Footpaths & Bridleways
This country is blessed with a huge network of public rights of way which provide the single most important means of enjoying the countryside. The responsibility for rights of way rests with Highway authorities, but landowners and farmers have certain legal duties and responsibilities. In addition, local councils have special powers.
The highway authority is responsible for:
- assuring and protecting the public’s rights;
- keeping rights of way free of obstructions;
- keeping the path surface clear of natural vegetation;
- signposting rights of way where they leave a metalled road;
- waymarking the path where the way is unclear;
- recording rights of way on the definitive map.
The landowner or farmer is responsible for:
- providing and maintaining stiles and gates;
- cutting back overhanging vegetation;
- not obstructing rights of way;
- not ploughing field-edge paths;
- reinstating cross-field paths within two weeks of ploughing or within 24 hours of any subsequent disturbance;
- ensuring that the line of the path is clear on the ground in cultivated fields and not obstructed by growing crops.
The local council can:
- maintain any footpath or bridleway in its area;
- draw problems to the attention of the highway authority;
- make improvements to rights of way.
The parish of Catton has a network of only seven public rights of way, most of which go in a north – south direction to link High and Low Catton with the neighbouring villages of Stamford Bridge, Kexby and Wilberfoss. Of these, one is a bridleway (access to horses, bicycles and walkers) and the remainder are footpaths with legal access to foot traffic only. However, path 3 has fallen into disuse and is no longer a viable route.
The following is a brief description of each route to enable the reader to identify it on a suitable map.
Path 1 begins at the northern end of Low Catton ( map ref. 706539 ) where a kissing gate is to be found adjacent to the entrance to Rectory Farm. The path leads due north, parallel with, and to the east of, the river Derwent. After 1 km, the path joins-up with the river bank and runs alongside it, going under the old railway viaduct to terminate in the public car park adjacent to the bridge in Stamford Bridge – a total distance of 1.8km or 1.12 miles. This is a popular and well used path but can be quite muddy and slippery in places following wet weather.
Path 2 is a bridleway connecting Low Catton with the York to Hull road (A1079) near the village of Kexby. The bridleway begins at a bend in the road to the south of Low Catton, adjacent to Town End Farm (MR 707530). The route leads in a southerly direction, to the east of, and roughly parallel with the river Derwent and terminates at the main road next to Kexby House at MR 709513. Most of the route is grassy but at the northern end a rubble surface has been laid which may be uneven under foot. The length of the bridleway is 1.65 km or 1.02 miles.
According to the definitive map, this path starts at the northern side of the disused and inaccessible railway line near High Catton Grange, (MR 728543) and goes in a straight line due north for a distance of 200 metres to a point on the parish boundary just south of the Brickyards road junction, but does not link-up with the road. The beginning and end of this route are not defined on the ground and the path is no longer used.
Path 4 runs roughly south from High Catton to link-up with the village of Wilberfoss.
To the south of High Catton, near a right-angle bend in the road, a fingerpost shows the start of the path which goes through a gap in the hedge at MR 717530 and leads south, to the rear of Spring View Cottage (formerly Land of Nod), following the edge of a field to its corner, then across the next field to emerge onto Smeaton Road (leading up to Primrose Hill). From this point, the line of the path shown on the definitive map has been diverted and proceeds as follows:-
Continue south (uphill) along Smeaton Road, past the bungalows, until the road turns sharply to the left. At that point, the path goes to the right (leading S.W.) and follows a broad track between arable fields for a distance of 600 metres. The path then turns ninety degrees to the left and goes uphill alongside a hawthorn hedge. At the top of the field, the path follows the hedge to the right (look for waymarker) and continues uphill, following the field boundaries until another well defined track is reached leading to Mill Farm (Wilberfoss Parish). From Mill Farm, the path leads in a south-easterly direction, going diagonally across a large field and leading onto Storking Lane close to Wilberfoss primary school. The length of the route described above is 2.57km or 1.60 miles.
Path 5 runs south from the old bridge at Kexby and follows the eastern bank of the river Derwent. The path begins at the upstream side of the old stone bridge and leads under the first arch of the bridge. Small gaps in the stonework of the arch provide roosting places for a colony of bats. This path is easy to follow, level and mainly grassy, but the first hundred metres or so, just south of the bridge, is narrow and may be muddy. Catton parish boundary is reached after only half a mile, where a short bridge with a stile at each end crosses a deep drainage ditch.
Immediately beyond the bridge is a nature reserve / meadow which is managed for wild flowers and ground-nesting birds. The path continues along the riverbank as far as Sutton-on-Derwent but there is a turn-off along a lane to Newton-on-Derwent.
This path is not heavily used (mainly by anglers) and provides a very pleasant stroll in summer.
Path 6 also leads to the neighbouring village of Wilberfoss, but as it starts near the parish boundary, only a short section of the route is described here. The path begins across the road from Fat Rabbit Farm at MR 745527 and goes in a southerly direction for about 300 yards to a drainage ditch which marks the parish boundary. From that point, the path leads across fields to Carberry Hall Farm, then south-west along field edges into Wilberfoss village, emerging in Beckside, just south of the church. The length of this path is 2.36 km or 1.47 miles. Likely to be muddy except in dry weather.
Path 7 is the only one with a name – it is called Wath Lane. Wath is a corruption of the ancient Norse “Vath” which means a ford or crossing point and the lane is believed to date from at least Saxon times. The lane, which is now largely disused and somewhat overgrown, is only 200 yards long and runs from the west side of Main Street in Low Catton to the River Derwent. As it approaches the river the ground becomes very boggy and is almost impassable. Until the nineteenth century, Wath Lane must have been one of Catton’s main links to the outside world, when the country’s rivers and coastal waters were its principal highways. Until about 1900 the river was still a main route for commercial traffic such as coal, lime, corn and flour and it seems likely that farm produce, such as grain and root crops would have been transported from here to larger centres of population. Wath Lane, therefore, would have been an important and busy thoroughfare and was wide enough, in those days, for horse-drawn carts travelling in opposite directions to pass each other. Even until the 1930’s there was a ferry – and presumably a jetty – to allow the parishioners of Scoreby to attend All Saints church in Low Catton. The oars of this boat are now displayed in the village hall.