Sunday, 28 June 2015

Wakefield Way #4 - Lofthouse Hill to Pontefract 27/06/15

15 miles, via Bottom Boat, Stanley Ferry, the Aire & Calder Navigation path, & Castleford.

Self at Lofthouse Hill
First walk of Summer and back on my planned walking schedule, with it actually looking like Summer out there, so the jillet finally gets an outing as an early start is due, taking the now rather-too-familiar jaunt out via Wakefield Bus station to hop off the #110 at the hurry up for a start from the side of the A61 at 9.25am, with the houses and farmsteads of Lofthouse Hill soon left behind as the farm track sets us on a course towards the distant shape of Ferrybridge power station. The heat soon comes on, as I pass between the rhubarb fields, paralleling the M62 as paces are made over to Lee Moor Road, showing up a lot more colourfully than the last time I came this way, before branching off at Fenton Road, among Stanley's outlying houses, before striking off on the field boundaries down towards the A642, with a grand lower Calder vista opening out as we go. Plenty of the coming miles are retracing paths that I have pounded over the last few years, and I had another fancy detour in mind before I realised that an excursion via Newmarket Colliery and Methley Junction would stray too far into leeds district, so I stick to the route as written, passing down into Bottom Boat, across the path of the Methley Joint lines and hitting the riverside path that now forms part of the walker's route of the Trans Pennine Trail, once occupied by the Leeds Country Way. A fresh path is met beyond Stanley waterworks, leading down through polythene covered fields and across a farmyard to meet the Nagger lines and the path down to Stanley Ferry, and this seems to be one of those corners where walking route will always be converging, and steps are made around the Fayre & Square to find my way to Ramsden's Bridge and the elevated way over the Aire & Calder Navigation.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Wakefield Way #3 - Horbury Bridge to Lofthouse Hill (amended) 20/06/15

9.9 miles, via Healey, South Ossett, Gawthorpe, Kirkhamgate & Carr Gate.

My half term report only needs to be brief as we hit the top of the year, with my cumulative mileage total having far surpassed my expectations, and only two days having been lost from the schedule, most recently last weekend having come off the back of a horrible head cold to be greeted by an extremely grey day. So only my mid-season trip to High Cup with FOSCL is lost from the 2015 schedule, and I return to the Wakefield Way for leg #3, a week later than planned, riding the #232 bus out to Horbury Bridge for a 10.25am start on another short day, with less than happy weather in the air.

Self at Horbury Bridge
I know it's an official trail, and should be walked as written, but the first 3+ miles of the day are covering paths I have already trodden, on the Calder & Hebble navigation, the Kirklees Way and the Dewsbury-Ossett greenway, and as I'm at such proximity to another couple of things which interest me, I'm going to allow myself a small measure of editorialising. Set out north across the Calder then, instead of hitting the tow path, passing through Horbury Bridge village, striking out on the rising Storrs Hill Road towards the plateau which Horbury and Ossett sit upon, and pausing to take a look at the site of Healey Mills Goods yard, initially opened in 1920 and massively expanded as a hump marshalling yard in 1960, but now only home to a burgeoning forest among the rails since its closure in 1987. It's relic to be admired from many angles as I follow the perimeter path making the westwards track, past the old motive power depot, towards Healey itself, the industrial hamlet which supported a trio of mills at it height, and still sustains industry and the home of Ossett Brewery nowadays, thus keeping the Brewer's Pride pub in business. Meet the official Wakefield Way route, and the Kirklees Way trespassing on its neighbour's turf, as the path loops around the Healey Old Mills site, but I'm soon doing my own thing again, hitting the rising path away from the Calder, and getting the good views that really show that properly hilly Calderdale stretches further to the east than you would credit it, with the field walk eventually leading me up to the Runtlings housing development, on the southern edge of Ossett.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Wakefield Way #2 - Bretton Park to Horbury Bridge 06/06/15

9.8 miles, via Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bank Wood, New Hall, Overton and Middlestown.

Self at Bretton Park
I don't feel like I've had my A-Game on all week prior to this weekend, so I'm glad I've only got a short section of the trail to do right now, not requiring an early start but I still don't get onto the trail until 10.50am, thanks to horrible connections at Wakefield Bus Station and a slo-ow ride out to Bretton Park on the #96. So almost elevenses time already once we get going, entering the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the path that shadow the edge of the River Dearne channel to the north of the Bretton Lakes, and a fearsome wind comes on, just to add another degree of difficulty to the day when I feel like I'm running at only 90% already, and the fields offer more sheep than sculpture, and my philistinism kicks in as Henry Moore is one of those artists whose works really fail to engage me. The track follows the lawn in front of Bretton Hall, down to the bottom corner of the park, where the 123454321 sculpture in breezeblocks and one of Anthony Gormley's figures high atop a tree are the most engaging works to be seen, and the northward cue of the path takes me around the YSP's perimeter offering views to the west last seen when on the Kirklees Way last year. At the top lane, our path joins the track across the northern pastures of Bretton park, with the wind kicking in hard as it ascends, but the views across the Dearne Valley compensate, and I'm struck that despite knowing that Wakefield and Kirklees district share a border, I did not expect them to have so much in common at this particular corner.