The Yorkshire Wolds Way is a just under 80 mile (129 Km) walking route in the chalk landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds. The National Trail wends through some of the most tranquil and gentle countryside in England. From the banks of the mighty Humber estuary, along wooded slopes and through serene dry valleys, the walk climbs gently onto the airy tops of the rolling hills where on a clear day “you can see forever”. Descending from the northern escarpment the final section of the Way finishes on the dramatic headland of Filey Brigg.
Hessle to South Cave – 13 miles (21 Km)
This section is a good and fairly easy going introduction to the Yorkshire Wolds Way.
For most walkers the start of the Yorkshire Wolds Way will be at the sculpture in the shadow of the mighty Humber Bridge, just 3 miles (5 Km) from the centre of Hull. However, for historic reasons the official start is a short distance back at Hessle Haven.
Enjoy the first 3 miles (5 Km) of the Yorkshire Wolds Way alongside the foreshore of the Humber estuary. No other National Trail parallels such a vast estuary or passes under such a significant structure as the Humber Bridge, once the worlds’ largest single span bridge. This is an ideal location to observe passing shipping and the hosts of wading birds along the foreshore.
White chalk pebbles on the foreshore indicate that the Humber cuts through the chalk hills of the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Wolds at this point and large quarries have, in the past, taken advantage of this low ground route to move their products by water and rail. The Country Park by the northern approach to the bridge was a disused quarry known locally as “Little Switzerland”. A black painted mill used for crushing the chalk is all that is left of the old quarry workings.
Just before the path leaves the foreshore and heads towards the rising Yorkshire Wolds you pass the site where the remains of three Bronze Age boats were found protruding from the mud that had preserved them for nearly 4,000 years. If you look a little further along the foreshore you will see a cliff of clay, sand and gravel left behind by a once mighty glacier that plugged the Humber estuary during the last ice age and caused extensive flooding of the whole of the Vale of York.
Heading northwest you will pass through the delightful village of Welton. Enjoy a stroll around the village and pause for refreshment at the Green Dragon Inn where you can learn of its connection to the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin
Continuing north along Welton Wold you will realise that you are now truly in Yorkshire Wolds country. The route passes near Brantingham which for the sake of a short deviation is well worth a visit. Strikingly out of place is the interesting Gothic war memorial, built from stones taken from Hull Town Hall. Pevsner described it as “lovingly awful”!
Pleasant woodland and distant views dominate the final length of this section before you drop down to enter South Cave where there are good pubs, shops and accommodation as well as public transport back to Hessle or Hull.
South Cave to Market Weighton or Goodmanham- 12 miles (19 Km)
This section offers fairly easy walking and a visit to several interesting villages and historic locations.
The route climbs north east out of South Cave and soon offers wide expansive views of the Humber to the south. In Weedley Dale you cross the line of the old Hull – Barnsley railway line before gradually climbing towards the BBC relay mast at High Hunsley Beacon. The Yorkshire Wolds Way now drops down through the long grassy Swin Dale, a classic dry valley of the Yorkshire Wolds. You are within 2 Km of North Newbald which is well worth a visit to view its beautiful Norman church or visit one of its two pubs and the village shop.
There is evidence of settlement at Goodmanham as early as the Stone Age, and the village is contained within an ancient set of earthworks. An ancient trackway runs west of the village boundary. The track was later adapted by the Romans as a road. It was only after the Romans departed that Goodmanham really became a place of importance. A temple of Woden was founded here, and the Goodmanham temple became the most important shrine in the kingdom of Northumbria.
In AD 627 King Edwin of Northumbria was converted to Christianity. The priest in charge of Woden’s temple at that time was named Coifi. The story, as related by the Venerable Bede in his ‘History of the English Church and People’ is that Coifi attended Edwin’s conversion and baptism, and was himself converted to Christianity.
In a fit of religious zeal, he rode from Edwin’s council to Goodmanham, followed by a group of fellow converts. Borrowing a battle axe, he threw it into the temple. When the axe was not destroyed, his followers were convinced that the Christian God was more powerful than Woden and burned the temple to the ground.
The village seems to have subsided into relative unimportance following the destruction of the temple, and the next time it enters the historical record is in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The church of All Hallows was erected on or near the site of Woden’s temple around the year 1130, replacing a Saxon timber church. The church boasts 2 fonts, one Tudor and one thought be Saxon, perhaps as old as the 9th century.