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Yorkshire Wolds Walk - Bishop Wilton

PUBLISHED: 18:20 26 February 2018

The secluded church of St Ethelburga

The secluded church of St Ethelburga

Terry Fletcher

Explore the historic village of Bishop Wilton with this walk on the edge of the Wolds.

Words and photographs by Terry Fletcher

A bus stop in Bishop Wilton A bus stop in Bishop Wilton

Heading eastwards through Stamford Bridge towards the coast the Yorkshire Wolds rear up from the broad expanse of the Vale of York like a great green wall. The A166 plucks up its nerve to attack the formidable gradient of Garrowby Hill but at the last moment it is possible to avoid the challenge by turning off into the secretive little village of Bishop Wilton.

For centuries its houses and old farmsteads have huddled together at the foot of the escarpment which protects them from the biting east winds that can blow in from the North Sea and today they still sit comfortably around the extensive village green overlooked by the sky-tickling spire of St Edith’s Church.

Nowadays not much disturbs their tranquillity apart from a few squabbling ducks on the village beck, but in the 13th century this was the site of the Archbishop of York’s palace – hence the name. However, it fell into disrepair a century later and, though the site remains, the Archbishop has decamped to Bishopthorpe on the outskirts of York.

This walk samples both sides of the village’s topography, climbing to the edge of the wold and visiting four villages before following the fields back to Bishop Wilton.

Bishop Wilton beck Bishop Wilton beck


1. From the broad village green, head south along the Pocklington road. After 300 yards or so look out for a sign on the left pointing to the Minister Way, and the track to Great Givendale climbing the steep field heading for the escarpment on the skyline. At the top of the slope turn right along a narrow track hemmed in by a wire fence and a straggling hedge. Across to the right are breathtaking views over the Plain of York to the distant Pennines beyond while to left is classic Wolds scenery of huge fields and apparently endless skies. Where the fence and hedge divide stay with the fence to go through a gate and briefly enter a field but after about 25yards turn right to resume the level path along the escarpment. When it reaches a broad – and often muddy – cart track turn left up this and go round a bend. At a junction carry on straight ahead through a gate marked as the Chalkland Way to reach the lane into the neat little village of Great Givendale.

2. Once through the village at a T-junction you reach the picturesquely-situated church of St Ethelburga’s tucked away in the trees and overlooking a narrow valley. Turn right down the road towards Pocklington and after another 300 yards or so, just after the village boundary marker, take a signed footpath on the right. The path drops through the edge of wood before jinking through the enclosing hedge and following a field boundary downhill. When it comes to a marked kissing gate on the right of the path go through this and immediately through another on the left before dropping down the field towards a wood and then turning leftwards above the trees.

3. At the bottom of the field a gate gives onto a short track leading to a road. However, before the road is reached take a gate immediately on the left and cross the field to a gate halfway down the opposite hedge. Carry on across the next large field passing a hedge corner to cross the beck via a bridge and then take a few steps left before following yellow waymarkers pointing the way across the field to a lane.

4. Turn right along the lane, aiming for the houses of Meltonby. Just before reaching a T-junction take a signed path on the left which leads diagonally across a field allowing you to sidestep a stretch of road walking. When it regains the tarmac turn left for 300 yards and then take another signed track, this time on the right, which cuts out another road corner. On regaining the tarmac turn right to the fourth of the day’s villages, the tiny community of Yapham.

5. Here at the entrance to the village turn into a development called High Bields with a partially hidden sign announcing a public footpath to Bishop Wilton two miles away. After the first row of houses take a narrow snicket on the left marked with a discreet yellow arrow between the houses which leads into a farm yard. Turn right through this and then carry on ahead on a path across the field. Cross this and an ensuing beck along the path, ignoring a track coming in from the right and instead aim for the hedgeline. Here go through a gate and immediately turn right along the treeline broadly following a beckside track all the way back to Bishop Wilton. On reaching a lane turn right up this to the village green.

Start/finish: Bishop Wilton

Distance: 6miles/10kms

Ascent: 300ft/90m

Terrain: Farm and field paths and quiet lanes

Time: 3 hours

Parking: Roadside in Bishop Wilton

Refreshment: Pub in the village

Map: OS Explorer 294 Market Weighton and Yorkshire Wolds Central

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