Sunday, 26 April 2015

Leeds to Wetherby 25/04/15

16 miles, via Harehills, Roundhay Park, Shadwell, Scarcroft, Bardsey & Collingham.

Time to blaze a fresh trail across the city of Leeds, and even when only a short distance into the season, the destinations are starting to repeat themselves, so set course for Wetherby for third time, departing Leeds station at 9.05am, through the Aire Street Entrance and heading in the apparently wrong direction so I might make my way, via Park Place and Park Square, to the western end of the city centre so that I might traverse Westgate, the Headrow and Eastgate all in one go, a lot of familiar Leeds sights thus checked off the list in one easy stroll. Depart the city centre under New York Road and out via Mabgate, the still faintly industrial and utterly forgotten ancient route out of the city to the north east, now twice surpassed. Follow the rising route below the Lincoln Green towers, along the pleasantly named but rather glum Cherry Row and Dolly Lane, around the back of St James's hospital and hitting the A58 Roundhay Road alongside the Bayswater terraces. Again the route northwards proves to be an uphill slog that I had forgotten to expect, taking in many large terraces and side streets of Harehills before passing the shopping parade at Harehills corner and possibly the most famous road junction in the city at Fforde Green corner. Meeting the edge of Gledhow, and the edge of Gipton Woods gives the going a more suburban character before going full on posh at the Oakwood shopping parade, then joining the perimeter of Roundhay Park, followed along Park Lane and West Avenue before descending down to the boathouse cafĂ©, and joining the throng as I make my trail around the western edge of Waterloo Lake. Enter Great Heads wood, and enjoy the relative peace and quiet as the beck is followed to the edge of the park, departing across the A6120 ring Road, and out across the fields on path that has the look of a burgeoning cycle track over to Shadwell. The bridleway is followed from Brandon Royd farm to Hall farm, everything in the immediate area having some relation to Brandon, taking the quiet lanes to join Tarn Lane to carefully pace the verge against the unexpected traffic, to find that my chosen path around Scarcroft is blocked as Syke Lane is getting resurfaced.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Egerton to Chorley 18/04/15

12 miles, via Belmont, Spitlers Edge, Great Hill, White Coppice & Knowley.

Time for a jaunt to the other side of the Pennines to see My Sister and her family, and travelling without a plan for where we might travel in the West Pennines, so it's always a refreshing idea to set out without a clear destination, on a route improvised as we go. Dr G will be taking care of my nieces needs for the morning, so My Sister and I can set out at 9.25am, departing Egerton by a familiar path, heading out to the track up Longworth Clough, previously traced in late summer 2012, and showing a different face this time around. I'd favoured a trip over the more elevated paths to Belmont, but too much road walking on dubiously narrow and poorly sighted lanes has that track nixed, instead travlling along the beck, past the gradually diminishing former paper mill, and up to the farm tracks that lead over to the A675 Belmont Road. Not heading up onto Winter Hill today, where I'd thought about attacking some of the lateral paths on the Rivington side, instead pushing along the main road into Belmont, one of those villages that clings to the last bit of cultivatable land on the moorland edge, whilst showing signs of Victorian prosperity via its ridiculously over-sized parish church. Moorland walking follows, and I think all of this years High Moors wandering will go on in the West Pennines, following the rough track up Sharples Higher End, crossing the 300m contour without to much effort thanks to the gentle rise of the terrain, my legs not feeling punished after so much action in Yorkshire's low lands. From the Rivington Road junction, trackless walking starts in earnest, rising to Horden Pasture on the access land, and even though no recognised right of way sits here, it's clearly a well used trail, though the bogginess isn't welcome above Anshaw Clough, but rewards are the views that emerge across the yellowed grass as we rise to Spitlers Edge. A paved path comes into use as we descend to cross Redmonds Edge, which makes crossing the higher reaches of Anglezarke Moor a whole lot less challenging, and the final rise of our walk leads to Great Hill, which hides its 381m elevation well from this angle, but reveals much as it is crowned.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Knottingley to Selby 11/04/15

14.8 miles, via Beal, Chapel Haddlesey and the Selby Canal path.

Set course for the alternate trail to the coast, disembarking at Knottingley at 9.35am, and choosing my path eastwards carefully so as not to retrace steps through the town, as traced last year, so make for Headlands Lane, crossing the railway at the throat of Knottingley MPD, and turning onto Spawd Bone Lane, shadowing the line and still not giving me a handle on this puzzling of town. Over the level crossing at Womersley Lane, and follow the footpath across rough ground to the Springfields estate, meeting the A645 Weelands Road, to make my way out of this town of glassworks, council estates and hidden farmsteads, crossing the Goole line of the Aire & Calder navigation, and making for Dole Bank Junction, meeting the original alignment of the A&C and setting my sights to Selby. Canal shortly ends at Dole Bank Lock, where the lock-keepers house just call out to be loved, and whilst the rights of way along the flatlands of the Aire seem to suggest routes across the fields, the paths on the ground steer you carefully onto the flood embankment to give you the easiest possible going. Flat lands don't offer the best protection from the wind unfortunately, so pacing comes on to keep the warmth in as attention drifts towards Kellingley Colliery, one of the last pair of deep mines in the county, whilst more distantly eyes fix on Eggborough power station, whose changing perspective will keep us amused during all our time on the Aire banks. Also worthy of note is the flood management schemes, ideal to be inundated and contained when the Aire gets swollen, which it hasn't done in the last 7 years or so. Detour into Beal via the farm track when the path gets too busy with sheep, passing by the Jenny Wren and the Kings Arms pubs to get to see Beal bridge, a rare crossing point, and finding my way back to path by Beal Lock and weir, the lock house here is still occupied. Plough on along the bank, as it winds its way along, cutting one corner when to loops get silly, looking over to Birkin and Kellington churches on the horizon, whilst seeing Eggborough Power station gradually coming closer, and despite some welcome evidence of boating, I'm disappointed that there's none of the advertised water-skiing going on along the straights.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Pontefract to Garforth 06/04/15

12.3 miles via Fryston, Fairburn, Ledsham, Ledston & Kippax.

Easter Monday turns out to be a glorious day, which is why the weather forecasters suggested dark clouds for the duration and I'm dressed in anticipation of wintery conditions as I continue my quest to visit every railway station in West Yorkshire as I disembark at Pontefract Tanshelf station at 9.50am. North, and around the perimeter of Pontefract colliery we head, once again, seeing how redevelopment is starting to nibble on the site, moving onto Skinner Lane, crossing the railway line into Monkhill and seeing new roads have been cut across the spoil tip, following on the perimeter fence next to the housing estate of at least three vintages, before following the bridleway that hugs the site edge, evidence of a much older route consumed by industry. This surprise greenery leads up Ridgeley hill and then sharply down to Spittal Hardwick Lane, which leads under the M62, soon branching off on the bridleway to Fairy Hill Farm, and on into the bottom end of the Townville estate, on the eastern edge of Castleford. Urban walking continues beyond Sheepwalk Lane, through the Fryston Estate, mostly along Kendal Drive and Watling Road, confirming my belief that anywhere can look good in nice weather, but not finding any suggestion of whether Fryston Park is accessible or not. Paths lead me out into the fields and next to the Castleford - Burton Salmon line, dropping down to the side of the River Aire, and then ascending the steps that are bolted to the side of the railway viaduct, once having provided access to the various collieries for Castleford's miners. From the north bank, we are momentarily on familiar territory before heading on up the path between the lakes of Fairburn Ings nature reserve, passing on into the village, and soon out again through Caudle Hill wood to be greeted with a fantastic view the whole way across West Yorkshire, all the way to Emley Moor, Holme Moss and the Calderdale fringe, a wholly unexpected viewpoint at only 40m elevation.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Tadcaster to Pannal 04/04/15

15.2 miles, via Thorpe Arch, Wetherby & Spofforth.

Resuming the trail on the 1848-1964 Church Fenton to Harrogate line, we start out from Tadcaster at 9.50am, and start of along the north bank of the Wharfe, so the first couple of miles of this railway walk will actually be river walking, as the extent formation to the south is fragmented with the river proving to be an insurmountable barrier. Beyond Mill Lane we can get one railway relic in though, the 1849 viaduct built for a projected line to York, which was never completed and hasn't had a proper use since, and then the trail strikes on along the riverbank until the grounds of Healaugh Manor get in the way and Wighill Lane has to be paced as far as the site of the abandoned village of Easdike. Return down to the riverside to skirt the edge of many fields, with the Wharfe at my left, sometimes below the crumbling banks and sometimes hidden behind the flood embankments and piles of accumulated driftwood, this couple of miles eventually past the sewage farm, bringing us back to the railway alignment, and the Thorpe Arch Viaduct, a sad looking mix of tone and steel, which must surely be crying out for redemption as every river crossing in these parts must be considered valuable. Rise onto the formation for a short while before slipping across the rough ground at the back of the Thorpe Arch Trading Estate, descending to the perimeter road to join the Wetherby Railway path, another triumph for Sustrans which we will accompany for the middle part of the day. Cyclepath and bridleway shadow the alignment to the site of Thorpe arch station, where the goods shed is still visible in the station house's garden, before descending to track level through a mile of stone lined cutting, know as Dave's Mile, dedicated to one of Sustran's most committed members, and it is a lovely bit of preservation work. Pass the keepers cottages at the Walton Road crossing, continuing along the alignment as it parallels the edge of Wetherby Racecourse, before passing under the A1 (M) and A168 and moving along Freemans Way and down a short ginnel before the alignment comes to an abrupt halt at the missing bridge on York Road.