Written by Maureen Robinson
Langtoft lies six miles north of Driffield on the B1249 Scarborough Road. It’s a large village nestled in a hollow of the Wolds and crowned by St Peter’s Church with a 13th century buttressed tower.
This walk will reward you with reminders of great floods that occurred in 1657 and 1892. Yes – centuries ago, before global warming could even have been considered!
Park in the vicinity of the Ship Inn, at the junction of Back Street with Scarborough Road from where this walk starts.
This bracing route over the Wolds follows country lanes, and provides vistas of arable land and farmsteads.
There’s the option of visiting the site of a ‘lost village’ and ruined church at Cottam, and culminating your walk at St Peter’s Church in Langtoft. There you can admire the 12th century font which was placed there when removed from the derelict church at Cottam.
From the site of the Ship Inn, which I believe is for sale, cross Scarborough Road to what we knew as Langtoft’s Post Office and General Store and continue past a row of cottages. Crowning the hilltop midst beech trees is the churchyard of St Peter’s.
Follow the long, gently undulating lane passing farms as you rise to the brow of the hill.
Reaching the road junction turn left, and just ahead to the right lies Burrow House Farm. What a viewpoint towards the sea, and Sledmere’s monument.
At the bend, the entrance to Cottam Grange features to the right, and as the lane elbows right, a private entrance is seen.
Descend to the crossroads. [From this point, a slight detour along a public footpath to the right towards Cottam House Farm, takes you directly to the red-bricked ruined church over-looking a wild lonely valley. The hummocky ground nearby is the site of the ‘lost village’ which was deserted during the 15th and 16th centuries.]
Returning to the crossroads, keep directly ahead towards Langtoft 1.5 miles. As you descend the lane, remarkable views unfold to the east.
A gentle rise and you pass the entrance to Langtoft Grange.
Dropping into Langtoft the gradient increases, and the village is seen to be surrounded by hills. Consequently it has been a victim of floods on many occasions.
From the bottom of Cottam Lane turn left to the site of Langtoft Post Office, and before returning to the Ship Inn, take Church Lane to view St Peter’s Church. Founded in 1274 it has seen major changes regarding restoration work, especially between 1900-1903, and more recently a re-leaded roof and repairing of stonework.
Entering the church you’ll discover the fine 12th century font that was removed from Cottam’s ruined church. Six sculptured panels portray: 1) the temptation of Adam and Eve; 2) the Tree of Life; 3) the Martyrdom of St Andrew; 4) a dragon swallowing St Margaret of Antioch; 5) a dragon; 6) the martyrdom of St Lawrence.
Retrace your steps down Church Lane and cross Scarborough Road to the Ship Inn. A peep down the adjacent Back Street will surprise you. Here are reminders of past flooding. Look on the walls of properties in this area for plaques commemorating floods.
One dates back to April 10, 1657, the Great Flood of Langtoft when the height of flooding was unknown. More recently was the deluge of July 3, 1892, when the height of floodwater was 7.5ft (about 2.3 metres). It was estimated that no less than 100 inches of rain had descended on the hillsides during the 35 minute storm.
By curious coincidence, the floodwater of 1892 just reached the stone which had been set in the wall to indicate the height of the 17th century flood!
Water will always find its own level, and man cannot control the forces of nature. We can only learn from our mistakes.
Distance: Arrowed route is 5 miles; to include Cottam’s ruins (optional) and St Peter’s Church 6.25 miles.
Refreshment: I suggest you take a flask and snack, or continue into Driffield for facilities.