Yorkshire Wolds walk - Wetwang and Tatton Sykes Tower
PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 September 2015 | UPDATED: 17:15 10 February 2016
Terry Fletcher avoids touristy knick-knackery and enjoys the olde worlde charms of the Wolds around Wetwang
The Yorkshire Wolds sometimes feel like a time capsule, a remnant of a quieter, more peaceful England before the coming of motorways and mass tourism. Aloof from the hustle and bustle, it is an often deserted landscape interspersed with picturesque villages that have grown around village ponds and sky-tickling steeples. It changes slowly with the seasons: in spring the green is splashed with day-glo yellow fields of oil seed rape, in high summer it turns golden with ripening wheat and barley and in winter it becomes the palest of brown corduroy as vast fields of chalky soil go under the plough in neat furrows.
Because it is not a national park nor designated in any way, the byways tend to be empty and the villages have been spared the tweeness and knick-knackery that afflict so many of the visitor honeypots of the Moors and Dales. No telly-inspired Heartbeat Country or Herriot trails here.
1. This ramble sets off from the peaceful if quaintly-named village of Wetwang and traverses field paths and an old drovers’ road to visit a spectacular monument. It offers no drama or adrenaline, just a few hours passed amid a rolling arable landscape that might have been created especially to soothe the soul.
2. By the duck pond turn down the side of the village pub towards Sledmere. After 100 yards take a signed public footpath leading between cottages on the right. It leads through a play area and out through a gap in the hedge opposite. Turn left down the side of field and follow its boundary along the bottom to reach a sunken track. Turn left down this heading towards Station Farm. Turn right in front of this and follow the lane onwards aiming for the slender needle of the Sykes Monument on the skyline.
3. When the lane reaches Grange Farm do not enter the farmyard but instead followed the arrowed path around to the left. Ignore a signed bridleway half way round but continue following the yellow arrows around the farm to continue your original line traversing the foot of two fields to reach a chalk-surfaced farm track and turn left up it. Follow it briefly towards a line of trees and where the track turns right carry straight on to the trees and pass through the narrow woodland and press on directly ahead to the next line of trees.
4. The path climbs to a pair of gates and immediately beyond joins a deeply-rutted green lane. The return route turns left here but it would be a shame not to visit the monument so first head rightwards to visit the tower.It is 120ft high and was built in memory of Sir Tatton Sykes the fourth Baronet, who was by all accounts, a liberal landlord by the standards of his day and a much-loved countryman, known as “t’Aud Squire”. He married at the age of 50, fathered eight children and lived to be 90. The monument, which resembles an earthbound rocket of Whitby and Mansfield stone, was built in 1865 and has been a prominent Wolds landmark ever since and a jewel of the Sledmere estate, which has been owned by the Sykes family for 250 years.
5. From the monument, head back along the green lane, an old drivers’ road, which is followed unerringly as it traverses the side of the shallow valley with extensive views. After a couple of miles (3km) it reaches a road. If time is pressing this would provide a short cut back to Wetwang. However cross over and carry on along the green lane for another mile of so (2km) to a second road.
6. Again, cross over still following the green lane. The right of way continues for another 100 yards or so to where a footpath sign on the left points diagonally back through crops to the road you have just crossed. Wear and tear on the ground, however, suggests that most people, having crossed the road, simply turn left up the inside of the hedge beside the road, an arrangement which would avoid trampling crops and may suit both walkers and farmer alike.
7. Both routes lead to a signed gap in the hedge where the right of way crosses the road to where another signpost directs walkers diagonally across the field towards Wetwang. A stile points the way across and into a large field which is crossed diagonally to a gate by farm buildings almost in the far right hand corner. Another gate leads out onto a side road. Go down this with houses to one side and fields on the other to the T-junction. Turn right to get back to the village pond.
Start/finish: By the village pond on the A166 at Wetwang
Time: 3 hours
Terrain: Field paths and a drovers’ road
Parking: On street in the village centre
Refreshments: Pub and shops in Wetwang
Maps: OS Explorer 294 Market Weighton and Yorkshire Wolds Central and OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills and Malton.