Nestled in an isolated valley on the Yorkshire Wolds lies a church of great interest and beauty, it was built in 1870 on instruction from Sir Tatton Sykes in the village of Thixendale.

On completion it saved the parishioners having to take a six mile round trip to Wharram Percy for their Sunday worship. Services commenced at the Church of St.Mary, Thixendale and had enthusiastic singing to the accompaniment of a harmonium played by a local lady from Raisthorpe, until, on her death the music stopped.

However, the dilemma was soon remedied by Sir Tatton who ordered an organ to be purchased which was provided and dedicated in 1877.

The organ was commissioned from the Hull firm of Forster and Andrews who were renowned for the quality and attention to detail of their organ building. An example of their attention to detail is on the organ pipes which are beautifully gilded and decorated.

The organ, which was never altered, deteriorated badly after 1980 when the resident organist had to give up playing. Now in disuse it became seriously affected by a leak in the roof causing damp in the organ chamber which went unnoticed for twenty years.

Fortunately, the decision was made to restore it and in 2009 funds were appropriated and restoration commenced. Now in grand working order the organ is used today for church services, weddings and the occasional recital.

The church has many other magnificent features, the stained glass windows are of superb quality, flooding the church with glorious colour. The majority were made by Clayton & Bell of London who were commissioned by the church architect George Edmund Street. Take a look at the grand rose window high above you which is of fine quality.

You could admire the font and pulpit, both beautifully chiselled out of stone, the green marble of the reredos, the painted ceilings and many more features inside the church. I thoroughly recommend that you take the free sound and light tour which is accessed by pressing the button to the left of the door.

Outside the church you will find the magnificent church cross which was built in 1874. A memorial plaque was fitted in honour of those killed in the two great wars.

Do stop and enjoy the peaceful village of Thixendale which evolved from settlers from many thousands of years ago. It has had many names along the years including Sixtedale, Xistendale and no doubt many other variations. Take some refreshment whilst you are there (see panel) and certainly have a look inside the Church of St.Mary I am sure it will delight you.

The Facts

Distance - 23miles/37km

Terrain - Mainly flat with two serious descents and one long ascent

Best Maps - OS Landranger 100 & 106

Start/grid Ref. - Stamford Bridge, GR713556

Parking - Free car park adjacent to bridge

Refreshments - Pub and café in Stamford Bridge. Café in Thixendale Village Hall on Sundays. Take away food and drinks from Village shop at Thixendale. Cross Keys pub open Friday, Saturday and Sunday Lunch, Evenings every day.

Public Toilets - 100 Metres from car park, follow sign on roadside

Guide Book - Cycling through History across Yorkshire by J.Brian Beadle is an e-book which I have just published in the Kindle bookstore. It contains 40 great cycle rides across the county

Your Route

Exit the car park turning left onto Viking Road then go immediately right at the A166 into the village. Ride through the village and stay on the A166 for about three miles to take the third road on the left signed to Bugthorpe and Kirkby Underdale. Continue along this country road to the village of Bugthorpe and its pretty village centre and church.

Cycle along through the village into open country and past some rather fine trees with views across to Garrowby . Keep following signs for Kirkby Underdale and watch out for double bends! The road becomes quite hilly now and soon you have a steep descent to negotiate. Eventually you reach the outskirts of Kirkby Underdale, go left here signed to Uncleby. The steep descent continues as the road deteriorates to a single track with a loose surface and devilish corners. You soon reach the few houses of Uncleby to start a long, steep ascent which terminates at a t-junction. Go right here signed to Pocklington then take the next junction on the left signed to Thixendale.

As you climb steadily across the Wold you have grand views all round but the road soon deteriorates with demanding potholes and a poor surface. However, you soon start to descend towards Thixendale village, this is a long, steep descent but keep on the main road and at the bottom of the hill watch out for a small sign pointing you to the left to the village centre..

Pass the Cross Keys pub tucked away on your right or pop in for some refreshment if it is a weekend when they are open at lunch time. Continue along to the church where you must take a look and a quick tour then ride past the quaint old School House and Village Hall. More refreshment is available on Sundays at the Village Hall or any day of the week at the shop opposite.

Leave Thixendale now to cycle along the twisty road along the dale. Although it is a steady ascent the road surface is superb! In three miles you leave the dale to ascend to the top of the Wold to a crossroad. Go straight ahead here signed to Leavening. Not far and you reach a long, very steep descent with double bends which takes you into Leavening village. Cycle through the village following signs for Howsham and York along a twisty, undulating road with good views across the valley, eventually you reach a crossroad.

Turn left here onto a sometimes busy road signed to Stamford Bridge and Pocklington. Continue along for about three miles then bear right over the narrow bridges at Buttercrambe. Ride through the village and in two miles turn left signed to Stamford Bridge and Pocklington. Not far to Stamford Bridge now, at the t-junction go left over the bridge signed to A166 and Bridlington, once over the bridge go right to return to the car park.