My second Ramblers’ AGM of the season was that of East Yorkshire and Derwent Area, held in Beverley in the East Riding. on 26 January.
The day started with a walk from the impressive Beverley Minster. It is a large and satisfying building, which was built over a long period, starting with a Norman church which was mostly replaced with a Gothic church. The start date is unknown but Pevsner says that ‘stylistically c1230 is a probable date’. The high altar was dedicated in 1260, then there was a break, and work on the nave was resumed in 1308.
Our leader Chris Prince introduced us to the walk from the steps leading up to the Norman door on the north side.
Then he led us through the town and on to Beverley Westwood, an expansive common with striking views of the minster. The Westwood is one of the Beverley Commons (the others are Hurn, Figham, and Swine Moor) which came into the possession of the town in the early middle ages. Today they are governed by a group of Pasture Masters, chosen by the Pasture Freemen and Freewomen in an archaic election held in the town’s guildhall.
We crossed over to Black Mill, one of two surviving windmills on Westwood which stands on a small rise in the centre of the common. Originally white with four sails, it was tarred to prevent damp.
I recommend the book Beverley Pastures, by Professor Barbara English, which explains the history of the Beverley commons. Details are here. The cover picture, by Rob Byass, is taken from a similar position to mine above.
The other surviving mill on the Westwood is Union Mill, built by the Union Mill Society co-operative in 1801-3. The remaining lower part now forms part of the clubhouse for Beverley golf club.
We admired the extensive views from Black Mill before heading south-west, off the common.
After walking around two field boundaries and crossing the A1079 bypass and the Walkington road, we came into fields where Chris pointed south-east to a low rise on the horizon and the remains of buildings. These were the World War II anti-aircraft battery at Butt Farm (grid reference TA 020370), one of about 50 batteries which defended the city of Hull and the River Humber.
There were four brick gun-emplacements around a semi-submerged command post. You can read more about it here.
We headed back to the town where we posed for a group photo with the minster as backdrop.
The AGM followed in the afternoon, with 41 members present. It was well chaired by the Area secretary Stephen Down (the chair having resigned last year). Stephen is a member of the Area’s younger group, Get Your Boots On. The Area is in good heart but needs volunteers to fill the posts of chair, treasurer and webmaster. The Scarborough Group has a volunteer working-party which makes improvements to the paths: I visited them in 2017.
At the AGM the Area presented a gift to Colin Mullender, a long-serving member who organised the Area’s Monday afternoon short-walks programme for several years and was standing down. Thanks to Colin’s efforts the popularity of the walks increased.
David Nunns, footpath secretary for York and North Yorkshire, told us that path problems at Knapton, three miles west of York, had been resolved after decades. He later explained to me that 45 years ago a bungalow was built across the public path and the highway authority (West Riding of Yorkshire until 1988, then North Yorkshire until 1996 and now City of York Council) would not act. However, walkers found their way round the obstruction. Then a bypass was built to the west, further obstructing the path because it was not safe to cross the road at grade. Walkers used a cattle-creep under the road, but this changed hands and the new owner banned its use. At last the problems have been resolved by a path extinguishment and creation order, with a proper underpass where the cattle-creep was.
After the AGM Malcolm Hodgson, national trails officer for the Cleveland Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way, gave a talk about the fiftieth anniversary of the Cleveland Way. This is to be celebrated with a number of events.
In the end, there was only a short time left for my talk before I had to leave for my train, but I was able to give a whistle-stop exposition of what the Ramblers are involved in, and to thank this excellent Area for all its hard work.