Walking in the Yorkshire Wolds: Thixendale and Chris Drury’s Time & Flow sculpture
AS the clocks move forward and the smell of spring begins to fill the air, there’s no better way to spend a day than to put your walking boots on and head out into the Yorkshire countryside.
As keen hikers will no doubt testify, the county is blessed with some of the finest walking trails in the country and among the best, and nearest, places in the region to explore are the glorious Wolds.
If you’ve been in hibernation for the past few months, a great route to get started with is an eight-mile circular trek that takes you from the tiny village of Thixendale on a wander through some of the various dales in the area. Though not too taxing, there are enough hills along the way to ensure your legs will feel like they’ve had a good workout by the end of the day!
Also, if the picturesque scenery and tranquillity of the Wolds weren’t enough, this route also takes you right past the Time & Flow spiral sculpture created by artist Chris Drury which was visited by TV presenter Matt Baker on an episode of BBC’s Countryfile a few months ago.
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The sculpture forms part of the Wander project backed by Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) to attract more visitors to the Yorkshire Wolds. Following the unveiling of the sculpture, Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for cultural services at East Riding Council, said: "It is so important to develop what East Yorkshire offers to visitors and the Wander project is a perfect addition to the region.
"The Wolds Way is such a stunning route that it deserves to be visited, and having these wonderful artworks along the way will encourage even more people to experience it."
View Thixendale Round in a larger map
ABOVE: A map of the Thixendale circular route (8.3 miles)
The start of the route on the main road which runs through the centre of Thixendale is easy enough to find with plenty of free on-street parking. Boasting a population barely over 100, this charming settlement was reportedly one of the last places in the UK to receive terrestrial TV reception - as late as the 1990s - due to its secluded location and the inevitable effects on televisions signals of being surrounded by dales.
Once you’re ready to go, you’ll need to head west out of the sleepy village, leading you to a stile over which is a field with tracks heading up a hill to the right. Though these heavily bedded tractor trails make it naturally tempting to follow this route, it is strongly advisable not to do so as you will eventually find yourself precariously navigating the side of a steep valley heading in the wrong direction!
Instead, the correct route takes you slightly to the left as you leave the village, towards the bottom of a very distinct valley – Thixen Dale. This particular section of the walk takes you along the Yorkshire Wolds Way, a 79-mile National Trail which runs from Hessle to Filey.
As you negotiate your way through the numerous sheep, bear right into another dale – Milham Dale - when the valley splits in two and you’ll eventually reach a farm. Head right and then left onto the farm track which, after a short while, leads to a road.
The sudden change to a hard, smooth surface may seem exceptionally easy-going after the previous miles of mud, grass and gravel but don’t get too used to it. About half a mile or so along the road, you need to keep your eyes open for a trail which runs along the edge of a field lined by a large hedgerow and some trees.
The views are quite spectacular as you gradually descend the slope, eventually following the trail down to a fence which leads to a farm track. Stroll along here to a road and then turn right, which will see you heading towards Kirby Underdale. Like Thixendale, this is another idyllic Wolds village, albeit not quite as isolated.
There are actually two different deviations you can take from here depending on whether you would prefer walking on concrete or grass. A stile in the hedge on your right as you head out of the village will take you on a slight jaunt across a field. Alternatively, you can continue to walk along the road. Even if you take the more rural route through the greenery, you’ll eventually join up with the road again. After you’ve conquered this slight uphill section, and possibly been overtaken by a few cars breaking the silence along the way, you will reach a T-junction.
From here, you need to turn left and then, a very short time later, immediately right onto a farm track. As with the start of the route, the potential to easily head in the wrong direction arises once again when you reach a sharp double-turn in the track. Instead of following the track towards a farm in the distance, you need to continue straight on after the first bend through a gap in the hedge into another field. Then, follow this trail on the other side of the hedgerow until you reach a gate on the right.
After you’ve made your way through here, you’ll come across a large tree which has a tyre swing hanging from one of its branches (at least it did at the time of this walker’s visit). From here, follow the track along into the large dale – Worm Dale - ahead of you and, as you traverse your way through the valley, watch out for the bulls should they be around!
You’ll know you’ve reached the end of this when you come across the aforementioned spiral sculpture. This point is at the confluence of two glacial valleys and its twisted form is intended to reflect the flow of ice and water which created this remarkable landscape during the last ice age.
Following the curves of the sculpture around to the left, you’ll re-enter Thixen Dale again, albeit in a different section heading north this time. The route back to the village from this point is fairly straightforward – simply follow the valley along until you reach a T-junction. Then, turn right onto the road which, after a left turn into the village, will get you back to where you started around eight miles earlier.
Should you be feeling peckish or just a tad thirsty after your day’s efforts, the homely and wonderfully traditional Cross Keys pub at the centre of Thixendale has been serving locals and travellers since at least 1851. From late March, it is open daily from 12pm to 3pm and also between 6pm (7pm Sunday) and 11pm.
For more information on walking routes along National Trails, visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk