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August 2007

1st - The temperature rose to 24 C today, a new high for the year.

5th - Very hot and sunny today, up to nearly 29 C, and comfortably the hottest day of the year, and indeed one of the hottest days  on my records.

Hornsea Mere & the Holderness Coast - Dad and I went to Hornsea Mere this morning where there was very little going on to be honest. However we did see a Greylag x Pink footed Goose, a Black Swan, many Canada Geese, Mute Swans, and most notably a lone Whooper Swan. From here we headed southwards down the coast to Aldbrough, stopping south of Mappleton. From our cliff top position we saw Guillemots, Plovers, Shags, & Sandwich Terns passing over the sea. A jolly fine birthday outing.

7th - Wheat harvest now under way.

Sykes Churches Tour
St. Nicholas, Wetwang - Visited this pleasant church on a beautiful August day with barely a cloud in the sky and harvest in full swing in the local countryside. This church dates back to the 11th century with the current tower and north chapel dating from the 13th century. There was some restoration in the mid 19th century by the Sykes family of nearby Sledmere, and again later at the start of the 20th century when the current stained glass was inserted.

St. Mary, Fridaythorpe - Continuing our tour of central Wold churches we went to the small community of Fridaythorpe, one of the highest settlements in the county. This very tranquil church is located on the north-western edge of the village and overlooks pleasant rolling farmland. Parts of the building date back to the 12th century but much of the modern building was substantially restored and modernised by the Sykes family in the late 19th century. In the photo below the interesting clock tower is clearly obvious, this dating from the early 20th century.

St. Mary, Thixendale - This modern building was constructed in fairly recent times for this small and isolated community in the heart of the high Wolds. Before the demise of Wharram Percy this former hamlet belonged to that parish, but after the desertion of that historical community Thixendale was left without a place of worship, a situation which was eventually rectified by the construction of the church which now stands in the heart of this village.

St. Mary, Fimber - This church, of Whitby stone in a 13th century style, was designed by G.E. Street and built in 1869-71 for Sir Tatton Sykes the Second. The Sykes were responsible for much of today's churches as we know them in this part of the Wolds, and though there are mixed opinions concerning their efforts, it nevertheless has to be recognised that this region owes the family a huge debt of honour for their preservation of local church history. St. Mary's was built on the site of a former chapel of ease, which itself had been built on the site of a Bronze Age burial mound, a fairly common feature in this area of the Wolds. The chancel has an ornate brass and iron screen and a richly carved reredos. The fine stained glass windows are by Clayton and Bell.

St. Mary, Sledmere - As you would expect this is a very fine church, being as it was the place of worship for the Sykes family, the dominant landowners in the northern and central Wolds. Located a short walk away from the family house, it was constructed for Sir Tatton Sykes II in the late 19th century and is filled with particularly fine carvings and features, including an ornate screen and fine stained glass. The exterior likewise is particularly fine with a handsome porch and an attractive tower.

St. Mary, Cowlam - This is a lovely small medieval church which now finds itself surrounded by a busy and productive farm. The village of Cowlam today is no more than a farm house and a former vicarage but nevertheless it is still an active church with services once a month. The church was restored in the mid 19th century, again by the Sykes family, though the main interest of the largely plain and simple interior is the Norman font which is covered in carved figures depicting the Magi, Adam & Eve and two wrestling figures.

St. Michael, Garton-on-the-Wolds - This is one of the best churches in the Wolds, the interior decoration along the nave and chancel being widely considered amongst the finest Victorian church restorations in the whole of England. The church building itself is an imposing and solid looking Norman structure, dating back to 1120. Additions were made by the Sykes family with a reconstructed southern door built in 1856-7. As well as having impressive painted walls, the church also has particularly fine stained glass windows which were fitted in the mid 19th century.

St. Mary - Kirkburn - The village of Kirkburn was previously unknown to me before today's visit but I found it to be a pleasant and quiet corner of the county. The church is early 12th century Norman, with restoration works by the Sykes family being carried out in the mid 19th century. It was during this period that the southern porch was constructed. The interior contains many interesting features, including a fine Norman chancel arch, as well as an old font which has many carved figures upon it.

8th, Whernside - Climbed Whernside today, the highest hill in modern Yorkshire. The climb proved to be far harder than had been expected, or at least the final 300 metre climb up to the Hill Ridge was hard work. In total we walked over thirteen miles and did it within six and a half hours. Along our walk we saw Wheatears, a lone Peregrine, a few Buzzards, and three Ravens, these seen hovering over the top ridge. A great day in this beautiful area of Yorkshire.

9th - The first of the Elderberries are now beginning to ripen.

10th - After a summer of heavy rain and flooding, we are now technically in an Absolute Drought as we have seen no rain for fifteen days.

12th, Huggatedales - A pleasant walk in the Huggatedales area, despite cloud and a bit of dampness in the air. The local wheat harvest continues apace, and along our walk we had a very good sighting of a Buzzard.

13th, Holderness Churches Tour
St. Augustine, Skirlaugh - This large mid Holderness village contains one of the most handsome and interesting churches in the whole region, the church being very well cared for by the community which it serves. The building was erected in 1405 by Walter de Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, on the site of the previous structure, and is today a Grade I listed building. Indeed the church is considered one of the best specimens of early Perpendicular architecture in England and exterior of the church remains largely unaltered from its original design.

St. Wilfrid, Ottringham - Built of cobble, ashlar and brick, St. Wilfrid's is significant for its broach spire. It was one of a number of churches with spires lining the medieval banks of the Humber that were used for navigation by shipping. Remains of the 12th century church on this site include a zig-zag ornament and capitals of the tower arch and two corbels in the north arcade, but most features are from the 13th-15th century. The clerestory is of the 15th century, as is the fine king-post roof bosses carved with figures, heads and shields. Georgian pews and Royal Arms can also be seen within the building.

St. Patrick, Patrington - This is one of the jewels in the crown of the East Riding's many fine churches, with only Beverley Minster being able to compare to the scale and craftsmanship of this fine spired church which is sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Holderness". Regarded amongst the very best parish churches in England, indeed for many it is THE finest parish church in all the land, it was constructed in the 14th century by craftsmen whom must have been some of the most skilled in Europe. It is cruciform in shape with a tall slender spire which towers over the largely flat local countryside and can be viewed for miles around. The interior in the main is lit by clear glass which gives the interior a surprising feeling of space, again adding to the cathedral like quality of this structure, while in the chancel is fine stained glass where an interesting wooden screen containing a number of carvings of the Saints, the Virgin and Christ can also be found. Other interesting wooden carvings can be seen elsewhere in the building, many of which are medieval, whilst an Easter Sepulchre, a twelve sided font and lavish 20th century reredos add to the quality and historical interest of this beautiful building.

St. Mary, Welwick - This little village, which is on the road to Spurn Point, contains a real gem of a church. When we visited construction work was being carried out to repair damage caused by rain water during the summer storms, but this nevertheless failed to detract from the wonderful stained glass window at the end of the chancel, and the fine monuments within, including a fine tomb dating to the 14th century. The exterior of the church has had many additions over the years, with a number of different building materials being used to add and repair bits in years gone by.

St. Helen, Skeffling - This good sized church finds itself on the southern edge of this Humber bank community, the church being approached by a narrow winding road which eventually reaches a dead end over-looking the wide expanse of the Humber estuary with views across to Grimsby and Immingham on the opposite bank. The present date church is largely unaltered since it was constructed in 1466 and has no electricity or heating, services in winter sometimes having to be conducted by candle light.

All Saints, Roos - The church, dating from 1220 and built of cobble, stone and brick, is reached by a long footpath lined with Yew trees. It was in the delightfully wild churchyard that a Spotted Flycatcher was seen hunting during our visit, a species of bird which is increasingly scarce these days. The tower of this church dates to the 15th century, and the whole church was restored in the mid 19th century. Indeed when we visited the church roof was undergoing some repair. The interior of the church contains some fine stained glass, some of which is medieval.

St. Peter & Paul, Burton Pidsea - This is a medieval church with Norman origins, the chancel being rebuilt in the 14th century, and the aisles and chapels being added in the 15th century. The Perpendicular tower was completed in the 16th century and today's church is a fine example of a Holderness parish church which seems well cared for and loved by the small community at Burton Pidsea. Inside the church are Victorian memorials and stained glass to local landed families, including the Clapham's, Raines' and Harland's.

St. Lawrence, Elstronwick - This is an interesting little church, set amongst some delightfully tranquil and rustic countryside in deepest Holderness. Located on the very edge of the small village of Elstronwick, it is surrounded by handsome mature trees and the churchyard itself is well maintained with a fine balance between wildness and excessive manicuring. The church is built on the site of a 14th century Chantry chapel, with today's structure of cobbles and cobblestones dating to around 1875. The attractive wooden bell turret dates to the same time as the construction of the rest of the church.

St. Peter, Humbleton - This is a fine 13th to early 14th century church with a three storey west tower and spacious aisled nave. The four south aisle windows were inserted in the mid 16th century and the chancel was repaired in brick in the 17th century, at which time the east window was also inserted. However for all its fine interior and exterior details I found this church a bit bland and lacking any real character, the overly manicured churchyard being partly to blame for this unfavourable impression.

14th - A Willow warbler heard in the garden today.

15th - The Gulls are now becoming apparent again in the area, mostly Black headed Gulls & Common Gulls.

16th - Hawthorn berries are now becoming ripe in the hedgerows, and with the Elderberries there is an abundant natural harvest. The garden Haws are also turning, and the Cotoneaster’s & Yews are also beginning to fruit.

18th - A Willow warbler seen in the Silver Birch this afternoon.

19th, North Cave Wetlands - Went to North Cave this morning where things have started to get going again now with a few interesting observations today. A couple of Common Sandpipers seen, along with two Green Sandpipers, two Wigeon, and eight Teal, though the Teal are still in eclipse. Snipe also seen, whereas in the scrubby hedgerows there was a family of Whitethroats, and on the lagoons there two very bright and vivid Ruddy ducks. A few Common Terns also still about, and young can still be seen of Tufted ducks & Little Grebes. A few Pochards now back, and there were loads of Greylag geese around the reserve. Sand Martins, Swallows, & Swifts seen in good numbers and out in the fields a few Stock doves were seen amongst the Woodpigeons. A good mornings birding.

20th - A Willow warbler again heard in the garden today.

22nd - A Corn Bunting was heard in the Parks this morning, the first time this year.

23rd, Gibraltar Point - Went to Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire today, though unfortunately I was feeling very unwell and wasn’t able to fully enjoy the day. Indeed any enthusiasm for birding was none existent and all I wanted to do was sleep and be sick. However Dad did a bit of birding and said that he was impressed by what he did see. A nice day out despite feeling deeply unwell.

26th, Bishop Wilton - Walked at Bishop Wilton this morning, with Jenny joining Dad and I. A pleasant walk on a fine late summers day.

30th - All the cereal crops have now been collected in in the Parks area, with some fields already having been ploughed ready for next years crop.