Weatherwise, we do get some lovely days in winter. So, there are still plenty of opportunities to get out for a short stroll without being bothered by rampant brambles, frisky cows or clouds of flies trying to nest in your ears.
When I were a lad (cue Hovis music), it seemed to snow regularly every winter, and not that pathetic grey slop we get now, either.
This was proper white Arctic stuff, perfect for great snowballs that you could chuck up the open back stairs of Corporation buses.
It hung around for days so that you could make huge slides down the middle of the road and nobody cared because cars were yet to become more precious than kids. Now?
Well a few hours of sleet is about as wintry as it gets, unless of course you live in the front page of the Daily Express, or write the walking column in the Whitby Gazette and find yourself out and about on January 17 when a blast of air from Lapland had made its way down the North Sea.Sideways hailstones greeted me as I left the bus near Mickleby on the coast road.
I rummaged deep in the recesses of my rucksack for gloves and an extra fleece, crossed the road, headed along the B1266, and quickly turned left towards Mickleby at the start of a 4.5 mile circular walk to Ugthorpe.
At the junction of West Lane, Low Lane and The Lane, turn right along ‘The’.
Fifty yards later, take a footpath on your left, heading up a short alley as if you lived there.
A gate and a stile soon has you out in the fields on a path that is easy to follow as you are essentially heading in a straight line for
nearly two miles.
Half way along, a gate leads to a steep path down through woodland (I was grateful for a few minutes shelter from what was now a rare 21st Century blizzard) to a footbridge over Mickleby Beck.
Head straight up the grass after the footbridge and look out for two gates in the hedge ahead.
You need to go straight on so the leftmost gate would make most sense, but just for devilment the path uses the gate on the right where several tons of deep icy mud awaits.
So, curve back left after that gate and climb to an elbow in the field boundary ahead.
Keeping the hedgerow on your right now, with Primrose House Farm away to your left, look out for a stile in the next corner.
This stile has been almost consumed by a holly bush which will try and steal your new hat, so be careful as you head straight on westwards through a gate onto a grassy path that leads to a minor road. Turn right into the pretty village of Ugthorpe, walking past two impressive churches.
The Black Bull Inn, where I stopped for lunch, is a lovely, traditional village pub with a real fire and decent local hand pulled ales situated near the far end of the village.
Some swan necking and nostril twitching suggested that the food was excellent too, as was my bag of nuts, though I have to advise that the place closes each afternoon at 2pm, a time when I normally tend to arrive at the end of my walks.
I suppose it is just possible that these people have other things to do than sit around in empty pubs waiting for the occasional rambler to pop in.
Fair enough then, but what really irritates me (while I’m on one) is those pubs that stay open all day but stop serving food at 2pm.
I get that the chef might go home so that fillet mignon with a caper beurre blanc sauce might need to be put on hold, but is it too much for whoever is pulling the pint to go make a cheese sandwich?
Honestly, nowhere else in the world………
Immediately opposite the pub (OK, slightly left), a footpath through a gate takes you on a well waymarked field path that doglegs occasionally on its handsome way back to Mickleby.
Naturally, you’ll have to re-cross Mickleby Beck and as you approach the trees, head down a slight gully and track left through the woods until you see the footbridge.
Head up the hill to keep left of the hedgerow, then follow that field boundary until you approach a farm on the outskirts of the village.
The sun was out now – winter is over – and lots of happy sheep had emerged for a quick frolic and a bite to eat in a very pretty and rarely visited part of the local countryside.
The path diverges right, ahead of the farm, to reach ‘the’ lane near where you started in Mickleby.