Sunday, 31 May 2015

Wakefield Way #1 - Wintersett to Bretton Park 30/05/15

14.8 miles, via Haw Park, Walton Common, Newmillerdam, Notton & Woolley.

Official trails means Selfies!
at Anglers Country Park
Still May, eh? This is the month that just keeps giving, and a good cue is given to start on the next scheme for 2015, using the top of the year (already!) for the fifth and final of the West Yorkshire circular trails, the Wakefield Way, and it has to go down this year as it's been on my last three to-do lists. Time to get familiar with the district's buses on the course of this trail, riding out to the hamlet of Wintersett on the #196 for a start after 9.30am, not the most auspicious of start points but a half mile short of the official start at Anglers Country park, and that's not an extra mile along Haw Park Lane that I can be certain of walking twice. Fresh Spring weather will be the order of the day as the lane is taken between the ACP and Wintersett reservoir, heading into Haw Park woods, for nice broad woodland tracks for most of the way until a very sketchy route directs us to the towpath of the Barnsley canal, eventually. Not always keen on retracing old paths, but I'll make an exception for this one, as Walton Park cutting might be my favourite place in the county (no, really), and that send us onto Sike Lane and to Rose farm before hitting the field boundaries on Walton Common, passing over the old North Midland mainline and along the lane so named to the descending path through the barley down to the beck crossing and then uphill through fields of rapeseed to the microwave mast on Gallows Hill.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Leeds to Wakefield 25/05/15

11.3 miles, via Clarence Dock, Rothwell, Stanley and Pinder's Fields.

Back to the West Riding after my jollies, and time for a change of focus after spending most of the first four months of the season in the lands to the north-east of Leeds, it's now time to head into the heart of Wakefield district for the height of the walking year, and using Bank Holiday Monday to cut a new trail between those two cities seems a good way to start. It's a modest distance, so we don't need an early start, departing Leeds station via the New Station Street entrance at 10.35am, taking the steps down to the passage along the side of the railway arches to Lower Briggate, mostly for the sake of variety, before hitting Call Lane to make for the Centenary footbridge (not sure which one it celebrates) over the River Aire to Brewery Wharfe. It's longer a virtual ghost town, last decade's residential developments having now filled up, but it lacks the neighbouring Tetley Brewery these days, and the trip through early 21st century city living continues as I cross Crown Point Road to walk through the Clarence Dock development, which sits well around the old canal wharf but fails to stimulate the senses as it seems to have been constructed in the same shade of grey as the sky. Student living now sits at the top of Clarence Road in the form of Liberty Dock, but light industry and post-industrial wastelands soon take over this outer edge of Hunslet, dominating the landscape from the A61 South Accommodation Road flyover and down Atkinson Street and National Road, all looking like its waiting for development of some kind to come this way.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Beverley to Kingston upon Hull 22/05/15

11.6 miles, via Beverley Beck and the River Hull.

Having not had to drop any days from my schedule on my Trail to the Coast has left me with a day free for a bonus walk, and it makes sense to make for the East Riding's other coast, and to the big city too, not least because a red route presents itself to guide me through this flat landscape. So get an early start from Beverley station at 9.15am, and I'll allow myself a few moments to admire the canopy roof, signal box and station house before moving away down Armstrong Way, and on to Flemingate, where the former industrial sites are getting redeveloped into a new shopping centre, which suggests that this town is in definitely in good health. This leads me to Beckside, now free of the road works that had blighted it all week (finally allowing view of the statue of a dock worker), and beyond lies Beverley Beck, the tidal channel which brought to outside word to the town for many centuries, canalised in 1802 and fuelling the relative industrial boom of the town in that period. Once even boatbuilding took place along this riverside, but now all the signs of industry have passed, the beck forming a starting point for leisure boating and the warehouse and dock buildings having gone to be replaced by apartments and a mid range waterside redevelopment, 'like Bruges' according to my Mother, but all feeling a bit airless and inert to me. Push on along recently developed path on the north side, under the A1174 relief road and into the countryside, thankfully on the other side of the beck from the anglers but having to negotiate the narrow road between boatyard and council depot, leading on to the crossing of the Beverley & Barmston drain, and passing across the flood lock at the small marina at the beck's end.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Beverley to Hornsea 20/05/15

16.7 miles, via Hull Bridge, Leven, Catwick & Sigglesthorne.

Only my fourth night away of my jollies, and already I'm on the last leg of my Trail to the Coast, which seemed like a serious undertaking when conceived during the winter, but now the sea lies only a few miles away across the flatlands of Holderness (or maybe not, that district might be to the south of my trail for today). A 9.35am start is due at Beverley station, but before the trail turns east, a large section of this town centre ought to be examined, taking my path down Trinity Lane, past the Masonic lodge, and to the bottom of Eastgate for a walk around the Minster Yard, taking a look at the outsize parish church which shows the town's medieval significance, before making my way up Highgate, and past the Wednesday Market Place, still setting out its stalls as we pass. Up the main drag of Butcher Row and Toll Gavel, showing the Georgian face of Beverley's second prosperous phase, passing the Saturday Market Place, and on to the other pair of Medieval relics, St Mary's church, which would be a proud parish church in any other town, and the 15th century brick Toll Bar, still with a main road running through its narrow entrance. Historical touring done, it's time to make for Norwood road, finally setting course for the coast and closing my loop around the town, crossing my previous path and following the passage of the A1035 over the railway and among the outer suburbs to cross the relief road and make my way along the shared use track alongside Beverley Meadows, which still functions as the town's common land. Break off the main road at Hull Bridge, taking the old road alignment to the original site of the crossing of the River Hull, replaced in 1976 after two centuries of use, and we turn to the bankside by the Crown & Anchor, rising onto the flood embankment and passing away for the noise of the roads to enjoy a leisurely, and long, walk at the riverside with fields for company and the town slowly receding from view.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Market Weighton to Beverley 18/05/15

12.2 miles, via Kiplingcotes and Cherry Burton (The Hudson Way)

It's raining, but the fortitude of the hardened walker has me setting out regardless (and wondering when that became the norm), with My Parents dropping me off at Market Hill in Market Weighton for a 10am start, and after a brief tour past the Londesborough Arms and All Saints church, the path is set to the site of the old railway station, where four lines of the NER once converged and now nothing at all remains. The ongoing route to Beverley does endure however, once the 1865 NER line, and in use for 100 years exactly, now forming the multi use Hudson Way, named after George, the infamous railway entrepreneur, MP and criminal, even though this line was constructed long after his fall from favour. Once away from prosaic redevelopment of Aspen Close and its public park, we have a rail trail to follow for most of the day's trekking, immediately setting off into the shade of trees, ideal for keeping the worst of the rain off, and rising gently along Goodmanham Wold, the change of scenery becoming immediately apparent when we meet the Red Lane overbridge. Even a gentle rise feels challenging after 20 miles of level walking, and so note is regularly taken down to Mill Beck and up to the rising Wolds as we pass the natural spring at St Helen's Well and cross over the Wolds Way at the missing underbridge on Goodmanham Dale Road. Tree cover passes, replaced by dense hedges, not offering any view at all of the route previously travelled, but rising hills of rough grass immediately shows up the Wolds profile, feeling like moorland even though we are nowhere near even the 100m contour, and the going distance becomes hard to perceive through this terrain, my inability to check my map because of the rain not helping matters any. Exposed chalk in the Kiplingcotes quarry nature reserve puts some more of the landscape character on display before lamenting the loss of the Southwold farm underbridge and not being able to get any kind of profile on the towering bridge over Goodmanhan Dale Road, but disappointments are put aside once we meet the site of Kiplingcotes station. The planning of the line took so long because of the stalling of the landowners at Dalton Park, only agreeing to its construction after accepting the offer of having their own private station, and thus this halt in the middle of nowhere came into being, still with all station buildings and fixtures, goods shed and signal box intact, a small scenario that really deserves a better day for photography.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Selby to Market Weighton 16/05/15

21.3 miles, via New Barlby, Osgodby, Cliffe Common, North Duffield, Bubwith (& the Rail Trail), Foggathorpe, Holme-on-Spalding-Moor & Shiptonthorpe.

Spring Jollies are upon us, and the latter half of the Trail to the Coast awaits, three days across the virgin territory of the East Riding of Yorkshire and no need to have My Parents driving me out to my start point as I can do that from home and only have to rely on them once I am deep into the lands of no railways. A long day awaits, so a very early start comes calling, off the train in Selby just before 9am and down to the river front to slip across the Ouse and into the remaining Riding that has so far gone unexplored, early footfalls carrying me along the A19 through New Barlby, past its assortment of tall factories and flour mills, and avoid a verge walk along the Barlby bypass by entering the bottom corner of the village and slipping across Barlby Meadows to the A19 and the former alignment of the ECML. A field walk leads over to Osgodby, and the side of the A63, offering a welcome footway as we are lead down to my target for the day, the 1848 Y&NMR Selby to Market Weighton line, forming an almost completely straight route across the flattest sort of terrain, before closure in 1954. The alignment is far from completely intact, of course, so we can enjoy less than a mile of formation, maintained as a nature and wildlife reserve by the local parish councils, before running out at Cliffe Common, were the intersecting county lanes all present the original crossing houses, still in use but all showing later extensions that make you wonder why the residents didn't just seek a larger house. This remote corner of level fields also had a station, which gives you a picture of mid 19th century economics, but the formation beyond isn't easily traceable, so no path is made toward Menthorpe Gate and the insurmountable problem of the river Derwent, instead having to take the verge walk along Lowmoor Road northwards, through many arable fields and past the business park that occupies the home of the former Whitemoor Colliery (once part of the famous and extensive Selby Coalfield).

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Micklefield to Boston Spa 09/05/15

15.7 miles, via Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Becca Park, Bramham Park, Bramham, & Clifford.

It's nice to gate late notice of passable weather on a day that was looking like it was going to be a washout, and just as well, as I've got one last blank to fill in on my map before my Spring Jollies and a change of focus to lands to the south. So break it out at Micklefield station at 9.10am and start tracking northwards along the Great North Road, to soon detour away from the bulk of the village and to greet the dog walkers on the track over to the crossing on the A1(M), following the driveway to the dog kennels up the hill before striking along the farm track, encountering a wind that feels deeply autumnal. Around the site of some mysterious construction work in the fields and onto the perimeter of Weets Wood and Scott's Wood, which drops the wind from my ears, thankfully. Follow the passage through Ringhay Wood, for moist going and a bluebell carpet, then hitting the field boundary again to meet the Lotherton Hall Estate, which gives you the feeling that you might be trespassing even though the whole estate is owned by Leeds City council. The garden path leads right up to this Victorian - Edwardian pile, and its Norman chapel, before dropping me by the stables block and onto the lane out of the grounds which no traffic uses. Move along Lotherton Lane to meet the track that runs adjacent to The Rein, an ancient embankment that runs for a mile at the very edge of the county, before taking Stocking Lane back to the main road and under the A1(M) and to the edge of Aberford, taking a fresh path around the back of many large gardens to roll up by a swollen Cock Beck, and passing over the footbridge to find the bridleway along Becca Lane. More ancient embankment are hidden in Becca Banks wood, above the beck, seen vaguely before entering the Becca Park Estate, where the tracks keep you well away from the 18th century (and private) house, pushing you onto the farm tracks as the rain briefly comes on before pushing you all the way out to the A64. The main road is avoided thanks to a convenient hard track that covers two of the three fields over to Mandrill Lane, another bridleway that is very damp, and takes you to the perimeter of Bramham Park estate, and I'll not be crossing that today as three country houses in one day would be greedy.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Knottingley to Church Fenton 04/05/15

13.6 miles, via Ferrybridge, Byram, Burton Salmon, Hillam, Monk Fryston, South Milford,
 Sherburn-in-Elmet & Little Fenton.

Drinks with work on Friday night, followed by two well deserved lie-ins, and the long May Day weekend still allows me the opportunity for a day's walking, and as the best walking month of the year is upon us, it's time to close the triangle on the lands walked to the north and east of Leeds. So a start is made from Knottingley at 9.35am, noting with that The Railway hotel has closed down since I was last here, and cross the A645 to make my way down Ferrybridge Road, still uncertain where these towns are really one or not, descending past the council and industrial estates, to meet the River Aire crossing via the 1804 bridge, and passing under the A162 bridge on both banks. The field walk over to Byram crosses the ings that were the site of the Battle of Ferrybridge, a skirmish that occurred in the hours preceding the Battle of Towton, where Lancastrian forces were unsuccessful in preventing the Yorkists from forcing their way north, a small fragment of interest that would not be otherwise noted, as looking back at the looming power station occupies most of your attention. Passing onto Sutton Lane has you concluding that the posh parts of Knottingley and Ferrybridge are actually in Byram and Brotherton, despite being in a different county, and the only available route north is to follow the side of the A162, as the extensive Byram Park offers no rights of way. Eventually turn into Burton Salmon, a picturesque village that passes all too quickly before the flatlands are entered, pacing my way along Burton Common Lane, providing a vista that is as good an horizontal horizon can provide. Slip north via Bywater Wood, and over to Hillam Lane, to enter another village that really trumpets its gorgeousness, and a pause for elevenses in the square is the least Hillam deserves. Press on along Lumby Hill and Water Lane, as the village merges seamlessly into Monk Fryston, which isn't quite as lovely, but across the A63 it does have Monk Fryston Hall, and it's worth taking a short trip up the driveway for a closer look before getting back on track.