Sunday, 31 October 2010

Misty Sunday in Leavening and Burythorpe

Towards Burythorpe in the mist
We'd decided to have Sunday lunch out with friends but needed to earn it first by having a short morning walk.

The walk was a short circuit around Burythorpe and Leavening this giving us the choice of either the Jolly Farmers at Leavening or Bay Horse Inn at Burythorpe for lunch. 

The walk would take us right down the north west corner of the Yorkshire Wolds and afford good views of the Vales of Pickering and York. The weather confounded that part of the plan as a morning mist that didn't lift obscured any chance of a long range view.

We parked at what is marked on the map as a picnic site just to the west of Leavening and headed off down a bridleway towards Burythope. The bridleway initially crossed some rough ground but then narrowed to a muddy track. A tied gate to a field blocked our way and this made us re-check our route. It was while we were looking at the map we noticed the bull and several cows taking a great interest in us from the field that we'd just confirmed that the bridleway went through. Discretion being the better part of valour and not being in the mood for a bullfight we hopped over a fence and walked along the other side of the hedge bordering the field. We soon rejoined the bridleway and headed in to Burythorpe. 

Bay Horse Inn, Burythorpe
As we walked in to the village we quickly came across the Bay Horse Inn. It looked the type of place that would fill up quickly on a Sunday lunch time and the Jolly Farmers was likely to be such a place too. So we decided to pop in and see whether we could have a table for lunch. We could. We just now needed to finish our walk and I was now looking forward to lunch as our quick visit had revealed a pleasant bar area and open fire.

Spurred on by the the thought of lunch we headed back out of Burythorpe and headed off in the direction of Leavening. The footpath  directed us across a large grass field. Firstly, though we had to stepover the electric fence that my wife had confirmed was live by touching it with a blade of grass and feeling a very mild current. A real farmer's daughter's trick! Fence safely negotiated we crossed the field and went back over the electric fence again. We skirted a field boundary and before long we were on the road in to the attractive of Leavening. 

In Leavening we passed by the Jolly Farmers and all acknowledged that on another occasion we'd have our Sunday Lunch there. We walked uphill out of the village back to the car with the extra effort adding to our hunger. The mist was still obscuring any views gained by the height. It was only a short walk but enough to generate a real appetite.

I'll be posting separately about the Bay Horse Inn but what I can say now is "I'll be back".

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Early Morning Sunshine

Some pictures of early morning Yorkshire Wolds sunshine that I took this morning whilst out with the dogs.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Colours of Autumn near Warter

A day off from work provided the opportunity for a walk near Warter to take in some of the best autumn colours on the Yorkshire Wolds. So, jobs done the dogs were packed in to the car and we took the short drive there.

Warter is an unspoilt Wolds estate village - the estate being the Warter Priory (now demolished) Estate. A row of cottages overlooking the village green have some of the only examples of thatched roofs in the area. What was the village church - St James' - has been turned in to the Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Centre. Just near the village school there is a large car park that doubles up as a school and public car park. 
With the dogs straining at the leash we headed out of the village on the road to Nunburnholme so we could let them off to get some exercise. Dark nights curtail their walking as much as mine.

Everywhere we looked autumnal trees of green, bronze and gold made for an impressive landscape. Views enhanced by the three Red Kites we saw patrolling the hillsides and the Buzzard we saw for good measure too.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Rudston - a big rock and a connection to Scottish Clan Chiefs!

Rudston Monolith
For many years I've passed through Rudston and seen the sign directing you towards the ancient monument of Rudston Monolith but I've never stopped to have a look. So when my son asked me some questions about the monolith after seeing the sign to it we decided to go and investigate. 

The monolith stands in the village churchyard, the church having being built in this place it would appear for the same reason as the stone was placed - the commanding position. They sit on a small hill overlooking the village.

A small plaque at the base of the monolith gives some information on the monolith stating that it's nearly 26ft tall, possibly been there for over 3000 years and was at the very minimum dragged to Rudston from somewhere near Whitby. It's near 26ft height makes it the tallest standing stone in Great Britain. The plaque didn't explain why the top has been capped in lead.

However sophisticated we are as a society and despite the knowledge we have garnered we can still only ponder what the purpose of this place was and how this great lump of stone was moved. All I know is that it must have been a place of great significance to make the effort worth the while. Maybe it's connected somehow to Stonehenge as they both sit as part of a rolling chalkland landscape!

MacDonald Memorial Stone
After looking at the monolith we walked around the outside of the church and my attention was drawn to a collection of headstones in the graveyard that revealed a connection to the Scottish Islands and Clan Life. A large stone with a heraldic crest and bearing the inscription "Burying Place of MacDonald of the Isles" stood behind four headstones. Some further research on  - Wikipedia - revealed that the nearby Thorpe Hall is the seat of the Chief of the Clan Macdonald of Sleat.  It was strange to find a connection in this small Yorkshire Wolds village to a very traditional element of Scottish history. 

It was only a short visit as the rain threatened to give us a soaking but once again it reminded me that this often overlooked part of Yorkshire has many interesting corners.

MacDonald of the Isles Headstone Inscription

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cuts on the Yorkshire Wolds

I've done some research and it's hard to see what the impact will be be for rural people and places. Today we got the headlines; the department with rural in the title - Defra - took a year on year 8% budget cut for the next four years. As ever, though, the devil is in the detail and It'll take a few weeks for departments and local councils to sort out who gets what now the top level budgets have been settled.

Much talk takes place of whether spending proposals are progressive are regressive in the terms of whether they help the less well off or favour the better off. Is their a measurement of whether the cuts are progressive or regressive in the terms of whether they favour urban over rural areas or vice versa? It will be interesting to see whether a debate develops over this issue.

The Chancellor stated that 490,000 public sector jobs will be lost but growth in the private sector would create enough jobs to compensate. I wonder what part will the rural economy play in job creation? 

Like everything, time will tell, what the impact of the cuts will be.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Fraisthorpe Beach

Fraisthorpe Beach looking north to Bridlington
Today, the weather was glorious with clear blue skies without a cloud to be seen. A day that demanded that we get out of the house.

We decided to take advantage of not being far from the coast wherever you are on the Yorkshire Wolds and take ourselves and the dogs to the beach. Our destination was Fraisthorpe Beach. Fraisthorpe is a hamlet just south of Bridlington now bypassed by the A165. If you turn off the main road, head through the small cluster of house and farms that is Fraisthorpe and then turn towards the sea after about a mile or so you reach Auburn Farm (I assume it's called after the beck that runs across the beach here not the hair colour). Here the farmer has turned his cliff edge land in to a rough car park which during winter months you pay a pound to park in through an honesty box system. In summer it's attended and parking will cost you the princely sum of £2. In return for your parking fee the farmer provides some toilet facillities. Quite a few cars were in the car park when we arrived whose occupants it appeared had had the same idea as us judging by the amount of dogs of all shapes and sizes on the beach.

Coastal defence relics
The sky was still cloudless and the sun was warm but an onshore breeze meant that it certainly wasn't t-shirt weather and warm layers were required. We headed down on to the beach and headed south for a mile or so. 

The beach here is dotted with large lumps of concrete that are the remnants of the defences placed on the cliff tops to thwart a German invasion. As this coastline is the fastest eroding in the UK the defences have long since dropped in to the sea and now provide somewhere for marine life to cling to and waves to crash against.

I'd come prepared for my walk to the beach and worn my "Muck Boots" - heavily insulated Wellies that meant I could wander through the surf chucking rocks in to the sea for the dogs to chase. They splashed in and out of the sea enjoying the chase seemingly oblivious to what I know is a cold October North Sea.

Eroding cliffs at Fraisthorpe
Before long it was time to turn back. One of our dogs struggles to walk too far these days. On the way we stopped to inspect the crumbling cliffs. It's easy to see why they are eroded so quickly. I'm sure many people when they think of cliffs think of towering clifffs of rock like the ones at Flamborough Head that can be seen from this beach but here they are nothing more than mud. On a stormy day battered by the waves great lumps must just fall away and dissolve in to the turbulent sea.

As we drove away I knew that we'll be back at Fraisthorpe before this winter is finished. A bracing walk by the sea is just what's needed to blow the cobwebs away!

Fraisthorpe Beach whilst dog walking

How is it that in lots of towns and cities I struggle to get a decent mobile signal yet on a remote beach I get a perfect 3G signal?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Sunset at ground level

I was heading from Wansford to Skerne and as I drove over the humpback bridge over West Beck I noticed the field adjacent to the road was bathed in a golden light. I tried to capture that light at ground level. This photo is the best one I managed to take.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

York Station Roof

Sat on the platform at York Station this morning admiring what a fantastic piece of engineering the roof is. A functional yet elegant curve.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Pipe & Glass - South Dalton's award winning pub

Updated - 3 November 2011

The Pipe & Glass has now been named Michelin pub of the Year 2012. Details here -

News article here -

Website here -

The pub in question is the Pipe and Glass which sits on the edge of the village backing on to the parkland of Dalton Hall. Recently, awarded a Michelin Star and now named Yorkshire Dining Pub of the year in the 2011 edition of the Good Pub Guide.

It's a great setting and having visited early this year when I took my mother for lunch on her birthday I can say that the food  and service lives up to the billing too.

If your just interested in having a drink the bar is on the small side but if it's a sunny day then a few tables outside provide a good place to sit and watch the world go by.

It won't be long until I go back; that's if I can get a table as the word on this Yorkshire Wolds award winner spreads.

Pipe & Glass, South Dalton

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Now that's what I call a mushroom (well, probably, a Puffball.

Puffball Fungus
Whilst out dog walking this afternoon a glimpse of white amongst the grass about 20 yards away caught my eye and I went to investigate. The pictures shows what I found a massive piece of fungus.

Puffball Fungus

Hull Fair Weather

The talk early this week was of Indian summers. Well, it's certainly not one here. As today is the first day of Hull Fair what we have got is traditional Hull Fair weather. Grey, overcast and cold on a night. As that's how it's been as far as I can remember for everyone of the the 30 odd years I've been going. This year will be another one to add to the count.

It's a clear memory anchored in my childhood of the sights and sounds of the fair. Particularly, that moment as you get to the bottom of Walton Street when you are greeted by the sight of a throng of happy people. Some laden with prizes of cuddly toys others carrying bags of Brandy Snap and juggling Coconuts and Pomegranates. To this day when I see the scene it brings a smile to my face as I remember childhood visits and the excitement they brought.

The start of the fair is also a clear marker for me of the changing of the seasons and times. It starts of a chain of events - Hull Fair - Halloween - Bonfire Night - Christmas. Then before I know it a new year has started and a new cycle begins.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

East Yorkshire Eco-tourism Plan

An article in today's Yorkshire Post highlights that at last people are waking up to the potential of this area. 

Read the article in today's Yorkshire post -

The area has many features of interest to add to those mentioned in the article you could add Hornsea Mere, Tophill Low, Paull Holme Strays and many others. Let's hope that the initiative is a success.

Tonight's Sunset over the Yorkshire Wolds

Sunset Yorkshire Wolds - 6 October 2010

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A trip away from Yorkshire Wolds to the Eden Project Pt4 (and last part)

Visit to the Eden Project over we started the long journey home on the A30 skirting Bodmin Moor and passing by the famous Jamaica Inn. A name familiar to me from news reports of motorists stranded in snow drifts and seeking refuge. That certainly wouldn't be the case on a sunny autumn afternoon with hardly a cloud in the sky.  It's a pity it didn't stay a sunny autumn afternoon. The further east we went the the more the cloud thickened.  More of which later.

Huntstile Organic Farm
We'd decided to break up the journey by staying over on the way back  in the area of the Quantock Hills. An area I'd always wanted to visit. I thought we may get chance for a short walk and if we were really lucky we might see some of the Red Deer the Quantocks are known for. At this point though driving up the A30 in common with the other nights I still didn't know where we were staying for the night. I can now say that my wife had saved the best until last. We stayed at the Huntstile Organic Farm - - a gem of a place just outside Bridgwater on the edge of the Quantocks. I could see why it was described in "Alistair Sawday's" guide as:

 Sweet and cosy rustic bedrooms, Jacobean panelling and delicious organic food on your plate. Huntstile is an organic dream.

Blue room, Huntstile Organic Farm
Huntstile Farm dates back to the 14th Century. We stayed in the Blue Room, a vast double room with an original fireplace and massive comfortable queen size bed. I could have stayed in the room and relaxed for longer but also wanted to get back out and explore the Quantocks. 

A rather misty Quantocks
The desire to explore the Quantocks won. This was made easier as in our room our hosts had kindly supplied an Ordnance Survey Explorer Map of the area. Even though we were only staying a few miles from the central part of the Quantocks, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, as we drove closer those clouds I mentioned earlier spoiled all our plans. We'd identified a road that went up and over the hills and would provide somewhere to park that we could set off walking from.  As we drove up this road we also drove up in to the cloud and when we reached the point where we could park up visibility was less than 100 yards. So, a decision as to whether I agree with the designation as an area of outstanding natural beauty will have to wait until we get chance to re-visit at some point in the future. We did a take short walk using visible reference points. As I'd foolishly left my compass at home once they ran out we decided it would be too easy to get disorientated in the limited visibility and returned to the car.

Hopes dashed we decided to seek solace in food and returned to a pub we'd seen on the way. The pub was the Rising Sun - - at West Bagborough; a small village nestled at the foot of the Quantocks. The pub had a welcoming look from the outside and on the inside the feeling was maintained with a comfortable bar area and separate dining area. Early on a Monday evening we weren't the only customers and I would think that to eat on a weekend booking is a must. The pub would fit in with description of a "Gastropub" and the prices reflected this. The food we had would justify this tag as it was tasty and well presented. My wife's dietary needs were catered for without complaint. Should we ever be in the area again we both agreed we would return.

We navigated the now dark and twisty Somerset country lanes back to Huntstile and settled in to our vast room for a good night's sleep. Breakfast at the Huntstile is served in a small separate building that was probably once used as a grain store. Breakfast was prepared to order by an attentive cook and I had no complaints. 

Huntstile Woods and our companion 
The previous evening our host had described a short walk to us across their farmland and through their woods. As it went uphill from the farm and would afford good views on what was a sunny morning we decided to take the short walk. We were joined by one of the farm dogs who accompanied us on the walk. It was a pleasant stroll and set us up for the long drive home.

View from Symonds Yat
Even though we'd visited many places over the previous two and a half days our wanderlust wasn't quite satisfied. After a quick look at the atlas we decided that instead of taking the M5 north we would only take it as far as Bristol then cross the Severn, head towards Chepstow and drive up the Wye valley joining the M50 and then back on the M5.  This gave us the opportunity to see the Wye valley and stop off for lunch at Symonds Yat Rock a spectacular viewpoint set on a hill top above the river.  Driving through the valley it reminded me more of following the route of one of the great rivers of Europe not one in the border country between England and Wales. The view from the Rock of the curving river in the valley bottom below confirmed to us that we had made the right decision in taking one final detour. 

Except for a drive through Ross-on-Wye (must return one day) our grand tour was over except for the slog back home. In fulfilling a wish we'd traveled nearly 900 miles in just over 75 hours of sightseeing and visiting. I enjoyed every mile and minute.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Autumn colour

We took a quick walk around the village just before sunset. The light of the setting sun had picked out the colours of the tree highlighting the changing seasons.

I actually posted the picture from my phone will still walking.  Today's technology really is impressive.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Rainy Sunday on the Yorkshire Wolds

Incessant it's been here on the Yorkshire Wolds. Even our, usually very keen to go outdoors, dogs have peered out of  the door and decided that discretion is the part of valour and have slunk back to their beds. Looking at the rainfall radar on the Met Office website it looks like we might be at the tail end of the rain; albeit a heavy one. As soon as the rain stops the dogs will be getting dragged out of their beds whether they like it or not. I've been cooped up long enough and need to get outside.

With the duration of the rain and intensity I'm sure we are going to see some localised flooding of low points and fields but hopefully not homes. As, I write this it's got even heavier. Looking out the window the streets awash and water is flowing down the road.

Fingers crossed it will stop soon or my waterproofs will get a severe testing.

A trip away from the Yorkshire Wolds to the Eden Project - Pt3

We left the Stephengelly Organic Farm and headed the short distance to the Eden Project just outside St Austell. On that short journey the scale of the impact of China Clay quarrying in the area was apparent. If the project had managed to re-develop one of the quarries then it was already a success in my eyes.

On arrival you could tell the scale of visitor draw of the place by the need to get a bus from the outer car parks to the entrance. Thankfully, with our visit out of the high season we parked the car much closer and after a short walk we arrived at the entrance. We exchanged the vouchers I'd got using airmiles collected by using a credit card (at last a use for them) for our tickets. Otherwise, the tickets would have been £17.50 each and another £5 pound for a guide book. Is this a bit much for an educational charity looking to get people to understand the importance of conservation? The commercialisation of the project was one theme that returned to me throughout the day. For the environmental/conservation message to work it needs to be mainstream not the preserve of those with cash to spend on luxuries.

View down in to the Eden Project
With our guide book in hand we started our visit. The first proper view of the project is impressive with the entrance bringing you out on to what would have been the rim of the quarry. From here you could look across at the biomes (big greenhouses) nestled against and up the side of the far corner of the quarry. What has been created is an ampitheatre so directly in front of us was a curving slope of planting. The slope is criss- crossed with paths and we took one of these and headed down and around.

A rope powered moving statue
It was a fine sunny autumn day and with the site being set in a quarry it was warm and pleasant whilst we explored. The planting is broken up in to sections each with an individual theme. One objective that they have set out to achieve and do well is illustrating that plants have many uses but we have chosen to replace them with man-made products. But with some political will we could return to using these plants. One good example of this was the use of hemp and flax for rope making. Brittania ruled the waves with ships equipped with plant fibre ropes! Another good idea was having examples of plants displayed with the medicinal products the plants were the ingredients for.

Rain Forest Biome, Eden Project
After an hour or so of wandering we arrived at the entrance to the two biomes (Rain Forest and Mediterranean). They were linked by a large central hall that contained cafes and the usual associated facilities. We chose to visit the Rain Forest first and as we entered it was clear that the climate of a Rain Forest had been re-created as the heat and humidity hit us. Information boards advised that the biome had been broken up in to different sections to represent the Rain Forest of South America, West Africa and Sout-East Asia/Oceania. To get around the vast biome you follow a path through the forest and this climbs up the quarry side. The differences in height along with other careful management brings different climatic conditions in different parts of the biome. As it is a Rain Forest trees feature heavily but many smaller plants nestle under the canopy. Re-creations of typical villages have been made to demonstrate the way of life of forest communities. As well as plant species from the forests small reptiles and birds have been introduced too. 

At the top of the ascent through the forests a waterfall tumbles down a cliff face and the stream then winds it's way down through the biome. You could pay extra for a trip to a viewing platform right at the very top of the biome but we passed over the opportunity. Why should people with more money be able to have a better experience at a charitable endeavour? A recurring theme was the products we use from the forests such as palm oil, coffee, cocoa and rubber and how we need to make sure through our purchasing power these are farmed in a sustainable manner to prevent the destruction of the forests.

Sculptures, Eden Project
Our journey through the forests finished we headed to the smaller Mediterranean biome. Some of the plants such as Olives, Grapevines, Citrus Fruits here were familiar to us through foreign holidays. The biome also featured plants from South Africa and California which experience similar conditions to the Med. The familiarity maybe why I found this part less engaging.  It did, though, have some interesting sculptures as did many parts of the Project.

The "Core", Eden Project
Our visits to the biomes complete we headed back outside and wandered through more themed planted areas to the "Core"; the projects education centre. A large central hall was full of informative educational displays that we viewed and discussed their contents. Elsewhere in the Core is the Seed a 70 tonne sculpture chiseled from Cornish Granite apparently one of the largest in the world from a single piece of rock. Although technically impressive for the skills required to create it I found it's presence at the project utterly pointless and directly contradictory to the environmental message of the project. If you don't need to consume a part of the earth's resources don't do it. I couldn't see why this sculpture was needed or added any value to the message of the project. Maybe, the money spent on it could have been spent on conservation in Africa?

We'd also chosen the cafe in the core as our place to eat as this was advertised as serving vegetarian and vegan food. My wife is on a limited diet for medical reasons and we thought here we would have had the best chance of being able to see what the food contained. I have to say though that we found the labelling of the food and the ingredient knowledge of the staff less than helpful. We ended up having a date slice and a drink and swerved the main meals completely.

As it was a pleasant day we again strolled through the plantings but soon it was time for us to leave and start our long journey home. As is inevitable when visiting places like the project the exit took us through the shop. The shop had many nice and tempting products on display but in my mind far too many added value luxury products. The need is to make environmentally friendly products affordable for all and I think the shop could have been a great opportunity to show that such products can be mainstream and affordable.

Our visit complete on the journey away from the project I reflected on what we had seen and whether it was worth the visit.  It was. The scale of what has been achieved and the reminder it gives us of our connection to the natural world make that be the case. I do though have reservations over the commercialisation of the project. I accept it must cost a fortune to run the place and the project but when I left I felt more that I'd left a commercial enterprise behind not an educational charity.

Images of Eden

We'd decided to break up our journey with a stop over in the the Quantocks. To be continued.....