Chapter 3 of Williamson’s Castle Walks has an unpromising start where he advises us to equip ourselves with OS Explorer sheets 284 and 292. I think you will get on rather better with 292 and 293. So equipped, I set off from Ryehill over a field to Hariff Lane, up this then left on the old railway to pick up Station Road into Burstwick. Then north as far as Old Hall Farm just after which there is a footpath sign to the left. From here as far as Burstwick drain all felt a bit iffy: one of those footpaths where you get a strong sense that (a) no one ever uses it and (b) that is a state of affairs the landowner is pretty keen should continue. I climbed a very wobbly and dilapidated stile and walked down a field to climb another on which was a small sign reading simply “DANGER”. What the Dangerous Thing was was left to me to conjecture. A little warily I now proceeded to inspect what is left of Burstwick Castle. This did not take long. Here it gets confusing. The map suggests the footpath goes straight up the drive past the front of the South Park farmhouse but that looks rather private and uninviting. Williamson’s book says follow a local diversion through a gate off to the left and then through a field to the left of that. Without Williamson’s book I would hardly have guessed as much but did eventually spot a tiny “Permissive path” sign stuck to the fence of the field. So I crossed it. Rather warily as I was clearly making that big, mean-looking cow uncomfortable and I didn’t care for her body language. I gave her a wide berth and hopped over the wall early rather than keep on to the stile she had stationed herself by. Perhaps she was the Dangerous Thing and I would have been wiser to use the drive. But perhaps that is where the Dangerous Thing lives. I any case I made it round South Park and picked up the track which I followed to where a footpath is shown on the map veering off towards Raceground Bridge. There was no such path on the ground, a crop having entirely obliterated any trace of it, and, since South Park, there was no signage anywhere. So I just marched across the crop field where the path was supposed to be. This took me to Burstwick Drain, where I picked up a less ontologically insecure path which I followed right into Hedon idly wondering just how thirsty one would have to be to conremplate drinking the filthy water in the Drain.
On I went round the south side of Hedon, past the Haven Arms. From here it is a long, easy walk towards the Humber dominated by the massive Salt End Chemical Works and Power Station. Reaching the estuary I turned left and walked into Paull. The coast path from here has loads of signs saying it is closed because of erosion. I followed it a short way, optimistically ignoring them (hoards of local fishermen were doing the same) as far as the point where Williamson recommends a short detour to have a look at Fort Paull Battery. I walked round to the driveway to this where I met a man who told me it was private property and would I please go away. Which I did. Then round past St Andrew’s Church to pick up Thorngumbald Road. After this it’s just tarmac all the way to Thorngumbald where a footpath offers a shortcut through a garden centre and some fields back to Ryehill. This was very much a a walk in two halves though I may have been biased by the weather which improved a lot about halfway through. As far as Hedon I thought it had very little to recommend it. After Hedon it is much pleasanter, though the last couple of miles from Paull Holme to Thorngumnbald is a bit dull and tarmacky. A shorter circular walk could perhaps be devised incorporating all the good bits and none of the not so good by linking up Paull Holme with Hedon using the footpath along Thorngumbald Drain and the B1240. It would mean missing out on the castle but that is not the most excitingancient monuments I ever visited, less a castle than a rain-swept field where a castle once was.
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