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Members of Leven Walking Club head towards Houghton Hall/photo by Arnold Underwood/Feb 2004

Sancton Wold/from a photo by Arnold Underwood/Feb 2004

EAST YORKSHIRE - North Newbald

As featured in the January 2007 issue of Country Walking Magazine

Woods 'n' Wolds

A walk for all seasons, but especially so in early summer when the rhododendrons are in flower in Houghton Woods. A walk of two halves - the flat sandy section which includes Houghton Woods followed by the rolling chalk landscape of Sancton Wold with extensive views from the top.

Fact File

Distance 14.5km (9 miles)
Time 4 hours
Grade ** Moderate
Map Mostly on OS Explorer 293 (Kingston upon Hull & Beverley), overlapping slightly onto Explorer 291 (Goole & Gilberdyke)
Start/Parking North Newbald village green
Terrain Field & woodland paths, tracks & minor roads
nearest Town Market Weighton
Refreshments Two pubs - The Gnu and The Tiger in North Newbald, plus The Star in Sancton.
Toilets none
Public Transport East Yorkshire: Service 143 Brough - Beverley (Mon, Wed,& Sat), 198 Market Weighton (Fri only), X4 Hull - Market Weighton - York DISCONTINUED (May 2017); .
Suitable for all
Stiles 8

  1. (Start) From the north side of the green walk along Galegate and round into Westgate to the junction with the A1034 Market Weighton road. Cross with care (traffic is fast) into Cliffe Road. For about a mile this lane heads straight for Houghton Woods, at which point it becomes unsurfaced. Continue forward passing the keeper's cottage to where another track crosses at right angles. Turn right (footpath sign) and walk along this broad track through the woods. Much clearance and replanting has taken place but there are still plenty of rhododendrons to give a stunning display in early summer.

  2. (2.4km, 1 miles) The track is a rather rutted and can be wet going at times. After about mile the main track bears left at a fork (yellow waymark) and you soon arrive at the northern edge of the wood. Cross the stile into a path segregated by a wire fence. Go through a metal gate and across field to another stile and a narrow lane. The grounds of Houghton Hall are opposite. Turn right here, towards Sancton.

  3. (4.8km, 3 miles) After about 200yds turn left (footpath sign) along a track heading for Houghton Hall. This track follows the edge of strip of woodland before entering open parkland by the access drive to The Presbytery. Bear right across to a stile to the left of this access and walk along the edge. Turn right to follow a clear track along field sides towards the main road. Here turn right past the vicarage and walk down the pavement towards the village. Just past the church cross over the road to a track. The pub is a little further down the road. Pause to look back at the interesting church with its octagonal tower.

  4. (7.2km, 4 miles) Head up the track away from the main road. The track turns to the right and passes through a gateway then swings left up the dale. At first you pass through an area of scrubland dotted with hawthorn but at the next stile you enter the open rolling landscape so typical of the wolds. Here watch out for hares chasing across the hillsides and red kites soaring above. Keep to the main track up the dale as it climbs steadily onto Sancton Wold. Cross a stile in the fence and keep right to continue up the valley. A clear tractor track heads straight up through, what in summer would be a sea of wheat, to a minor road quite near to the main A1079 York road. The noise of traffic on this busy road intrudes on what would otherwise appear to be a quiet, remote location. From this high vantage point the view west extends past the wind turbines across to the power stations at Drax and Ferrybridge.

  5. (9.6km, 6miles) Turn right and walk due south along this narrow lane passing the farm at Hessleskew. To the left now the view extends east to Holderness and Hull, with the cooling towers at BP Saltend acting as a reference point. You are now on the Wolds Way. Where the road bends right continue straight on to follow the Way along a green lane. This dips down and near where electricity pylons pass overhead turn right at a footpath sign, leaving the Wolds Way which continues for 20 miles to Hessle.

  6. (12km, 7 miles). Walk downhill with a hedge on your right to a gate and stile by the corner of a copse. Enter and walk down the grassy dale to a gate into a cultivated field. Continue along the bottom of the field towards the barns at Syke House Farm. Turn left just before the farm and head uphill with a hedge on your right. A gap in the hedge near the top provides good views to the west with the hilltop church at Holme-on-Spalding-Moor prominent in the distance, beyond Houghton Woods. Over the hill the path descends offering an almost-aerial view of North Newbald. Join the access driveway to Dot Hill down to the road. Go left then right to cut down between houses into Eastgate. There turn right to walk down this picturesque street with its stream, back to the village green. (14.5km, 9 miles)

    Along the Way

    North Newbald is a large village with much new housing, but the old part, with the stream, village green and church, is quite attractive. The church of St. Nicholas is the finest example of a Norman church in East Yorkshire, retaining many original features. Sancton is a small village with a church having an interesting octagonal tower, whilst the surrounding area has revealed a rich history dating back to pre-Roman times.

    Red Kites have been reintroduced to the area and if you are lucky they can be spotted soaring over the Wolds - easily identified by their red-brown colouring and forked tails. Kestrels are quite common, and buzzards may also be spotted soaring on thermals in summer.

    For those who normally associate East Yorkshire with the chalk landscape of the Wolds, Houghton Woods and its immediate area comes as a surprise. Here, the acid peaty soil on this ridge of Jurassic sandstone provides ideal conditions for rhododendrons, bracken and conifers. The rhododendrons add colour to the scene when in flower in early summer.

    Arnold Underwood/LWC (Feb 2004) (Minor updates Aug 2016)

This page was created by
Arnold Underwood

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