suppliers setting up their stalls to attract the many farmers at the show and give them a chance to socialise together on what is a big day in the local agricultural calendar.

A large number of livestock were presented for judging and to my layman's eye it appeared they were all of a very high standard with many fine cattle, sheep and pigs to be seen. Small animals such as chicken, ducks and rabbits didn't miss out either with their own tent to be presented in. Congtaulations to all that won a prize and it was good to see the pride that many had taken in their work.

A real focus was also placed on local produce and enterprise with many examples of local food and drink available. Their was far too many for me to sample them all but I did have a rather nice pork pie.

In what seemed like no time at all it was time to head off to catch the train. I'll be back again next year and will again definitely be letting the train take the strain on my visit to this major Yorkshire Wolds agricultural event.

White Helmets @ Driffield Show

Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team entertaining the crowds

Champion Limousin @ Driffield Show

One of many fine head of livestock at the show

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Additional Hazards for Golfers on Beverley Westwood

The Westwood is the best known of the pieces of common land that the people of Beverley have available to them to enjoy. Ancient rights allow Freemen and now women of the town to graze animals on the pastures. Management of the land is undertaken by the Pasture Master on behalf of the Freemen. During the summer months the Westwood is the home to hundreds of cattle that share the open spaces and woodland not just with people but traffic as well as four roads cross the Westwood. It's quite clear that drivers should give way to the half ton of Beef that wanders aimlessly across the road in front of them.

The Westwood is also the home of Beverley and East Riding Golf Club and as the picture shows cows are an additional hazard to be negotiated on the way to greens. Once past them the fences around the greens to keep the cows off them also have to be avoided. Although, I don't know for certain I assume special rules must be in place should you hit one of these extra hazards.

Beverley Westwood is a great place to visit for a stroll or a family picnic as long as you don't mind sharing it with the Cows.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Combines Cometh

After sitting unused in Barns and Sheds for the best part of a year now is the time for the Combine to make it's mark on the landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds. Today is the first day I've seen widespread harvesting. For the next month and more the countryside will be filled with the sounds of combines trawling up and down fields cutting down the crops and gathering the grain. Country lanes will be busy with tractors hauling "Corn Carts" back to the grainstores  and then back to the fields to receive the next load. Sometimes on a warm summer's evening through an open window you'll be able to hear the activity long in to the night.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Wetwang circuit - fields of gold

Anybody familliar with the song by Sting "Fields of Gold" would have made a connection with the fields of barley we saw on our walk today that took in the area south of Wetwang. The fields could not be long for the combine as they turn gold and wave in the afternoon's wind.

We started our walk in a small parking area on the B1230 about one mile south of Wetwang. The entrance is opposite a road known as Cadger Castle - why it's called that I have no idea. We then headed west up a shaded green lane aptly named Green Lane. At the top of the rise the view opened out to the north giving a fine view down on to and across the top of Wetwang with the Sykes Memorial in the distance.

We then continued along the lane until a fork in the track - one leg heading west to Huggate and one north to Wetwang. At this point you could see northwest across the Yorkshire Wolds with many hues of green and gold visible as crops ripen ready for the impending harvest. We took the northern fork to Wetwang passing through a small dale until joining a metalled road for a couple of hundred metres then taking the footpath towards Southfield Road which led us through a chest high field of an oilseed crop. We walked east along Southfield Road in Wetwang before turning south and walking up Southfield Well Balk. Walking up the Balk afforded fine panoramic views. The Balk then joined the Green Lane and we turned east and back down the lane to our car. In total a walk of nearly 7km or 4 miles that was well worth the effort for the views it afforded.

If we'd needed sustenance we could have carried on in to Wetwang to visit either the Black Swan or Victoria Inn the two pubs in the village, Alternatively, we could have paid a visit to Wetwang's well known Fish and Chip shop although we might have had to queue as it's a popular stopping off point for people travelling back from the coast.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Guardian feature on the Yorkshire Wolds

Today's Guardian contains a feature called "Lets Move To: The Yorkshire Wolds". You can read it here. "Bleak, wild, windswept: the perfect place to escape to" is the sub-heading and I'd certainly agree.

I hope anyone who reads the article takes the time to visit and discover this special part of Yorkshire even if they don't move here. 

Friday, 16 July 2010

Racing past

Cyclists racing past as they enter Saturday Market during the first race of Beverley's Cycle Racing Weekend. They are going too fast for the shutter on my phone's camera to cope. Well worth the visit. Tomorrow and Sunday the activity moves from town to country with the action taking place across the Yorkshire Wolds. 

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Shower dodging

Views like this are worth the potential risk of a soaking on a showery summer's evening. Thankfully, on this occasion the rain didn't come and we could enjoy the stunning views around Huggate. This picture is taken from the place we parked the car at the end of the public road that goes north through Huggate. We walked down the hill and then joined the public footpath at the the bottom, turning right following the road up the hill and then right again up a farm road that led to a high point that afforded long views across the wolds. We then reversed our route and enjoyed the views in the other direction. 

The path we took formed part of the Chalkland Way. This route is a 40 mile circular route around the fantastic landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds that takes in the villages of Great Givendale,Bishop Wilton, Bugthorpe, Thixendale, Fimber, Wetwang and Huggate. The route has been waymarked by East Riding of Yorkshire Council and more details can be found at Chalkland Way along with the details of other long distance routes in the area that anyone. 

The views in the Huggate area certainly make it a part of the Yorkshire Wolds we always visit and we''ll be back again soon.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Goodmanham and a summer downpour

For a long walk of the dogs and a stretch of our legs we decided to visit Goodmanham; a village close to the western end of the Yorkshire Wolds. But our plans were scuppered by a heavy summer downpour that left farm tracks awash with gushing water. We parked in a lay-by until the storm passed and the thunder had stopped rattling around the valleys.

We did manage a shorter walk once the downpour ceased that took in the old railway line and a local road. On the railway line we came across an information board at the site of a well explaining the story of the well and the custom of hanging tokens nearby to wells. One that has taken off here. The sign was erected by Market Weighton Town Council as part of a series of information boards in the local area. The walk along the old railway line is part of a local walk known as the Hudson Way named after the railway entrepreneur George Hudson. The Hudson Way takes in both Market Weighton and Goodmanham. 


We'll be back to visit the area soon to finish what we started and to look around the village of Goodmanham as well as the surrounding countryside. 

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey, Radio 4 and Huggate

You may wonder what relationship the four things listed above have, well the answer is Polytunnels. Polytunnels are semi-permanent structures used by growers to extend the growing season of soft fruit crops and in some areas of the country large areas have been covered by them.

Whilst driving recently I listened to a feature on Radio 4 that told the story of how Wordsworth's poem "Tintern Abbey"  had been recalled in a legal battle over the visual  impact of Polytunnels on the landscape in the area of the Abbey. The connection to Huggate is that it is the only place that I'm aware of where they are being used on a large scale on the Yorkshire Wolds. They are visible from a number of directions but as they sit on one of the higher parts of the Wolds nowhere do you have a long view down on to them. They do not appear to me as being too intrusive. Should further areas be covered then this may not be the case. Could it be in the future that one of David Hockney's paintings of a Wolds landscape be produced as evidence in a legal battle over the visual impact of Polytunnels in East Yorkshire?

Monday, 12 July 2010

From the Savannah to Southburn

The crop pictured, on both sides of the road, is a variety of Miscanthus or as it is commonly known Elephant Grass. Varieties of Miscanthus are more commonly found on the plains of Africa rather than in the fields of  East Yorkshire. However, Miscanthus has found favour as a bio-fuel crop due to the tonnages that can be produced per acre. It is burnt in power stations in the place of coal. With three coal powered power stations, including Europe's largest - Drax, in the Aire Valley ready to demonstrate their commitment to reduce the net amount of carbon dioxide they produce a ready market exists in the local area.

Companies have been set up to source farmers who would be willing to grow Miscanthus and diversify the nature of their business. As pressure grows to reduce carbon dioxide emissions then it is likely that greater areas of land may be given over to the production of non-food crops. With the crop being able grow to over ten foot tall this may have a profound impact on the landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds in the years to come.

The dense planting seems impenetrable to the casual observer but I'm that sure that it provides a valuable habitat to many local species as it does on the Savannah.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Down Wansford way

When I switched the television on this morning the programme that was on featured fishing on the Hampshire Avon. A chalk spring fed river like the River Hull . This reminded me of a place I often like to stop and take a look at what wildlife I can see. The place is the road bridge over West Beck at Wansford. From the bridge you can, through the crystal clear waters, see Brown Trout holding station against the current waiting for the next morsel of food to come along. On other days I've seen large Chub drifting along with the current and the odd eel slithering along the gravelly bottom. Wildfowl such as Ducks and Moorhen are ever present and sometimes Heron pass-by. I see many other people stopping too to enjoy the scene as a small layby allows easy parking nearby.

West Beck forms part of a network of chalk streams commonly known as the River Hull Headwaters that are the most northerly chalk stream system in the UK. The headwaters are a real jewel in East Yorkshire's crown and taking one of the many footpaths along the banks gives a fantastic opportunity to enjoy what for me is a quintessential English landscape. So special is this area that a trust has been set up to manage, protect and improve these special Rivers. More details on the work of the trust can be found at East Yorkshire Chalk Rivers Trust

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A genteel summer afternoon

Pin the tail on the donkey, tombola, hammer the nail, treasure hunt, raffle and a cake stall were some of the attractions on offer at today's Lund village garden fete. On an energy sapping summer afternoon cream scones and tea were available to those needing refreshment. Most Yorkshire Wolds villages like others around the country will hold some type of fete, fayre or show to raise much needed funds for local causes. 

The Lund fete is held to raise funds for the village church. We were recently informed that it costs over a thousand pounds a month to keep the church going and that currently income doesn't match expenditure. A plea was made that if people wish to avail themselves of the services of the church for weddings, christenings and funerals then money is required on an on-going basis so ideas for fund-raising would be welcome.

I hope what was a pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon made a fair contribution to the  coffers. Judging by the amount of raffle tickets bought and cream teas consumed it should have done.

Friday, 9 July 2010

"Le Tour de Wolds"

Whilst driving home from work this evening I noticed signs had been put up advising of delays due to a cycle race. This reminded me that whilst the leading lights of cycling tear through the countryside of France a lesser known cycle race - the East Yorkshire Classic -  will be taking place over the Yorkshire Wolds on Sunday 18 July 2010. 

This 98 mile race which starts and finishes in Beverley will be a tough test as it takes in some of the steepest inclines on the Wolds. The race is the final event in a weekend of cycling events centred on Beverley. 

On the Friday night a circuit race takes place round the narrow and cobbled streets of the town centre. This offers great vantage points for spectators to get close to the action and pop in to some of Beverley's many pubs to get some refreshment on what's bound to be a warm summer evening. 

Saturday brings a change of tempo with club riders able to choose from three routes starting and finishing in Beverley of  60, 100 or 160 kilometre routes across the Yorkshire Wolds giving them a chance to enjoy the fabulous countryside. I'll be taking the time to watch some of the action from just outside one of the aforementioned pubs. More details of the races can be found at - East Yorkshire Classic

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Access all areas

Arriving early home from work this evening gave time to visit Millington Pastures one of my favourite parts of the Yorkshire Wolds. Since the implementation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act some parts of the countryside have been declared as "Open Access". Millington Pastures is one of the few parts of the Wolds that has been given this status - designated land is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 series maps. The status gives us all a right to wander at will through the pastures and associated valleys but a decent network of footpaths and wide roadside verges means that in my mind the need to do so is limited. The more faint-hearted may also be dissuaded by the large horned Highland Cattle that are present in the pastures year round. A large bull was making its presence felt this evening by casting it's eyes over us as we walked past.

At one end of the pastures is Millington Wood which is a local nature reserve managed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The wood is managed by coppicing and the felled timber is burnt on site in a special kiln to produce Charcoal. Many bird species are attracted there and I have often seen mentioned in bird watching reports species such as Honey Buzzards. The wood apart the main feature of the pastures is the steep sided valleys given over to rough grazing. The rough grazing allows small mammals to flourish evidenced by the Barn Owl we saw sitting on a fence post waiting to begin this evening's hunting activities. A small pond also provides a home for waterbirds as well as a valuable source of drinking water for grazing animals.

The water that feeds the ponds comes from a nearby spring. The water from the spring is collected then piped under the road and it then forms the start of Millington Beck (one of the most northerly chalk streams in the UK). The underlying chalk geology of the Yorkshire Wolds means that rainwater percolates down and through the chalk and issues from springs on the fringes of the Wolds. Nearby, Yorkshire Water have taken advantage of this natural process by collecting the water for use in their public supply system. So, the people that live  nearby when visiting the shops and buying bottled spring water might want to consider whether what comes out of the  tap is spring water anyway.

The final scene that I noted this evening was of a Highland calf. I'm sure if anyone could make a cuddly toy that matched it's features they would make a fortune.

I'll be back soon for another visit to Millington Pastures. Next time it'll be a path at the top of the valleys rather than the road at the bottom for the fantastic views over the vale of York.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The sky's on fire!

Tonight's amazing sunset. Taken just north of Lund at about 9.40pm. Natural beauty at it's very best - just awe inspiring.

It's no wonder ancient peoples worshipped the sun. 

Would this scene be considered to be a sign of pleasure or displeasure ?

Driifield's big day

Two weeks today - 21st July 2010 - thousands of people will flock to Driffield Show. I'll be one of them. The show, organised by Driffield Agricultural Society, has a predominately agricultural/rural theme but is mixed with wider known attractions. In the main arena you'll be able to watch events ranging from cattle judging to the British Army's White Helmets Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team. The society tries hard to showcase local business with an "Enterprise Village" for startup rural enterprises. Some of these produce fine local foods and beers and I'll be taking the chance to sample some of them. Visit the show for a great day out and take the chance to see the best of what the Yorkshire Wolds has to offer. I don't think you'll be disappointed. More details are available on the show's website - Driffield Show.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Traditional methods saving our peas

Often as you walk the highways and byways of the Wolds the loud bangs of modern gas powered bird scarers reverberate around the valleys and hills. Placed by farmers trying to protect their crops from flocks of Wood Pigeon or "Stoggies", as they are known locally that range across the fields, looking for the next crop to ravage. Whilst walking our two dogs I noticed one field where the farmer had reverted to a more traditional form of bird scarer in the form of a well designed scarecrow. What it's impact is on the local pigeons I don't know but I do know that at dusk on a misty evening it would be enough to scare an unsuspecting passerby on this minor road near Holme-on-the-Wolds. The crop of concern in this case was a fast maturing crop of peas. Peas are one of the major crops of the Yorkshire Wolds and from late June onwards a large scale harvesting operation known as Vining commences. Fleets of Viners and Lorries can be seen moving from field to field 24 hours a day in a carefully planned operation as each crop matures. The operation ensures that as promised in the adverts the peas go from field to freezer in less than 2 hours.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Windturbines - Carbuncle or in the future will they be considered a treasured part of our heritage?

When driving along the back road that leads north west out of Huggate to the A166 I stopped to admire the view (pictured). In the foreground in the shadow of a passing cloud lay the village of Huggate with the spire of St Mary's Church poking through the trees. In the far distance I could see the blades of the wind turbines at Lissett spinning gracefully in the wind. This made me thing about these large landmarks of the 21st century and how our views of the effect they have on the landscape would compare with those that  observed the building of the spires of the local churches. Did they think of these as blots on the landscape or did their purpose outweigh these concerns? Then could it be the same with wind turbines in the 21st Century? Will we eventually accept the impact that they have on the landscape due to the necessity of their purpose? Monuments to a modern kind of worship - our desire for a limitless supply of energy.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Across the bridge visiting Waddington International Airshow

Impressive array of British and foreign aircraft both in the air and on the ground. Traffic light on the way here. Fingers crossed that it'll be the same on the way home. Thanks to the USAF pilot of the RC135W Joint Rivet (pictured) whose just given my son a squadron baseball cap.

Update - Thankfully, easily got out of the airbase and traffic light on the way home. They must be learning their lessons after previous years three hour sagas just to get off the airbase! Getting away easy was a good way to round off a good day.

Organisers of airshows are now making the effort to make some of the flying displays relevant to the roles the aircraft carry out with simulated attacks complete with explosions and flames to show the taxpayers what their hard earned money goes on. These coupled with solo displays showing the amazing capabilities of modern aircraft make for an entertaining day.

Thanks to all the service men and women who took the time and effort to show and describe the aircraft, imagery and weapons to my son. I'll definitely be back next year.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Out for tea at "The Star" North Dalton

Took the family out for tea to this attractive village pub. Sat next to the village pond "The Star" has a great location. Inside the pub has a traditional bar with dining tables dotted about separate eating areas. Main courses were reasonably priced traditional pub grub. 

Everyone enjoyed their meals and some even had room for a well made dessert. The food, location and friendly staff made it well worth the visit. A good Yorkshire Wolds pub.

War Memorial at Lissett

Striking war memorial on the back road from Lissett to Gransmoor. Funded by the developers of the nearby windfarm on the old Lissett Aerodrome along with some information panels. Well worth a visit if you are nearby.