Sunday, 26 July 2015

Morley to Halifax 25/07/15

13.5 miles, via Gildersome Street, Birstall, Gomersal, Drub, Hunsworth, White Chapel, Scholes, Wyke, Norwood Green, Hipperholme & Shibden.

Despite trail the idea of a trek to the Irish Sea coast at the very start of the season, it has taken quite a while for it to actually come into my plans for the year, with the decision not being made until after the completion of the Wakefield Way, when it should have dropped immediately into my plans on the seafront at Hornsea. So two months on from meeting the North Sea coast, the trail leads in the opposite direction, a bright day coming on as I blaze my second trail in the direction of Halifax, using a completely fresh route to boot, starting out from Queen Street at 9.05am, and cutting west through the Windsor Court shopping parade and Morrisons car park to Corporation Street, and departing the town via the council estate on Wynyard Drive and up Bruntcliffe Road past the cemetery and the secondary school. Off the A643 at the crossroads and onto a familiar track along the A650, past the industrial estate and checking out the few old remnants of the hamlet Gildersome Street that have endured since most of it was obliterated by the construction of Junction 27 of the M62, an intersection so large it takes 10 minutes to traverse it as I follow the A62 to Birstall Retail park. Onwards onto Kirklees after shadowing the regularly taken route to Ikea and Toys R Us, following the roadside through more industrial estates, passing below the abutment of the L&NWR bridge of the former Birstall station on the New Leeds Line, but missing the crossing that I made the last time I came this way, eventually meeting the A643 again, and passing the offices of the solicitors who handled my flat purchase all those years ago before rolling into Birstall town square. This village makes the most notable claim on Joseph Priestley, 18th century natural philosopher and Christian radical, it being the town of his birth with his statute watching the comings and goings in the surrounding streets, all very nicely laid out and appreciated before I press on down Low Lane, to take a detour along Kirkgate and around St Peter's parish church before re-joining the main road again. Hit the long haul up Church Lane, and its a rise I should have seen coming because there are many wrinkles in this landscape, rising out of this valley and on towards Gomersal up on the ridge, a village that I'm still not entirely sure has an actual centre but along the A651 has a prime trio of interesting buildings, the Jacobean Pollard hall, the Red House museum and the Neo-Classical public hall, but seriously, where are the shops?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Rutland Water 23/07/15

15 miles, from Manton via the Perimeter Cycle Path.

It seem like an age since I did a single reservoir walk, indeed it was nearly three years ago, and I'd have thought I'd have gotten out to Scar House or the Washburn valley by now, but here we are, needing a trail that doesn't need a huge amount of way finding. So onwards to Rutland Water, the neighbouring (and tiny!) county's most defining feature, the reservoir constructed in 1976 to supply East Anglia, over 4 miles square, the largest in the country by area, offering a long and short perimeter walk, and I'll be taking the short one, avoiding the Hambleton peninsula, which seems like a cop out until you consider that 25 miles is a long way past my walking limit at present. Start out from the Horse and Jockey in Manton, dropped off by My parents at 10.15am, a little later than I'd have liked, so early steps are hurriedly made along Cemetery Road to meet the Manton Sounding Bridge, carrying Leicester- Peterborough railway over the A6003, to pace the roadside, passing over the inlet of the River Gwash and getting a few slight views of Manton Bay before meeting the off-road path proper. Head eastwards with plenty of vegetation preventing views, and just where the waterside starts to come close, it becomes apparent that the has path been moved northwards, skirting the woods and moving inland around areas of newly developed managed wetlands, something planned to satisfy the twitchers, but causing disappointment for those that had hoped to walk near the shore. Arriving at the nature reserve at Egleton, it seems that the close path is only accessible to employees of Anglia water, and so a detour through the scenic little village is necessary instead, pretty but further still from the shore as we move along Church Road and along the edge of more managed wetland developments, as if the reservoir hadn't attracted the birdlife that had been hoped for it. Meet the nobly tree-lined road to Hambleton, but take a left to not add many extra miles to the day, moving on to meet the edge of the A606 for a long trek east paralleling it, the sight of Burley on the Hill House providing a distraction from the traffic, and after an hour of water-free viewing we finally get a view of the reservoir again, looking over Burley Reach towards the Hambleton peninsula but we don't get away from the main road until the path enters the water company's grounds at Lodge Inlet.

Monday, 20 July 2015

The East Leicestershire Village Circuit 19/07/15

18.3 miles, via Humberstone, Barkby, Queniborough, Gaddesby, Ashby Folville, Barsby, 
 South Croxton, Hungarton, Keyham & Scraptoft.

Down to Leicestershire for a week, to get away from the stresses of work and the celebrate My Dad's birthday, 74 and counting, and whilst staying with My Parents for some unwinding, it makes sense not rest on my laurels and to venture into the Old Country once again, and my tour of two years ago took me in search of the lost villages in the east of the county, so this time around it makes sense to go looking at the ones that are still there.

An early start then, setting out from the family pile at 9.05am, with the first port of call being Humberstone village, a mile or so distant, where I was schooled and one of only two villages to have been consumed by the City of Leicester, a centre that doesn't have a great deal to suggest much history before the 20th century to the casual eye, but the church of St Mary has medieval fragments hidden by aggressive Victorian restoration, and there's a single thatched cottage and section of cob wall present too, and the Humberstone Grange hides behind high walls concealing its ancientness. The Old Humberstone conservation area has done much to preserve its antiquity, and a trip down memory lane continues as I press out of the village down Main Street and Gipsy Lane, past the Tithe barn and up Thurmaston Lane on the way past Manor Farm. The A563 ring road severs that track and what was once all fields has no become the Hamilton estate, grown in the last two decades but providing green corridors for those who find late 20th residential developments objectionable, and also a cycling circuit and a lake to give the area a useful lung, which is quite surprising to me. Passage north turns out to be clearer than I'd expected, good surfaces leading to Barkby Thorpe lane, and then striking out to a field track through peas and wheat, getting good views across the city and over to Charnwood forest. Press on a good pace to arrive in Barkby, a village with brutal corners and a forge that is still active, with the spired church of St Mary looming over it in the local style of ironstone and ashlar, then onwards past the cricket ground, and 'the dangerous trees', and up Barkby Holt Lane to find the path that hits the field boundaries on the long walk in the direction of Queniborough. Initially easy going among wheat and oats, then slightly more challenging through fields of calves and drying rapeseed, but the spire of the parish church offers sight of our destination before the passage through equestrian fields provides the most puzzlement of the day. Old Queniborough is gorgeous, not to be confused with the newer settlement to the west, a riot of thatch and 18th century farmsteads, with its pair of hostelries providing a very short pub crawl, and the church being atypically built of red sandstone with its spire being clearly a later addition, dedicated to St Mary, as if no one in this county had the slightest shred of imagination.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Wakefield Way #6 - South Elmsall to Wintersett 11/07/15

14.8 miles, via Frickley Colliery, Howell Wood, Hemsworth Bypass, South Hiendley,
  Havercroft & Anglers Country Park

Self at South Elmsall
Hoping to beat the heat on the last leg of the Way, we make for our earliest start yet on this particular trail, and a train ride out to South Elmsall allows an earlier departure, in the remotest corner of the county, than any of my bus trips closer to home, departing the station at 8.50am, an unreasonably early time and, whadda'ya know, the heat has already got here before me. Station Road leads me down alongside the railway line to Doncaster, all the way out to the Waterworks, hopefully the last on that I'll be seeing on my travels, and a field walk then follows, meeting the Hull & Barnsley Railway's South Yorkshire Extension line again, this time providing a nice long section of trackbed to walk, along the embankment and under the shade of trees to the site of Moorhouse station, with house still extent, and then along the chord line which provided access to the site of Frickley Colliery. Operational from 1905 to 1993 and large enough to have three railway companies serving it in its heyday, its spoil heaps still loom above even after two decades of extensive landscaping and surely worthy of an explore on another occasion, but my Way for the day leads to a field boundary walk along its southern perimeter, eventually meeting a hard surfaced road that leads under the Dearne Valley line south of Moorthorpe station, and onto a rough path along the edge of more spoil heaps, suddenly feeling wary among the plant life after having found out how aggressively awful Giant Hogweed can be. Broad Lane is met for long road walk among the fields south of South Kirkby (unlike South Elmsall, it doesn't seem to have a Northern companion), eventually leading to the Bird Lane bridleway, from which a permissive path leads across the fields to Howell Wood, one of those tracks that you have to accept exists because there is nothing on the ground to indicate its location. The Howell Wood country park offers more welcome shade, the paths hanging close to its northern perimeter along the beckside and leading to the fishing lake and ice house (serving where, one wonders?), meeting the other people out to enjoy the facility as I make my way to the car park and exit beneath the thick canopy of Yew Trees.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Wakefield Way #5 - Pontefract to South Elmsall 04/07/15

13.4 miles, via Carleton, East Hardwick, Thorpe Audlin, Walton Wood & Wrangbrook.

Self at Pontefract Bus Station
The trick for today is choosing a start time with the hope of getting in behind the rain that had hammered down through the night and ahead of the hot weather that was due in the late afternoon, and fitting 5 hours of walking in between the two turned out to be impossible. So the late option was taken, in the hope that the dampness and mist would clear early in the day, hopping off the bus at Pontefract Bus Station at 10.15am, a faint hiss of rain falling as I pace down the glummer half of Horse Fair, to meet Micklegate and Castle Garth, and noticing that Pontefract Castle has been shorn of many trees, giving the motte a better profile and me the worry that all those roots might have been holding it together. Onwards along North Baileygate, past All Saints parish church, ruined in the civil war and revived with a smaller church with the ruins and then to the A645 Bondgate, joining my path from February out of town to Sowgate Lane and convinced that gloomy weather seems to lodge in this quarter. The path moves away from continuing to Ferrybridge Power station, hiding in the gloom, raking a right turn by Pear Tree Farm and down the field boundary to pass beneath the inaccurately named Dearne Valley line, and out down the track to the A645 again, finding the grassy lane by the terrace opposite and heading south down Lower Taithes Lane, another country track that seems to have no contemporary use and is so overgrown that the night's rainfall has soaked the long grass so thoroughly that I have a completely saturated lower half once half way along it. Drier going on the latter half, gradually rising to Street Furlong lane, and the outer edge of Pontefract that my OS map calls Eastbourne, and another green track invites continued progress south, but the heartening feelings come on with much less undergrown beneath the feet and the morning's mist starting to burn off, the disappointment coming with the realisation that the initial miles of the day have merely been taking us on a long circuit around Pontefract.