Hutton Cranswick comprises two communities less than a mile apart. They lie about three miles south-west of Driffield. Hutton is the smaller village, sited on higher ground, as ‘hoot’ means a ‘hill’.
This route follows single-track lanes across low-lying, frequently flooded agricultural land of Cranswick.
To access the start, from Driffield take the A164 as signed to Beverley and Hull etc. Shortly you’ll see Hutton’s black mill on the skyline. Ignore a turning to Hutton, and continue to Broach Hill Garage, from where you turn immediately left into Cranswick’s Main Street. The Methodist Church dated 1861 is to your right. John Wesley once passed this way en route to preach in Driffield. Park as most convenient near the lovely village green and primary school.
Start from Hutton Cranswick Fisheries, and maybe enjoy fish and chips on the village green seat! There’s also a Spar shop and post office, The White Horse, Beverley’s Hairdressers, and James White Butchers beyond. However, it’s Cranswick’s glorious village green that’s the focal point. It’s 6.5 acres and maybe the largest in East Yorkshire.
Cottages overlooking the green were once thatched. The pond used to be a watering place for horses and cattle. In 1976 the green was designated a conservation area. The pond, fed by an underground spring was landscaped. A cricket pitch was laid down in 1929 and stately horse chestnut trees guard the green. In springtime the area is bedecked with daffodils.
Walk beside the shops, inn, and Foresters’ Hall to reach Foreman’s Station Garage. Cross the railway line beyond and continue towards Watton as signed five miles. Bungalows feature to the left, and a sportsfield is indicated. The narrow country lane winds across level, waterlogged land with draining ditches. Approaching Eastfield Farm, the lane elbows right to Watton Carrs. Skirting Common Farm the straight lane continues by level fields. [This year crops have been ruined by flooding.]
An electricity pylon and house come into view. Swing right with the hedged lane and a ‘bends’ sign to reach Scurf Dyke Farm.
Cross the white-railed bridge at Scurf Dyke and take time to admire this remote, tranquil area, so reminiscent of Holland and its dykes. Bear left close by the dyke, before swinging right, away from it.
Throstle Nest Farm is reached, and opposite is Blue Keld Spring Water. Beyond is the bridge at Watton Carrs. Cross the bridge, with a wood to your left, and turn right, unless you wish to visit Tophill Low Nature Reserve as indicated to the left. The winding lane traverses Watton Carrs. A large part of Watton Parish was originally marsh, and Watton was named ‘Wetadun’ (ie ‘Wet Town’) by the Saxons. Drainage converted the marshland into arable land. Now wheat and barley, oilseed rape, potatoes and peas are grown.
Swing right from Sleights Farm, and note two wind turbines off left. Bridge House Farm advertises local eggs by ‘Wot-An-Egg!’ Get it? Next, seek the Monks Barn and Bridge House Farm leading to Beck House. Entering Watton, the Gatehouse has a pair of fine eagles on the gate-posts.
Beyond right walling, Watton’s famous priory was founded in 1148-1150 by Eustace Fitzjohn. This Gilbertine priory housed both monks and nuns, separately, but under one roof! It was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. The only surviving building is now a private house named Watton Abbey. Cross the Beverley to Bridlington railway track.
You’ll notice Watton village consists of houses old and new. These, and farms in the locality, are served by St Mary’s Church. Look out for this small, picturesque church set back on the right midst snowdrops and wild flowers in season. It was built in the late 16th century, of Tudor brick.
Immaculate hedges on Church Lane lead to the A164, but keep to the right verge footpath. Meeting the A164 Beverley-Driffield road once more, turn right to return to Driffield or Cranswick, using the left verge footpath away from traffic.
This time turn right along Hobman Lane into Cranswick, to the village green by the recreation area and primary school. Return to your departure point on Main Street ready for a hearty meal!
Distance: 8.25 miles, allow four hours or so. Even more if you visit Tophill Low Nature Reserve – a complex of reservoirs between Beverley and Great Driffield. There are lagoons, marshes, scrub and small areas of woodland.
Refreshment: Hutton Cranswick’s shops and inn etc along Main Street. Take a picnic for along the route itself.
NB This good eight plus miles route is level, easy walking. It may be enjoyed in its entirety by car, motorbike, cycle, or pair of legs!
Binoculars are always useful, particularly if you visit the nature reserve.