Take only memories. Leave only footprints.

Chief Seattle

This was one of those long hikes – 30 miles in one day, starting at 6.30am from the Selby train station, getting to the Doncaster train station by around 3pm. It felt heavier on my legs for some reason – the terrain is still flat in this area, but there was lots of walking on quiet roads rather than hiking paths, which I think made it felt in my feet.

The day quite lovely – a nice breeze throughout and not too hot. Sunny in the early morning and then cloudier, which meant I didn’t need to worry about sun cream.

Within less than half a mile of the Selby train station one reaches the lovely Selby Canal and the route follows it for about 2 miles. It was a perfect sunny morning, with the canal’s waters flowing lazily, its water surface beautifully green as you can see in the images below.

Eventually, the Canal turns westwards, but the route continues south, leaving the Canal behind. It now passes by an airfield near Burn Gliding Club, with views towards the rather ominous looking plant to the west and with a railway line immediately on one’s left (east).

At about 5 miles in, after performing a bit of a slingshot, the walker crosses the railway line to the other side following a very quiet road; it’s all flat around but this is a nice open space here: grassy, with animals grazing peacefully.

The route continues south until it reaches River Aire at Temple Hirst, where it turns sharply eastwards, following a quiet road for another 1.5 miles (as I said, lots of road walking, but these are all quiet and barely frequented by cars). After yet another rail crossing, now the trail swings away from the road south-east, along a raised bank, looking like a flood bank (I am not sure the image below makes it look like it’s a flood bank!)

Now, 10 miles into the walk, the walker crosses the town of Snaith and then past the noise M62 (over a bridge). The annoying noise of the motorway accompanied me for some time now. Now, first following a road along a less-than-impressive set of ploughed-up fields, the route starts nearing Aire and Calder Navigation canal to the south. After about 1 miles from M62, it becomes greener again, and more pleasant.

At the canal, one turns west and follows alongside it for about a mile. It was now beginning to get warmer, it being mid-(or so)-morning, and I remember thinking there is something cooling about the sight of blue waters itself.

After following the canal for about 1 mile, there is a bridge crossing over it to the other side, with a lovely view from it towards the west. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of canal boats everywhere here.

Past the bridge, it’s another two miles south, with some twists and turns on the way, towards the pretty village of Sykehouse. Again, more roads on the way, but very peaceful and very quiet all around. The only thing that is somewhat annoying is the truly monstrous power line towers in lots of places here.

I found a few benches in Sykehouse and, although I had taken a little break here and there before (having by now hiked 16 miles), it took a proper 30 minute one here, kicking off my boots, letting those feet breathe. I always find it fascinating how, when one stops, even when it’s relatively warm, it can feel so cold suddenly as the body cools down a bit.

From here, it’s just about one mile to the east to get to New Junction Canal. The route follows it in the south-western direction and it’s a straight line; essentially a paved walk made for walkers, cyclists and those who fish from its banks. It is a lovely peaceful place, but walking now for 3 miles in a straight line until Braithwaite did feel quite monotonous!

At the village of Braithwaite (20 miles now) the route leaves the Canal and goes west, again on quiet roads (my feet were now beginning to feel the constant hard surfaces, but hey, it’s all part of the fun!) Past a tiny settlement of Trumfleet (just a few farmhouses), the trail turns south, and for the next two miles and goes off the roads, south-west, on what is clearly a very underused series of paths – some of it overgrown and with some nettles and brambles here and there, so one needs to be careful where one steps and it helps to have long trousers here! Before entering the actual path, I took my last bigger break that day under a lovely tree. It was very quiet here. Below is the view, roughly, from where I was sitting.

I got up next and went on my way – soon, the fields gave way to small woods. The paths here are overshadowed by small trees and bushes with branches hanging over them and it was quite muddy in places here – looked like the rain of the previous day had not managed to get dried up yet.

West of the village of Thorpe-in-Balne, the path turns directly west. Well – the path goes through the field and is barely visible, although at its head there is a public path sign. But essentially one goes through a high-grass field until reach another railway lines (lots of them in this area). It was a fun experience – you can see the barely-discernible “path” in the photo below.

There is another little wooded area before reaching yet another railway line and crossing it. It is quite clear that these paths are barely used by anyone – lots of overgrowth here.

After the railway crossing, the path now turns south and it will go in this direction all the way into Doncaster, which is 5 miles from here. First, it crosses a farm and goes into another wood to cross yet another (but the last one the day!) railway line. The path is not a forest path; it’s one made from stone slabs, clearly made for easy access for casual walkers and cyclists, but not cars.

After the line crossing, the trail soon reaches, and crosses over a bridge, Thorpe Marsh Drain: this is view from it towards the east.

Soon the trail reaches an area just to the north of Bentley (the northern outskirts of Doncaster) – this is a park-like well-maintained area that seems to be designed for walkers, runners and cyclists from Bentley and Doncaster, with young coppices growing on the slopes (yes, slopes, you read this right – the first hills are beginning to appear here, a foretaste of what the Yorkshire Wild Way is going to bring in the future legs as it approaches the Peak District).

The final bit of the walk before Bentley is to the west of it with some lovely views to the west. The second photo below is from the top of the final descent into the town.

Technically, the walk that day was supposed to finish at the Bentley railway station. However, my train was an hour away and there is nothing to really do here, so I decided to just walk into Doncaster from here. It was noisy, of course, but it passed the time. The last photo in this report is The Minster Church of St George, 5 minutes’ walk from the Doncaster railway station. Looks lovely, but – personally – I prefer marshes, fields, lazy streams and the murmur of rivers.

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