If you haven’t yet discovered the beauty of the Yorkshire Wolds (or you have, but you’d like to explore more) I’m going to share three of the loveliest walks that Bill and I have found to date, all of which take in the poetry bench near Huggate.
All three begin in the pretty village of Huggate, where you can park near to the Wolds Inn pub. Ideal for when you return and are in need of a well-earned drink or bite to eat! From here, Bill and I walked through the village and out the other end, up the road towards Northfield Farm. In the summer, when we first found these walks, this farm road was lined with corn fields and pastures full of sheep. Although it is slightly uphill, it offers a nice easy start to the walks, ambling along at a steady pace which, you will learn, is my speed of choice! All three routes head straight for the poetry bench by taking the well-signposted Yorkshire Wolds Way which is great for walkers who might not feel confident plotting their own routes, and like me, want some clear directions when out and about.
Walking alongside fields on bridleways is great as you can rarely go wrong and Bill is quite happy just to trot along following the path himself. Obviously, as with all walks in the countryside, dogs must keep to the paths and not be allowed to stray off into fields and if there is livestock around, they should be kept on their leads.
As you appear from the bridleway off the farm road, the view of Horse Dale down towards the poetry bench is well and truly worth your effort. Bill proves this each time we get to this point by running madly around. It is a beautiful uplifting spot where you will want to stop and enjoy the peace and tranquillity it has to offer (hyper dog excepted). Having taken along some snacks for the both of us, I like to sit for a while on the poetry bench where you might be lucky to hear the cry of a red kite or the looming moo of a cow – be prepared to put any dogs back on leads as there can be livestock grazing in this dale, as we found out.
The poetry bench
This surprisingly located bench was created as part of the WANDER project and was carved by artist, master craftsman and woodsman Angus Ross, who, I googled, works in sustainable Scottish timber – this one is from steam bent oak. The poem carved into the bench is by the poet John Wedgwood Clarke and aptly describes its stunning location:
We have ripped the earth with our desire to be here and not there. We have driven the dale's wedge of hush home between us. But you move, as we moved, in the ghost of water. A hare rips away from the dead. Thuds down the dyke and out into everywhere the grasses foam. John Wedgwood Clarke
When I first found out about the series of benches along the Yorkshire Wolds Way, I planned for us to visit each of them. So far, I admit, I have only done two; this one and another at South Cave, which I will write about at another time, but I have been drawn back to this bench many times. The location, as I hope you will agree, is just perfect. But do watch this space as I discover the rest!
At this point (or more or less) our three walks go off in different directions.
Huggate poetry bench round
The shortest heads back almost all the way along the edge of Horse Dale where you can enjoy views of bronze-age earthworks, which some people say were used to either create boundaries between different tribes; as defensive structures; as barriers for livestock; or as routes between different villages (I’m a bit of a history buff so I do like these sorts of facts), before heading back through a gate and along the Yorkshire Wolds Way again, to your starting point and that well-earned drink I was talking about earlier. This is a great 4-mile starter walk that gave me the confidence to get out there again and try more.
On the next occasion I went a bit further and got lost – so yes, it can happen to anyone – but don’t let that put you off as Bill and I went for it again exploring Holm, Rabbit and Cow Dale in the process. This slightly longer, 5-mile walk again allows you to enjoy the peace of the dales, spot some wildlife and take some beautiful photographs if you feel so inclined. Although we did meet more livestock, ironically many sheep in Cow Dale and no rabbits, it is an easy, mostly gently sloping, sometimes on-lead walk that we both loved.
These dry dales of the Yorkshire Wolds were created at the end of the last Ice Age about 18,000 years ago by fast running streams that flowed over the frozen ground to carve out these valleys. The chalk geology here ensures that any water drains away creating these dry valleys which are great if you prefer to keep a less wet boot or muddy paw.
The next time we ventured out we were feeling even more adventurous, and so we planned a 6-mile circular walk that took us down past the poetry bench again – snacks at the ready – and onto Holm Dale and then Huggate Wold. Again, we did go a bit wrong at the end of Holm Dale, as we went through a gate we weren’t supposed to and ended up in a very large muddy puddle. But, having retraced our steps, we soon were enjoying our route along Huggate Wold overlooking fields and gently sloping hills. This eventually ran through the middle of a working farm at Wold House, (take care and look out for farm machinery) but followed the Yorkshire Wolds Way once again back into the other end of Horse Dale and thence back to Huggate for those refreshments and feet up moment – or in Bills case ‘lying on his back feet in the air’ moment.
So that’s it for now – three walks, one poetry bench, many cow pats and plenty of lovely memories. I would really recommend trying at least one of these beautiful walks if you get the chance and hopefully if you can follow the routes that I have mapped out, avoid the mistakes that we made, and reward yourselves with suitable snacks throughout, you can have a fabulous day walking the Yorkshire Wolds – we hope to see you out there!
Bill & Mrs. M
Start / End: Huggate village car park, YO42 1YH / What3Words - sandpaper.vesting.reckoned
Map: OS 294