Walks: Rudston reveals its secrets

All Saints' Church, Rudston.
All Saints' Church, Rudston.

The village of Rudston, lying six miles due west of Bridlington, is set on the rolling chalk of the Wolds. It lies in the valley of the Gypsey Race, and is dominated by the Church of All Saints’ which is of Norman origin.

Rudston takes its name from the monolith in the churchyard. ‘Rod’ meant ‘rood, cross’ and ‘stan’ referred to the ‘stone’ used for the cross.

Your interesting five-mile walk traverses the countryside where Winifred Holtby, the successful novelist, spent her childhood. She was born here in 1897, and is remembered for her most outstanding book, South Riding, published shortly after her early death in 1935.

Access to Rudston is along the B1253 Bridlington to Octon road. It’s no more than about 16 miles south-east of Scarborough. Park your vehicles in a side-street near the Bosville Arms Country Hotel.

Start. From the Bosville Arms walk down Long Street, opposite, as signed to Burton Agnes, Kilham and Driffield. This quiet, residential area of farms and cottages leads to Rudston House Farm. Just beyond is Rudston House. A plaque reads: “Winifred Holtby, novelist and social reformer 1897-1935, author of South Riding. The original home of the Holtby family and birthplace of author.”

Continue along the left verge to number 19. Here, turn left along East Gate, and almost immediately go right as signed East Gate 24-27. This is just before the bridge over the Gypsey Race.

Seek in the left corner, a delightful footpath confined between fencing. This path soon enters a kissing gate, opening near a barn. Keep the barn to your left and keep to the broad permissive track as it leads via fields.

Continue to the bend where you’ll find waymarkers. Here keep straight on up the track as signed, ‘Bridleway’. Woodland is to your left at first, and as your track ascends, the woodland features to your right.

This is the Zigzag Plantation. It lies on the Thorpe Hall estate. The hall was probably built about 1695 but enlarged and remodelled in the 18th century. In the early 19th century Godfrey Bosville created two ponds with islands and waterfalls. It’s likely that the Zigzag Plantation was planted at this time, though the edge of the wood was less regular than it is today.

Follow the perimeter of this woodland, with extensive views over cornfields etc to your left.

Nearing the hilltop is a signpost. Swing left with the bridleway. You’ll see the mast of the radio transmitter to the far right horizon. Bear left as indicated and follow a grassy track with fields of corn to either side in season. Meeting the corner of woodland, pass between fencing and follow the plantation’s perimeter. Cornfields to your right extend to the horizon. [Ploughed in autumn.] Your track cuts across the belt of woodland, then opens up and follows right hedging with chalky Wolds as far as the eye can scan!

Reaching a metal barrier, access Woldgate – the Roman road. Turn right, and keeping well in to the verge, follow Woldgate past a tall mast and underground reservoir, and beyond these you reach an obvious bridleway leaving Woldgate and heading north. You can’t miss it, as tall hedging forms the boundary of Zigzag Plantation to your right. This beautiful, direct route is magnificent in May, when hawthorn blossom decks the hedgerow in snowy-white blooms.

Cornfields accompany your descent into the valley. Meeting a cross-track, and signs, go left along the bridleway to rejoin your out-going route along the permissive path on level ground.

At a forking of ways go right to pass the barn once more. Over the field corner, leave by a kissing gate and the fenced footpath leads back into the little cul-de-sac and East Gate.

Now go right to walk in front of boldly-named Field View. Cross the bridge and turn immediately left alongside the once crystal-clear water of the Gypsey Race (now sadly overgrown!). Passing a delightful recreation area for children, and Rudston Village Hall, dated 1879 to your right, meet a street junction. Here, turn right up Marton Lane, which is a narrow, hedged lane. At the top veer left on the kerb’s footpath to reach the walled church yard. Enter the gate, and take time to seek the resting place of Winifred Holtby near a hedge. An “open book” is inscribed: “In loving memory of Winifred, daughter of David and Alice Holtby. Died in London 29th September 1935 aged 37 years.” Opposite are the words “God give me work till my life shall end, and life till my work is done.”

Walk round All Saints’ Church to view the magnificent monolith. This monolith stands 25ft above ground level, and is taller than any of the Devil’s Arrows you may have seen at Boroughbridge. It’s the biggest standing stone in England and has been described as the Cleopatra’s Needle of the Wolds! It’s said to have been brought here in the late neolithic period, possibly around 2,000BC. It consists of a slab of moor grit conglomerate. There are many stories regarding its origin, therefore each of us may wish to draw our own conclusions!

The church stands above the village, with a patchwork of fields all around broken here and there by woodland. The sturdy Norman tower has walls 4ft thick. A Norman font with a lattice pattern is enriched with circles and crosses. Nearby is an old coffin lid.

Leaving the church, make your way to the B1253 and return to Long Street and the Bosville Arms.

Distance: Five miles, allow 2.5 hours. Terrain good, but can be muddy along the permissive way, along which you return too.

Refreshment: The Bosville Arms Country Hotel in Rudston (01262) 420259.

Map reference: Explorer 301, scale 2.5 inches to 1 mile.