Big Skies Bike Rides: Millington Dale and Warter from Pocklington

Big Skies Bike Rides is the name given to eight cycle loop rides ‘launched’ in 2010. They take their name from the phrase used by David Hockney when he compared the sky over the Yorkshire Wolds to ‘the big sky’ he experienced in the American West. This 17.5 mile route starts at Pocklington and has the furthest point of Huggate, on the Wolds Way.


Yesterday I did my usual faffing as I decided to ride this route by – gulp – driving to the start; it was gone 2 o’clock before I set off. Last month I passed through Pocklington before turning back to Market Weighton to ride another Big Skies route (I’d left my booklet at home, but I’d memorised the Market Weighton loop). And for the past three weeks I’ve not felt too good. Man flu is my diagnosis. A particularly bad case.

The planned CTC ride this Remembrance Sunday is Ulceby on the south bank of the Humber, but I still feel too weak to keep up with that lot – and the BBC weather forecast was for ‘white cloud’, which was better than the heavy rain predicted for Sunday earlier in the week. So a little ride through Millington Wood seemed in order (described in last month’s Cycling Plus as a ‘hidden gem – an intimate valley-floor shimmy through luscious micro-Alps’) in autumn sunshine. Mrs Bailey was having a friend round for lunch so it seemed the ideal time to nip out for a bit of a ride. The excellent booklet graded the route in terms of length and degree of difficulty as Medium – Moderate, so I took the Raleigh Road Ace for a rare outing.

Pocklington is a fairly compact market town with a decent share of free parking, so I had no problem finding somewhere to leave the car. I can never seem to find the correct roads when trying to follow the official routes from or through towns, but I knew where I was supposed to be going so I set out on a B road that leads to Warter, then turned off towards Kilnwick Percy. I passed the entrance that leads to the World Peace Cafe and set off on the slight rise towards Millington. I felt a bit sluggish and couldn’t seem to move as quickly as I thought I should. That’s man flu for you, I suppose. I turned left at a corner and the clouds in front of me were suddenly much darker and a little threatening. But the sun was shining on the fields around me and provided quite a contrast to the sky. I’d ridden some of this route before, but I’m sure when I’d cycled through Millington previously I hadn’t gone through Middleton Dale. The valley bottom is very flat and makes for a pleasant few miles of the journey. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite capture the wide open feeling, so here are a few pictures of the route leading up to Millington:


I was reminded of Patrick’s Autumnal collection when I stopped to take the Millington photographs. I used to think that autumn was my favourite time of the year for cycling. Apart from the beautiful colours around me I liked the feeling at the start of a Sunday ride, when I haven’t shaved for two days and there is sort of dewy feel to the stubble on my face. Chilly, but refreshing. Except these days I just feel, well, cold.


The route from Pocklington to Huggate is part of the coast-to-coast ‘Way of the Roses’.


The Wolds Inn, Huggate, in the highest village in the Yorkshire Wolds. No time to go inside today. (Okay, it was closed.)


Warter, with its memorial dated 1919.
The architecture and thatched roofs of these cottages are unusual in this part of East Yorkshire, I believe.

For me the best part of this ride is between Kilnwick Percy and Huggate, specifically points 2 and 4 on the official map (link below). Warter is described in the Big Skies booklet as ‘an attractive estate village’ and it is very pretty. I ate my sandwiches on the bench near the memorial and would have stayed longer but the sun was low in the sky and I wanted to get back to Pocklington before 4 o’clock. Perhaps a ride to do another day with Mrs Bailey, when the temperature is warmer. A lot warmer.


The little church in Burnby and time to switch on the bike lights with just a few miles before getting back to Pocklington.


I never did find the official start point, so here’s a picture of another church back in Pocklington.

Other Big Skies Bike Rides:

North Newbald and back from Beverley

South Dalton, Lockington and Lund from Market Weighton

Burton Agnes and Kilham from Driffield

Great Wold Valley from Hunmanby

Sledmere Country from Sledmere

Thixendale from Malton or Norton on Derwent

Bempton Cliffs and Rudston from Bridlington

Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route