Head east into Yorkshire for a varied bike ride that includes attractive villages, a stretch of the Humber estuary and a wildlife reserve.
The unlikely inspiration for this bike ride was the Hull City manager Phil Brown. “As far as I’m concerned, Hull is one of the best-kept secrets in the country,” he said in a press interview. “The city is full of tourist attractions and there’s beautiful countryside. We train in Cottingham, one of the oldest villages in the country. I live in North Ferriby. Then there’s Swanland, Brough, Elloughton, West Ella. Fantastic places.”
You get a feel for the sort of place the manager was talking about as you pass through one of the first villages on this trail, North Newbald. The picturesque green is criss-crossed by all manner of routes and also had a stream running across it until the 19th century. A steep swoop down from Cave Wold through North Ellerker Wood brings you to All Saints Church attractively set above a stream and backed by trees. It’s some distance away from the Brantingham suggesting this location may have been the centre of the Saxon village which is assumed to have preceded the later settlement.
Other quirks in the estate village are the village hall which has unusual loopy Dutch gables, the timber porches of some cottages and a particularly stout-looking war memorial with pillars on each corner. The pond makes a perfect place for sandwiches – providing you don’t mind sharing it with the ducks. A white phone box next to it looks surreal in such a traditional English scene but, of course, denotes that the phone system in the region is operated by Kingston Communications and not BT.
Elloughton is another village with some very desirable properties. Security gates are de rigeur down leafy Mill Lane and at the end of it is an unusual stuccoed and castellated villa called Castle House which dates back to 1886.
There’s no hint of the Humber despite it’s proximity until you reach the shifting mud and sandflats between Brough and Broomfleet which merge imperceptibly into the churning brown torrent of the river. The flats provide a winter home for many thousands of ducks and wading birds such as lapwings, wigeon, pink-footed geese and peewits travelling south in the autumn from the breeding grounds of the Arctic tundra and taking advantage of the abundant worms and shellfish.
The architectural highlight of the route is North Cave. The village boasts two unlikely if somewhat tenuous connections with two of the leading figures of the 18th century. Teavil Leason, who lived in The Hermitage, was the officer in charge of Napoleon in captivity on St Helena while Henry Washington, who owned East Hall Manor, was reputed to be a distant relative of the first US president George Washington.
East Hall was rebuilt as Cave Castle between 1797 and 1804 and today is a country house hotel with lake. Flanking the main road through the village are the town hall (built at the same time) and the arched gatehouse for Cave Castle which now leads to a housing estate and is flanked by two bears gardant. Both are worth the diversion.
If wildlife rather than buildings is your thing then you can catch up with some of the birds you may have missed earlier on the flats at the North Cave Wetlands. Originally a sand and gravel quarry, the 96-acre site was turned into a freshwater reserve five years ago by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and now attracts 170 species of birds along with 20 species of butterfly and 200 different types of wildflower.
So. It’ll have to be North Ferriby, Swanland and West Ella next time. I’ll be more than happy to give Hull another promotion.
Distance: 23 miles.
Time: 2½ hours excluding stops.
North Cave Wetlands
Turn right out of the car park then left signed to Hotham. After a mile turn right down Dean Lane then left at crossroads up Main St to and through Hotham. At junction with the A1034 cross over and continue ahead up South Newbald Rd. Just after St Nicholas’ Church on your left in North Newbald turn right at a t-junction, pass between The Gnu pub and Tiger Inn. Turn immediately right up Burgate to pass to the right of Bob’s Shop. After 2½ miles and after an aerial cross over the B1230 then soon fork right signed to Riplingham and Welton. At the next crossroads turn right signed to Brantingham and follow the same sign to the left shortly afterwards.
Descend to and through Brantingham. Turn left a junction in front of The Triton Inn, cross over the A63 then follows road as it bears left into Elloughton. Pass The Half Moon pub then, at a crossroads, continue ahead down Main St. Turn right up Mill Lane to view Castle House. After the house continue ahead as the road become a track for 50m then turn left up Sands Lane. Turn right at the end back onto Main St. Keep ahead at traffic lights, cross over the level crossing then follow road as it bears sharp right to pass BAE Systems. Just after the road bears sharp right again fork left to pass the Boat House. In front of the Humber Yawl Club turn right and push your bike along a narrow fenced path for 100m signed Trans Pennine Trail. The path brings leads into a gravel track. Pass through a metal gate and continue ahead along the track, now grassy and uneven.
After 2 miles at Crabley Farm follow the track as it bears right, through a metal gate and along a short concreted section to reach a level crossing. Cross over and continue ahead along a minor road. At an unsigned t-junction turn right then at a crossroads turn left up Ellerker Lane. At a t-junction in West End turn right up Church Hill. At the A1034 turn left to view the town hall and Cave Castle Gatehouse (500m up on the left). Retrace route to Church Hill but this time keep ahead rather than returning to Ellerker. After 2 miles in North Cave turn right at the t-junction beside the war memorial then right again at the next t-junction in front of the Londis store. Turn left just before the church and over a bridge. At a crossroads continue ahead and, as the road bears right, keep ahead and back to the car park.
Parking: North Cave Wetlands (free) just to the north-west of North Cave.
Public transport: The route passes within 200m of Brough railway station on the line connecting Hull to Leeds and Doncaster.
Eating: The Triton Inn, Brantingham, is the pick of the pubs. The Courtyard at Cave Castle in North Cave also serves coffees and teas (every day but only until 3pm on Sundays).