The artist David Hockney loves the landscape here, and one of his largest and most famous paintings was based on a scene from this walk. Unfortunately, many of the Dales around here are privately owned by the Healey Family and – unless you like and can afford a day’s pheasant shooting – access is denied to many of them.
Leave the car park to the left and, once back on the main road, turn right. On the left is St Johns Church, now the Wolds Heritage Centre. Visit now or on your return.
Just after the pond, turn left up a small road, signed Huggate, and climb steadily for just shy of a mile to a signposted right-turn. Leave the road here and join the track, which continues straight on for 500 yds. Over to the right you can see Lavender Dale. Turn left then, after 400yds, turn right, following the track down into lovely Lavender Dale.
2. Dale delight
At a signpost pointing to the left, climb out of the dale and enjoy a pleasant walk along the top with Keasey Woods to the left. Sheep usually graze here, and young lambs play in the fields in early spring.
The walk continues into Brig Dale, soon reaching a farm track at the end. Turn right then, after a short 250 yds, turn left for 350 yds alongside Blanch Farm. Turn right at the northern end of Blanch Farm on to a concrete road. Turn right and follow the road through flat crop fields for well over a mile to the B1246 – cross this.
3. Hockney trees
A further three-quarters of a mile leads on to a minor road. Here, the route crosses the road, but if you are a Hockney fan, another option is to turn right along the minor road. The trees on the left appear in some of Hockney’s paintings. At the end of the minor road, turn left. Hockney painted the trees at Dalton Gate Cottage in his artwork Bigger Trees Near Warter – the painting was huge, covering 50 canvases, and was shown all over the world.
Back on the described route, after crossing the road, go through a gate and head straight on to meet a long line of trees; here, turn right and walk a third of a mile to a gate.
4. Great Dug
Go through the gate and join the road for 150 yds before turning right through another gate. Continue on for 350 yds then take a left and a walk along the top of Great Dug Dale. After a couple of hundred yards, look for a single metal gate on the left and a notice inviting you to go down if you wish to walk along the bottom of the dale. If you take the bottom route, walk for a mile and a half then go through the gate and turn left on to the road.
For those taking the top route, you will pass through Townend Woods before reaching the road. If it is shooting season, then I would recommend keeping to the bottom.
A good half mile walk leads you back to the car.
For those interested in Hockney, on the return take the road to the left opposite the pond. A stiff climb for about three-quarters of a mile leads on to a gate to the left, which brings you to the top of Bailey Dale, another scene painted by Hockney – he called the painting Warter Vista.
Words: Jim Bradley