Poppy’s Pilgrimage Diary: Day 6 – Ganton to Burton Fleming

With thanks to Priory 900 co-ordinator Penelope Weston

All ready to go after a night at home (and a lovely bath). First day without Guinness, who is having a rest day at home – seems only fair since in dog years he is something like 95.

The lovely team at St Nicholas Ganton were there again to greet us. The church was a dependent of Bridlington from the 14C to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, so there’s a really strong link there. We were offered tea/coffee – excellent – before prayers.

This was a day of pleasant, uneventful walking in perfect weather, the wolds looking magnificent in the sunshine. So much wheat still waiting to be harvested; I understand that the rain earlier this week would have been an impediment, with the farmer having to wait for moisture levels to drop again. And the day included dry valleys full of sheep, and extremely placid cows – as well as a group of lively young bullocks who wanted us to let them through into the next field, even though the grass didn’t look much greener. Perhaps just as well Guinness wasn’t with us . And it was so still and quiet – one buzzard took off over the hillside but otherwise, as on other days, there have been very few birds. Where farmers have left verges there are more butterflies – there was one area yesterday which had been deliberately set aside for wildflowers and it was hotching with butterflies – what a difference that makes.

There were a number of ups and downs – and from the top we got our first view of the sea over Scarborough. We passed close by the RAF station at Staxton and noticed that the mast – such a prominent feature on this part of the Wolds – no longer seemed to be operational: there were no disks or other kit on it. I was going to take a photo of the security notice, but thought better of it… We had a most enjoyable picnic, sitting in the shade under the hawthorn trees and looking out over the dry valley in the glorious sunshine.

So we came to the tiny church at Fordon, and another wonderful welcome, this time with fruit and squash!. This church is only semi-open: the insurance company won’t allow it to be open unless it’s manned. However there’s a monthly communion, with increasing numbers, and several weddings booked in. Yesterday they had an Open Day form 10-4 and were overwhelmed with visitors, having to go for more cups and milk, and taking £500 in donations – a sum which will be earmarked for heating for the church. Friends of the Eckersleys were there on their own visit, and joined us for prayers. This lovely little church – which goes back to the late 11C – is attached to Burton Fleming and it was the church warden who was in charge of the welcome and went ahead there to await us.

So we pressed on to the trig point and then over the hill and down into the valley that would lead us to Burton Fleming, which we reached just a little ahead of schedule at 4.45. A visit to the loo at the farm across the road from the church brought a surprise: a field behind the house with geese, guinea fowl, a turkey and… an ostrich! And there were several impressive ostrich eggs on the windowsill.

This time the refreshments were even more substantial – ham and salmon sandwiches and other delicacies, plus cakes and scones saved from an earlier event – so we were happy to assist in demolishing at least some of them (No supper needed tonight!). Like several other churches we’ve visited, they’d cleared pews at the back of the church and created a carpeted area with upholstered seats and a table, covered for our visit with an elegant cloth, but used on other occasions for meetings and activities.

Barbara, the part-time priest, arrived to share the refreshments, and some interesting conversation about the health of this rural benefice. Pat, the churchwarden had already made it clear that all the churches of the benefice were ‘paying their way’, unlike the larger parishes in Bridlington. And they were upbeat about the creation of an even larger benefice in this part of the Wolds. All very encouraging.

SO: just one more day (and 9.5 miles) to go!

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