Saturday, 7 November 2015

Rumination: The End... For Now

The 2015 season reaches its end.
And then, the Rain came. Another walking year thus draws to a close, ultimately undone by precipitation, and whilst this has been a year that has been generally warm, there has been quite a lot of wetness in amongst, I feel I have been fortunate in having avoided most of it, only four days over the entire nine month season have been affected, and only one unduly. So when the rain does come, and coming on pretty hard on as of 7 o'clock this morning, the immediate instinct is to roll back into the warmth of my bed and call time on the season, the weather projection of heavy rainfall until at least 1pm has my enthusiasm dropping to absolute minimum. It doesn't honestly matter that the sun has returned brightly as we write now, a soaking at the start of an autumnal day would dampen any joy that a stretch of exercise might have otherwise engendered.

That's the season done, then, I've managed to keep dry for so much of it, and have no desire to take a three hour dousing on the trail between Outwood and Micklefield, and unlike 2013, when I hoped that the year might offer me another day past my regular stopping time, this year all targets have been met and exceeded, and then some, with me feeling no loss at all at missing out on the last day. 600+ miles on the 2015 season is quite enough, and virtually every day since the high days of Summer has had me struggling to get my enthusiasm stoked up, but every day has had me getting going eventually, and that's been the motto for the year really, 'Just Keep Going', as sage a piece of advice that I could offer to myself, and to anyone else for that matter. This walking season has been a lot of fun, but my focus can now shift elsewhere, as once past my 41st birthday, I'll be off down country to see My Parents, to see what help I can offer now that My Dad has been shifted from the Stroke Unit and into the care of Rehab Medicine. Initial indications suggest that his physical rehab is coming on well, and if 'Just Keep Going' is a motto that has served me well, I hope it might be one that serves the whole family well in the coming days, weeks and months.

Next Up: What have we learned in 2015?

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Glasshoughton to Cross Gates 31/10/15

11.4 miles, via Cutsyke, Whitwood, Mickletown, RSPB St Aiden's, Swillington, Colton
 & Austhorpe.

Back up country for the last couple of weeks of the season, feeling secure to be here as news from Leicester had been mixed, with the result of my Dad's MRI scan showing the possibility of him having a brain tumour, but the team at the Infirmary deciding to put him into the process for discharge to the Rehabilitation unit. Anxiety inducing news for sure, but the lack of urgency at their end is enough reason to feel that things may not be immediately serious. So I return to my familiar haunts, with the walkable season fading fast, with a plan to stitch the two halves of my walking season together, attaching the late season lands of Wakefield district to the early season territory to the east of Leeds.

Today brings me to yet another fresh station to check off the WY Metro list, starting out from Glasshoughton, between Castleford and Pontefract at 9.25am, early enough to get ahead of the crowds who alight here to visit Xscape and the Junction 32 retail park, many of whom would probably be unaware that this was a colliery site only three decades ago. My ancient E289 shows none of the developments that have grown since then, but the eye can still be drawn to the dark soils of the spoil tips to the south of the railway line, and there's a post industrial feel to all the rough land along the side of Thunderhead Ridge (yes, that is the road's name), and the big clue to this site's use is the considerable colliery memorial sculpture located on the A639 island, reminding the visitors of the industry which endured here from 1869 to 1986. Pass onwards, along the main road between the local branches of Wakefield College and Asda, and downhill to the railway crossing at Cutsyke, with intention to walk the greenway that has recently developed on the L&Y Cutsyke - Methley line, previously seen from above but now accessible, once I've found my way to it via the terraces on Granville Street. Despite having been open only 16 months, it's already looking pretty much settled in with the vegetation having covered much of the recently turned earth, and foliage obscuring most of the sight lines in the early going, but things get more interesting once the deep cutting below the Lumley Street bridge is met, the access ramps being almost as impressive feats of engineering of the cut of the railway itself. Pass on to the Barnsdale Road bridge, a much more modest structure, and soon enough the path ends, less than a mile on behind the edges of Castleford, but a nice start to a track that should grow to meet the Methley Joint Lines, at least once someone finds a bridge to replace the missing one at Whitwood Junction, hidden away but still accessible beyond the trees. So back to the roads, following the A639 through the estates at Whitwood Mere, and to the edge of the Calder, a location I have already seen many times, but this is the first time I will actually make my way across the river.