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Hull to Liverpool - Week 1 blog by Jane Benyon

Day One

Having driven up to Hull on one of the hottest days of the year, we were feeling rather concerned about our walk in the morning.  Would we manage it in the heat, especially after a very sticky night, much improved by our host providing a fan for our room which was most welcome.  As luck would have it, we awoke to find, what we Scots call an 'Easterly Ha' which is when the sea mist sits over the coast and the temperature drops at least 5 degrees.  Normally this causes holiday makers a lot of frustration, knowing inland there will be lovely sunshine, but not us today!!
We are staying 5 miles out of Hull, which I did not realise was actually called Kingston upon Hull and is the cultural capital of the UK this year.  We drive into the city having crossed over the magnificent Humber bridge.  A first time for both Tom and I. Very impressive despite the gloom.  I am pleased that the tide is coming in as most of our walk today is along the edge of the estuary and I wasn't looking forward to walking beside the mud of a low tide.
We started our walk along the St AndRews Qay where there were a number of ships in dock, but one got the impression it was not the busiest of ports.  The only cargo on the dock side were wooden planks from Poland and not a lot of activity.  We came across a very moving statue of a family.  This was commemorating the 2 million Europeans who between 1880 - 1914 arrived by ship from the continent and were then transported by train to Liverpool to catch a ship to the USA and the start of a new life.  So different now!!

Out walk is easy and uneventful and we are encouraged to see a sign saying the Trans Pennine Way which we may be following some of the way although today we are on the Yorkshire Wold Way which eventually takes us through a pretty woodland area and Moses is happy to be off the concrete paths of the coastal path.  Our end point is Welton,  a pretty village with an impressive church.

We are feeling good and are fitter than we thought we were, having done no previous training but perhaps the stiffness will set in tomorrow!

Day 2

We are off in good time today and our walk today continues along the banks of the Humber much of it along an embankment presumably built to prevent the river flooding on to the surrounding farm land.  This rich grassland supports flocks of fat well fed ewes and their lambs all along the edge of the river. Half way through the day the Humber river splits and we follow the smaller of the two waterways. Being very hot Moses enjoys a time of swimming and a chance to cool off. I am jealous although the muddy colour of the water is less inviting. As I walk along, I reflect that we have not seen any shipping since we left those boats in the docks in Hull. Presumably in the past centuries this was an important shipping river and now not a ship in sight. Suddenly I hear a noise behind me and I look behind to see a large cargo ship loaded with timber planks coming up behind me. I am very surprised as it seems very out of place. It passes me and continues a bit further, then stops suddenly, turns round and steams back again. I can only think that it came up the wrong channel  and was returning to the larger channel down stream. Very bazaar and very lucky it was not.grounded on a mud and sand bank.

The heat is much more intense as the day wears on and I think our pace slows quite considerably,however how glad I am that we are not walking in the south of England this year!  We eventually arrive at Yokefleet our end destination.   Most of the names of the villages along the way end in 'Fleet'. Indicative of the past activity, perhaps fishing?

Day 3

Moses gets out of the car this morning on three legs looking very pottery, as probably we look too.  Coming round the corner in the first field, we come face to face with a beautiful dog fox. In a second Moses was off after it, although the fox had nothing to be afraid of as he is a rotten hunter and soon came back but all his aches and pains are forgotten.  Our morning is spent continuing to walk along the the North side of the Humber to Gould which, although quite far up stream appears still to be an active cargo port. We continue to walk along built up embankments presumably against flooding. Our hosts the previous night have provided us with a lovely picnic which we planned to eat on the riverbank. It was a lovely idea but then the heavens opened at 1 pm and lunch was had in the car!  Luckily the rain was short lived and we had a pleasant walk along a smaller river having walked under the M62 viaduct and then   left the Humber behind us. About two miles before the end of the walk we were supposed to cross a bridge before walking to our final destination. The only problem was that Marcus, our driver was the other side of the river in the car but the only bridge was above our head, a major trunk road, with no easy access to it. Our only recourse was to scramble up a very steep bank, climb through a barrier on to a very busy dual carriageway, cross the bridge, and then scramble down an equally steep bank on the other side to the road below.  This problem has happened before on one of our other walks, but this time the bridge had been at least 100 ft above us!  The problem with setting a route by satellite is that it does not differentiate levels.  Finally we walk on to Drax, apparently the largest coal fired power station in Europe.

Day 4

We start rather late this morning having had a long drive along the M62 from our nights stay.  Immediately things start to go wrong. As we leave the village of Drax we see the footpath sign for us to follow but that is the last one we see.  We have to walk across the middle  of a huge wheat field, waste high and with no sign of a path.  We then spent a long time trying to find a bridge over a boundary ditch, when eventually found it we were then confronted by a huge field of oilseed rape, almost impossible to penetrate, with nettles and thistles shoulder high on the edge.  Even Moses was defeated by it and walked in my footsteps. Things went from bad to worse and we spent a good hour seemingly getting nowhere and the power station still appeared to be a stones throw away.  We had a good lunch in the pretty village of Snaith which cheered us up.  However we were saddened to find the large beautiful church/abbey in the centre was firmly closed and we had the feeling it was redundant!
The afternoon is not much better. The farmers take no account of footpath signs and no attempt to make their fields accessible.  I fear there is no active ramblers association in the area  to put pressure on the farmers and the local authority to update their signing.  Things improved a bit when we walked into North Yorkshire. Certainly the signing improved and the one farm we went through had put the footpath back in his large barley field. Anyway we made it but we won't look back on the day with much pleasure.

Day 5

The sun is shining this morning with a cool breeze, so we set off from Norton feeling more cheerful.  Footpath navigation is transformed today as they are all well marked,with easy access through large arable fields and we make very good progress with no access difficulties.  The landscape has subtly changed from the very flat treeless countryside we have been through for the past 4 days.  Now we see gently undulating hills, dotted with small woodland.  The houses are no longer built in the rather forbidding dark stone of East Yorkshire, of a much softer golden colour similar to Cotswold stone.   I love walking beside barley field at this time of year when they are just changing from green to yellow. They seem to shimmer in the sunlight as they wave gently in the breeze. I have decided to write to the East Yorkshire County Council to complain about the state of their footpaths, compared with North and West Yorkshire CCs. I feel I am now expert on the subject but there is no point in moaning and not do something about it. The rest of the walk goes as smoothly as the morning and we finish in Hemsworth in good time.

Day 6

We are rather dreading today as from the map we are walking into a much more built up area, culminating in walking through the centre of Barnsley which did not sound very appealing.  Also my BBC Weather app predicted heavy rain!  However we were wrong on both counts.  The rain never materialised accept for a few spits early on and the walk was much more pleasant than we expected.  Leaving Hemsworth, we knew we were due to cross some open country to the village of Brierley about two miles away.  As we approached the footpath sign off the road, my heart sank as it was in the middle of the largest oil seed rape field I had ever seen.  Oil seed rape is impossible to negotiate, especially after flowering, as it creates a tangled thicket, totally impassable. However on arrival we discover a track right through the middle and although a bit overgrown in places, not too difficult to negotiate.  After walking through the rather pretty village of Brierley and skirting round the the rather grimmer village of Grimethorpe perched high on a hill we walk through open common land to Cudworth.  These must all have been old mining villages until the closure of the mines in the 1980s.  There is no sign of the old slag heaps which must have been flattened after closure. This was Arthur Scargill country, president of the Miners Union in the 70s/80s and the  bane  of Margaret Thatcher at the time.  We had a wonderful girl helping with our children during this period, called Ann Peacock, one of 8 siblings whose father had been a Barnsley miner and who was no friend of Arther Scargill.

We walk into Barnsley along the trans Pennine Way again.  This a tree bound cycle path, extremely pleasant walking and it takes us right into the centre of Barnsley without touching a street.  What an extraordinary asset for quite a substantial town.  What was interesting was how clean and tidy this route was despite being well used by kids, families as well as cyclists.  Sadly this was not the case on the side of the road as we walk out of Barnsley which is littered with the usual crisp packets, carry-out boxes and cans.  We pass many of the old 'back to back' miners cottages, and I think of Ann and her large family living in one of them.  Interestingly many of her siblings went on to have very successful and high powered careers.  They were a remarkable family. Our walk for the day ends as we pass under the M1.  We are half way through our walk and we look forward to a day off tomorrow.!!

You can read Tom’s much fuller Blog on www.zane.uk.com


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