Previously one of the undiscovered gems of England, the Yorkshire Wolds hit the headlines though the art of David Hockney. His colourful tributes to East Yorkshire, recently seen in a major Royal Academy exhibition, shine a new light on this unsung but beautiful area of dry valleys and wide vistas. His huge work Bigger Trees Near Warter (far right) was painted on 50 canvases and measures 4.6m by 12.2m (15ft by 40ft); it was one of his first Wolds paintings to captivate the public. This walk will show you the inspiration for this epic painting.
Ice Age valley
The estate village of Warter huddles round its tiny triangular green. The nearby church is now used as the Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Centre, with displays explaining the geology, history and wildlife of the area. From the village green, follow the Driffield road past the church and pond. Ignore turnings and, at the corner of woodland, go right, though a wooden kissing gate (signpost). Follow the path through the wood and on to a green track. Below is Great Dugdale, a typical Wolds dry valley, formed at the end of the last Ice Age by streams flowing over frozen ground. Beyond it were clumps of trees depicted in a different painting by Hockney but since felled in 2009 (not the trees depicted above). Take the track to a road. Turn left and follow the road as it bends left again.
At the next junction is a sycamore copse and the brick house, Dalton Gate Cottage, that Hockney painted in Bigger Trees near Warter.
He worked on site in the open air, as well as in his Bridlington studio, depicting the skeletal trees in early spring. Typically, he paints the scene on a dull day – though Hockney says he doesn’t believe in dull days, only dull people.
At the corner by the trees turn right (signed Middleton). Where the road bends right, go left. Follow the field edge, cross a road and follow a track to a white-painted farm. On this part of the route, notice the wide views over the undulating landscape, so often painted by Hockney, and the windbreak plantations of trees on the skyline. The colours seem more muted than Hockney depicts them, but the views are full of the vitality that he captures.
Lavender and rooks
Turn left, go through two gates and turn right. Follow the track downhill into Brig Dale, bearing left into Lavender Dale. These two dry valleys are typical of the Wolds landscape, sheltered and quiet, apart from the cry of rooks in the belts of trees.
Where the woodland on the right ends, turn right (signpost), up the bank and through a gate. Follow the path as it skirts left of a plantation. At a signpost turn left and at the end of the field, turn right, to reach a road. Turn left, then at the foot of the hill turn right back to Warter.
If your hunger for Hockney’s landscapes aren’t satisfied, take a half hour drive to Woldgate, a Roman road stretching from Bridlington to Kilham – Hockney has recently painted several scenes along this route.
HOW TO GET THERE
Warter is on the B1246, 4.5 miles east of Pocklington and 16 miles east of York. By bus take East Yorkshire service 473 York to Bridlington. There is roadside parking in Warter village.
FIND OUT MORE
Beverley Tourist Information Centre
34 Butcher Row
Beverley, East Yorkshire
Main Street, Millington
York YO42 1TX
A cosy tearoom, laid-back restaurant and smart accomodation just a couple of miles from Warter.
The Balk, Pocklington
York YO42 2QF
Gardens set around two lakes with spectacular water lilies, as well as rock gardens, shrubbery and formal beds.