Walk 21 Staxton village to Muston

Maps: OS Landranger 101; Explorer 301
Start: Staxton road junction (017790)
Finish: Muston All Saints Church (098797)
Distance: 7.8 miles
Going: Moderately challenging across five steep Woldian chalk slopes
Natural England NCA: mainly 27 (Yorkshire Wolds)
Special interest: Muston Scarecrow Festival, Anglian settlement

Walk 21 Staxton to Muston 1:50,000 OS © Crown copyright 2017 CS-05488-NOY1H7
Walk 21 Staxton to Muston
1:50,000 OS © Crown copyright 2017 CS-05488-NOY1H7
Apart from the short section at the start, this walk is all following the YWW.

Staxton Mast
Staxton Mast
Starting from Staxton, it’s necessary to retrace the route from the previous walk, up Wold Lane and Staxton Brow, to the RAF Station (Q). From here, continue straight ahead on the byway and then down the slope to where the YWW leaves Cotton Dale Slack (R). Turning left, be ready for a struggle up the first of a number of very steep dry valley sides that will be encountered on this day’s walk. The path levels off near the top of the slope but there are a couple more demanding ascents on Flixton Wold before reaching the minor road at (S).

Go right here and then soon turn left (T) and resume the general ENE direction of the walk. Below on our right lies Raven Dale, too steep for easy ploughing and so, like the other dry valleys we see, it is kept as pasture.

Muston Road sign with its scarecrow
Muston Road sign with its scarecrow
At (U) follow the indicator signs directing us right to walk above Camp Dale and round to the path junction at (V). Bearing left, now continue up Stocking Dale, through the wood and then along the field side, to the disused chalk pit at (W).

Bend right; go past Stockendale Farm; cross the minor road (X) and carry on to the division of paths at (Y). Take the right fork and follow the YWW to the A1039 (Flotmanby Lane) at (Z). Bearing right, a short stretch of path runs parallel to the road before emerging at the near end of Muston village. Follow the road through the settlement to the bus stop just after All Saints Church.

Special Interest

Muston Scarecrow Festival
The festival organisers write: Our annual scarecrow competition is extremely popular with visitors and locals alike.  Each year the numbers of visitors to the village during the festival increases and its existence is now known worldwide.  The festival hasn’t been around for a very long time and was at the start a relatively low key affair. 

In 1999 a Muston Millennium Committee was formed in anticipation of the forthcoming celebrations.  It was during one of the meetings that Councillor Godfrey Allanson, Muston ‘born and bred’, put forward a suggestion. A close friend of his had mentioned to him about a scarecrow festival that was held in his village of Sawley near Ripon every year and how popular it was.  He said to Godfrey, ‘Why don’t you hold one in Muston?’ Godfrey took this idea to the meeting and the committee took up the proposal. 

The first Muston Scarecrow Festival was held in 1999 and was a great success.  Residents were invited to make scarecrows and for a fee of one pound could enter into a competition with a small prize for the best effort.  The scarecrows were placed out in the streets and visitors came and enjoyed them so much that word of mouth spread quickly pulling in even more visitors.

The festival was never intended to be a money raiser for the village but a creative activity that gave enjoyment to visitors and residents.  During the first festival it was noted that many visitors would ask, ‘Where are your collection boxes?’  Of course there were no boxes.

A local farmer made his field available as a car park during the festival and some money was raised which was then used for the maintenance of existing facilities and improvements in the village. The same field is still available for parking during the festival and at its peak has seen approximately 1,500 cars on one day alone.  The small fee taken for parking along with money raised by the refreshments sold at the village hall are held in a fund and used to the benefit of the village and local causes. (www.mustonscarecrowfestival.com)

Anglian Settlement
When the Danes (Vikings) captured the Anglian town of York in 867 AD and established their rule for nearly 100 years, they left their imprint on the place name geography of the region and on Walk 4 we have already identified some of their ‘-thorpe’ sites around York.

Now is an opportunity to consider some of the historically earlier Anglian sites that have been on, or close to, the line of Coastliner Way.

After the departure of the Romans from Britain around 400 AD, East Yorkshire saw Anglian invaders come and settle in East Yorkshire, entering either via Flamborough Head or the Humber Estuary.

The earliest Anglian settlements are thought to be those ending in ‘-ing’, ‘-ham’ or ‘-ingham’ (meaning ‘homestead’). From their first sites, the Angles later moved out to almost all other parts of East Yorkshire and we can identify these villages by their ‘-ton’ or ‘-ington’ (‘farmstead’) names. By the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) nearly 300 of the 440 settlements in the old East Riding of Yorkshire had Anglian names of one sort or another.

There were a good number of ‘-ton’ villages in the Vale of York to the east of the city: Grimston, Murton, Stockton, Sand Hutton, Claxton, Harton, Flaxton, Barton, Foston, as well as the larger towns of Malton and Norton. These villages were located in the relatively flat land of the Vale, although perhaps sometimes on a slight rise in the ground.

However, the ‘-ton’ sites that we pass on the Wolds Way have a rather different kind of siting. Most of the villages are strung out along the spring line at the foot of the chalk escarpment. Here water, the number one priory for any settlement, was available. In addition, these sites lay above the easily flooded Vale of Pickering and at the same time gave access to three different sorts of farmland: vale, lower slopes and open wold. Along the route of the Centenary Way/ A64/A1039 the line of ‘-ton’ settlements includes Settrington, Rillington, Scampston, Knapton, Heslerton, (Potter) Brompton, Ganton, Staxton, Flixton, Folkton and Muston. Further along the walk we visit Reighton, Speeton, Buckton and Bempton. Although some names were later modified by Viking settlers as they took over the villages, the ‘-ton’ endings show they were originally Anglian communities. So places like Ganton, Staxton, Flixton, Folkton and Muston each combine a Viking personal name with the Anglian ‘-ton’. Hybrid names like these are sometimes described as the ‘Grimston’ type. Nearly 70 hybrid or Scandinavianised names have been recognised in the old East Riding.

Meanings for some of the ‘-ton’ sites include:

Flixton – ‘Flik’s farm’
Folkton – ‘Folki’s farmstead’
Muston – either: ‘mouse-infested farm’ or ‘Musi’s farm’
Reighton – ‘farm on the strip of land’
Speeton – ‘speech enclosure’ – probably the place where the Hundred met
Buckton – ‘buck enclosure’ (or personal name of Bucca is also possible)
Bempton – ‘farm by a tree’
Bridlington is very controversial; possibly ‘Berhtel’s farmstead’