So far in respect to parking places for manageable chunks of the course we have been lucky. But, as you can probably tell from the title, hitting a village at useful half distance points is becoming more problematic as we navigate the deepest darkest Yorkshire wolds. Equally the hills are becoming increasingly challenging, though nevertheless we are managing to keep up over 10 mile distances for each stage, albeit 10 minutes or so slower on the time.
Stage 8 was no different. As with Stage 7, we were in reasonably familiar territory as it covered parts of the course we had trained on in March (seems so long ago now!), so navigation was not something we had to worry too much about.
We parked up at Glebe Farm on York Lane. The first mile would take us from one side of this estate to the other, first on a road (as pictured above), slightly downhill to the farm houses, then jumping up onto a grass bank, and down through a wooded path at the side of the farm. Here the fauna had developed somewhat from when we passed through in March, and with shorts on, dodging nettle stings was the trick as we weaved through this section. Then, back onto the road at the other side of the farm buildings, down a steeper hill towards the village of Huggate.
Up a rise, and then turning a sharp left away from the village and up the hill of Town End Lane. This road became a farm entrance at which point the verges were mowed and the road was neatly flanked by evenly spaced trees.
As we reached the summit the YWW pointed off left over a field to continue our rise through the grass at the side of a hedgerow. Over the summit we descended to our first gate, standing in the way of our first steep chalk valley. Through this gate, to the tremendous view of the valley below, we gingerly tracked down the thin gravel path, and onto the grass cut out path that slowly descended into the valley.
After a long downhill trek, we hit another nettle hazard, as we skipped through the fauna to the next gate, and then left again for a long, brutal, slog up hill.
What followed was one of the hardest sections of the YWW for me. For only 0.8 miles (though it felt like 3), we ran uphill, through thick at times, power sapping grass, and into a strong head wind (made stronger on account that it was channeled through the valley and into our faces). I tucked behind John to try and use him as a wind break, but it was futile. He’s not that big! At the end of a valley was a steep climb out of it to the next gate. Back onto a farm track now and onto Huggate Lane, we descended into the A166 straddling village of Fridaythorpe.
We ran alongside the A166, before turning left onto Back Street. This was a key milestone for our adventure so far, as we passed the place where we used to park up for the training runs. Our introduction to the Yorkshire Wolds Way, and the place where the idea to run the whole course was born. Back Street leads slightly uphill onto Thixendale Lane. We then veered off this road onto the YWW track and across another road that lead into the ABN Foods Factory, a rare industrial landscape. Through fields and over the brow of the next hill we descended to another gate marking the entrance to one of the other great valleys of the YWW, for an iconic view of the wolds.
Down the wide grass track down the side of this huge valley, moving sheep out of our way as we trotted down. At the valley basin, we edged right and across the floor to the next gate. At this gate was another YWW Acorn Marker, and guess what?! We’ve passed half way! This marker reported Hessle at 40 miles away, with Filey Brigg now only 39! A true milestone of our Odyssey!
Through the gate and up another long, hard, grassy slog up hill. With increasing evidence of cows in the area (I put one shoe into some cow shit for instance), we made it through another gate. We continued uphill now on a farm track, past a dead mole (I think it was a mole), turning left and then right. As the road entered the farm, we took a grass path at the side of the grounds and onto the public road which crossed over our path.
We had traveled about 5.3 miles. We had arrived at Gill Farm which is on the top of the road down to Thixendale. We know, however that we have an off-road path to take to that village, but here at least is a place to park next time. After a bruising trek, with the sun also taking its toll, we decided to head back to the car.
The way back was slightly more forgiving, as our downhill sections lasted longer, and the wind channeled through the valley once we passed through Fridaythorpe was now on our backs. The last push was through the grounds of Glebe Farm, and for 1 solid mile back to the car, we were aiming uphill.
Stage 8 done, another main artery (the A166) crossed, and crucially we have past our half way stage! The Odyssey may take a slight hiatus due to other commitments that we both have. Maybe 3 weeks or so, but we will see. We will try our best to fit the next one in as soon as possible. After all stage 9 will take us back into the unknown as we track down the abandoned medieval village of Wharram Percy. Hopefully the Black Death has drifted away now.
Stay tuned for more adventure..