I have, over the last few years, scarcely opened my mouth without the word ‘riding’ popping out. I and my companions at the Tatler’s Waste-bin are asked about this, begged-for-our-opinion on that, and if-you-would-be-so-kind-as-to-submit-a-few-paragraphs-upon the other.

Yet if I raise my eyes from my desk to the window, it is only to see that all these requests, all happily received and accommodated, are set out, in the way the inquiry is framed, to confirm our correspondents in their opinions. None therefore tackle the question of ridings, which awkwardly slip out of the parkland, for which Capability Brown (for whom the out-of-the-way is orthodox) is so renowned, out of the grasp of the National Trust and the normal visitor routes, away through the gates and into the open countryside, often with barely a whisper of ‘improvement’ to show where they have been.

A riding is a decent length of private road, let us say 12 miles or more, which provides for easy carriage drives into the country for fresh air and exercise, at a time when the public roads were abominable.

When, spontaneously, with no smoke to signal discontent at the hearth of the T W-b, the good men and women of Sledmere Parochial Church Council, John and Ann Southwick, Derrick Kent, John Davis among them, communicate with us a proposal to walk what may have been the entire riding (as much as 24 miles if you don’t take the short-cuts) in honour of Brown’s tercentenary, I can only rejoice. This will be a great event, homage to a great man and a very serious landscape, of conspicuous power and strength.

The very least I can do is pass on the details:

Entry fee £10 (£12 on the day) – all proceeds to church funds – entries to Ann Southwick, Triton Cottage, Sledmere, Driffield YO25 3XQ. Tel: 01377 236633. E-mail: elizabethmann@sledmere-estate.com


It would be impossible to recommend either Sledmere or this initiative too highly.


Further information: John Davis Tel: 01482 888367 e-mail: pr@nilspin.com