Monthly Archives: November 2020

Recent middle distance walk, Yorkshire Wolds.

Just a one blog break from ‘Disused rail-lines as public rights of way’.

Started at Drewton just east of the A1034 South Cave to Market Weighton road. Walked up past the working limestone quarry  and then turned left down Comber Dale (see photo above, view north from top of Comber Dale) this part of the High Hunsley Circuit and the Wolds Way long-distance footpaths. Then east along bottom of Weedley Dale beside the route of the Hull-Barnsley disused rail-line. Then north again up East Dale, wooded dry valley (some steep-climb sections). From there zig-zagging north to SwinDale and along two more open dry valleys. In this section passed a surviving cement-base dew pond, good example. At mouth of Swin Dale followed minor road into North Newbald – bench on village green and photos of exterior of its famous late-Norman church.

Then through South Newbald to the main road, crossed to minor road leading down into Hotham village, crossed Hotham Beck (now at foot-slope of the Yorkshire Wolds), studied exterior of Hotham church with its plain late-Saxon tower, through the village and south through the parkland of Hotham Hall (public right of way) to the edge of North Cave and its church, public right of way through playing field to minor road leading to Everthorpe this bridged over another section of the disused line of the Hull-Barnsley railway (rail-bed now overgrown). Back to A1034, crossed to Low Drewton Lane and the car.

Home for tea.


Disused rail-lines as public rights of way 6.

Incidentally, on crossing the minor road to Goodmanham (s.p.b.) the Hudson Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way (long distance footpath) cross, the latter going broadly south-north.

On passing a post-war housing estate on the north side of Market Weighton the end of the Hudson Way is a large, grassed open area with playground, this once the marshalling yards of Market Weighton station. During the Railway Age Market Weighton was a rail-hub where rail-lines from York, Pocklington and Selby from the west having crossed the Vale of York and Beverley and Driffield from the east having crossed the Yorkshire Wolds met, these shown, for example on the O.S. sheet 44/84-A, 1:25000, 1947 (pre-Beeching). The station-master’s house survives as a private residence beside the Londesborough Road. Sections of these ex-rail-lines survive as footpaths (e.g. the Bubwith Rail Trail) but they are few and far between, except for the Hudson Way.

Market Weighton was a highways intersection long before the coming of the railways lying as it does just north of the course of a principal Roman road linking Brough (Petuaria) with York (Eboracum), the route of the A1079 following the line of the Roman road west of Shiptonthorpe, and just west of the Roman road from Brough to Malton.

The photo. above (taken from Wikipedia) shows part of the now quiet (since the southern bypass was opened in 1991) Main Street just east of All Saints church. The fine three-storey Georgian building with the columned porch is the Londesborough Arms, built in the late 18th century as a coaching inn (the Beverley to York road was turnpiked in1764), Beverley being the county town of East Yorkshire and York the county town of all the Ridings. Like Barton on Humber, Market Weighton has a dense concentration of Georgian and Victorian buildings, mostly residences.

Having written about the Hudson Way I am leaving rail-lines for one blog to describe a walk I did recently.

Disused rail-lines as public rights of way 5.

A tributary rail-line from the Hudson Way passed through Goodmanham parish, part of it being a public right of way.

The parish of Goodmanham is a significant historic area with its church dedicated to All Saints now being Grade 1 listed by Historic England and, in places the parish boundary following prehistoric earthworks. It figures in the Domesday Survey of 1086 but was previously mentioned by the Venerable Bede in his History of the English Church and People, compiled in the early 8th century. The significant event here told by Bede was that in 627AD Edwin, then king of Northumbria (having brought together the previous Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia) was converted to Christianity and blessed by Paulinus, first bishop of York (the leading member of the Gregorian mission from Rome to convert Anglo-Saxon pagans – see statue above from Rochester cathedral showing a stylised Paulinus set in a canopied niche). Such ‘conversions’ had nothing to do with the people, rather targeted ruling elites. The story goes that this conversion was reinforced by a dramatic event whereby Coifi, previously the leading pagan religious, led the destruction by burning of the pagan temple dedicated to Woden, father of the gods. It is claimed that the present All Saints church (s.p.b.) may stand on the site of the destroyed temple – the church certainly stands on a prominent mound within the village.

A pagan temple could be just a site or an open-sided structure rather than a walled building. Clearly at Goodmanham some sort of wooden structure existed. Bede’s agenda was to celebrate the Anglo-Saxon conversions to Christianity so the reliability of his evidence in the case of this particular story maybe be in question. However, the present stone-built church almost certainly had a wooden Anglo-Saxon predecessor.

Disused rail lines as public rights of way, 4.

The photo above shows the church of All Hallows, Goodmanham as view from the village street from the south-west. Goodmanham is a small village just north-east of Market Weighton.

Continuing the Hudson Way public right of way – before dropping-down to Kiplingcotes station house (s.p.b.) fine views north are to be had looking across South Dalton Wold from a terraced section of the ex-line set into the side of Etton Wold. About half a mile further west, just after the Y.W.T. quarry (s.p.b.) the route enters Goodmanham Dale with chalk valley slopes on either side. In this area the scarp-slope of the Yorkshire Wolds is fragmented, more so than further south and further north. At one point the route crosses a minor road leading to Goodmanham, after which (west) the route follows alongside Mill Beck, a spring-fed stream flowing to the Vale of York. Mid-way along this stretch is the site of St. Helen’s Well, a spring in the hillside with historic significance.

Springs were often perceived as having religious significance, often with little surviving documentation. There is also the site of a St. Helen’s well in South Cave, this again, geographically a point on the spring-line of the Wolds. Their association with certain saints of the pre-Reformation is obscure (to me at least). The official generic name for such sites is Holy-wells and Sacred Springs. Other examples that come to mind in the Humberside region are St. Julian’s Wells in the parish of Anlaby, this being significant in the history of Hull’s water supplies, and a spring said to be a holy-well beside the scarp-top footpath between Alkborough and Burton Stather in North Lincolnshire (this being most unusually sited high up the scarp slope of the Lincolnshire Wolds overlooking the Vale of Trent.

Spring water was of course essential to life in ancient times, particularly so when the water had been filtered by the chalk porous bedrock.

St. Helen’s Well is in the parish of Goodmanham, about which more next time.

Disused rail lines as public rights of way (3).

The above portrait (taken from the Internet) is of George Hudson, 1800-1871, the famous Victorian railway promoter, financier and politician who, before he fled abroad to avoid imprisonment for debt, had considerable connections with East Yorkshire.

One very good example of a disused rail-line converted to a public right of way is the Hudson Way footpath which crosses the southern Yorkshire Wolds east to west between Beverley and Market Weighton. With crossing the Wolds its course includes cuttings and embankments as well as some terrace sections cut into the side of  Wold slopes. Therefore, not only is it an ideal route along which to see chalk bedrock-loving plants but also plant communities vary according to how sheltered or how open a given section is.

Between Beverley and north of Cherry Burton the route follows the gently undulating land at the base of the dip slope of the Wolds, incidentally this stretch includes a fine example of a surviving station-masters house with platform alongside just east of the B1248 Beverley to Wetwang road, this the site of the once Cherry Burton station and goods yard.

South of Etton the route encounters more pronounced hills and west of the Gardham road panoramic views start to develop. At Kiplingcotes the station house (once a convenient cafe, but no longer), warehouse and signal box survive. At one point, 20 or so years ago, the signal box was upgraded to a pop-in un-manned museum and the first names in the visitor’s book were myself and a group of students on a day-out. Certainly up to a year or two past the furniture retailer whose business was based in the warehouse had a display unit in Hull’s indoor market alongside Holy Trinity (Minster) church.

The Kiplingcotes chalk quarry (alongside the route) is administered by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. I assume that rather than it being a field quarry this was where chalk was quarried by the railway company as hardcore for embankments.

(to be continued).

Disused railway lines as public rights of way.

The above photo shows Barton station buildings before their demolition in 1973, this time looking west (s.p.b.), scanned from p. 38 of Anthony Berridge’s book, s.p.b. Of course ‘the Barton Line’ is still a functioning rail-line but if it were to ever cease to function as such in the future it would be an excellent candidate for converting to a linear public right of way once the rail-lines themselves were taken-up and trees, shrubs and wild plants were allowed to flourish at either side. There would be a local issue from Habrough to Cleethorpes where the Barton to Cleethorpes line runs alongside the south bank Trans-Pennine rail track and also at Habrough where the Immingham to Scunthorpe heavy goods track crosses over.

Although the station-master’s house incorporating a waiting room, ticket office etc. (see above) has gone from Barton’s station platform, along-with the ‘dutch barn’ storage shed, elsewhere along the line to Cleethorpes, particularly nearer to Grimsby, original station master’s houses survive, now as private residences. So the question is, along disused rail-lines do the station buildings survive or even any buildings related to the once goods traffic?

Two disused station sites that do contain some remnants of the once railway goods buildings are; the station site on the once Hull-Barnsley Railway at Little Weighton, a site now in private ownership so am not too sure of my facts, and, secondly the station site on the once same railway east of North Cave, beside the A1034 South Cave to Market Weighton road. Whether this was once North Cave’s station site I am not sure (again). There was a time when disused railway stations were also where semi derelict rail trucks and carriages could be found, the latter, if not there, could be found in many villages converted to ‘cosy’ living accommodation. Such examples gave rural sites a charm now lost.