The village of West Heslerton, between Scarborough and Malton, is going up for sale with a guide price of £20 million! No, the announcement was not an April Fool’s Day hoax. The West Heslerton Estate has been owned by the Dawnay family for over 150 years. Sadly, Miss Eve Dawnay (the most recent incumbent), died a spinster five years ago. The family decided to sell the estate.
My brother-in-law John lives in the mixed community of all ages, and so we know the village quite well, and love its feeling of peace. It has scarcely changed over the past 50 years.
This Wolds walk enables you to enjoy well-drained chalkland, extensive landscapes and superlative views along the 4.5 mile route.
At the centre of the estate is the 21-bedroom West Heslerton Hall that’s been uninhabited for 30 years. Also included in the sale is the late Miss Dawnay’s home, 42 houses and cottages, a pub/restaurant, filling station/garage, sports and playing field and two 116 acres of agricultural land! Take a glimpse of what is on offer as you enjoy this walk.
Until comparatively recently, few people lived on the Wolds, though sheep, cattle and horses were seen. Wolves roamed this countryside until well into the 17th century, threatening the livelihood of sheep farmers. Sir Christopher Sykes and his son Tatton of Sledmere, reclaimed the area and made it fertile.
Access to West Heslerton is by public or private transport along the A64. It lies eight miles north east of Malton and 12 miles south west of Scarborough. Turn just off the main road as signed to West Lutton and Driffield.
Parking: There is ample parking near the Dawnay Arms or village.
Start: From the Dawnay Arms walk up Church Street.
Just ahead is the old village school which became the village hall. Admire the fine clock presented by Hon. Eustace H Dawnay.
At the end of Church Street stands a small bellcot church tucked away behind the houses. Much of All Saints’ Church was rebuilt over a century ago, but the chancel is part of the 13th century church. Inside is an inscription to Sir Christopher Sykes of Sledmere, who changed sheepwalks to wheat fields.
Veer right around the church walling to a grassy ‘island’ and here turn left up Lutton Lane. West Heslerton Hall lies to your right in Heslerton Park. Ascending the lane, watch out for rabbits near woodland.
Walk to the top of West Heslerton Brow, and a glorious cross-country trek follows. A patchwork of fields is seen in the valley bottom, when you turn off beside woodland, leaving Lutton Lane as indicated by a Wolds Way and Centenary Way sign.
A broad track leads alongside the wood’s perimeter. It progresses between woodland and a massive field to the far corner of the plantation. Here follow the Wolds Way along a grassy track. Soon, marvellous views extend across the Vale of Pickering and directly ahead to the distant sea. Keep to the waymarked path and please leash any dogs where sheep may be grazing. Continue by way of hummocky ground and hawthorn scrub.
A wood lies ahead near Manor Wold Farm. Near an electricity post, cross the field, leaving Manor Wold Farm to your rear. At the far side, exit the field onto a metalled track. Here go left to leave the Wolds Way and descend the broad track ahead. Listen to skylarks winging and singing overhead.
Remain on the metalled track as it swings left and soon enters an open gateway. This is an enchanting area remote from the busy world. In May it’s a joyful sight with hawthorn in bloom. Watch out for rabbits and seek fragrant cowslips in season, but please do not pick! You may find dwarf carline thistles too.
Entering an open gateway towards East Heslerton, Manor Farm fields contain remains of what was probably a medieval village.
East Heslerton, sheltered by the Wolds like its twin village a mile away, is approached near a bungalow. The church was the gift of Sir Tatton Sykes, and designed by Mr GE Street in 13th century style. The north tower has an octagonal belfry and spire. From the bungalow go left into a field and please leash any dogs if sheep are present. Keep forward across the field along the Priest’s Trod. At the far end, leave by an arrowed stile/gate.
Entering the next field keep beside hedging bordering arable land, leave by a gate/stile and cross a footbridge spanning the Ass Beck.
Turn immediately left beside the beck and at the top veer slightly right to reach an exit into a field. Continue up the grassy field and head towards Rectory Farm. At one time wild boar were bred and sold for human consumption!
Leave by a farm gate, and pass farm buildings to reach a track. Turning right past Rectory Farm, keep to the driveway to its union with a road at West Heslerton’s C of E Primary School. Then proceed along the footpath via housing.
Dropping down into West Heslerton, you see Rectory Close off right and pass a row of chalk cottages meeting Church Lane once more.
Just past the village hall, you should turn immediately right to return to the Dawnay Arms or explore the village further.
Distance: 4.5 miles, allow approximately two hours.
Refreshment: The Dawnay Arms, West Heslerton.
Transport: Private or public - Coastliner route 843 to West Heslerton crossroads.
Map reference: Ordnance Survey Explorer, 300 Howardian Hills and Malton, Yorkshire Wolds North. Scale 2.5 inches to one mile.
NB. Changes can occur overnight, particularly regarding stiles and gates etc.