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Pocklington canal head
Pocklington canal head

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Route No. 213 - Saturday 31 March 2007
Melbourne, Allerthorpe Common,
Pocklington Canal circuit - 17km
Pocklington, East Yorkshire . . .

Map: OS Explorer 294 Market Weighton & Yorkshire Wolds Central at 1:25000
Route Map on 'Landranger' base from OS Open Space service
Open this route in Google Earth


Heading for Pocklington Canal from the pub in Melbourne
Heading for Pocklington Canal from the pub in Melbourne

So today we met in Melbourne, a village a few miles south west of Pocklington. We started walking from the pub in Melbourne at map ref. SE 752440 at about 10.45am and headed north along a little track to the Pocklington canal a few hundred metres away.

On the first Saturday in each month I meet up with a group of friends for a good walk. (Well OK, this is the last Saturday in March not the first Saturday in April but we wanted to avoid the Easter weekend)

The canal boat marina in Melbourne
The canal boat marina in Melbourne

The canal boat marina in Melbourne
The canal boat marina in Melbourne

Pocklington Canal at Melbourne
Pocklington Canal at Melbourne

Opposite the swing bridge we turned right to follow a path across the flat farm land toward a large block of open access woodland called Allerthorpe Common.

We crossed the canal on the swing bridge and turned left to walk along the towpath beside the canal. After about 600m we came to the next swing bridge over the canal.

Pocklington Canal at Melbourne
Pocklington Canal at Melbourne

Heading north from the canal to Allerthorpe Common
Heading north from the canal to Allerthorpe Common
Heading north from the canal to Allerthorpe Common
Heading north from the canal to Allerthorpe Common
Beef cattle at Thornton Grange
Beef cattle at Thornton Grange

Approaching Allerthorpe Common on the road
Approaching Allerthorpe Common on the road

At the entrance to the woods we met three men in full camouflage gear each with a tripod holding a camera and very expensive looking telephoto lens. They were birdwatchers but to-day they were looking for snakes emerging from their hibernation into the spring sunshine, but so far they had had no luck.

After about 2.5km the path took a sharp right turn and brought us out on to a road at map ref. SE 753469. At the road we turned left to walk along it for a few hundred metres to the car park at the entrance to Allerthorpe Common woods.

The entrance to Allerthorpe Common woods
The entrance to Allerthorpe Common woods
where we met 3 well equipped birdwatchers

THe path through Allerthorpe Common woods
The path through Allerthorpe Common woods
Out door pig rearing - on a grand scale(see inset!)
Out door pig rearing - on a grand scale(see inset!)


Memorial plaque to Thomas Cook at the village hall . . .

Allerthorpe church under repair
Allerthorpe church under repair

After our break we walked along the village street to the main road (A 1079) opposite the Pocklington Industrial Estate. This is not the prettiest part of the walk as we made our way along the A1079 with noisy traffic whizzing by. We had to endure the traffic for about 1km until we reached the sanctuary of the Pocklington Canal head at map ref. SE 799474.

We followed the path around the southern edge of the woods, through Tank Plantation and on to a track that led us into Allerthorpe village. In the village we stopped at the pub for a drink at the picnic tables on the green in front of the pub. It was a very pleasant break as we watched the rooks nest building in the tops of the trees opposite. In the village there are two memorial plaques to Thomas Cook a renowned instrument and telescope maker who was born in Allerthorpe.


. . . and at the gate to the churchyard

Walking along the A1079
Walking along the A1079

Lock on the Pocklington canal
Lock on the Pocklington canal
Walking the Pocklington canal tow path
Walking the Pocklington canal tow path

Pocklington canal
Pocklington canal

Two of our group, my sister and her husband, live in Melbourne so we used their home for our traditional coffee shop stop at the end of our walk, and very pleasant it was too - thanks sis! (She sometimes looks at my web site)

From the canal head we simply followed the canal tow path for about 7km back to our starting point in Melbourne. The whole route had been 17km and had taken us five and a half hours to walk including our breaks. It had been a too far for me at present and the last 5km were a bit of a struggle.

Pocklington canal filled with reeds
Pocklington canal filled with reeds

Coats Bridge Lock on the Pocklington canal
Coats Bridge lock on the Pocklington canal
Swan(pen) sitting on her nest amongst the reeds
Swan(pen) sitting on her nest amongst the reeds
Swan(cob) patrolling the open water near his nest
Swan(cob) patrolling the open water near his nest
Entrance to the Bielby branch of the Pocklington canal
Entrance to the Bielby branch of the Pocklington canal
The lock at Walbut Bridge on the Pocklington canal
The lock at Walbut Bridge on the Pocklington canal
The lock at Walbut Bridge on the Pocklington canal
The lock at Walbut Bridge on the Pocklington canal
Returning to Melbourne at the end of our walk
Returning to Melbourne at the end of our walk
I was well behind everyone else at this stage,
but my sister had stayed back to walk with me.

Background Notes:
This 17km circular walk explores the Pocklington Canal. When I last walked this route we started in the village of Melbourne, but that's because my sister lives there. You can in fact start and finish this walk at the Pocklington Canal Head car park or at the Allerthorpe Common car park. It's a flat circular walk of about 17km, around 10 miles. From Melbourne we follow a track by a spur off the canal where there are moorings. The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society's boat "New Horizons" is moored here and provides boat trips along the canal for the public at weekends and bank holidays. We cross a swing bridge over the canal and walk along the tow path for a few hundred metres before turning away from the canal to cross the marshy fields towards Allerthorpe Common about 3km away. Allerthorpe Common is a nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. It consists of woodland and lowland heath with areas of both wet heathland and dry heathland. It's a very varied habitat indeed and because of this there's a huge variety of rare plants, insects, dragon flies and amphipians. It's an excellent place to see lizards and adders too. Apparently on the occasional warm days in early spring or even in February they can take a short break from hibernation and are easier to see because there is little vegetation to hide them. The heathland is maintained by using hedbridean sheep and highland cattle to graze the site although some hand clearing by the trust's volunteers is also needed. From the common we follow a path out to Allerthorpe village where there is a village pub for refreshments. In the village by the entrance to the churchyard there is a plaque on a memorial stone to a man called Thomas Cook who was born in this village, and another plaque on the village hall. He only had an brief elementary education but he continued to study and taught himself maths, astronomy and navigation. In 1836 he founded a company in Stonegate, York making scientific instruments and telescopes. He pioneered the manufacture of large refracting telescopes in Britain and gained an international reputation. In the late 1860's just before his death he built a 25 inch refracting telescope for Robert Stirling Newall that is known as the Newall telescope. This instrument is still in use at the Mount Penteli observatory in Greece, it's the National Observatory in Athens. On our way out of the village we pass the church of St. Botolph and join the A1079 York to Hull road. It's very busy but there is a grass verge to walk along and after a kilometer, about half a mile we reach a sanctury from the traffic at the Pocklington Canal head. This is a very pretty spot with a small car park and picnic tables by the canal. As our walk leaves the canal head picnic area we pass a length of old hedge row next to the tow path that was laid last autumn to regenerate and renew the old hedge by promoting lots of new growth from the bottom of the hedge. It all looks a bit drastic when it's first done but it's already producing new growth and by the summer a fresh new vigorous hedge will result. The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society's volunteers are working to restore the whole canal to navigation but this part of the canal is silted up at present. The canal completed in 1818 is a little over 15km long from Pocklington to East Cottingwith on the River Derwent, and it has 9 locks. Initially it was a successful venture but when the railways were built the canal company was bought by the local railway companies and despite statutory provisions that they must maintain the canal it was allowed to gradually decline into dereliction. Since the 1970's the canal has been restored to a navigational standard from the river Derwent to Melbourne and work continues on the rest of the canal. Our route follows the canal towpath for about 7km from the canal head back to Melbourne passing locks and brick arch bridges along the way as we return to our starting point and the end of this week's walk.

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