Sunday, 3 March 2019

Morley to Huddersfield 02/03/19

11.9 miles, via Upper Batley, Batley, Healey, Heckmondwike, Norristhorpe, Roberttown, 
 Cooper Bridge, Bradley, Deighton, and Leeds Road. 

As I've said just about every year since we started this walking malarkey, 'March Means Serious Business' and with the events of the last month finally behind us, it's time to get back into the routine of getting adventurous and exercised with every weekend, and despite the unseasonal warmth of February being behind us now, the first burst of False Spring having passed, it's time to strike a bit further away from home, finding ourselves actually a week ahead of my considered schedule thanks to getting four trips out in my extra week off work. So we set a course for the heart of Kirklees district, as that's where I'm intending on spending most of this year, making my second trip from Morley towards Huddersfield, to hopefully prove it's a lot closer to home than I found it to be in 2014, and as variety is the spice of life, we'll start out from Morley Hole as it's got a sign that's every bit as good as the one on Queen Street, and it isn't nearly as uphill to get there from my flat, and it also gives me a chance to approach another couple of roads that haven't dropped on the schedule thus far. Away at 9.05am, in the hope of getting the trip done before the weather turns, heading up the A643 Bruntcliffe Lane between the terraces and bungalows as far as the Corporation Street corner, where we turn uphill directly into the low morning sun, passing among the suburban semis and noting that the warm spell has gotten the daffodils and crocuses flowering already to give a feeling of Spring while the trees hang barren, passing behind the Leisure Centre and the view over Morrison's down to the town hall, and past the civic quarter where the medical centre, firehouse and police station all dropped. Our fresh route ends as we pass St Francis of Assisi RC church and land on the island with the coal wagon on it between the Fountain Centre, the Working Men's Club and the former railway goods shed, before joining the B6123 Fountain Street, to pass over the lost GNR Morley Top route and then follow the exact same route that we last paced to get to Huddersfield a mere 5 (five!) years ago.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Remembering and Memorialising My Dad 23/02/19

After my bonus week off, and after another back in work (where the considerations made for me by the management and supervisory staff after suffering my bereavement have been superlative and due the highest amount of public gratitude), the family can all reconvene back in Leicester to publicly memorialise and commemorate My Dad, four weeks after his passing. It will only be a flying visit for myself, but My Sister and My Nieces have been Down Country for a chunk of half term week to aid My Mum with catering preparations and to get cake baked in vast quantities so that all the attendees for the Memorial Service at Abbots Road URC won't run the risk of being underfed. As they've also taken on the task of doing the AV presentations, by scanning countless photographic prints and collating them all in a digital collection, as well as printing the orders of service, I'm left with not a great deal to do come Saturday morning, which puts me in the situation of being the muscle for laying out the church hall for the buffet, and the tables and chairs are a lot easier to handle than the ones that we used to put out when organising so many church socials way back in the day, when we'd somehow seat 100+ people in the church hall. So seats are laid out for 54, which still manages to fill the hall, and we've got a lot of organisation in hand once the church social group start to arrive to do what some have them have been doing for 50 years now, and I create such a familiar shape moving around furniture and laying tables that at least three people greet me with a genial 'Good Morning, Dave!' before realising their error and apologising profusely, not that I'm going to take offense, as making myself physically useful is probably the best way paying tribute to My Dad, as that was always his thing too. I also give the approval to the using beakers from my parents' overly vast collection as a personal touch for circulating brews, and when the idea is hatched for letting people take them away as a personal memento, I'll approve that too, as that's an excellent way of getting rid of two cardboard crates of them and not having to worry about disposing of them later down the line. After set up is done, I'll retreat to the quiet of the church for the hour before the service is due to start, and sit alone watching the slide show that we set up for the occasion, seeing so many images of Dad from my youth that make me realise that I'd really forgotten about that man that had been a father to me after he'd become older, memories obscured as he became unwell and frail in his later years, which gets me feeling deeply nostalgic and actually realising just how badly I miss him, because it really has been such a long time since I last saw him in rude health, physically busy and in perpetually good cheer.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Wakefield to Batley 16/02/19

7.1 miles, via Westgate End, New Scarborough, Alverthorpe, Kirkhamgate, West Ardsley, 
 Soothill, and Batley Mill. 

The Sun continues to shine down unseasonably as we finally land at the end of my long break away from work, and as no social plans have been made for this weekend, getting in a bonus round of walking seems wise, especially as for the first time since before August Bank Holiday weekend last year, we have Northern Trains running a full slate of services having finally settled their beef with the RMT with an entirely predictable agreement to not downgrade the status of conductors, which will hopefully make my walking plans for 2019 much easier to complete. Not that I'll be using their services for any part of today's trip, as all my rides will come courtesy of TPE and LNER (no, not that one) and I don't get many opportunities to ride the King's Cross express as a local service so I'll take it when it comes, landing me at Westgate station at 10.05am, and setting off towrdas the last route to bring me into this town, but shifting down Back Lane to give me a slightly different perspective as we pass between the snazzy Unitarian chapel and the Orangery, a very disused arts centre. Then we pass under the elevated platforms of the station and get a perspective on it that show up more of its original Victorian form, of which so little remains above after two redevelopments in the last 50 years, and then it's on into the shadow of the walls of HMP Wakefield, the more contemporary end of it, where the CCTV surely observes me passing as I wave my camera about before we can emerge onto Westgate End, by the prison's tied houses and set off west with the A642 once again. However we  get a different set of views by pacing in front of the terraces of Morton Parade, with Ings Beck running in a deep channel before them to create surprising waterfront living in the heart of the city, and the path really ought to continue on past Plumpton Terrace too, but it ruins into a vacant lot so we have to double back a bit to regain the roadside and join Alverthorpe Road as it peels off by St Michael's church and the snooker hall.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Wakefield to Morley 15/02/19

8.6 miles, via Kirkgate, St John's, Wrenthorpe, Carr Gate, East Ardsley, Black Gates, 
 Tingley, Birks, Morley Top, and Morley Hole.

Take a day out of my schedule when Thursday of my bonus week comes along, because there's a lot of housework that needs attention after too many days of it getting neglected whilst I was elsewhere, and during my rest day, the weather seems to have settled into another of those sessions of unseasonal warmth that a friend of mine calls 'False Spring', giving you the impression that winter has ended early when it will soon return as a month or more of it still remains to go. Nonetheless, sunshine and blue skies abound as we return to Wakefield to complete the final leg of the local triangle that I'd planned for this week, arriving later than planned as my train needed a repair job before it set off for Kirkgate station, and we don't get off the platforms until after 10.20 am, because this place still suffers the problem of having to walk an ungodly distance to get off it when arriving on a southbound train. So north-westwards and homeward will be the order of the day, pacing off up Monk Street among the many flats blocks on a course for the town centre, still noting that the building that we have to walk under by the A61 island is still derelict, but the subway down through the roundabout to Kirkgate proper has gone and we can now burn across it at street level, a welcome development to make the station seem that bit less isolated and unfriendly. The east end of the town centre arrives as we pace up Kirkgate, among some of the more low rent stores of the town, in that shadow of that trio of residential tower blocks with their stepped sides and pitched roofs that are a bit of a local design classic, shifting away from the parades of eateries and taverns as we join Westmorland Street and head up towards the open public square at the junction of Union Street and Bull Ring, pacing along with the spire of the cathedral looming large over the rooftops to the south. Northgate itself will be our route out of town, just to the north of the Town and County Halls, which both peek above the roofs of the diminishing shops and offices along this lane, which gradually turn to runs of imposing townhouses as the city centre ends and we settle onto the A61 as we shift through the Victorian suburbia and meet the rather upscale district of St John's.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Dewsbury to Wakefield 13/02/19

6.8 miles, via Earlsheaton, Chickenley, Ossett, Roundwood, Borough Corner, 
 Westgate Common and Westgate End. 

The second day of local strolling in the bonus week off work takes us back to Dewsbury by hopping the local train for a 9.40am start, before the day has started to really warm through so opening steps will be feeling a touch chilly, and the legs might take a while to get the muscles feeling loose as after two plus weeks of doing really very little exercise, the calves are feeling tight and sore and this week will prove useful for getting them back in order as much as my brain needs its headspace illuminated. Onward, then, across the Ring Road from the station, and down Bond Street, noting that Dewsbury is a fine town for landmark buildings on acute corner ends, descending down to cross Northgate, where the shops seem rather quiet at this time of the morning, and proceed on over the old Market Place, avoiding the charity panhandlers as we make our way over to the Town Hall square, home to the infamous chundering statue, with the Town Hall itself looming large above, giving Morley a contender in the 'Grand Edifice in Town that's Really Too Small for it' stakes. Meet the bottom of Wakefield Old Road and ascend up it to the Ring Road, carrying the impression of the town that existed before it was extensively bypassed, and set the trajectory off to the east as Wakefield Road sets off uphill, at a slightly friendlier pitch than Leeds Road, passing over the Kirklees Way route and the lost railway tunnel as it rises above the old Ridings Colliery site and past various derelicts and houses that suggest an age when there was more activity by the sides of this lane, which we split off from as the A638 doesn't offer the best route on to Wakefield. Shift on to High Road as it rises over the woods that conceal a lost corner of old Earlsheaton, including its lost parish church, and note that the other side of the road has brought up the contemporary villas with a view for looking towards Thornhill and across Kirklees district, reaching the top of the hill that has the walkable railway tunnel running beneath it, past the Park Inn and the former non-conformist chapel to follow Town Street past the village green and the Spangled Bull(!?) at the heart of Earlsheaton village.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Morley to Dewsbury 12/02/19

5.1 miles, via Birks, Tingley Common, Woodkirk, Chidswell, Shaw Cross, and Eastborough.

The 2019 season gets underway, later than I'd intended but earlier than expected after the recent unfortunate turns of events, and we'll start my eighth season of walking by staying close to home, as a look at my cumulative map of all my walking years has shown up rather too many blank spaces to the south of Morley, places that I'd thought I'd seen in detail over the years, but it turns out I hadn't, so doing that during an extra week off work seems like absolutely the best thing to do. We could have gotten an earlier start but the appeal of a lie in was strong, and thus we don't get to the start line at Morley Town Hall, by the Metro sign at the top of the pedestrianised run of Queen Street until 10.20am, with the day still feeling glum and chill as we head down the route south, immediately making note of  Beryl Burton Gardens, off to the west side, having noted correctly her cycling prowess and Yorkshire status when I passed through Knaresborough in 2017, but failed to note that she only rode from that town, and that she was actually a daughter of this borough. That puts her in the same bracket of local notability as former PM HH Asquith, and also Ernie Wise whose statue we'll also pass as we make out of the town centre to South Queen Street, past the New Pavilion theatre and the back of St Pauls church, before meeting the High Street - Bridge Street island where the railway viaduct used to pass overhead on the run into Morley Top station, and then we press on through the district of town that amusingly goes by the name of Birks before running past the bus terminus and the buildings of Tingley Mill, that have finally been given the clean up and residential makeover that they've been due for a long damn time. Cross Bradford Road and make out of town with suburbia for company as the A6029 Rein Road take us out over the M62, teasing views over Kirklees district as we go, passing the Woodkirk academy and grazing the edge of the estates of Tingley Common before we meet the A653 Dewsbury Road, which will carry us on our way for most of this morning's trip, joining its south-westwards course past the Bulls Head and down hill as we move into the shadow of the former railway embankments of the GNR to the north of the former Woodkirk station. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Out of The Dark Season & Onwards!

Don the New Togs
for Season #8!
Having returned home to Morley after Dad's funeral, and having steeled myself to return to work after two weeks absence, I checked my work e-mail on Sunday evening and received an unexpected piece of good news, finding that I had been granted an additional week of compassionate leave by my department mangers at the hospital as half of the time that I was away was pre-booked annual leave, and they'd figured it polite to grant me the extra time off. For this I am massively grateful, for I might moan about my bosses in my line of work (who doesn't?) but with matters regarding my bereavement they have really come though for me, and thus I've got a whole sequence of available days to get my eighth walking season going when I'd figured that it would be postponed until the start of March, after we've all reconvened in Leicester for Dad's memorial service on the 23rd February. So, now we can look forward to returning to the trail, having used the Monday of this week to travel into work to update my supervisors and colleagues on what's been going on these last couple of weeks, and to show my best brave face as we face an unknown future for the first time in a long time, and I can grind the mental gears to give 2019's walking season some sort of shape. I've certainly spent the off season preparing for it, having acquired new boots for my birthday, pair #7, which allows pair #6 to go into semi-retirement as my Leicestershire footwear (replacing the utterly ruined pair #5), usable during the inevitable breaks Down Country as I travel to visit My Mum and start the long process of clearing away so much stuff accumulated by My Dad over the years. I also acquired a bunch of fresh gear, getting two new jackets to replace the ones that have seen so many miles, including the one that I got off My Sister some 18 years ago, picking the new ones for low cost from TK Maxx and sending the old ones to the Christmas charity drive at St George's Crypt, Leeds's most notable homeless shelter. I've already told you about my sock acquisition exploits, now having ten pairs to go with both sets of boots, which will hopefully protect me from sole blistering grief in the coming season, and also got myself a new gillet and wicking vest, care of My Sister as a Christmas gift that will hopefully do as many years of service as their predecessors, with to only kit not getting added to being any new trousers, as my 2005 pair still endure against all the odds while newer pairs really start to show their age.