Maps: OS Landranger 105; Explorer 290
Start: Tadcaster bus station (488435)
Finish: Hallcroft Lane, Copmanthorpe (564473)
Distance: 5.8 miles
Natural England NCA: Mainly 28 (Vale of York)
Special interest: Ebor Way
Note: If preferred, this easy walk could be combined with the next day’s outing (Walk 4 from Copmanthorpe to York Station) to give a distance of just over 12 miles
Leave Tadcaster bus station, walk along the A659, past the Broken Bridge pub and merge with the A64 and continue to the turn-off for Catterton (N). Take this minor road, over Rolling Bridge, to the left bend at (O). Here we leave the road and, turning right and staying on the Ebor Way, follow the course of the Roman Road along ‘The Old Street’. The trees lining the track make this section very pleasant.
However, after joining the A64 again (P), the Ebor Way is less attractive. Use the cycle track to the Bilbrough Services area and then take the slip road on the left (Q) to cross the A64 on the bridge. Continue a short way on the minor road to where it bends sharp right (R). Back on the line of the old Roman road, take up the Ebor Way again on the left and use field-side paths to the road corner at (S). Continue ahead on the tarmac to the edge of Copmanthorpe (T).
Now do a slight variation from the Ebor Way and instead of turning right, go on straight to the junction of Hallcroft Lane with Horseman Lane. This is where the bus stops, and marks the finish of Walk 3, so those wishing to return to Tadcaster can catch the bus here. Otherwise, if carrying on to York, turn right down Horseman Lane.
The Vale of York (NCA 28) is an area of relatively flat, low-lying land where high-quality soils found across most of the region mean that arable cultivation is generally the predominant land use. A recurrent problem is the frequency of river flooding, especially in the City of York where the rivers that drain surrounding higher land concentrate their flood loads.
Tadcaster has long assumed to have been the Roman settlement of Calcaria, although little physical evidence has been found. However, the ready availability of magnesian limestone for building as well as the name itself (place of limestone) are persuasive arguments. It is said originally to have been a staging post on the London (Londinium) to York (Eboracum) road.
Among the town’s architectural treasures, the 15th century half-timbered Ark is important. It is called ‘The Ark’ because the two carved figures on the exterior are said to be Noah and his wife. At one time it was the meeting place where the Pilgrim Fathers are reputed to have met to plan their voyage to America. It is now the Town Council Offices. (www.tadcastertowncouncil.co.uk)
Tadcaster has long been associated with the brewing industry due to the quality and accessibility of the local water which is rich in lime sulphate because of the water being filtered through the magnesian limestone. There are three breweries in the town: The Tower Brewery (Coors, formerly Bass), John Smith’s and Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery. Sam Smith’s is the oldest, dating from 1758. The Broken Bridge pub was previously called ‘The Leeds Arms’ but changed its name when the bridge over the River Wharfe was broken by swollen river water in December 2015. We are reliably informed that it intends to keep its new name!
St Mary’s Church Christians have been worshipping here almost certainly since the seventh century and probably earlier. Remains from the church’s early life and history can be seen on the west wall just inside the church. There are fragments from a Saxon cross, an ancient gravestone with scissor markings, as well as remains from a Norman arch and some ancient stained glass from the medieval church. However, the present building is a Victorian reconstruction. By 1875 the church foundations had been so badly damaged by frequent flooding that the building was in danger of collapse. The entire building, excluding the tower, was taken down and rebuilt in 1877 when the floor was raised by six feet.
In 1978 The Dalesman Publishing Company produced Ken Piggin’s ‘The Ebor Way’. Ken’s idea had been to join the Cleveland Way (between Filey and Helmsley and opened in 1969) at Helmsley with the start of the Dales Way (from Ilkley to Bowness-on –Windermere) at Ilkley. The 70 mile route would go south from Helmsley, across the much under-appreciated Howardian Hills, through the ancient city of York and then west to Ilkley. When the Wolds Way, running from the Humber to Filey, and opened shortly after in 1982, was added in, this would give a continuous footpath some 310 miles in length between Hessle and Bowness. It would cover a great variety of Yorkshire countryside.
The section of the Ebor Way which makes up the present section of The Coastliner Way between Tadcaster (Calcaria) and York (Eboracum) is part of the old Roman road going through Castleford to Doncaster and the south. On our walk this section is known as ‘The Old Street’. On our previous walk, just before Newton Kyme, we crossed another Roman road, Rudgate which leads to St Helen’s ford across the River Wharfe near the well named after the saint. She was the mother of Constantine the Great who was crowned in Eboracum and became the world’s first Christian emperor. Rudgate joined the York to Doncaster road a short distance to the south-west of Calcaria.
Rather than sticking faithfully to the Ebor Way trail as shown by the diamonds on the OS map, we use the bridge at Bilbrough Top over the A64 in order to avoid an unnecessarily awkward road crossing.