Delights of Driffield walk

St Mary's Church, Driffield
St Mary's Church, Driffield

by Maureen Robinson

Great Driffield is a pleasant red-brick market town. Old houses cluster around their church, whose beautiful tower has been a landmark for 500 years. It’s loved for crystal-clear trout streams. These flow from the gentle slopes of the Wolds and form the River Hull to the south.

This pretty walk from Great Driffield is grand for all the family. From the top of the Market Place your route starts from the Bell Inn, close to the road junction. Walk along Mill Street, passing the public library dated 1939 on the left.

Continue westwards, with the council offices to your right, and walk straight ahead into King’s Mill Road. Driffield’s Town Cricket and Recreation Club feature, overlooked by smart properties.

At the far end, the road swings sharp left from number 45. [If you’ve a car and wish to shorten the walk, you could park near here along Bracken Road, with consideration for residents’ access, please.]

Otherwise, walk straight ahead for a few paces only, to turn swiftly right. Follow a public footpath from the first lamp post to enter a metal kissing gate. Read the delightful information boards en route – ‘Welcome to 
Driffield’s Millennium Green’.

Follow the footpath across meadow-land, where newt ponds are a welcome attraction. Hibernating in winter, newts emerge in springtime to lay their eggs. This area is known as The Keld.

The footpath leads to a tall ash tree, with two seats close by and daffodils in season. Continue between two posts along a broad path crossing sheltered grassland surrounded by trees. Enter an archway of ivy, and a lovely leafy “tunnel” guides you to the road.

Meeting the A614, turn right towards the traffic island. Just before the roundabout, cross the road with care, and turn left via a gate into a broad access drive with grassed verges. You’re entering Little Driffield, on the western doorstep of Great Driffield.

Follow this road past the Rose and Crown to your right, and just ahead is the pretty village green with its attractive pond. Graced by willows, silver birch and cherry, and gay with dancing daffodils in springtime, it’s just the spot to recline on a seat and pour yourself a steaming cup of coffee! The mallard ducks welcome a few crumbs! Then follow Church Lane as it swings left by St Mary’s Church. It is usually locked, but do examine the outer walls. Built into the walls are fragments of old coffin lids, and a stone with Saxon knot-work. A fine mass dial on a buttress, and traces of another dial are near the priest’s doorway.

The church is of late 12th century origin, partly re-fashioned in the 14th century. Tradition tells that a Saxon monastery stood here. King Alfred of Northumbria is believed to be buried here. Alfred was wounded in a battle against the Danes. He was brought here to die in 705, and may lie in this small village!

Leaving the church, follow the lane as it winds past properties, and near a line of poplar trees, cross the brick-built bridge spanning Driffield Beck. Shepherd’s Cottage is seen to your 

Just before reaching an industrial estate, take the public footpath off left, near the cream-tinted Gatehouse bungalow. This short path is hemmed between post and wire fencing and a hedge. You quickly leave by a kissing gate onto the A614.

Crossing the road, take up the opposite footpath, and ignoring the metal fieldgate and kissing gate to your right, go straight forward as well-indicated by a good finger-post. Enter this kissing gate to follow the insignificant path across a field to duck-boarding. Ponds are to your left.

Duck-boarding ‘snakes’ its way over marshy ground to a kissing gate, and steps up to a footbridge over the beck. A good fenced path continues to a seating area near the mill pond, where you may feed the ducks. Crossing a second footbridge, King’s Mill is seen to your right.

Read the information board with support illustrations – ‘Welcome to The Keld’. Situated on the spring-line at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, in the past it was a minor spring source to provide water-power for King’s Mill.

The streams draining the district of King’s Mill are: the Driffield Beck, rising in Water Forlorns; Elmswell Beck and Kirkburn Beck. Brown trout, bullheads and eels inhabit the streams; water voles are in marginal areas, and dragonflies, damsel flies and may flies dart around the vegetation.

The mill was burnt down in 1906, but you may see remains of the dam’s brick walls near one of the footbridges.

Follow the footpath fenced to your right, and then hedged, to meet the access lane to King’s Mill. Enter a metal kissing gate and turn left to rejoin King’s Mill Road, and return to your starting point.

Distance: From Bell Inn to return approximately 4 miles. From Bracken Road near King’s Mill to return = 2.5 miles. Easy level walking throughout.

Refreshment: The Rose and Crown in Little Driffield. A selection of dining options in Great Driffield. We usually take a picnic and watch the wildlife!

Rural Rambles

The first run of Rural Rambles Volume 15 has sold out, a re-print of a limited edition is underway. The booklet contains 17 walks plus larger maps and some illustrations, for £2.50. Entire profits to charities.

For a copy send a cheque for £2.50 payable to EM Robinson and enclose an A5 sized stamped addressed envelope (a 53p stamp will cover cost). Send to Mrs M Robinson, 14 Malvern Crescent, Scarborough YO12 5QW.