Planning for a National Trail....The Yorkshire Wolds Way - Part 1: Route & Accommodation

Seventeen years ago we set out to walk the Wolds Way.   Starting from the Hessle Foreshore by the Humber Bridge in East Yorkshire, this National Trail of 79 miles winds its way through the Yorkshire Wolds, ending by the North Sea at Filey in North Yorkshire. 

We set out full of energy, expecting a long but comfortable amble through the tranquil Yorkshire countryside.  We thought we had prepared well, by walking distances of up to 12 miles every Sunday leading up to our departure.  And so, with a couple of borrowed rucksacks, we struck out with confidence on a hot afternoon one Sunday in June 1997.  However, we hadn't planned for a walk in a heat wave which, after leaving the foreshore took us through woodlands dripping with humidity, resulting in very sweaty feet and almost instant blisters.  Our first day entailed a walk of only 12 miles but ended with very sore feet.  By the end of the third day it seemed as if we had blisters on top of blisters and I simply couldn't continue.  After 50 of the 79 miles I was forced to quit.  This has haunted us ever since. 

We set out to walk the Wolds Way - June 1997

We've discussed the possibility of completing the Wolds Way many times over the ensuing years.  And although we've considered just starting from where we left off and walking the final missing 29 miles, somehow this doesn't seem right.  There's only one thing for it.  We've got to begin again and walk the whole trail from start to finish. 

When deciding on a date, the Spring or the Autumn seemed like the best options, not just because of the available daylight hours and the possibility of better weather, but also because this fits in best with our work commitments.  Having selected a suitable week, this just left us to decide how many days to devote to the challenge.  Last time we thought we could complete the walk in five days and booked accommodation for four nights along the route.  This left us with progressively longer distances each day, culminating in a 20 mile slog on our fourth (and last) day which, thanks to the blisters, I have never forgotten.  With this in mind, I've decided that this time we will take six days, with five nights' accommodation needed and each day averaging no more than 14 miles. 

So, how to start planning?  My first stop was the excellent Yorkshire Wolds Way National Trail website which has all sorts of helpful tools and resources, including a downloadable accommodation guide.  There's also a really useful distance calculator which allows you to work out how far it is between different points on the walk.  With the aid of the distance calculator and the accommodation guide I was able to work out my itinerary.  However, this wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be.  Things have changed in the past 17 years and some of the places we stayed at last time are now no longer in business.

Everyone has their own taste in ideal accommodation for this type of adventure.  Whilst some people might like to camp or even sleep out under the stars, others will prefer a comfortable bed and breakfast.  We like pubs!  Usually such accommodation is unpretentious, you can get a good choice for an evening meal and, most importantly, you can unwind with a couple of pints of beer in the evening without having to walk any further.  We're not especially keen on staying in guest houses, particularly the kind that are quite clearly someone's home with a spare room to let.  Don't get me wrong, we're not anti-social at all, but the last thing we want after a long day's walk is to have to make small talk with the family whose spare room we just happen to be renting for the night.  In a pub, somehow, you can just blend in to the background.

The last time we attempted the Wolds Way we were able to book into pubs for all four nights (although the last one had to be cancelled).  Seventeen years later and several of the pubs along the way have closed their doors or no longer offer accommodation, leaving us no alternative but to book into guest houses for the first two nights.  Thankfully though, both of these establishments are more like small hotels than private homes.  And at least this way we have the pubs to look forward to!

With the itinerary settled and the accommodation selected, that just left the small matter of booking rooms for each of the five nights.  I did this in one session and, luckily, all of our choices were available.   Given the apparent lack of choice of our favoured type of accommodation, I'm not sure what I'd have done had the chain fallen apart. 

The planned itinerary is as follows:

Day 1:  Hessle Foreshore to Brantingham - 10 miles
Day 2:  Brantingham to Market Weighton - 14 miles
Day 3:  Market Weighton to Huggate - 14 miles
Day 4:  Huggate to North Grimston - 14 miles
Day 5:  North Grimston to Ganton - 15 miles
Day 6:  Ganton to Filey - 12 miles

Now everything is booked and the schedule planned, the next stage of preparation is to work out what we need to take along and, most importantly, to make sure we're physically prepared.  I'll be providing updates in my blog over the coming months.

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