Despite the cold and sometimes very windy weather, Bill and I continued our explorations of the Yorkshire Wolds this January – an apt month as it was actually National Walk Your Dog Month!

For those of you that have also been following our adventures on our Walking the Wolds Facebook page, you will have seen that we have been noting quite a few relevant national days and celebrations on our walks and sharing our thoughts and findings on these and other interesting historical facts on the places we have explored. This has included National Mud(d) day in homage to Bill’s habit of puddle rolling, National Cheese Day noting Bill’s partiality to Cheddar, National Hat Day celebrating a walker’s love of a jaunty bobble hat, and most recently ‘Riding the Stang’ – a very interesting Yorkshire tradition involving short ladders, straw effigies of unscrupulous husbands and bonfires!

The Wold Rangers Way

One of the routes in East Yorkshire that we have loved walking over the winter months, due to the good quality of the footpaths (less mud for Bill to paddle in!) has been the Wold Rangers Way, in particular the section up around Field House Coffee Barn, near Tibthorpe, which is one of our favourite dog-friendly places to stop and have a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake.

The Wold Rangers Way is a circular 44-mile trail that celebrates those who travelled from farm to farm during the previous centuries to find work, using the ancient green lanes and bridle paths of the Yorkshire Wolds. The full route is divided into shorter ‘Trods’ that can easily be accomplished in a day - Croom Mabel (2.5 miles), Horse Hair Jack (9 miles), Ginger Joe (13 miles), Dog Geordie (17 miles) and Mad Halifax (22 miles). We have now completed 4 walks using just parts of this longer route, all of which start and finish at Field House Coffee Barn. The longest, at 9-miles, takes in 3 of the tranquil dales around Huggate (Shortlands, Oxlands and Cow Dale). The beautiful valley-bottom stretches of this walk offer wide grassy paths that are perfect for dogs, (just be mindful of any sheep) whilst walkers can enjoy glimpses of red kites circling overhead and an abundance of wildflowers underfoot, before heading back to the Coffee Barn down the Wold Rangers Way along Huggate Heads.

Shorter walks

For a slightly shorter, but no-less enjoyable walk, Bill and I completed ‘Field House Square’, which literally does what it says on the tin and is a 7-mile amble up to North Dalton (where you can also visit the dog-friendly Star Inn if you are thirsty) before heading back to where you started, turning 90 degrees, 4 times along the way, whilst enjoying some beautiful views and big skies across the wide-open Wolds landscapes.

The history of the Yorkshire Wolds

As I mentioned, I do like to ponder on the history of the places that Bill and I find ourselves in, which got me thinking in general about why the Wolds is the wolds! Well, it turns out that the name ‘wold’ is thought to have its origins in Old English, meaning “wooded upland”, but today it usually refers to a piece of high open land or moor. The landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds is made up of high flat plateaus and deep dry grassy valleys and woodlands – perfect walking territory! Chalk soils have created natural drainage, which, combined with the mild climate, has meant that agriculture has dominated the area for generations, which brings us neatly back to the Wold Rangers.

Our final two walks that we completed to and from Field House Coffee Barn are quite short ones for those less energetic (or more rainy) days. Both are just over 2.5 miles each, but which can be combined if you want something a bit longer. One of these walks heads out over Deep Dale which, like most of our routes around here, is great for an off-lead sprint and sniff for accompanying dogs – a natural segway into thinking about one of the most famous of the Wold Ranger’s – Dog Geordie, who trod the green lanes around the Wolds with his Lurcher.

Dog Geordie was the last of the male Wold Rangers, who lived this life through choice, choosing the freedom of the lanes and a warm loose box for shelter in summer and visiting the workhouses of Driffield, Malton and York for a bit of respite in the winter months. He was an accomplished countryman and would bring pheasant to the drumming up, the communal feast regularly enjoyed by the Rangers, without having fired a shot. Instead, he used a technique of coiling a horsehair covered in grain, which the hungry pheasant would approach and then find its long claws knotted up and trapped in the horse hair. Other than during nine years from 1939 to 1948, when he joined up to fight in the Second World War, Dog Geordie lived in the Wolds until 1987.

There is so much history contained within the Yorkshire Wolds Landscapes from pre-historic earthworks to Roman Roads, and through the three centuries of lives of the Wold Rangers, plus numerous churches, deserted medieval settlements, dew ponds and modern-day art works.  All of which creates a fascinating and beautiful place in which to wander with or without a puddle-rolling, cheese-loving dog!