GEORGE WILKINSON takes a walk in the Wolds where frost and sunshine create a winter wonderland

NORTH Grimston was blessed with snow on the fields, frost on the hedges and, through the mist, a soft sunlight that glowed on the golden dial of St Nicholas. We had reached the Wolds in time to catch the magic of the day.

Magic was momentarily banished at the first gate, by the cheeky dog-eared sign that read 'Bull Keep Out'. This, as I have said before, is 'bull****'. Of more concern were the icy surfaces. We had planned a route of tracks and back lanes to keep off sodden ground. We hadn't planned on parallel lines of 4x4 polished ice, separated by a slightly grippier band of hard re-frozen snow.

Progress was tentative but enjoyable, through a lovely valley and then on a climb up into the sunlight to connect with the Centenary Way. We were just admiring a pocket of fast-vanishing vapours when a rowdy flock of pigeons flew overhead and twisted when they heard the crack of a shotgun. But the pellets were not for them, and into the valley of mist and maximum speed pheasants we strode, an eyesore yellow rucksack a reassurance.

Actually we were quite safe, well out of range, and when we had climbed the other side, we could see that the beaters with their yellow flags had paused in the open.

Escaped pheasants huddled in the hedgerows and exploded underfoot with a messy clatter to flap foolishly back to their home wood. We turned the other way and made the next valley in half an hour, slithering down to the Roman road that goes through Wharram-le-Street.

The rest was back lane and not a vehicle passed for three miles. Wrens flitted in the hedges. Trekking poles with sharp carbide tips kept us upright. Old and isolated ash stood torn and fractured and afflicted with black balls of fungi. Luddith Road develops a line of grass down the middle, and soon brought the pleasure, for a good mile, of long views to the North York Moors.

Fact file:

Distance: Six and a half miles

Time: Three hours.

General location: Yorkshire Wolds.

Start: North Grimston village.

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

Date walked: Saturday, January 11.

Road route: From York, via A64, Kirkham and Langton.

Car parking: Luddith Road on the outskirts of village (off Birdsall/Langton road), or for patrons of the Middleton Arms, the car park behind the pub.

Lavatories: None.

Refreshments: The Middleton Arms in North Grimston. On Sunday the food is from midday to 2pm.

Tourist & public transport information: Malton TIC 01653 600048.

Map: Based on OS Explorer 300 Howardian Hills and Malton: Yorkshire Wolds North.

Terrain: Wolds valleys

Points of interest: The excavations of the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy are nearby, just over half a mile south from direction number 5, along the disused railway line.

Difficulty: Moderate, good going on tracks and back lanes.

Dogs: Suitable.

Weather Forecast: Evening Press and recorded forecast 0891 500 418


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

1. Right to road to village from roadside parking area, pass church, pass pub and houses to left, up hill (50 yards exposed, no pavement), Wood House Farm track on left (ignore 'bull keep out' sign), cattlegrid/fieldgate. Stay on farm track, over stream, uphill.

2. When wood up on hillside to left, right downhill over grass (signed Wolds Way and Centenary Way). Stile and footbridge over stream, 11 o'clock uphill via stile.

3. Left at fence (signed) so fence to right, 100 yards, stile on right (signed) and left to field-edge path, right at corner, 50 yards, switch to track on other side of hedge.

4. Cross road to track. Left to road (pavement) through Wharram-le-Street. First road on right.

5. Route Option at hairpin bend - abandoned rail track on left to Wharram Percy. Return to road.

6. Road on right at junction (signed North Grimston 2) - no pavement but mostly open on one or both sides. Back to roadside parking.

7. Route Option. Signed path (Centenary Way) through pasture into North Grimston.

Click here to view a map of the walk

Updated: 09:48 Saturday, January 18, 2003