Wharram Percy Wold via Tunnel Plantation, Yorkshire Wolds, North Yorkshire
3.5 miles / 5.5 kilometers &
8.5 miles / 13.5 kilometers
1 hours 40 minutes &
5 hours 30 minutes
Map: OS Explorer 300 - Howardian Hills & Malton
There are two walk options:
The shorter 3½ miles walk heads over the Burdale Tunnel through woodland then circles back along Deep Dale to the medieval village of Wharram Percy.
The longer 8½ miles walk heads over the Burdale Tunnel through woodland then carries on to Thixendale before circling back to the medieval village of Wharram Percy.
Both walks starts from the free car park for the medieval village of Wharram Percy which is located off the B1248, south of Wharram-le-street. The terrain is fairly flat with a few ascents and descents which are short and steady with nothing too challenging. The route is along well defined paths which are well marked and easy to follow.
The trail initially follows the disused rail line to the Burdale Tunnel, and then picks up the Centenary Way, Yorkshire Wolds Way and the Chalkland Way, with picturesque views of the rolling countryside of Deep Dale.
The longer walk heads west along the Yorkshire Wolds Way and on to Vessey Pasture Dale, with a short easy ascent up Vessey Hill before dropping down in to the village of Thixendale. The trail then heads back via Court Dale and back along Deep Dale heading north.
The shorter walk follows Deep Dale north before dropping down to the medieval village of Wharram Percy.
The construction of the Burdale Tunnel started in 1847 and it was completed in 1853. The tunnel was just under a mile long and formed part of a 20 mile line that ran from Malton to Driffield which opened on the 1st of June 1853. The line was closed to passengers in 1950 and completely closed in 1958. The tunnel was bricked up in 1961.
People have lived in the area since the Bronze Age. During medieval times much of the land came into the ownership of the church. Eventually two thirds of Thixendale was owned by the church. The church wanted to consolidate the strips to build up blocks of land for sheep. This tended to squeeze out the villagers and resulted in large monastic sheepwalks, at the loss of the settlements like Wharram Percy. Thixendale would most likely have gone the same way but for the death of William Vessey, who was in the process of buying up all the neigbouring holdings.
Thixendale Village Hall was built in 1872 and opened as a school in 1876 which could hold 70 children and closed in the 1964. The village purchased the school in 1968 to use as a village hall. The Hall is open most Sundays from 11am to 4pm for light refreshments. Volunteers from the village serve tea/coffee/juices and a variety of scones and home-baked cakes.
The walk then follows the main street passed St Mary's church, which was built between 1868 and 1870. Before 1869 the parish church was at the church of St Martin in Wharram Percy. Churchgoers had to walk over three miles across the wolds for their services, then turns left passing the Cross Keys Inn which has been dated back to at least 1851. The Cross Keys Inn is open Friday - Sunday lunch times for some liquid refreshment and a bite to eat. Thixendale is also home to the Robert Fuller gallery which is well worth a visit before starting the return journey through Court Dale.
The walk concludes with a visit to the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy and old mill pond. The site was the subject of extensive excavation between the 1950s and 1990. The origins of the village are unclear. The ruins of the church of St Martin were also extensively studied during these excavations. The church was rebuilt in the 12th century and enlarged during the 13th and 14th centuries. There are information boards posted around the site which give an insight to its history.
Follow the trail passed the old farm house that dates from about the 1770's away from the village for about 400 yards to the cattle bridge, cross the bridge then follow the path up the hill for about ¾ of a mile back to the car park..