We had come away for a few days to Driffield which is entrenched deep in the heart of the lovely Yorkshire Wolds. The Wolds are basically a group of low hills situated between the counties of East Riding and North Yorkshire. For the geographically incompetent it’s ‘Up North’. Our accommodation was situated adjacent to a very busy level crossing, my immediate observation was the town appeared dominated by the railway station, conveniently located on the Yorkshire Coast Line, and it offers a twice hourly service in each direction between Hull and Bridlington.
Driffeld is the largest town of the Wolds and some people even refer to it as the capital. It provides the normal town amenities, the locals are extremely welcoming and the main shopping area has plenty of places to eat, drink or just socialise. The town is dissected by a busy but attractive thoroughfare, home to a lovely bookshop which I immediately found a draw and an abundance of charming charity shops.
My first ride was on a lovely clear Saturday morning, the heat from the sun was already overpowering even at this early hour. I had slept comparatively well and felt positive about the ride ahead, the only irritation was the lack of caffeine but this could easily be addressed by a brief stop en-route to my initial destination of Bridlington. I rode off in the direction of the town, and almost immediately I came across the main arterial route dissecting the commercial area. The road was busy which slightly interfered with my smooth pedalling as I encountered a myriad of motor vehicles.
As I rode north towards the outskirts, I detoured towards the remains of Driffield Castle, which is positioned off the B1249. Unfortunately all that now exists are earthworks, but I had read about the site on the internet and was unsure of what I might encounter. I initially struggled to locate the site but after traversing the delights of Gibson Street several times, I stumbled on the castle at the rear of some non-descript bungalows, which disappointingly didn’t really set a mystical medieval theme. The grassy mound towards this end of the town is referred to as Moot Hill and in the mid to late 11th century it was the site of an earthwork Motte and Bailey fortress. Underlying the remains of the castle are the presupposed remnants of a Northumbrian palace dating from the 8th century and there is even evidence of the 4th century Roman occupation in the area. Nowadays the site is not very inspiring, its heyday long gone; it actually reminded me of a stereotypical allotment, in a state of dereliction. I left uninspired.
I cycled past the rather bland façade of the local hospital before reverting to the fairly busy A614 which the Landranger map informed me would take me to the heart of Bridlington. I comfortably skirted Ruston Parva. I had read that the Kaiser chiefs, the British Indie band and not the South African Football team where originally named Runston Parva, a deliberate misspelling of the village. My speed was good, the weather was splendid, the sun was shining and there was minimal wind. I pedalled passed Bracey Graton Plantation (images of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel ‘The Color Purple’ jumped into my head) and eventually arrived in Burton Agnes. The village is home to some enchanting old manor houses, and I decided to stop for a breather. After rehydrating and re-energising with the help of some marshmallow squares (Good energy with low fat) I continued on eastwards towards the sea.
With ease I reached the outskirts of Bridlington, the town was bustling; there were cars and holiday makers everywhere. I turned off the A614 and pedalled past another bland hospital building before stopping and securing my bike to some railings outside the ‘Golden Arches’ which as always was conveniently planted in the heart of the town’s main shopping area, like a web of fast food delights. The sea was only a short walk away, the views of the harbour were pleasing, there were plenty of boats moored up, glistening in the vibrant sunlight. I happily wandered along the promenade, the place was overrun with cafes/restaurants, and I grabbed a cheap cup of coffee and sat. The realisation hit that if you liked boats and fishing, this was definitely the place to be, the area was a complete forest of advertising boards hoping to entice as many land lovers as possible into experiencing the joys of the open water and the inevitable seasick sensation. It appeared to be working; the wonderful bright, pastel painted boats were extremely popular.
As I ambled along the harbour wall, I came across a red oval structure, similar to a very large Easter egg partially blocking the walkway. I was amazed when I read it was a World War Two mine which had been placed there as a somewhat novel collection box to raise funds for ‘The Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society’. Inspirational fundraising with a green ethos towards recycling I thought!
From the harbour, I sauntered inland towards the town’s commercial area in search of yet another coffee. The town has a lovely mix of well established recognisable nationwide stores and independent local retailers. I always bemoan the lack of local shops offering local produce but I am also guilty of choosing the convenience of the large supermarkets over quality and service of independents. I acquired a takeaway coffee and happily people watched for sometime, it was not Milan but the experience was probably as satisfying and it’s always good to be a little nosey.
I wasn’t disappointed with Bridlington, it didn’t deviate from the stereotypical British seaside town, it offers the usual fish and chips, amusements, long sandy beaches but regrettably there was an undertone of grey drabness, tacky merchandise and the eternal joys of overcrowding. Actually aren’t they the reasons why people come to the area in the first place. With my words, I am always conscious of not creating a negative picture of the area because it does have many qualities, mainly the good old family entertainment that it offers in abundance, with a total all round commitment to promote an ethos of fun! I like this simple, slightly dated approach to holidaying.
I trekked back to the bike and headed out of the town, retracing my route back to Driffield along the fairly busy A614. I had surprisingly pedalled twelve miles when I finally halted by the sparkling Driffield Beck, which is a well established chalk stream fly fishing river. It’s picturesquely named the Water Forlorns and threads its way through a nearby park and beneath little atmospheric bridges in the town centre to eventually join the Driffield Canal. I sat for a short time, under the tree cover, constantly fighting the urge to nod off whilst admiring the microcosm of flora and fauna, before heading back to base for a well earned late breakfast.
The next morning I set off in the opposite direction to the mild hustle and bustle of the town, towards the more bucolic setting of the Skerne Road. The weather was similar to the previous day and I comfortably pedalled through a small unremarkable industrial estate before noticing an inconspicuous small garden centre adjacent to a traditional flour mill. The tranquillity was already recognisable. After several enjoyable miles I dissected the quaint village of Skerne and continued on north into the equally quaint Nafferton. I negotiated another level crossing (of which there are plenty) and pedalled into the heart of the village, halting opposite the elevated church which holds a commanding position on a rise in the village. I rested in a little manicured park with a glorious view of Nafferton Mere and its soothing waters. All Saints Church is a rather large Norman built church with a perpendicular tower, it possessing a bizarre personality, an imposing melancholy grandeur mixed with an enticing welcoming facade.
From Nafferton I decided to head south as I had set myself the task of reaching Beverley. I bypassed Wansford and turned left onto the B1249, my initial priority was to locate Snakeholme Lock which I had read was a lock on the Driffield Canal situated south of the village of Wansford. Canals or locks have no real appeal really but the name intrigued me and I was not disappointed. Snakeholme lock is a brick chamber canal lock on the Driffield navigation, the location is impressive, set amidst peaceful rural surroundings, it was a joy. The lock is quite substantial in size and I sat and took in the serene atmosphere for some considerable time. The local birdlife swooping down to grab an overdue breakfast ignited my appetite so I too enthusiastically chomped on some oat and nut granola bars, comfortable with the fact that the inevitable mess created was irrelevant (not like back at home).
After my much needed interlude, I pushed on towards the delights of Beverley. After seven rather uneventful miles I had easily negotiated the village of North Frodingham and had reached the outskirts of Brandesburton. I noticed a sign to the Church and enthusiastically rode on to investigate. Sat in the heart of a clump of tastefully built bungalows was a set of rather rickety gates which led up to the church. Disappointingly, it was closed so I just sat in the grounds amongst the graves, I found the surroundings extremely calming and, worryingly, I was contented with the dead being my only company.
As I cycled out of the village I was fascinated by a sign for the Dacre Lakeside Park. My journey was briefly interrupted as I detoured onto the elongated driveway, eventually coming to an abrupt halt by a rather large expanse of water, which completely dominated the landscape. The place radiated a lovely aura, offering a mix of accommodation options, the demand was obviously high judging by the amount of vehicles parked outside the reception area, and the lodges looked especially inviting. Just from my brief inspection of the lake, it impressed with the variety of activities it had available, windsurfing, fishing, sailing, canoeing and water walking, whatever that is?
I retraced my way back up the driveway and continued south pedalling through Leven before joining the A1035, which I hoped would ultimately take me to Beverley. The road was fairly busy and I passed several similar large holiday parks, all with the pre-requisite lakeside locations. I had covered six miles before I found myself firmly planted in the heart of Beverley.
Beverley is a lovely market town and best known for its racecourse and 13th century Minster. I later discovered that it is home to the oldest Grammar School in the Country and the town can claim to be around 1300 years old. I eventually halted and locked my bike up in the centre of the town, I was happily reassured as I noticed signs for Route 66 of the National Cycle Network (which runs between Kingston-upon-Hull and York). I was so impressed by what Beverley had to offer, there was a diverse array of shops, the streets and décor were clean and welcoming. To aid orientation and discover what life was like back in the medieval age, the Beverly Town Trail has been created. It covers most of the town and highlights the diversity of previous inhabitants and the extraordinary story of their lives. I set off in search of the Minster along the charming maze of streets and narrow lanes. I had read the cathedral was well worth of a visit.
The Minster sets an imposing figure over most of the town and as I approached the grand structure I was in awe of its beauty. The stunning building was founded in 700 by St John of Beverley and is regarded as one of the finest churches in England, the architecture is typically medieval (it was originally built as a monastery), entry is free but they do ask for a donation. My visit was brief as time had become an issue, but what I did see was stunning; there were some lovely stained glass windows and exquisite carvings. The building has had a turbulent past, suffering devastating fire, structural collapse and all manner of misfortune but nowadays the perpendicular design affords a unique strong presence over the whole town. The highlight is the plaque sited in the nave which pinpoints the place where the remains of St John lies. The experience was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.
As I made my way back to my bike, I was glad I had ventured to this wonderful, relaxing place. I was surprised by what I had found, it oozed a lovely understated Yorkshire charm. I left the town in the direction of Leconfield which was north on the A164. The ride was mostly through large residential areas and after four miles I arrived in the small village of Leconfield. The village is dominated by the Normandy Barracks RAF Base which during the Second World War was home to several fighter squadrons. Interestingly it was used as RAF Fighter Command in 1939 and played a strategically important role during the Battle of Britain.
I comfortably continued for six miles, easily negotiating at speed several small villages before I arrived in Hutton Cranswick. As I approached the outskirts I encountered a rather busy intersection which dissected a substantial industrial estate. I was in need of sustenance so I turned off onto Main Street and conveniently located a Spar supermarket and stocked up on my usual snack type items. I happily devoured my stash sat by a lovely small pond in the park opposite, my only company a gang of kids creating a jumble of energetic noise.
Suitably refreshed I pedalled onwards. I had noted the village was completely overrun with car garages and accident repair centres, I sincerely hoped this was not evidence of the standard of the locals driving abilities. I was making good progress towards Driffield when calamity struck, a large quantity of hedge trimmings were comically dumped over my head; it was like a surreal scene from the Chuckle Brothers. The apologetic tractor driver looked suitably embarrassed but unfortunately the debris continued to irritate me all the way back to base. I pedalled furiously past the Driffield Agricultural Showground and jumped onto a well maintained cycle path. Negotiating some surprisingly busy roads, I eventually pedalled into Skerne road with its imposing level crossing which confirmed I had arrived at my destination and another well earned breakfast would be waiting. I hoped!