Peaceful seclusion

Thixendale Church.
Thixendale Church.

For an extra special scenic drive, totalling 59 miles from Scarborough, we would highly recommend visiting Thixendale. Not only is it a most beautiful area, rich in wildlife and peaceful seclusion, but it’s home to Robert E Fuller.

Robert’s passion for wildlife, and his talent as an artist and sculptor, has made famous his art gallery at Fotherdale Farm. Visit his gallery, open 11am-4.30pm daily. It’s free, and you can re-live Robert’s recent visit to the Galapagos Islands through his fantastic photos and paintings. He has become the artist that Charles Darwin never had! You can even book a holiday to join him on a return visit to the area in 2016 – but hurry – only 14 places on this trip!

Start. Take the A64 to Morrison’s supermarket, turning right towards York. At the next roundabout at Spital Inn, turn right to enter Ryedale and Staxton. Pass the Hare and Hounds to traffic lights and turn immediately left on the B1249 Driffield Road. At the hill-top is a car park, amazing view point and public conveniences.

Continue past the Wolds Coffee Shop and Gallery to enter Foxholes. Turn right as signed to Weaverthorpe and Malton, with fields either side. Pass through Boythorpe and negotiate bends to enter Butterwick. Approach Weaverthorpe next, with spacious green verges, stream and bridges. The Star Inn and The Blue Bell are to your left. Round the corner is the village hall and fields to the distant horizon.

Continue through Helperthorpe, and maybe read its information board before reaching a sign post to York. Don’t miss it on the left! This narrow lane with un-cut verges to attract wildlife reaches cross-roads.

Go straight across to Sledmere 2 miles. High hedges and woodland to the left, along with superb scenery heralds your entry to Sledmere.

Facing The Triton Inn at the junction, turn right to pass Sledmere House (left) and memorials worth visiting (right).

Nearing Fimber, at the roundabout take the B1231 York and Bridlington road. Note the Fimber sign and bear right to Thixendale 4 miles.

Follow Burdale Lane into a peaceful valley. West Field Farm lies to your left. Negotiate bends and your single-track, lonely lane has passing places. Hills and rich, flowering verges welcome you to Thixendale.

At a junction, fork right as to Burdale. Old Malton to Driffield railway line is to your right. Surrounded by hills, ignore a lane off right to Burdale. Keep straight on as sheep graze in peaceful pastures close by. Tall hedging features to your right as you approach Raisthorpe Manor. Nestled in the sun-kissed valley lies Thixendale. Keep straight forward as signed to Robert Fuller’s Gallery.

You’ll see a track off left by a two-finger post. Here you may choose to take a walk as indicated. Or, take a brief stop as we did for a cuppa overlooking grazing sheep and four horses! Lovely to listen to the call of a yellowhammer in a nearby hedge.

Reaching an obvious sign, turn right to enter the gallery. What a wealth of treasures await you! Photographs, original paintings and prints of birds and mammals. Don’t miss Robert’s dinosaur sculpture, as part of his course at Carmarthen College of Art, composed of ceramic and bones. Barn owl pellets reveal skulls of field voles and common shrews etc.

Take your cheque book for a bronze sculpture of ducks, hares, elephant, or rhino, priced £2,250-£4,500!

The highlight is perhaps Robert’s recording of animal species seen on his recent visit to the Galapagos Islands last May. In 1835, Charles Darwin’s voyage failed to make drawings of species encountered. The expedition’s official artist Conrad Martens was made redundant shortly before Darwin’s ship landed in Galapagos. I’m sure Robert has made up for this! View his paintings of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, Galapagos penguins, turtles and giant tortoise etc. I’m sure you’ll agree.

Then, having read details of Robert’s amazing life - especially from the age of 15, prepare to leave the gallery.

Re-descend the lane. At the road junction head towards Malton and turn left to the village of Thixendale. A dream of a well-kept village with thatched cottage, church and village hall, plus stores near a public telephone. Long-horned cattle may be seen off right.

Continue along the winding lane and at a farm keep straight ahead to Birdsall. What a view over the Vale of York! Drive through shady trees at Gallows Gap and at cross-roads turn right downhill into Birdsall. At the corner of walling turn sharp right past Lord Middleton’s park-land grazed by cattle. Rails are to either side. Keep straight on by the Estate Office and descend to a white-fenced road. Veer right along the tree-lined, fenced road to pass Birdsall Village Hall.

Reaching a tiny, grassed ‘island’, go right towards Grimston, 2.5 miles along a hedged lane. Rounding bends, reach cross-roads and turn right as to Grimston and Driffield. Travelling uphill, don’t miss a turning left to Settrington 2.5 miles and Scagglethorpe 4 miles.

Descend the lane and turn right as to Driffeld and Beverley on the B1253. Entering Settrington, pass Brook Farm and see a school ahead. Turn right to a sign which indicates a turning left to Scagglethorpe and Rillington. Enter Scagglethorpe with white cottages, grassed verges and embankments. At the Ham and Cheese, turn right to head for Scarborough - 20 miles along the A64.

Travelling via Rillington, Scampston, Knapton, West Heslerton, East Heslerton and Sherburn, you reach Potter Brompton, with Sally Middlewood’s Farm Bakery and Cafe to the right.

On then by Ganton - famed for its golf course, and on to the Spital Inn, where by turning left you return to Scarborough.

Total distance of drive: 59 miles.

Refreshment: An abundance of village inns en route.

Gallery: Now open every day Monday-Sunday, 11am-4.30pm, free!

l Please read written instructions BEFORE the drive, to ensure you don’t miss concealed turnings!