North Yorkshire walk - North Grimston
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 May 2019
The scenery on this walk through the Howardian Hills from North Grimston is a reminder of the size and majesty of the county.
North Grimston is a rather straggling village but also one that is laced with history. Caesar's legions marched this way and just over a century ago estate workers dug up a rare Celtic sword nearby. The hilt, in the shape of a human figure, is rare and one of only a handful of such finds that have come to light anywhere in Europe. It is now on display in the museum in Hull.
Closer to hand is the church of St Nicholas which dates back to at least Norman and perhaps Anglo Saxon times. These days it looks a plain, no-nonsense building but its Norman origins are still clear to see. Its most important and architecturally controversial feature is its huge stone font, which is decorated with carvings of the Last Supper and Crucifixion. Some historians believe it dates from Saxon times while others argue it was created after the Conquest. Whichever is true, it is an impressive size and looks sturdy enough to baptise a calf, never mind even the most troublesome child. The chancel also contains surprises in the shape of some somewhat saucy carvings, including a man indulging in especially unchurch-like conduct set on the corbels, the contemplation of which may have helped to enliven dull and lengthy sermons in times past.
The walk makes a long climb to the top of Settrington Beacon, which at 625ft/199m provides some of the most wide-ranging views in the area, making it well worth saving this outing for a clear day. Settrington House, passed on the second half of the walk, was the home of Sir Francis Bigod, one of rebels who took on Henry VIII during the pro-Catholic uprising of the Pilgrimage of Grace in1536. He was executed for his actions. His house was confiscated by the Crown and passed thorough many hands before it was demolished and replaced in the 18th century by a Georgian mansion.
1. Walk out of the village on the Driffield road passing the Middleton Arms pub, taking care with the traffic. At the first bend take a farm track on the left marked 'Wood House Farm'. The tarmac winds up the valley and after a mile or so comes to a signpost announcing that you are on the Wolds and Centenary Ways. Carry on between the farm buildings, after which the surface deteriorates. At a fork by a second farm follow the signs rightwards. Shortly afterwards it comes to a gate. The waymarked route goes through this but immediately turns right to follow the farm road, which seems a slightly pointless diversion.
2. After an hour or so the track comes to a road. Turn left down this. This high ridge is the crest of Settrington Beacon and along the way it passes a large ceremonial fire basket set atop a wooden post. The hill's use goes back millennia though presumably Roman troops took their duties a little more seriously in the days when this was one of a chain of signalling stations between their coastal watch towers and the main garrison in York to summon reinforcements. Walking along the lane is a spectacular reminder of the huge scale of Yorkshire, not just in the breadth of the views which stretch out to distant horizons in every direction, but also in the variety of the landscape. This rich, rolling arable downland is a world away from the fells and sour grasses of the Pennines, the high heather of the North York Moors or the flat sweep of the Vale of York and the industrial heartlands of South Yorkshire.
3. A few hundred yards beyond the beacon pole look out for a drive on the right to Wold House. Go down this but shortly before reaching the buildings go rightwards round the end of a plantation to a stile. Go over this and down the field to a gate at the bottom and diagonally down another field to pass to the right of a pond by a gate. Head half-left up the other side of the valley to follow the low edge of a wood to a stile. Cross this to join a track that serves Wardale House. Follow this out to a road and turn downhill, passing the lake of Settrington House. At a T-junction turn left and after a quarter of a mile take the Centenary Way to the left. At Kirk Hill Farm take a signed gate on the right. Drop down to a footbridge crossing the beck which is followed all the way back to North Grimston.
Start/finish: North Grimston
Distance: 7.5m miles/12km
Terrain: Mostly farm tracks and a bit of road walking.
Time: 3–4 hours
Refreshments: Pub in North Grimston
Map: OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills and Malton