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Floodbank beside the River Derwent
We join the floodbank beside the River Derwent

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Route No. 212 - Wednesday 28 March 2007
Ellerton, River Derwent, Bubwith,
Aughton circuit - 11km
River Derwent, East Yorkshire . . .

Map: OS Explorer 298 Gilberdyke & Goole at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


Excavator attachment for a tractor
Excavator attachment for a tractor - it was all I could see to photograph

We set of at about 9.45am and walked through the village to turned right at map ref. SE 703398 on to a lane heading north out of the village. After about 400m we turned left on to a track heading westwards toward the river Derwent.

This morning my brother-in-law drove us to the village of Ellerton close to the River Derwent and we parked near the village duck pond at map ref. SE 708399. There was thick mist everywhere, but it was forecast to lift during the morning.

Walking through the mist toward the river Derwent
Walking through the mist toward the river Derwent

Walking through the mist toward the river Derwent
Walking through the mist toward the river Derwent

We caught glimpses of various birds including oyster catchers, small flock of medium sized brown waders (no chance of identifying them in the mist), pairs of geese, pair of reed buntings and half a dozen swans near Bubwith.

In about 700m we reached the floodbank at the side of the Derwent. The mist was still thick and we could barely see the river from the floodbank. At the floodbank we turned left to head south. The mist hardly lifted at all.

Willow tree leaning over one of the drainage dykes
Willow tree leaning over one of the drainage dykes

One of half a dozen rectangular enclosures on the river side of the floodbank
One of half a dozen large rectangular enclosures on the river side of the floodbank - what were they for?
Checking our position - this large dyke was one of the few landmarks in the mist
Checking our position - this large dyke was one of the few landmarks in the mist

Flood strand line but on the landward side of the floodbank
Flood strand line but on the landward side of the floodbank

In all we followed the floodbank for about 4.5km to the main road at Bubwith. As we walked through Bubwith there was a sign proclaiming the best porkpies in Yorkshire if not the world at a farm shop/ butchers in the village. My brother-in-law was clearly in a generous mood and he bought us a pie each to eat for our lunch. Very good they were too, nice crispy pastry, tender meat with no gristle and just a little gravy.

As we were approaching Bubwith we met two twitchers from Skipton who were dismayed at the mist because they had driven down from the clear weather in Skipton to the misty lowlands by the Derwent in the hope of spotting a pair of American Widgeon that had been reported in the Derwent nature reserve. Oh dear!

Two twitchers from Skipton disappear into the mist searching for American Widgeon
Two twitchers from Skipton disappear into the mist
searching for American Widgeon

Bridge over the Derwent at Bubwith
Bridge over the Derwent at Bubwith

Swans on the derwent at Bubwith
Swans on the derwent at Bubwith

Then we spotted a monster willow just beside the path.

In the village we turned left off the main road at map ref. SE 713364 along a lane heading north. Even with all the drainage and the river floodbanks this is still low lying wet land and there were several large old willow trees along the way.

Dead sycamore on the path to Aughton
Dead sycamore on the path to Aughton

Three roe deer near the path to Aughton
Three roe deer near the path to Aughton

Anyway you can register your interest with the project now and report any trees you know about so I have reported our monster willow. It's 8.2m round the narrowest part of the main trunk which I think must make it well over 300 years old. It must date from the time the land here was first drained.

I have recently become involved as a volunteer with "The Ancient Tree Hunt". This is an attempt to register all the ancient trees we have and I believe the project is to be launched officially in June.

One of several large willows on the path to Aughton
One of several large willows on the path to Aughton

Our monster willow 8.2m round the girth
Our monster willow 8.2m round the girth at about 1m high below all the branches

Cutting 25 hectares of lawn turf
Cutting 25 hectares of lawn turf

The fields turned out to be used to grow lawn turf. The fields were huge, I estimated they were around 25 hectares each and a vast tractor and array of mower blades was cruising back and forth cutting the grass.

After all this excitement with the willow tree we reached the road near the village of Aughton at map ref. SE 712385. We turned left and walked into the village to turn right after about 800m at map ref. SE 704386 on to a path across the fields. .

An American Widgeon for our twitcher friends
An American Widgeon for our twitcher friends
( I downloaded it from a royalty free web site)

I have to say that these vast fields of turf looked to be in far better condition than my little lawn at home. The path across the fields led us back into Ellerton and by now the sun was breaking through and the mist had gone! In the sunshine I took a photo of the duck pond where we had parked, and we drove down the village to look at the church on the edge of the village. The whole walk had been about 11km and had taken us 3hours 45minutes at my current ponderous pace. In spite of the mist it had been a very interesting little walk

The duck pond at Ellerton
The duck pond at Ellerton

The church at Ellerton
The church at Ellerton

Background Notes:
This walk is an 11km, 7 mile, circuit from the village of Ellerton that's a village in East Yorkshire about 13 km, 8 miles, south west of Pocklington. It's between the B1228 road and the River Derwent. It's a tiny village with a long history. In 1203 a small Priory was established here but this was destroyed in the 1530's as part of Henry 8's dissolution of the monasteries. Part of the church was left to function as the local parish church. In the 1840's the church of St Mary & St Lawrence was completely rebuilt on the same site but became officially redundant in 1978 and its fine stained glass windows were later incorporated in Selby Abbey where they can still be seen. Ellerton church fell into complete disrepair until, in 1995, the Ellerton Church Preservation Trust was formed and carried out the mammoth task of renovating the church which is now well worth a visit. Our walk takes us out of the village to the flood bank along side the River Derwent about 400m away. We follow the river down stream along the top of the flood bank. This whole area of flood plain on both sides of the river is part of the Lower Derwent National Nature Reserve, an importent wetland habitat. There are many rare plants, and the site is home to all kinds of breeding birds particularly wildfowl and waders. It provideds a wintering ground for many migratory birds such as Bewick swans, golden plover and various species of duck. About 12km south of Ellerton the River Derwent is protected from inundations from the River Ouse by the Barmby Barrage. We follow the path along the flood bank to Bubwith. I believe the village developed here because there was a river crossing point, maybe originally a deep ford but later there was a ferry boat. This was replaced with a stone arch toll bridge in 1798. The toll charge was only removed in the mid 1930's. There's good food to be had in Bubwith too. The local butcher is renowned for his award winning pork pies made to an old family recipe from local pork. Bubwith is also a good place for a range of spices for your curries and there's a good coffee shop too. From Bubwith we head north across the fields towards the village of Aughton. On the way to Aughton we pass a huge old willow tree. It's girth below the first brances is over 8m, almost 25feet. Willows grow fast but this one must be well over 200 years old. This area has not been settled farm land for so very long. Most of the lower Derwent valley as flood land and salt marshes until the mid 1700's. The area is known as the Humberhead Marshes. Before the marshes were drained the land was used for summer grazing for cattle. So this huge willow tree could have been growing here since the area was first drained and settled for farming in the late 1700's. We continue through Aughton and back to Ellerton through the fields where we saw several small groups of Roe deer when I last walked this route. We enter Ellerton past the pretty duck pond to reach the end of this week's walk.

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