Cycle in the tracks of the great and the good around the Yorkshire Wolds villages near Market Weighton.
My old geography and history teachers would like Market Weighton. It’s a case study of evolving transport patterns. Fifty years ago you could travel by train from the town in four directions and by road directly in five. The railways had all closed by 1965 and the Beverley line is now one of two cycle routes into town. More recently, the bypass to the south and the A614 to the west have shifted the primary crossroads out of the town centre to Shiptonthorpe. A minor road still extends unfettered to the north-east, though, and this spoke in the wheel was the first stretch of a fascinating and scenic bike ride.
After Goodmanham, the views opened up for mile after mile of easy cycling. I was so glad that cars have other roads to travel on these days. Below me to my left seagulls speckled a rolling field as if basking on the swelling sea. To the right the spike of the church in South Dalton (more of which later) was silhouetted above the trees in the morning mist, as pronounced as an upturned nail in a bed of moss.
My first village of the day – Lund – was just as glorious. The only sounds to interrupt the peace were the “hellos” between dog walkers and gardeners and the cackle of geese from the farm next to the church. Not surprisingly, this place has been a film location. Lease of Life – an Ealing film starring Robert Donat of Goodbye Mr Chips fame – was shot here in 1954. The focal point of the village is The Wellington Arms. On the green opposite is an ancient cross (dating back to the days when Lund had a market) and an old pump.
They were pumping water out rather than in at the next village, Lockington, back in June 2007 when the stream that runs beside the main street burst its banks flooding the area to a depth of more than four feet in places. The scene was hard to imagine on such a fine autumn morning. The front doors of many houses are blue which denotes that they owned and let by Lord Hotham of South Dalton, my next port of call.
St Mary’s Church in the village exudes superiority. Gothic in style but actually Victorian, it has a slender tower and sharp steeple that look like they’ve been broken off from the Palace of Westminster and stretched. Beside the church is a sweet little row of almshouses that share a roofed well within their walled gardens and, a few yards further down the estate village, is another tidy terrace – also with blue doors, of course.
From a minor road I could see Dalton Hall, the Hotham family seat, from a distance. The predominant colour here was the red of the dying leaves clinging to the exterior. In keeping with all the high life is the village pub, The Pipe and Glass. Dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and with some distance still to cover, I sought humbler fare on this occasion and headed to Etton.
As I lent my bike up against the post office I saw a plaque explaining that a Thomas Carling lived in the village in the early 19th century. He emigrated to Canada to found the Carling Brewing and Malting Company, brewing beer using his father’s Yorkshire recipe. A pint of the local ale then, I thought, as I bowled into The Light Dragoon opposite. Well, not quite. There was none. I made do instead with Black Bull bitter from Theakstons, a brewery with a rather more contemporary connection with the county.
The church in Etton is in stark contrast to St Mary’s. Its tower is as stout and square-topped as they come. Defiantly different, in fact. The ruinous 18th century windmill just outside the village couldn’t compete with its lofty neighbour either but was a good waymark for the cycle route back to where I started. It follows the track bed of the old Market Weighton-Beverley railway line. Initially I cycled in a cutting. A group of ramblers picking berries had good reason to ask me if I’d passed a windmill even though it was literally just over the bank. I was missing the views and villages of the morning session but being off-road and travelling as the crow flies – or train went – made for a nice change. I soon came out into the open and rested on a bench to enjoy a Wolds vista again.
Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, I came across Kiplingcotes Station. It owes its curious location to a stipulation by Lord Hotham (him again) who allowed George Hudson, York’s notorious ‘Railway King’, to route the line across his land only on the proviso that Hudson included a station to serve the Hotham estate. On another local line Hudson ensured that there was a halt at Londesborough where he lived. These were clearly powerful men. The platform at Kiplingscotes is still very much in tact. On it stands an old bench in front of a station name sign partly obscured by an overgrown bush. The former goods shed is now an antiques shop while the signal box looks like it has recently been restored and appears to be some sort of study centre.
After steaming down the line for a few more miles I was back at Market Weighton. There’s no trace of the old station here. It was located where Aspen Close is today, facing towards the town and close to the cattle market, also gone. My bike loaded into the car, I wandered around the town to the peel of church bells. Some things never change.
Time: 3 hours excluding stops.
Distance: 23 miles.
Leave Market Weighton to the north via Londesborough Road. Take first right signed to Goodmanham. Pass through the village and continue ahead for three miles. At t-junction beside a little green turn left signed to Middleton and then almost immediately right signed to Lund. Continue ahead at crossroads into village centre. In front of the Wellington Arms turn right signed to Lockington. Turn right at t-junction then soon left into Lockington. Pass along the main street then, beside The Rockingham, turn right and over a brick bridge. At t-junction with B1248 turn right then immediately left signed to Holme on the Wolds. Pass through the village and follow road as it bears left towards and through South Dalton. (For the Pipe and Glass and a view of Dalton Hall turn right after the church). Pass over a crossroads then turn left at a t-junction into Etton. Turn right at the Light Dragoon. After 500 yards cross the former railway bridge then immediately turn right to leave the road and follow a track that leads down to the Hudson Way cycle path which leads all the way back to Market Weighton. The Way ends in an open grassed area. Where the path splits fork left and continue ahead onto Hall Road briefly to reach the Londesborough Road. Turn left back to the car park.
Note: The Hudson Way crosses roads and farm tracks so take care with children. It is also well used by walkers and narrow in places so you will need a bell.
The Goodmanham Arms, Goodmanham, YO43 3JA. Tel 01430 873849.
The Wellington Arms, Lund, YO25 9TE. Tel 01377 217394.
The Rockingham Arms (upmarket restaurant), Lockington, YO25 9SH. Tel 01423 810607.
The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton, HU17 7PN. Tel 01423 830246
The Light Dragoon, Etton, HU17 7PQ. Tel 01423 810282.
Lots of choice in Market Weighton.