Middleton on the Wolds, East Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 15:48 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 19:59 13 June 2016

Villagers enjoy the sunshine on the village green

Villagers enjoy the sunshine on the village green

A pretty East Yorkshire village manages to keep its charm despite the frantic A614 driving through its centre Tony Greenway calls by PHOTOGRAPHS BY NEIL HOLMES

The village pondThe village pond

It's a peaceful Sunday in Middleton on the Wolds, an attractive village with a lively community life. Up at St Andrew's Church, there are flowers on the gate and, inside, the rector, John Tallant, and the church warden, Jennifer Keenan, are looking busy. 'We've a wedding at 2pm,' says Jennifer. 'But you're welcome to come in and look around if you like.' The interior is beautiful, its chancel built in the 13th century. Pretty soon, St Andrews is going to be packed with 21st century parishioners.

John and Jennifer enjoy the friendliness of Middleton. 'There are around 700 people in the village,' says the rector. 'It's a good community here.' 'We have people in Middleton who commute to Driffield and York,' adds Jennifer, who stresses that there is a social side to the place. 'We have meetings in the village hall and reading room; then there's a Methodist chapel and a primary school. The shop and the garage closed down, but we still have our post office and Chinese takeaway, a hairdresser and two good pubs.'

There's also a poultry factory, a Fair Trade company on the industrial estate and a firm manufacturing survival aids for sea rescue - now that is something unexpected.

Jim Brailsford is a local, and he's washing his car on the main road when I stop by (it is a Sunday, after all). 'The worst thing about Middleton on the Wolds,' he says, 'is that there's a whopping great main road running through it.'Well, that's true. There's no disguising the main road which is fiendishly busy and noisy, even on a day of rest.

Front StreetFront Street

'I think it prevents the community spirit being stronger than it is,' says Jim, 'because it's difficult to talk to people when the road cuts the place in half. But I like it here. Middleton doesn't suffer from any crime problems, there's no graffiti and there's very little rubbish thrown about. Plus, I'm a cyclist and I love the fact that Middleton is a gateway to the Wolds. If you approach it through the village of Warter - well, it's beautiful around there.'

Hikers take heed, mind you, there's nowhere to walk to, warns Jim. The public footpaths tend to be dead ends, so you end up in fields which 'start nowhere and end nowhere.' Get on your bike, though, take to the road and the countryside around Middleton is about as good as it gets.

It's also the setting for the famous Kiplingcotes Derby, which is believed to be the oldest flat race in the world. The four-mile annual event starts in the nearby village of Etton, follows grass verges along the roadside over Goodmanham Wold to Enthorpe Woods, and finishes at Londesborough Wold Farm.

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