Sunday, 15 July 2018

Burnsall to Darley 14/07/18

14.1 miles, via Hartlington, Appletreewick, Skyreholme, Forest Road, Pock Stones Moor, 
 Hoodstorth Lane, Stone House Crossroads, Thornthwaite, Carr Lodge, and Darley Beck. 

The Summer weather may have wavered a bit in the last week, but the temperature still managed to peak at 30C at work, and I feel heartened that the heat hasn't beaten me down and I still want to walk as another bright Saturday comes around, getting in another late start, which surely helps matters, as the Dalesbus penetrates even further into Wharfedale for our third trip over the moors to Nidderdale, arriving at Burnsall at 11..15am, which gives us a pretty clear window of 5 and a half hours to complete today's trip. So we need to start off quickly, away from the many people using this corner as their focus point for a day's tripping, setting off across the Wharfe over the justifiably famous Burnsall bridge and setting off up the lane above the riverside pasture that the Dales Way crosses, immediately getting us into virgin territory as we establish a new perimeter to my walking field, looking back to admire the rising flank of Burnsall Fell as it looms over the village and river, creating a unique sort of setting for the village that retreats behind us. There's ancient field terraces and boundaries to admire in the limestone fields by this road, all looking distinctly parched as our heatwave continues, so all the shade we get is welcome as we approach the hamlet of Hartlington as our first port of call, not that it amounts to more than a loose collection of cottages and farms at an elevated remove from the river, soon in our wake as we pass on over Hartlington Bridge on Barben Beck, which forms a large and well hidden valley coming down from Grimwith reservoir to the north. Past the Woodhouse farm, we move below the steeply looming Kail Hill and move up closer to the river, and on above the vast plots of Masons Campsite, which seems to be full to bursting even though the summer holidays have still not started, and I regard the folks in their tents in much the same way as they would me as I press on past Low Hall and the Craven Arms pub to get our first good view of the looming masses of Barden Fell, with the crags of Simon's Seat prominent on the northern face. Soon enough, we run into Appletreewick, which is as quaint and lovely as it's name suggest it ought to be, rising up among the many cottages from the New Inn and Mock Beggar hall at the bottom to St John the Baptist's church and High Hall at the top, and a real place to aspire to dwell if it wasn't for the fact that it only gets three days of bus services each week, and then on past the isolated village hall and back into the countryside, looking up to Barden Fell again, and spotting the Nidd Aqueduct hiding in the trees as it skirts its way around the flank of Carncliff Top.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Bolton Abbey to Birstwith 07/07/18

14.3 miles, via Cavendish Pavilion, Bolton Park, Hammerthorn Gate, Hazlewood Moor, 
 Rocking Hall, Rocking Moor, Thrusscross Reservoir, Hanging Moor, RAF Menwith Hill, 
  High Birstwith, and Swarcliffe Top.

It's a bit early in the Summer to start complaining about the heat, but two weeks into a national heatwave, and after two months of having barely functional AC at work, it's all starting to get a bit much for me, but I'm determined to keep my focus on, as getting out and about on the moors will involve less exposure to high temperatures than going through my regular daily routine, and anyway, I have far more interest in doing my own thing than much of the rest of the nation, who are getting themselves all excited by England being in the last eight of the World Cup. So we ride to Wharfedale again, on a Dalesbus that is much less busy than last week's, happy to see some cloud in the sky as we go, alighting at Bolton Abbey at a shade before 11am, only a mile north of where we last travelled from to Nidderdale, but with a complete fresh perspective to take on as we plot another route over the moors, starting out up the driveway to the Bolton Priory ruin and the extent church of St Mary & St Cuthbert. Head on above the dramatic scene of the bowing Wharfe and past the Cavendish memorial fountain to walk down the long driveway to the Riverside car parks, getting a good view up to the way to come on the hillsides beyond the river, and finding that the Bolton Abbey estate is already pretty busy with people as elevenses time lands on the day, though I'll not be visiting the Cavendish pavilion on this occasion either, instead we cross the Wooden bridge among the trippers and cyclists to start our trail to the east. Meet the path up the wooded glade of Stead Dike to reach Bolton Park farm, in the shadow of the looming mass of the South Nab hill, and then hit the rising farm track beyond which will elevate us some 150m up to the moorland edge as the sun beats down, testing my resolve on the early going as the local sheep look on at me as I struggle, but the views that emerge are worth it, over Skipton Moor and Barden Moor, and back to the Priory ruins, and forward to the mass of Hazlewood Moor that is so far unseen. Meet the passage onto the moor at Hammerthorn Gate, above the Nab Hill at 300m up, where we can look back to Addingham High moor and Beamsley Beacon before a gravelled track leads us on into the sea of heather, on a gentle rise before forking left sharply to land us above the moorland valley of Hudson Gill, flowing down to the forests around the Valley of Desolation. Our track evens off a bit at 350m elevation, and we can look north to the company of Barden Fell, with Carncliffe Top, Simon's Seat and Lord's Seat forming the high and rocky features on the horizon, and that's where we were headed this weekend, five years back, on a day equally hot, though we do have sufficient liquid for the journey this time around, as well as enough cloud cover to keep much of the Sun's radiant heat off as we carry on along this shadeless track with the majestic view to its north.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Bolton Bridge to Hampsthwaite 30/06/18

14.2 miles, via Beamsley Hospital, Hazelwood, Kex Gill, Kex Gill Moor, Hall Moor, 
 Blubberhouses, Dangerous Corner, Kettlesing (Head & Bottom), Tang, and Swincliffe.

The weather on walking days in June has certainly been inconsistent, rarely being better than average in terms of heat and temperature, but as the month ends, it seems to have settled into a long sequence of being consistently hot, and so it continues as we reach Phase Two of this High Season's walking plans, having blazed a few fresh trails into the top half of Wharfedale in Phase One, it's now time to start stitching this valley to distant Nidderdale along one of the few local axes so far unexplored in the West Riding. The long days of Summer also allow for late starts and finishes, and we'll being having both of those after riding the crowded Dalesbus all the way from Leeds, and being the only person wanting to alight at the Devonshire Arms at 11.10am, a mere 20 minutes behind schedule, at this most familiar corner of Bolton Bridge, that looks a whole lot brighter than on any of my preceding visits, and steps will be rapidly made away from the pub and teashops on the Bolton Abbey estate with the feeling that I'll pretty much have this walking day to myself. We pass again over the Wharfe via the old Bolton Bridge, noting just how firmly the look of summer has gripped the fields around Red Lion farm and meet the side of the A59 in short order, still mostly closed to traffic after a month, and the red route we will be taking up the passage of Kex Gill, not that its unusual quietness counts for much in the initial climb has a footway for us to pace, in place so local children might be able to walk to the Boyle & Petyt primary school safely. We are soon away from the Wharfe and into the shadow of Beamsley Beacon, rising to our south, following the pavement and bypassed old lane up past Lane Houses farm, Beamsley Hospital again (in much better conditions for photography) and the former Methodist Chapel that is now the Beamsley Project, an accessible holiday property that caters for the disabled, a deeply admirable business that has a grand old setting, among the green fields below the moors. We run past the road to Storiths and lose the footway after a mile to join the lane that runs into Hazlewood, undulating away from the direct course of the A59 and getting some good looks down into the descending Kex Gill as we rise past Laneside Farm, and then drop again at Hill End farm to get back on the main road, which I really could walk in any way I fancied as there is so little traffic that you could choose to pace any part of it. I'll stick with facing the theoretical oncoming traffic as we pass the layby and the clearly twisting path of the old turnpike alignment that has been straightened out by the modern A59, the course we continue along as we rise on the bypass past Summerscales farm, not quite in the crawler lane, but with enough space to avoid the odd boy-racer using the empty road, and the odd police van looking for those stray vehicles that really shouldn't be out here.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Ben Rhydding to Hebden & Burnsall 23/06/18

21 miles, via Denton stones, Middleton, Ling Park, Langbar, Beamsley Hospital, Storiths, 
 Postforth Bridge, Park Plantation, Barden, Barden Moor (Broad Park, Lower Barden 
  Reservoir, Pitshaw, Upper Barden Reservoir, Standard Hill, Burnsall & Thorpe Fell, 
   Hesker Gill), Thorpe, and Hedben bridge & stones.

With an 18+ mile day plotted over much variated terrain in distant Wharfedale, and only one potential bus available to get me home again, it makes good sense to start out as early as possible on the longest available walking day at the top of the year, feeling like we've managed to arrive ahead of this Summer's weather as we disembark the train at Ben Rhydding and make for this station's hidden other exit to start our long day's journey at 8.25am. Our initial steps are down through the suburbia around Valley Road, down Strathmore Road and Wyvil Crescent to get to the passageway to Leeds Road, which is crossed so we can descend to the riverbank and cross the Wharfe via the Denton Stepping stones, a fine idea in theory and they might be slightly less friendly than those at Burley but they present a crossing without terrors until more than halfway across where a gap presents itself, far too wide to stride over and it's far to early to get to paddling and so we have to retreat. Back to Leeds Road to pace the A65 eastwards to pass out of greater Ilkley, as far as Denton Bridge to make our crossing of the Wharfe there, and that's why I'd felt the need to factor in as large a walking window as possible as this feels like its going to add an extra mile on my day as we make our way along Denton Road to the other end of the stone and walk out midstream once again so that I might have touched all of them, without having made a successful transit. So onwards, after that faff around, and hit the rising Carter's Lane to haul us uphill past Beckfoot farm and on to some fine emerging views to the southwest as we run on steeply to meet Westville House school, which must have a particular reason for it's odd location and large size, at the corner where the road levels out to pass through Middleton, where suburban houses with fine views have settled by the roadside in a distinctly rural landscape. Pass among the local farms, both active and holiday residential, to meet the corner with Hunger Hill and the very top of expensive suburban Ilkley where pricey bungalows face the rising fields below the high moors, and views down to the town and the panorama presented by Rombalds Moor and the rising high southern side of Wharfedale will keep us company as we progress onwards, the straight line of Slates Lane only being interrupted by the wooded cleft of a descending beck that has created someone a particularly good garden feature. The mind starts to feel a bit lost as to our location as we move on along Hardings Lane, but soon get a fix as we spot ourselves behind Myddelton Lodge, and the farm buildings associated to it, last seen 5 years ago after my trip up Beamsley Beacon, which gives me my orientation back as we start to ascend again, rising to meet 200m elevation and spotting an oft heard but rarely seen Wren in a hedge, and noting the most enormous Hare grazing away in a neighbouring field.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Bolton Abbey to Embsay & Skipton 17/06/18

A ride on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, 
 plus 3.1 miles, via Haw Park and Skipton Woods.

It's been a while since I did a walk ending on a preserved railway, not since visiting the K&WVR in October 2013, and as I've done more than my fair share of lamenting the passing of the former Midland Railway line of 1888 from Ilkley to Skipton, it makes sense that I should make use of what remains of it while I'm in the vicinity, and it's a good treat for me for Father's Day, if you ignore the lack of children but to factor in the advance of middle age. So to the trains at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, and I'm lucky that it's a two train day as the 3pm departure from Bolton Abbey station is due to leave and I board with barely enough time to see what is hauling it, though I do know it's a diesel in BR blue, departing the modest distance to the west through a landscape of quarries to the south and views to the flank of Barden Moor to the north, taking this ride in British Railways Mk 1 corridor stock, which I'm old enough to remember still being in use on BR back in the day. Features along the way are the Stoneacre Loop, established in 1991, where we pass the signal box and the steam service heading in the opposite direction, and also Holywell Halt, the line's terminus from 1987, where the Craven Fault can be viewed, as well as the Holy Well, I'd assume, taken in on the 20 minute ride to Embsay which has been the base of the railway's operations since 1979 and publicly operational since 1981, home to its sheds and workshops, and very nicely preserved with many of its original MR features enduring. Disembark to see what's hauling us, a BR English Electric Type 3, 37294, which soon runs around and then takes us back from whence we came, passing the steam service again and thinking it looks like a Caley Tank, before we roll into Bolton Abbey again, where we can have a poke around the site that has been open since 1998 and is now in the midst of having its island platform rebuilt, letting the diesel service depart before we examine the stock parked up here. The line almost has an unparalleled collection of Hunslet and Hudswell Clarke Industrial locomotives, all Leeds built and in various states of viability, including line stalwart Wheldale, parked up and awaiting funding for its revival, and then the steam train arrives, hauled by Taff Vale Railway O2 class 85, actually a Welsh locomotive but Scottish built in 1899 and a real survivor having been in colliery use for over 40 years after withdrawal by the GWR in the 1920s. This visitor from the K&WVR can haul us back on the last train of the day, as I had promised myself a steam train ride, even if we get double headed by the Class 37 for the very last leg as we run into Embsay at 5.40pm feeling like I got my money's worth on my £11 ticket, having fitted in a there and back, and there again into my two and a half hours on the E&BASR.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Burley in Wharfedale to Bolton Abbey station 17/06/18

13.4 miles, via Greenholme Mill, Askwith, Hundwith Beck, Denton Moor, Lippersley Ridge,
 Stainforth Gill Head, Gawk Hall Ridge, Middleton Moor Enclosure, Round Hill, Fell Side,
  Kex Beck, Hazlewood, Storiths, Bolton Abbey, and Bolton Bridge.

Six years ago, on 16th June 2012, and after taking a frightening soaking on the trail between Horton and Kettlewell, I learned what might have been my important walking lesson, namely 'If you're planning to walk a long and remote trail on a day that promises lots of inclement weather, Don't.', and that came lesson cam around again this year as the height of June once again failed to bring the weather that you'd hope it should, and I took the choice to hibernate whilst rain fell over the distant hills of Wharfedale. Not that a weekend will be lost to such things, and a reshuffling of the schedule brings up the other trip for the top of the year, over a slightly more modest distance and not quite so far away, which makes it ideal for a Sunday, even if the rail services don't allow me to make the super early start I might have wanted as the earliest I can get to my jumping off point at Burley in Wharfedale is 9.35am, which has the clock ticking for us even before any steps have been made. As the only way north to the moors is via the stepping stones, our route choice has to be creative to see a different face of Burley, which means starting off down Prospect Road, Hasley Road and St Philip's Way to get my fill of the local suburbia of council houses and many bungalows before we meet the more engaging landscape of terraces down Lawn Avenue on our way to meet Main Street, which is located from down the narrow land behind the Lawn House residential home. Cross to meet Iron Row, a very nicely presented terrace that sits on the former driveway to Greenholme Mill, which now provide access beyond the mill gates to the local playing fields and the passageway bathed in orange light below the A65 bypass road, from which we meet the lodge house and the way to the former Worsted mills, which isn't the way we need to go as our route leads us down Great Pasture Lane to the very oddly located cluster of semis and the way into the woods at the mill's perimeter. This popular track for local joggers and dog walkers leads us to the track alongside the mill's long goit channel, and the way to the Burley steeping stones, our passage point over the Wharfe which is looking pretty busy after yesterday's rains, even though these are not stones to intimidate anyone when crossing as they sit at a nice stride length across, even for a short-arse like myself. The way then leads to Askwith, but by the bridleway this time around, elevating us away from the noise of the river, and the A65 eventually, as we trace a path away from the local cattle and among the sheep as the moorland rises boldly on the southern horizon, while offering no distant elevation at all to the north, hitting the village by the Manor House farm, and showing up the Askwith Arm as currently up for sale and offering a unique business opportunity for anyone who'd want to run a country pub and restaurant in a not too distant corner of North Yorkshire.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Addingham to Grassington 09/06/18

17 miles, via Farfield Hall, Lob Wood, Bolton Bridge, Bolton Abbey, Westy Bank Wood, 
 Hare Head Side, Barden Moor (Halton Moor, Brayshaw, & Embsay Moor), Sun Moor Hill, 
  Rylstone, Cracoe, Swinden Quarry, & Linton.

It's been a long time coming, having had two excursions that could have been considered preamble, but the High Season is finally here, which means its time of to start pushing the mileage and to make the most of the long days that the middle of the year brings, so naturally the hot and bright days of Maytime have passed, to be replaced with conditions that are somewhat gloomier, which shouldn't come as a surprise after six years of walking. Also I'm not in the best of nick after walking last Sunday, as a haul of 16 miles followed by five days of solid work and then another long trail is never the best way to organise yourself, without factoring in necessary rest, so as the High Season comes around, my body is ready to rest, but after taxing days at work, by brain needs to exercise and so that desire wins out and I board early buses to ride out to Addingham, not the swiftest way to travel, but easily the cheapest as Metrocarding the #51 and X84 costs me literally nothing. The day starts by the Memorial Hall at 9.20am, and I've done my share of lamenting the loss of the railway between Ilkley and Skipton, so for starters today, we shall set out from where the railway station used to stand, easily located by heading south up Stockinger Lane and then switching back onto the old formation where Mount Pleasant and the old folks flats now reside on the site of the goods shed, to meet Old Station Way where literally nothing but a green space occupies the site with nothing but a name to advertise its presence. Then it's down to see where the bridge once crossed Main Street, and to find the remnant of its abutment by the gardens on Sugar Hill, a lane that can lead us out into the local greenery and on to Back Beck Lane where a substantial feature endures, Bridge 55, preserved and still looking as fresh as it did when built by the Midland Railway in 1888, and one that may one day see trains return to it if the Embsay & Bolton Abbey railway ever extend their line back to Addingham. Trot down past the Primary school and get on track as we join Bolton Road and head northwards into our tour of Upper Wharfedale, rising through the suburban edge of the village and beyond as we make our way past the High Mill caravan park and stay alert to the behaviour of the oncoming traffic on the B6160 as we pace the tree lined lane and look up to Beamsley Beacon, back in the landscape from this side of the river. Farfield Hall is the first main feature of the day, well hidden by the trees along the road and flanked by its parklands of High and Low Park (names which now make more sense in context), the house only briefly glimpsed from the road before it slips into an stone lined cutting, emerging by the Farfield Quaker chapel, incidentally providing a fine illustration of why the Dales Way preferred to come this way via the riverbank.