York's Place Research Centre published a booklet last month called A Guide To The Wetland Heritage Of the Vale Of Pickering. I just had to go out and have a look and chose the carrs and ings (one-time marshlands, reedswamps or whatever) south of West Ayton.

This was a very wet area in post-glacial times, with some of the deepest water at Seamer Carr a few miles east, where Mesolithic hunters surprisingly ate deer, not fish.

We left Ayton on Carr Lane which is one of the various lengths of Tarmac en route, but all day there were no motor cars, just two tractors.

Soon we bridged a benign-looking River Derwent, slightly muddy and well down in its banks, entered a sweet copse full of little birds and crossed by good hedges to Ings Road.

Ten minutes later, we met today's only contour line, the one marking 30 metres and we did not reach such dizzy heights again until almost the end of this wonderfully flat walk.

Inches matter here; the land is patterned and sliced with drains and dykes.

The sun shone in our faces from the south over the Wolds and lit up a big sky of blue and white.

We headed into the quiet. The Derwent wriggles close by in a hundred tight curves; we could see flood banks and an oxbow. Then Preston Ings and Straits Drain (deep, wide and V shaped) guides us to Ings Lane.

We turned north on Long Causeway Road, again accompanied by a splendid drain, and now there were some trees which broke the raw westerly coming down the vale.

Wykeham Lakes are in the centre of our walk and a heron lifted from their surrounds of woods, thickets and copses.

Coming back into West Ayton was a final treat, it being a well-benched village with a pond, ducks, a weir and fine cottages and houses.


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

1. From bridge over River Derwent on A170, heading east, right to Wilsons Lane (dead-end), path beside grass at end (opposite Village Hall), snicket to left of terrace of stone cottages, left to lane, 50 yards, right to Carr Lane at junction with triangle of grass in centre.

2. At yard (sheds), right to field-edge path (signed), footbridge, 15 yards, left to grassy track, 100 yards, path on right through thicket to stile. Stile to hedged path.

3. Left to lane. Straight on to track at farm (closed notices apply to farm, not track),

4. Right to lane. Ignore right to quarry after about one mile.

5. Ignore track to fishing lakes by house, 300 yards, hedged track on right.

6. Immediately before fieldgate into field at end of track, stile/fieldgate on right (signed) and immediately left, stile/fieldgate.

7. Left to field-edge margin, right at corner, 100 yards, 11 o'clock for 25 yards to stile/fieldgate into grass field (chicken wire obstructions). Follow hedge on right, stile/wired fieldgate, left to track, 50 yards, left to lane.

8. Right to Hall Garth Lane and back to A170.

Fact file

Distance: Six and a half miles.

Time: Three hours.

General location: The Vale of Pickering.

Start: The village of West Ayton.

Right of way: The complete route is along public rights of way.

Date walked: Saturday, December 1, 2001.

Road route: A170, five miles from Scarborough.

Car parking: Roadside in village.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: Inn.

Tourist and public transport information: Pickering TIC 01751 473791.

Map: Based on OS Outdoor Leisure 27 eastern area.

Terrain: Very flat.

Points of interest: The Place Research Centre is at York St John College. Book price £4 inc postage and packaging, tel 01904 716753. Forest Enterprise Cycle Trail sign leads off west from Long Causeway Road.

Difficulty: Moderate.

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