Thixendale & Wharram Percy- Figure of Eight Walk in the Heart of The Wolds (12.5 km)

Thixendale sits in a secluded location far away from a main road and is accessible only by narrow lanes. This walk explores the valleys and ridges that lie between Thixendale and Wharram Percy, the open arable hilltops contrasting with the narrow grassland valleys.

The walk leaves Thixendale at the western end using the Wolds Way near Manor Farm and returns from Wharram Percy to the eastern end of the village using the Centenary Way. If you have walked the Centenary Way you’ll have covered much of this walk on the Toisland Wold to Wharram Le Street section but in reverse.

The chalk soil of the Wolds drains well so even after heavy rainfall a lot of the paths stay reasonably free of mud.

The character of the Wolds changes throughout the year. I quite like the Wolds in winter, you can often walk all day and hardly see anyone. As well the skies are huge, moody and perfect for photography. However, the tops of the Wolds are exposed and do catch the weather. So if you’re walking in wintertime make sure you dress appropriately.

Late spring is also a nice time to walk on the Wolds, many of the fields are bright yellow with the rapeseed flowering and there are patches of colourful wildflowers scattered about. These flower in late spring / early summer.

This walk is covered by the Ordnance Survey Map of Howardian Hills & Malton (Yorkshire Wolds North) The OS Explorer Map 300 is centred around Malton and contains parts of the Howardian Hills and The Yorkshire Wolds. With this map, you also get a code for use on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The map is available in both the standard paper version and the weatherproof ‘Active’ version.

History

People have lived and farmed in his area for many thousands of years. The countryside that surrounds Thixendale is full of prehistoric and historic sites. These include ancient dykes and burial sites from the Neolithic period.

The name of Thixendale possibly derives from Old Norse ‘Sigsten’s Dale’.

In the 18th Century, the Sykes family of Sledmere transformed the village into an estate village. The family built St Mary’s Church, the vicarage and the school. The school is now the village hall which sometimes opens up as a cafe on Sundays.

Directions to Thixendale

There is parking available on the main street of the village, use postcode YO17 9TG on your sat nav. Thixendale does get very busy in the summer, especially on a weekend when parking spaces are at a premium.

There used to be a bus service that called at Thixendale, ‘The Dodger’ running on a Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday from Easter until the last Sunday in September. I don’t think this service operates anymore – if you know different, perhaps you could let me know.

Walk from Thixendale to Wharram Percy

Walk to the western end of the village and look on the righthand side for a gravel track that climbs Beamer Hill. A Wold’s Way signpost shows the way. The views from the track are excellent, improving as you climb higher. The rather splendid dale over to the left is Thixen Dale. Before the track bends right around the hillside be sure to look back for a nice view of Thixendale.

Continue past Cow Wold barn and at the top of the Wold turn left past a pit full of rubbish. At the next hedge boundary turn right onto the track heading downhill into a grassy dale. Pass through a gate at the bottom and head straight ahead up a smaller dale. This runs parallel to a track for part of the way. Depending on the time of year you might see some skylarks, hares and maybe buzzards.

As you reach the top of the Wold go through a gate and continue to follow the track alongside the hedge. This eventually leads to a small copse of trees just before meeting another track running west to east.

Stay on the Wolds Way turning right onto the track. This now heads east towards North Plantation. Over to the left is Wharram Percy Farm surrounded on three sides by its own plantation. Carry straight ahead at the junction with the path on the right signposted Centenary Way, this is the return route to Thixendale.

Continue past another North Plantation where a signpost indicates the Wold’s Way and Wharram Percy. Continue now along the top edge of Deep Dale. There are quite often cattle grazing in Deep Dale. If the cows are in your way at the top, drop down to the track at the bottom of the valley. This will also take you to Wharram Percy.

Wharram Percy

Wharram Percy is a deserted village that was abandoned shortly after 1500. It is perhaps one of the best-preserved of the thousands of deserted villages in Britain. The site is now managed by English Heritage and is free to visit. It’s hard to believe now that in the 12th to 14th century this was a busy village. Except for the church, the village’s buildings have gone now but you can still see how the village was laid out. In the fields around the church, it is possible to see the outlines of about 40 peasant houses and their outbuildings as well as the grassed-over foundations of two manor houses.

The site is very picturesque and worth spending some time exploring. The old mill pond (much loved by my dog!) has a path all the way around. Much of the structure of the ruined church (St Martin’s) is still standing, with its graveyard next to it. Scattered around the site are a number of information boards which tell the history of the place, how the village looked and what happened to the people who lived there.

There have been a lot of archaeological digs around the site and it has been extensively studied. A lot of the archaeological finds are kept in the Malton Museum.

In 2017, scientists found 137 human bones which date back to the 11th and 14th centuries. These showed evidence of mutilation and burning. Experts think that this is evidence of ancient practices to stop corpses rising from their graves, spreading disease and assaulting the living. You can’t help but think how scary life must have been back in medieval times if such superstitions were believed.

Wharram Percy to Thixendale

When you’ve finished exploring the remains leave Wharram Percy by the rebuilt farmhouse and continue downhill on the track. At the junction turn right and cross over a small wooden bridge. Pass through the kissing gate and head uphill via the shallow dip.

The footpath goes up to the car park and then onto a narrow road. Turn right along the road which has grass verges you can walk on. It has very light traffic. When you get to the double bend in the road, don’t take the second bend but carry straight on to follow the Centenary Way. Follow the track past a wood on the right and then some solitary trees on the left. Continue straight on the track until you reach a gate that takes you back into Deep Dale. Continue now on the track alongside the plantation which you will remember from earlier in the walk.

Walk along the length of the first plantation on your left and just before the second one turn left onto a path signposted Centenary Way. This joins a farm access track. Walk past the junction with another access track and continue to the next hedge boundary. Turn right here onto the grassy track signposted Centenary Way. After the next gate turn left to walk along the hillside above the small valley of Court Dale. After a short distance, the path leads down the slope to a gate at the valley bottom. Turn right here and head across the valley. Take the track opposite to head into Water Dale. Cross the stile and follow the path next to the cricket pitch towards the gate at the edge of Thixendale. Follow the road past the farm and pub to arrive back in the village center.

The Cross Keys pub is an award-winning small village pub. It sells bar meals lunchtime and evening, including Vegetarians options if you need refreshments before heading home.

Disclaimer

Whilst I take every care to ensure the accuracy of the route descriptions, I cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. The route described may be pleasant for walking in fine weather but can become slippery, boggy and dangerous in wintry or wet weather. On days when visibility is impaired by fog, rain, cloud or mist, some landmarks used as direction aids in the route descriptions may not be visible.

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Walk to Wharram Percy from Thixendale

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