Monday, 28 September 2015

Fitzwilliam to Horbury 27/09/15

12.7 miles via Havercroft, Ryhill, Royston Junction, Newmillerdam Country Park, Hall Green, Crigglestone, Great Cliff & Addingford.

A glum Saturday almost scuppers the revival of my walking season, but it's essential to get back in the saddle before the season starts to get away from me, and so a Sunday morning stroll has to be brought on, once I've found out where in the county is actually straightforwardly accessible, and it looks like I'm starting to get out of practice with heading out on the first day of the weekend, having not seen one in the whole of September, and my last being 22nd August. Once underway, it's quickly apparent that Summer has gone in the weeks since I last walked, heavy fog have settled over all of West Yorkshire, and an early 9.15am start from Fitzwilliam station, in the middle of an unexplored corner of the district, shows up a lot of mist that mostly prevents me from getting much of an impression of the town once away from the colliery terraces and the country park on the site of Hemsworth colliery. So away from Wakefield road and along the footpath to the bungalows on Farm Road and soon into the countryside, first past Ings Farm, and on via a field walk to Carr Farm, with hedges to follow to prevent me getting lost, and than it's a long field walk to head in the direction of Havercroft, with decent signage and trods to follow to keep me on my way. Only on the last field to I have no path to follow, and at the point where I think I might have got disorientated, I spot the way into Havercroft's estates and I avoid walking round and round in the one field, and so onwards to road surfaces again. Cow Lane has us on a familiar track once again, and there's not much happening in and around these many council houses as the heavy fog settles among them, and so I figure that there will have to be another time to see this village's best face, pressing on past the Millennium Park to seek the footpath that draws me toward Ryhill. Immediately the day gains atmosphere as the tolling bell of the parish church rings through the mist, and Ryhill reveals a rather older face than its neighbour, and I seek the footpath through the equestrian fields to meet the railway walk, an hour into the day, and rise up onto the permissive path that has developed on embankment of the MS&LR's Barnsley Coal Line of 1885, a section I should have approached a few weeks back but somehow missed, following it down to the site of Ryhill station, where I am disappointed to be unable to find any of the platform remnants that are claimed to endure beneath the undergrowth.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Rumination: To Coast, and Coast.

After a holiday, a break is usually necessary, a sad cliché that any time out from work leaves you tired enough to need another holiday, and after completing the major plank of my walking plans for the year, some rest, self imposed or otherwise, is a good idea before the final quarter of the season goes down. As it happens, there proved to be no scope for a fourth day of walking as my holidays came to an end, the third rest day being used for a trip to Fleetwood Freeport for some useful retail therapy, and then for a drive back down the Blackpool promenade without actually stopping, surely the best way to experience that town. The only stroll of note coming as I wandered up to the viewpoint at the top of Mellor Moor, 200+m above the Ribble Valley, and only half a mile distant from Finch Cottage, to examine the remains of the Royal Observer Corps bunker and to take in the panorama that encompasses the entirety of the county of Lancashire. With the West Pennines to the south, the Forest of Bowland to the north, inland towards Pendle and Rossendale and the coastal plains spread to the west, clearly this a county to explore further, though my next pair of holidays are already planned for 2016-17, and the Ribble Way might have to wait until 2018 at the earliest. The Saturday than brought the poor weather that we had dared to anticipate for the whole week on the other side of the Pennines, so no opportunity for a dash out with My Sister could be found between the rain showers, and anyways, my nieces had a cycle ride to do in the morning and a school fete to attend in the afternoon, so sociable brews were to be had in Egerton instead. The plotted walks will have to wait for another time then, and there's still plenty of future time to fit in the railway walk between Ramsbottom and Accrington, the Leeds & Liverpool canal between Wheelton and Wigan, or the railway and moorland fringe paths on the edge of the West Pennines. So altogether a triumphant holiday, getting in plenty of sights around Lancashire, a county which all of the family could use to spend more time exploring, not least because My Parents still haven't managed to visit Rivington Park in more than a decade of travelling this way.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Leyland to Southport 10/09/15

17.6 miles, via Moss Side, Bretherton, Sollom, Mere Brow & Long Meanygate.

Second rest day, has a lot more rest than the first, the only trip out going to Whalley Abbey in the afternoon before lethargy takes hold, and we retreat back to Finch Cottage so I can chill out before the final push comes on, hoping the mileage to come is not going to psych me out. Fortunately, the coming day is of a completely different profile to those that preceded it, just like the last day to the North Sea coast, level going and heavily drained agricultural land, though this quarter of Lancashire lacks a distinctive name and identity like Holderness. Anyway, back to Leyland by the Parental Taxi, resuming my walk from the railway station carpark, starting out at 9.30am and giving myself a 7 hour window for the long day ahead, passing over the West Coast Mainline and down to the town centre, along Chapel Brow and Hough Lane, and having seen the smarter parts of town yesterday, we now pass through the more ordinary quarters, and they are to be expected in a place that it synonymous with the motor industry, its name still attached to vans and buses worldwide, and at the bottom of Thurston lane we find the British Commercial Vehicle museum in its natural home. Press on westwards, Towngate and Lancastergate suggesting that they ought to be the oldest part of the town, but aren't despite being host to the civic centre of South Ribble district, and we lead out of the town past the duelling Seven Stars pubs on the Leyland Lane - Fox Lane corner and on out over the River Lostock, which is surely a completely different channel from the one I encountered yesterday. Dunkirk Lane crosses the bypass and the remains of surely the oldest building in town in the Dunkirk Hall pub, and on into the suburb of Moss Side, and altogether more pleasant corner than its namesake in Manchester, all 80s suburbs with a couple of old building hidden in among. Thence we are out into the countryside, following the B5248 as it kinks its way through the fields, and even with the amount of traffic on it, it's preferable to anymore field walking, as we are deep into the harvesting and harrowing season. Pass over the Preston - Ormskirk Line, and the bridge provides the most challenging rise of the day, as we are soon below the 15m contour and among some remarkably flat lands, the long straights of the road giving me plenty of cues to dive out of the way of traffic before we finally find a footway at Four Lane Ends, and after observing the Ribble Valley as being the hotbed for Lancastrian cycling, this quarter is revealed to be the place for the Senior riders.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Haslingden to Leyland 08/09/15

18.5 miles, via Haslingden Grane, Pickup Bank, Hoddlesden, Darwen, Sunnyhurst Wood, Roddlesworth Reservoirs, Withnell, Brinscall, Wheelton & Whittle-Le-Woods.

First rest day of my jollies features catching the Tour of Britain cycle race, and the Roman remains in Ribchester, as well as me feeling deeply tired after Sunday's excursion, but I'm going to have myself prepped for a big day as the plan for Tuesday is one of those routes in which I might well have over-reached myself, such is my desire to cross Lancashire in only three days of walking. Inspire my parents to get me out early and down the A680 for a start at the main crossroads in Haslingden at 9.20am, departing down Warner Street and Grane Road, immediately noticing that we are going downhill, a good start when you know there's a lot of uphill to come, passing below the A56 and the former L&Y line that ran up the valley between Ramsbottom and Accrington. Grane Road continues, rising into the Valley of Haslingden Grane, past cemetery and the Holden Arms, where I break off from the road to meet the path over the dam of Holden Wood Reservoir, following the path up towards Tenements farm and then rising over the rough grass to the elevated path which will lead us up the valleys side. A decent surface and clear waymarking of the Rossendale Way means easy going as we rise above Ogden Reservoir, with the steep slopes up to Musbury Heights off to our south, and sight of the windfarm on Oswaldtwistle Moor to the north, continuing above Calf Hey Reservoir which seems to be a popular spot for joggers and dog walkers. Slip into the woods and traverse a couple of stream crossing before getting a confusing moment as we start to rise up the valley head as the path has been moved from its location on my map. The clear route is the correct one though, leading through stickiness at a clough crossing and around some romantically ruined farmsteads before a grassy rise takes us up to Edgerton Moss and the remnants of quarrying, where I manage to completely lose the correct path.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Todmorden to Haslingden 06/09/15

My Faithful Companion of 5+ years,
Dead but not yet Buried.
Late Summer Jollies come around at last, and I might have started with a eulogy for my green walking hat, my near constant companion over the last four years of rambling, badly damaged in the laundry after having finally gotten too disgusting to wear, but it's still coming with me despite two severely frayed seams and significant shrinkage, it deserves to see both coasts in 2015, as well as my tilt for 2,000 miles before I'm 41. So load up with My Parents, and spend Saturday heading over the top to Lancashire, and making a surprisingly short trip to Finch Cottage, Primrose Hill, near Mellor high on the edge of the Ribble Valley, conveniently placed for three of my drop off points on the trail to the Irish Sea coast, but not really well placed for the start. Fortunately, a ride can easily be obtained back to Calderdale from Blackburn, thanks to the reinstatement of the Todmorden West Curve and the atlternative route to Manchester Victoria, so my folks don't need to have a long early morning odyssey back to Yorkshire before I can get going again.

11.4 miles, via Todmorden Moor, Bacup, Rossendale & Rawtenstall.