Maps: OS Landranger 105; Explorer 290
Start: Copmanthorpe (564473)
Finish: York bus and rail station (597517)
Distance: 6.5 miles
Natural England NCA: 28 (Vale of York)
Special interest: ‘Thorpe’ settlements, Bishopthorpe Palace, Rowntree Park
Walk 4 starts in Copmanthorpe from the bus stop at the junction of Hallcroft Lane with Horseman Lane. Walk down Horseman Lane into Copmanthorpe village. The road swings left to St Giles Church and, for those walkers who are combining this Walk with the previous one, the seat by the war memorial affords a good stop for refreshments.
Follow Church Street (bending back in front of the church) and soon called Low Green, for a short distance to the clearly indicated Ebor Way fingerpost, just before a left bend in the road. Turn right here on the tarred footpath.
The path goes round the school fields and then ends at the cul-de-sac called Wheelwright Close at the edge of the houses. Leaving Wheelwright Close, bear right at the Y-fork and then take the third right (Fletcher’s Croft) to the fence alongside the railway. Turn left to the level crossing (called ‘Bishopthorpe Crossing’) (U) over the East Coast Main Railway line.
It is essential to exercise extreme caution at this point. The instructions are clear: the red light indicates a train is coming and the command is ‘STOP’. Only when the green light shows is the rail line ‘CLEAR’ and it is safe to cross.
Having negotiated this hazard, the next part of the walk is a relaxing stroll alongside field side paths and over two footbridges to the outskirts of Bishopthorpe.
Now the suggested route through the village makes a slight diversion from the Ebor Way. Instead of turning right at (V), go straight ahead along Copmanthorpe Lane to the five-road junction by the Methodist Chapel in the village centre. Carry on down Main Street (road name plate hard to detect) turning left at the end (W) to go past Bishopthorpe Palace, residence of the Archbishop of York. A little further on, just before the crematorium, turn right (X) on the path down to the River Ouse.
There is now a delightful riverside stroll of just over three miles to the end of the day’s walk. Just after the Millennium Bridge, the path through Rowntree Park (Y) offers an alternative to the river bank route.
Reaching Skeldergate Bridge (Z), turn left up the slope, cross the road and climb the steps up on to the York Walls. Continue on the walls’ path, looking down to the railway station on the left, and go on round to the steps. Go down the steps and turn back. Go right under the arch, bend round left, and the bus stops are outside the railway station.
‘thorpe’ settlements and the Vikings in York
As well as passing through Copmanthorpe and Bishopthorpe, this section of the Coastliner Way goes very close to a number of other ‘thorpe’ settlements: Middlethorpe, Nunthorpe and Clementhorpe, while Layerthorpe is on the next leg of the trail. The suffix ‘thorpe’ is often an indication of a Viking occupation and meant a secondary settlement, apart from its original parent, which may have been an outlying farmstead, probably relying on the nearby larger settlement for protection.
The majority of locations in England named by the Vikings are found in the area that used to be known as the Danelaw, the place where Danish rule was concentrated in the 9th Century. Vikings settled all across the country, but the densest population was found in Yorkshire, where York was their capital city, and it is here where we see more Viking place names than anywhere else.
Like most conquerors, when Vikings moved to a new area they settled into communities alongside the previous inhabitants, then changed the names they found difficult to pronounce. When they settled in York, the Vikings clearly had trouble saying the Saxon name for the city: Eoforwic (which is thought to mean wild boar settlement), so decided to call it Jorvik (thought to mean wild boar creek). Sometimes a Viking would have his settlement named after him, but although we don’t have many records of those early Viking settlers, we do know that a great variety of names were used in settlement names. Sometimes nicknames were used, which suggests that they were just as important to Vikings as a given name. ‘Keik’ means ‘bent backwards’ and is found in Kexby (meaning Keik’s farmstead). Similarly ‘Sleng’ means ‘idler’, but was also a personal name as well, and can be found in Slingsby, which would mean Sleng’s settlement (or the idler’s village; Vikings probably wouldn’t enjoy being referred to as ‘idlers’ though). As well as place name clues, there is other evidence of the Vikings all around Yorkshire and beyond, from the ruins of houses, to precious objects and to skeletons of Viking men and women.
Some of the names found in York itself are also evidence of its Viking history. ‘Toft’ was Old Norse for a building plot, as in Toft Green, and Gate comes from the word for street, which was ‘Gata’. It’s important to remember that in York ‘Bar’ means Gate, and ‘Gate’ means Street. The street where the Jorvik Museum is located, Coppergate, comes from its Viking name, Koppari-Gata. ‘Koppari’ means cup-maker, ‘Gata’ means street, so Coppergate translates as ‘street of the cup-makers’. This has been confirmed by the vast amount of wooden objects found in The Coppergate Dig, alongside wood shavings and tools. The word Bootham, the main street leading north-west out of York, means ‘at the booths’ or market stalls. So the Viking legacy is preserved through place names. (See www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk)
The Palace has been the home of the Archbishops of York for over 750 years. Today it operates as a multi-functional premise, hosting offices, meeting rooms, worship areas and living quarters. In addition to functioning as the Archbishop’s home and office of the Northern Province, the palace and its grounds are also used for charity open days, retreats, evening receptions, village fetes and dinners.
The Palace has experienced three main stages of development:
Firstly, when Archbishop Walter de Grey bought the village of Thorpe St. Andrew in 1226, (this was later to become Bishopthorpe), he demolished the old manor house of St Andrew’s in order to build the new Bishopthorpe Palace. He reused some of the old stone from the manor house in the undercroft of the new building. This can still be seen today.
The second stage of development took place between 1480 and 1500 when Archbishop Rotherham added the North Wing to the Palace.
Finally, the third stage of development took place between 1761 and 1769. Archbishop Drummond appointed John Carr to design the gothic stable block and gatehouse. This was soon followed by the building of the front of the Palace and this provided a new Entrance Hall and Drawing Room which today includes several portraits of previous Archbishops.
The Palace reached its maximum extent by 1900. Since then, successive Archbishops have made more effective use of the building space by designating separate areas for personal apartments, public rooms and offices for their staff.
An Archbishop of York has been resident at Bishopthorpe Palace from 1241 to the present day, except for the ten years during the Protectorate, from 1650 to 1660, and during interregnum periods. (See www.archbishopofyork.org)
The park was a major gift donated by Joseph Rowntree to the City of York in 1921 as a memorial to the 200 members of his Cocoa Works’ staff who died in First World War. It was to be (in his words) a ‘quiet restful memorial park’, rather than ‘another stone obelisk’. This was York’s first municipal park.
The imposing gates at the Terry Street entrance to the park were also donated by Joseph Rowntree, this time after the Second World War. During that time the majority of the Rowntree factory in York was converted so that the production lines could make 37mm anti-aircraft shells instead of chocolate. Both wars are commemorated by plaques in the Lych Gate, in the centre of the park next to the statue and fountains.
The Friends (and Very Young Friends) of Rowntree Park is a community group set up in conjunction with the local council and both organisations work together to preserve and promote the park. Every year there is a party to celebrate the handing over of the park to the council and people of York by the Rowntree Company in July 1921. (See www.rowntreepark.org.uk)