Howardian Hills Walks
River Derwent & Kirkham Priory
Date: 31st May 2014
Distance: 5.5 miles
Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Start Grid Ref: SE732657
A walk up to Crambe before a wildflower filled return along the River Derwent finishing with a visit to Kirkham Priory.
Route Summary: Kirkham Bridge - Oak Cliff Wood - Crambe - Crambe Bank - Rider Lane Farm - River Derwent - Kirkham Bridge
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: With my daughter on a trip out with some friends my wife Lisa and I had a rare opportunity to go out for a walk together. It has been a long time since Lisa climbed any large hills so I looked for a gentler walk than I would normally do. In the end we chose this walk as it gave us the twin opportunity of exploring another part of the small Howardian Hills AONB as well as allowing us to take advantage of our English Heritiage membership and visit the ruins of Kirkham Priory.
I planned on using the small car park outside the priory ruins but as it happened we were beaten to it by a sizeable contingent from a canoeing club in Hull. Turning the car round we were able to park at the side of the road just across Kirkham Bridge.
After crossing over the nearby York - Malton railway line the walk proper started with a muddy climb up through Oak Cliff Wood. It was that really clay-like mud that sticks to the boots and within minutes they were completely clarted and it was awkward maintaining a grip as the ground steepened. Fortunately this muddy section didn't last too long and at the top of the wood the ground was fine.
After a brief section alongside a quiet country road, lined with buttercups and red clover, we entered the tiny village of Crambe. Here we made a slight detour to take a look inside St Michael's Church, parts of which date back to the 11th century. From Crambe we then followed a cartway on to Crambe Bank. It was a hazy day so the long distance views from this modest height weren't very extensive, the buttercups along the top of the bank however were quite lovely.
On the way down from Crambe Bank we walked along a field edge it was here that I came across one of the oddest sights I've seen on a walk. In the hedgerow bordering the field there was what appeared to be a dense spider's web of multiple layers which was crawling with caterpillars. Later at home using the power of the internet I discovered that what we'd seen was a a nest of tent caterpillars.
After carefully crossing over the railway line again we joined a path on the west bank of the River Derwent which we followed all the way back to the start. Though in places muddy and overgrown it was this section which was the real highlight of the walk. Over the next two miles or so we saw all sorts of wild flowers including; cuckooflower, red campion, wild carrot, yellow iris, red poppies and many more that I am not competent enough to identify.
Flying in and out of the plants were a host of insects including bumble bees, ladybirds, damselflies and butterflies. One particular section was absolutely alive with damselflies and I was able to get close enough to get a decent picture of a Banded Demoiselle. Unfortunately my ambitious attempts to capture one in flight came to nought.
Back at Kirkham Bridge we walked the short way up the road to have a potter around the lovely ruins of Kirkham Priory and treat ourselves to an ice-cream. It was a lovely end to a walk that had delivered much more than expected.