Sunday, 19 September 2010

A walk around Lowthorpe & Harpham on a wet Sunday

A morning of rain was the pre-cursor to this walk. As we drove to Lowthorpe nothing changed and the rain was steadily falling. Puddles had formed at the roadside as we splashed our way there. We'd chosen a short walk this afternoon not because of the weather but my desire to be home in time to watch Songs of Praise. That's not something I usually do but today the programme featured my hometown of Beverley.

Pair of cottages at Lowthorpe
We approached Lowthorpe from Kelk and parked at the southern end of the village. Light rain was still falling so rain coats and wellies were donned. We set off through Lowthorpe; a small village with dispersed properties at either side of the road. A pair of fine cottages mark a bend in the road that set us off north.

Ruined Monastery attached to St Martin's, Lowthorpe
As we headed out of the village a sign marked "Church and Monastery ruin" pointed down a track through a wood. No sign of a church was visible from the road. We decided to follow the sign and have a look. The track led for a short distance through an avenue of Yew trees and after a short distance the track opened out and St Martin's Church, Lowthorpe was revealed. The church was small and clearly constructed in different periods and had two distinct halves. One, the current church, had a small tower and simple interior. However, inside the door was an intricate stone carving of two prone figures that was clearly carved many centuries ago. What was disappointing and can be found in many churches was that no history of the church was available. So, the carved figures will remain a mystery. The other half of the church and, I assume, the ruined monastery, had it's walls intact but no roof. Access could be gained by a small door and a number of derelict tombs could be seen. We left to set off on our walk again leaving the quiet and hidden church of St Martin's behind.

Kelk Beck, West of Harpham
Once back on the road after a short distance we left the road and headed east along the side of the wood that hid the church from view, We then crossed a grass field and joined a track that lead us towards a bridge over Kelk Beck. Although still raining we idled on the bridge for awhile admiring the crystal clear waters in the beck and the surrounding countryside. The opportunity to see the beck had been one of the reasons why I had chosen this walk. Kelk Beck is a chalkstream and for me there is something quintessentially English about them and their surroundings.

We left the bridge knowing that our route would take us back over the beck later. The track we followed was clearly the route some dairy cattle we'd seen earlier take to the milking parlour as it was mud mixed with cow muck. We passed by the side of the dairy farm and came out on to a road just north of Harpham. 

On this occasion we followed the road and skirted the edge of Harpham passing by some old cottages. On other trips out we've ventured in to Harpham - the Birthplace of St John of Beverley and a link to tonight's Songs of Praise as he founded Beverley Minster - and visited the St Quintin Arms Inn for a very enjoyable Sunday Lunch. The village is also the location of a holy well, named after St John, said in times gone by to have miraculous properties.

We headed south out of the village along the road and after about five hundred metres took a public footpath that took us west back towards Lowthorpe. This path led to a narrow footbridge over Kelk Beck. Again we idled and peered in to the crystal clear waters hoping to catch a glimpse of a Brown Trout but to no avail on this occasion. We crossed a grass field after this and then followed a track between a plantation of Christmas Trees and a tall crop of maize. The maize will likely be harvested soon and chopped to make fodder to keep cattle fed throughout the winter once they are taken indoors from their summer pastures.

The path then turned south and brought us back in to Lowthorpe and our car. A short walk of about two and half miles but with plenty of interest and with better timing we could certainly have enjoyed a trip to the St Quintin Arms.

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