George Wilkinson discovers a walk full of interest through Roman remains at Malton.

Today we have a super little easy wander, chock-a-block with interest, straight out from the market town of Malton. Derventio, a Roman fort site, makes a good start. Once there were 500 soldiers garrisoned here, now there are grassy acres, mostly levelled through the ages but still showing some ramparts and ditches.

Information boards provide the history. A history generated by the strategic importance of our location in the gap between the Wolds and the Howardian Hills.

You also learn about earlier inhabitants, the tribe to the north the Brigantes, 'backward' types with a 'pastoral economy' and to the south the peaceful Parisi herdsmen whose chalk figurines are in the Malton Museum. The one-time inhabitants of adjacent Norton made beakers.

No distance away is the River Derwent. A stone's throw from a mosaic pike, two lads fished the muddy waters.

We enter Lady Spring Wood and move up river. The banks of the Derwent are splendidly and colourfully overgrown - very lush. You can see to the Wolds.

Soon we are out into an open field, our path one side, one used by fishermen the other. A fisherman moaned about 'fishfingers' that is gudgeon, and the floods.

Most of the time you see few buildings, and when they are in view they don't dominate, except for St Mary's Priory Church that overlooks the river where we reachOld Malton.

St Mary's architecture takes some deciphering, the site goes back a long way, there is a bit of Saxon Cross and pagan altar inside. I read some pamphlets. Perhaps most intriguing is the story of the Gilbertine Priory that was here from the 12th to the 16th centuries.

Both black-clad canons and black-cloaked nuns shared the building, kept separate by walls and partitions and a 'turning window'. However "for the avoiding of scandal, if the nuns having no beer are obliged to drink water, the masters of the house shall share in their deprivation".

Then we return to Lady Spring Wood, home to the cardinal beetle. You might see its vivid red body as you tread the raised board-walks over the rich, wet flora. It is pictured on one of the 16 mosaics that illuminate the wood. You will notice plenty of trees left to rot, the larvae of the beetle live under the peeling bark.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed.

1. From market place, down hill via St Michael's Street. Right at Wheelgate (main street), left at traffic lights to Old Maltongate, Pass Old Lodge Hotel.

2. Right to track (beside Orchard Fields, signed public footpath), 50 yards, enter Roman site. Zigzag across site downhill to furthest info board on right by hedge.

3. Left beside hedge, stay beside fence on right when path forks at corner of site. Ignore left turns. Through wood (ignore footbridge on left).

4. Snickelgate out of wood and stay by 'The Cut' to your left (ignore footbridge).

5. Fieldgate/snickelgate and across field for 100 yards to church. Then return to Direction Number 5 but take path back towards Malton on other side of 'The Cut' (signed).

6. Snickelgate and left, 50 yards, footbridge and right (retracing field) back to woods.

7. Enter woods, 50 yards, footbridge on right then path swings left (boardwalk). Right at and before railway embankment, path crosses embankment (when low) back into Roman site.

Fact file:

Distance: Three miles.

Time: Allow a couple of hours.

General location: Twenty miles north east of York.

Start: Malton market place.

Right of way: The complete route is along public and permissive paths.

Date walked: Saturday, August 11, 2001.

Road route: A64 from York.

Car parking: Roadside or town centre pay and display car parks.

Lavatories: Market place.

Refreshments: Many pubs, cafs and restaurants.

Tourist and public transport information: Malton TIC 01653 600048.

Map: Based on OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills & Malton.

Terrain: Riverside and wetlands.

Points of interest: Market day Saturday. Malton Museum, open April-October 10am- 4pm, closed Sundays. Good municipal eco/access work (Ryedale District Council HQ half a mile away). At GR 7938 7169 the site of Lady Well, the Malton water supply till 1932. The well was closed after contaminated water killed 23 locals with typhoid.

Difficulty: Easy.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather Forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.

Click here to view a map of the walk