Sunday, 6 November 2016

Micklefield to Wetherby 05/11/16

11 miles, via the Great North Road, Aberford & Bramham.

November comes around and the walking season is still going, only just, mind you as no wandering will go on after my birthday, but it's always good to get to the last viable day of the year and have not been knocked out by tiredness or discouraged by the weather, this seems to have come around with every even numbered year, concluding exactly where I had planned to finish, and the sun is shining too, so let's make haste to get out for my celebratory meal. Of course, a walk up the Main Road to the Chip Shop is a little more technical than it sounds, as the road in question is the Great North Road, and the chippie is the Wetherby Whaler, with the final 10+ miles of the year starting out from Micklefield, so an early start is necessary if we are going to finish around lunchtime, so off the train at 9.15am, and head straight for the Great North Road, passing beneath the railway on its impressive stone bridge. North we go, to gain the correct impression that Micklefield is really two entirely separate villages, New Micklefield, where the terraces and council house were built to serve the local collieries, and Old Micklefield further up the road where the farmsteads and larger houses were to be found. The former seems to still have its original flavour, whilst the latter has a power feel of 1980s suburbia judging by the number of bungalows filling every available space on the road front, indeed you need to be alert to spot the converted village school, the church hidden by a thick wall of trees or the former farms hiding among the encroaching low rise apartments. We retain a footway as the road passes on to the north, drawing the new North Road to its side in the shape of the A1(M), and it's a long drag with the sun behind us, looking over to the Hook Moor windfarm and being struck that the hum of the motorway is much quieter than had been anticipated, I'd honestly expected a constant hiss of white noise at this proximity. Pass over the M1, and the junction with the Roman Ridge road, the alternate route of Ermine Street and this slips us straight downhill to the crossing of the B1217 Aberford Road, and on past the Hookmoor Lodges, at the southern entrance of the Parlington Estate, another illustration of the extent of these parklands, presently earmarked for suburban regeneration.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Garforth to Ulleskelf 29/10/16

11.8 miles, via Aberford Road, Collier Lane, Lead, Towton & Kirkby Wharfe.

Thirteenth consecutive day of activity due after having no rest days at all last weekend, but the inspiration to walk is still strong as we enter the run-out groove of the 2016 season, and a later start is always welcome too, when your walk is dictated by having only one train that it is plausible to catch to get beck home again as your gaze falls to the terrain east of Leeds and seeing which spaces still need lines drawn across them. So start out from Garforth, still one of my favourite former NER stations, at just before 10am, walking out onto Aberford Road and setting a course to the north-east, pacing the pavements of the A642 with retail and light industry occupying the north side with the various estates of East Garforth to the south, not one of the more exciting roads, but the primary school converted to a curry house and the former toll house and weighbridge are worthy of note. It's going to be roads for most of the day, so as we enter the countryside the hope is strong that the footways might endure for a decent distance, and the way ahead is clear as we pass over the M1 at Junction 47, and the traffic free path continues as we carry on along the B1217 up to the edge of the Parlington Estate. Nicer weather in the air might have enhanced the views to the Hook Moor windfarm, but even in the haze Park House farm looks like a site that could be renewed and rendered extremely desirable with a bit of restoration and TLC, and the path continues alongside the estate wall, passing Wakefield Lodge, one of the many perimeter houses on the estate, and it does get me pondering why this particular parkland is on the slate for potential residential development, as it would surely be of greater use if employed recreationally. Leave the estate behind as we meet the old Great North Road, now the local route between Micklefield and Aberford, and the footway continues to take us below its modern replacement, the A1(M), before petering out at the entrance to the Hook Moor windfarm, and I don't feel an urge to wander among the turbines today, even if they do look pretty to me and contribute a particularly distinctive landscape feature in these parts.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Lose Hill & Mam Tor 23/10/16

9.7 miles, from Bradwell, via Hope, Lose Hill, Back Tor, Barker Bank, Hollin's Cross,
 Mam Tor, the Old Road, Castleton & the Cement Works.

No real need for a super early start on our Sunday stroll, Dr G might need to dash out so he can cycle solo across the Dark Peak and back, but the rest of us can take a more natural pace as we organise The Girls for a trek over the best (and only?) ridge walk in the Peak District, which will be my first proper hill walk in more than two years, so here's hoping that I'm in better condition for it than I was when we assailed Pendle Hill in 2014. Out of Lillegarth cottage on the edge of Bradwell after 9.45am, and descend the Smalldale lane, pass Ye Olde Bowling Green inn and take in our surroundings of old cottages and rural retreats before meeting the more workaday houses around the green on Gore Lane, it seems that Bradwell might be the largest settlement in the Hope Valley whilst also being one of the least known. We meet the Main Road towards Brough (not that one), and soon find the quieter lane beyond the Samuel Fox in to take the shortest route towards Hope, between the former workings that have become angling ponds and the vast pits associated to the Castleton Cement works, which will be a constant feature on this day's horizon. Spying the hills that will be our targets for the day is fun, whilst trying to not draw The Girls' attention to them so they might not get dispirited, and as the descent comes on towards Hope we get the bold shape of Win Hill and the spire of St Peter's church to draw the attention in the autumnal sunshine. Meet the village, and drop the predictable 'To Live in Hope is to Live in Derbyshire' joke, and this looks like another village worthy of more attention in the future, wearing a darker face than Castleton as we move our way across the White Peak - Dark Peak divide. Hit Edale Road to head for the upper branch of the Hope Valley, and it's going to feature just a bit too much road walking as we head off among the farmsteads and cottages hanging above the River Noe, Passing under the bridge of the Cement works railway branch and note that the Cheshire Cheese inn is an unusually popular pub name in these parts.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Castleton to Hassop station 22/10/16

14.7 miles, via Cave Dale, Bradwell Moor, the Limestone Way, Hay Dale, Peter Dale,
 Monk's Dale, Miller's Dale, the Monsal Trail, Litton Mill, Water-cum-Jolly Dale,
  Cressbrook Mill, Upperdale, Monsal Head, Little Longstone  & the Monsal Trail (again).

Having failed to get over to Lancashire for walking at any point in 2016, the best way to get together with My Sister and her family in the late season is to join them as they start their Autumn half term holiday in the Hope Valley in North Derbyshire, only a couple of hours distant from work on a Friday evening, so we might be able to enjoy two full days away together, allowing us to get away from it all at a time when it really feels like the best thing to do. Residence is taken up in Bradwell, and when walking schemes are compared it appears that we have both come to the same conclusions when it comes to walking targets, so a stretch over to the Wye Valley is chosen for Saturday, which could be walked directly from our holiday home, but this would miss one of the best features of this top edge of the White Peak, so an early start is sought from Castleton, where Dr G can drop us off between St Edmund's church and The George at 9.05am before he rouses My Nieces so they can have a day cycling the Monsal trail. Depart this Limestone village or townlet via the rising lane through the Market Place and find the way forwards hidden between cottages to find the start of the Limestone Way as it heads up Cave Dale, also known as the hidden valley and giving us an ascent like nothing I have walked since I was in the Wolds, and this particular drag is much, much longer. Rise through the deep cleft in the Limestone hillside, remembering to look back to see Peveril castle rising above, pondering geological history as we go, acknowledging that a post-glacial formation like this could have formed in a ridiculously short period of time, and despite it being notionally a dry valley, the going is pretty wet on a rough surface, forming a bridleway that I wouldn't fancy riding in either direction. The valley gets shallower and the ascent easier as the upper half is reached, but having started at the 200m contour, it's hard to acknowledge just how far you might have ascended as the track emerges on the relatively level expanses of Bradwell Moor, a vast grassland at over 400m up, and it doesn't look anything like any of the moorlands of the north country, neither Limestone nor Grit.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Wetherby to York 15/10/16

16.6 miles, via Ingmanthorpe, Cowthorpe, Tockwith, Long Marston, Hutton Wandesley,
 Rufforth, Acomb & Holgate.

Another weekend drops off the schedule, as late season fatigue starts to kick in, and the start of a mass staff exodus from work doesn't aid the mood any, so rest is taken and appreciated before getting back on the trail as Autumn lands hard, for there will be no more warm weather in the remaining viable walking weekends, so the last long, long trek needs to be done, one that I've had plotted for a while, originally planned for last year before my focus shifted. So out to Wetherby again, to start out from the north bank of the Wharfe at 9.50am, setting course for a whole bunch of villages in the northern portion of the Ainsty by heading northwards along Westgate towards the Town hall and Market Place to find Church Street and the decorative path up to St James', one of those Victorian town churches that has you wondering where the original Medieval establishment might have gone. A nice bit of faux Early English styling to see in the early going before we rejoin North Street and take the fork of Deighton Road to follow the old Great North Road past the large houses of the old town, beyond the old railway and into the outer suburbia of the latter half of the 20th century, but not for all that far along the B6164 before we peel off onto Sandbeck Lane, where all of the town's industrial units seem to have gathered. Possibly the least attractive way out of the town, but beyond the A168 we meet the countryside, for the moment at least, as the bridleway heads on to the edge of the A1(M), rising up to meet Junction 46 and the outer boundary of my walking field, and the decision to take my old E289 prove to be a poor one as it predates the construction of the motorway and my annotations are unhelpful. I decide that the correct path is down the access lane to the Service station, and then change my mind when half way down and return to meet the farm track that runs down the other side of the hedge and ditch, on the edge of Ingmanthorpe Park, a prettier route and actually containing the right of way it seems, but I think both tracks would have eventually led me in the right direction.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Tadcaster to York via The Ainsty 02/10/16

15.7 miles, via The Viaduct, Bolton Percy, Nun Appleton park (sorta), Appleton Roebuck,
 Acaster Malbis, Bishopthorpe, Middlethorpe Hall & Knavesmire Park.

Five walking weekends are on the slate this October, so it makes sense to start picking the best available days to wander, meaning the glumness of Saturday is put aside for the autumnal sunshine of Sunday, with all the associated risks of sore legs once the working week comes around after no days of rest, but as it stands, getting out to Tadcaster involves exactly the same timekeeping regardless of which weekend day you choose. So off the bus by John Smith's brewery at 9.55am to be delighted that the morning sunlight has finally come to the town on the occasion of my last visit for the year, the warm glow of the yellow stone being a delightful contrast that it shows on a cloudy day, and a brisk circuit of the town is necessary before we set course for the Ainsty. We start by heading up St Joseph's Road, home to the Roman Catholic church, and to Station Road and the A659 to enjoy the older side of the town, marvelling too at the Tower brewery before joining the railway path to the viaduct, a permissive walk established in 1980 and a shady boulevard clearly enjoyed by the locals this morning. The history of the line is hilarious of course, built by the Y&NMR in 1848 to spoil the expansion plans of rivals but never forming an alternative route between Leeds and York, resulting in one of the most elaborate head-shunts ever built, operational until 1959 serving a local mill, amazingly, and now the 11 arched viaduct across the Wharfe has only 4 years to go before a PROW will be established across it. It seems there are plans afoot to revive the path out to Wighill Road too, but we'll have to walk between back gardens and the riverside meadows to make our way to the council flats by the York Road, a circuit well worth doing before the real meat of the day comes on, leaving Tadcaster via Oxton Lane, among the north bank's attractive council houses and retracing steps from last weekend over the A64. A fresh route is in order for these parts is needed, soon found down Ouston Lane, leading out to the sewage farm, a popular track for dog walkers, leading on to a rough field track that hangs not too far above the Wharfe, so the trees of Grimston Park immediately look familiar off to the south bank, as does the loop of the river as it bows its way past Ouston farm, another of those farms that seems to have no house attached to it.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Wetherby to Tadcaster via The Ainsty 24/09/16

18.2 miles, via Bickerton, Bilston in Ainsty, Healaugh, Catterton, Bilborough, Colton,
 Steeton Hall & Oxton.

A weekend at the End of Summer drops from the schedule so that a 20 years since University graduation reunion can go ahead in Leeds, reuniting six of the ten guys who shared a block in the Henry Price flats back in 1993-94, along with two long term associates, to re-establish some old acquaintances and catch up on what's been going on in the last two decades, going from lunchtime drinks and dinner at Whitelock's all the way to the Union and student land in the late quarter. A good way to burn a weekend, and to use Sunday to sleep off the hangover, and after that comes Autumn and the last few stretches of the walking season, as the weather demands long sleeves be worn again, and the low sun reminds you that shorter days are on the horizon, and thus the long trails left on the 2016 schedule need to be approached as soon as possible. Thus to Wetherby, on an overlong bus ride to not get going until past 9.50am, setting course for a long tour around the Ainsty of York, one of those fascinating and baffling divisions of ancient local government that put a large wedge of territory between the Wharfe, Ouse and Nidd in the administration of the City of York, taking in a route that isn't the shortest possible path between my two destinations. It's rare to wander, but sometimes it's necessary to see villages that wouldn't otherwise drop into the schedule easily, and so first steps are taken up Wetherby's High Street and North Street, confirming my belief that this is a town of many boutiques, and also looking pretty ripe for a pub crawl, enjoying the various terraces up to the junction with York Road, where retirement flats have replaced the car dealership and progressing out of town past the old Goods station site and out towards the motorway. Over the A1(M), and gain another fresh view of Wetherby racecourse, viewed from its northern edge this time, and that will be our companion for a while as we pace east past HMYOI Wetherby, keeping to the northern side of the road as it offers a better footway and the best method of keeping away from the hedge-cutting machinery.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Cross Gates to Horsforth 11/09/16

13.9 miles, via Seacroft, Whinmoor, Shadwell, Slaid Hill, Wigton, Eccup Reservoir,
 Eccup Five Lane Ends, Golden Acre Park, Breary Marsh, Cookridge Hall & Cookridge.

Completion of the Wolds Way demands a celebratory meal  at the John Paul Jones in The Bay (named after the American Revolutionary War naval captain, rather than the bassist out of Led Zeppelin), and the last day of holiday away sees the family travel back via Eden Camp, a place well worth visiting, and returning to Morley to celebrate My Parents' 49th Wedding Anniversary with a meal from Full House, providing enough food to keep me fed on Saturday evening too. Sadly hopes that they might have been a taxi service for me to walk the top half of the Washburn Valley come to naught, and that track gets relegated to the 'maybe in the distant future' list, and the folks return to Leicestershire whilst I find myself in the transition weekend of the year which sees the Last Night of the Proms play out and the first weekend of the NFL season start. Still got a Sunday of holiday to use, and as it's not raining this year, the most needs to be made of it, not travelling too far from home, as the reduced levels of public transport conspire to make travelling even a short distance into a minor odyssey, and so we head to Cross Gates for another tour across East and North Leeds, favouring the old roads that have endured among the spread of the city and aiming for a more rural aspect than last time. Off the train at 9.35am, before the shopping centre has fired up for the day and head up the Ring Road past St Theresa's as it still greets morning worshippers, and onwards across Crossgates Roads by Mecca Bingo and the New Travellers Rest to track north on Cross Gates Lane (the failure to be consistent with the district name's spacing is bizarre), once a rural lane that is now a picture of post war suburbia. On to pass over the A64 and to follow the old York Road into Seacroft, but don't get to far on when my camera's batteries run flat and I discover that haven't packed any spares, so 20 minutes of walking time is lost as I'm forced to join the queue outside the local branch of Aldi, hopeful that the ultra cheap cells that they provide will last me for the remainder of the day.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Way #6 - Ganton to Filey Brigg 08/09/16

12.1 miles, via Staxton Wold, Cotton Dale Slack, Flixton Wold, Lang Dale, Raven Dale,
 Camp Dale, Folkton Wold, Stocking Dale, Muston Wold, Muston & Filey.

National Trail means Selfies!
#6 at Ganton
Second Intermediate rest day is spent on a trip down memory lane, visiting the North York Moors Railway to ride the rails from Pickering to Whitby and back behind 61264, which is four hours worth of excursion in itself, but still leaving enough time to return to base for an evening stroll around The Bay, on the site of Filey Butlin's, which is really crystallising as 'The Village' in my mind, and to wander all the way down to the beach too. I'm not on a coast to coast trail so my arrival by the sea doesn't feel like a cheat, especially as Filey bay must be one of the best beaches in the county, and certainly one of the least populated too, and it's not just good for paddling and sandcastles at it has history too, World War II era pillboxes rest on the sand to provide transportation to another age. Back in September though, and it's completion time, as my second National Trail is due to go down, and the distances needed to be travelled get ever shorter as we ride the Parental Taxi back to Ganton, one time home of Harry Vardon, pioneering late 19th century golfer and 6 time Open Champion, for a 9.40am start by St Nicholas's church, and for the first time in all my walking days, it looks like I might risk company on the trail as another quartet of walkers are arriving as I start out onto the field boundaries that rise through the recently harvested fields that sit above a haze covered Ryedale. The uphill drift on the early going is to be expected, but the hard work in my lungs isn't, and the first hard rise on the appropriately named Wold Lane demands an early watering break, letting the other walkers take the day's lead, before heading up a tree-lined and cattle observed track to meet the 65 mile marker, and my doubts about the Wolds Way's actual length start to surface as I note the miles to go to Filey count has decreased by 6 miles since East Heslerton Brow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Way #5 - Wintringham to Ganton 06/09/16

10.6 miles, via Deep Dale Plantation, Knapton Plantation, West Heslerton Brow,
 East Heslerton Brow, Sherburn (sort of) & Potter Brompton.

National Trail means Selfies!
#5 near Wintringham.
After the longest day on the Wolds Way, the first intermediate rest day of this break doesn't have to be too busy, taking a modest jaunt out to Bempton Cliffs RSPB site, and to Flamborough Head to give us our fill of chalk cliffs, birdlife and lighthouses, not a bad way to spend a day that forgets how to be sunny shortly after lunchtime. Back to the trail on Tuesday, we think, the more modest distance on the Way not requiring the earliest of starts, and the odd tradition of Long Trail walking comes around once again, as regardless of how you divide your days, one day always seems to come out unusually short, but that's not a bad thing when it might come on the most straightforward of the whole  bunch. So the Parental Taxi drops me off at 9.50am on the western corner of Wintringham, and having barely seen any of the village last time, we might be seeing even less of it today, as the path skirts the fields to the north, focusing attention on the tree clad hillside to come, and less on the houses, hidden away behind a thick curtain of hawthorn hedges. I do wonder if the Way's presence offended the village when it was laid out, and hope that it wasn't the other way around, but a visit to St Peter's church is necessary before we move on, not least because its slender spire has been a sentinel since coming off the hills, and a view up close will show that it has an impressive collection of gargoyles and carvings when viewed up close. Back to the path, and the 55 mile marker is met at the field corner before the ascent is started up to Deep Dale plantation, and once the wood is met initial going is on a broad track with only the gentlest of rises, which gets you all relaxed before the dread sets in when the fingerpost that indicates straight up is met. The ascent out is 50m up at what seems like 40 degrees, as harsh an angle as we've ever met on any trip, one which needs low gear and lady steps to get up, thankful that it's dry underfoot and not showing up any slick stones, a proper lung-burster for the early going on a day I'd thought might be easy.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Way #4 - Fridaythorpe to Wintringham 04/09/16

17.4 Miles, via Brubber Dale, Thixen Dale, Cow Wold, Vessey Pasture Dale, Deep Dale,
 Wharram Percy, Wharram le Street, Cowcliff Hill, Whitestone Dale, Settrington Beacon
  & Milburn Fields.

National Trail means Selfies!
#4 at Fridaythorpe
To late Summer holidays with My Parents then, to walk the remainder of the Yorkshire Wolds Way and hopeful for a largely relaxed week, away from the stresses of work, abandoned to its own devices as I dash out at lunchtime on Friday so we can all take a leisurely ride out to Filey to take up a week's residence at Perran Court in The Bay development, south of the town. Unfortunately, an easy start is not what we get as even before we've even gotten in through the front door, My Dad takes a fall in the hallway, cutting his forehead, and we have to get the ambulance responder called out to tend to him before spending a large chunk of the evening at A&E in Scarborough hospital as he gets assessed and glued back together. Fortunately, indications suggest that he hasn't done any lasting damage to himself and the worst knock has gone on his confidence, so we can all return to base for a very late tea and be thankful that we hadn't planned anything for Saturday, as we sleep off most of the morning and do little more than shopping and seeing a few sights through the teeming rain in the afternoon. Thus, Sunday morning means walking time, and rising for an early start as we have chosen to holiday close to our destination on the Yorkshire Wolds Way, and therefore about as far as we could get from our start point for the week, but we've ridden the A166 on our ride out so heading back out there offers no difficulties for my Parental taxi, and it's only a 45 minute burn away. An early start to proceedings then, as this will be the longest day on the Way, and I know that it could get challenging after many miles on the flatter lands of Yorkshire, so away from Fridaythorpe at 9.15am, with its village green and duck pond looking exactly the same as I did the last time I came this way (aside from all the cones set out for Wedding parking at St Mary's church) and head out to meet the farm track off the Thixendale Road, past the animal feed mill and out onto the high fields.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Woodlesford to Horsforth 29/08/16

16 miles, via Newsam Green, Temple Newsam Park, Beck Fields, Primrose Valley Park,
 Killingbeck Fields, Fearnville Fields, Wykebeck Woods, Roundhay Park, Moortown,
  Moor Allerton, Alwoodley, Adel, Holt Park & Tinshill.

If you've decided that you are only going to walk one day of the long Bank Holiday weekend, it makes sense to utilise the best one, and it being Monday means that you can put the remainder to good use without feeling guilty, and will hopefully have the legs fully charged for another trip across Leeds's many green spaces, because if it's a public holiday and you can't get to the seaside, a walk in the park has to be the next best option. So out early before 9.10am, to beat the crowds, starting out from Woodlesford station, well away from the body of this year's walking territory, and set course for the northwest, heading out onto the A642 Aberford Road to make the familiar path to the north across the Navigation and the Aire toward the Bridge Farm Hotel at Swillington Bridge, before taking the left turn onto Bullerthorpe Road with intent for making for the way into Temple Newsam Park from the south. My pathfinding is almost ruined by one of my worst navigation fails, missing the turn to Newsam Green Road and almost going on to approach the park from the east, only realising my error at the next junction, which leads me onto the correct track, down by the entrance to Leventhorpe Hall, now lost in a land scarred by open cast mining and renewed by landfill, and into a tidy rock cutting that only sees traffic for the waste disposal sites these day. Newsam Green farm still survives, by what was once the forgotten path of Pontefract Road, whilst our track ascends to give lofty views over South Leeds and beyond before passing over the M1 motorway on one of those bridges that links farm tracks but has little obvious use otherwise. It's good for us as it gives access to the paths across the fields to get into the Temple Newsam estate, joining the access track by The Shroggs wood, and giving elevated views over the park towards the house before slipping downhill through the trees to the bridleway at the bottom of the park, and even with the throng of visitors being much smaller than I would have expected, I'll do the ascent to the house via the most secluded path of all, the grassy enclosed track that is actually one of the oldest in the entire park.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Thorpe Arch to York 21/08/16

14 miles, via Walton, Wighill, Healaugh, Angram, Askham Richard, Askham Bryan,
 Foxwood, Hob Moor & Holgate.

Saturday gets dumped from the schedule as the risk of afternoon rain looks too high, and I'd prefer a lie in anyway, and so my walk has to be planned for Sunday, which means making a connection for the 771 bus with as small a margin for error as is possible, but it all comes good, despite the bus riding taking forever to get out to the top right corner of West Yorkshire. So we start out from the Pax Inn in Thorpe Arch after 10.25am, again falling for this village in the bright sunshine, and as we are a little off track on our long route to York, we need to make a path back to Walton before we are on the correct course, and that means heading south to join Church Causeway at its bottom end and then striking the path to the north to meet All Saints church, sat proudly apart from the village and brightly illuminated. Heading north we can complete the loop around Thorpe Arch and pass the railway alignment once again, and then carrying on past HMP Wealstun, and is that the first prison to drop onto my walking plan since New Hall in darkest Wakefield district? This one looks more the part, though modern prisons ought to have the crenellations of their Victorian counterparts just to keep up appearances, and I'm not sure if it's the sort of place I ought to be photographing extensively, and it's presence makes the housing developments of Thorpe Arch Grange and Walton just that bit less appealing. Still, our focus can look East as we hit Wighill Lane, to skirt our way around the TATE, and the well secured boundaries of the British Library and the vehicle testing centre, taking care with the blind corners and getting a last look at the hidden bunkers of the ROF site, and also taking interest in the path of the Roman road Rudgate as it reappears on the north side of the Wharfe, cutting its path in the direction of Boroughbridge.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Weeton to Thorpe Arch 13/08/16

17.1 miles via Dunkeswick, Netherby, Kearby, Sicklinghall, Kirk Deighton & Walton.

Force an early start, as the enthusiasm is high today, as is the risk of the afternoon turning very warm indeed, so make for the train to Weeton to disembark at 9.20am, primed for a long day, and take the first steps to see the old station houses by the A658 Harrogate Road, which endure to provide the NER atmosphere for the station since the actual platform buildings left us only relatively recently. So away, and into Huby, with actual Weeton still a mile or so distant, looping back under the railway to pass among the district of council houses, complete with vintage VR post box, and on to the road to Weeton, which could easily be mistaken for a driveway to one of the posher houses in this quarter. On to a road walk under gloomy skies, avoiding the horse riders and mail van that are racing me down this lane and letting the mind wander among the wrinkles of Wharfedale whilst I try to plot out what the manicured lands around the cricket field might have been in a previous life, and spot the spire of St Barnabas's church a couple of fields away to show just how close we came to having been here before. So Weeton itself arrives, a settlement with a lot of proud looking gritstone, scattered along the Main Street, all of it expensive looking, but mush less substantial than Huby, which makes you wonder how it named the parish and the railway station. Press on, as Weeton Lane wends its enclosed way to the east, gradually rising and giving views to Almscliffe Crag in one direction and Rougemont Carr in another, and that keeps things interesting in a terrain of a lot of hedges before the hamlet of Dunkeswick arrives. Never been too sure how to pronounce this one, uncertain where to place the emphasis, and there's little more to it than a trio of farmsteads, along with a small dog running around to proudly display the rabbit it has caught, and from there it's a short walk to meet the A61 Harrogate Road, crossed in short order to get away from the cyclists and to have the fields to myself for a while.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Baildon to Weeton 06/08/16

12.6 miles, via Tong Park, Park Gate, Yeadon (& The Tarn), West Carlton, Old Bramhope,
 Pool in Wharfedale, Riffa Wood & Huby.

Return back Up Country for some necessary socialising to end my holiday week, but after a week back in work, the Summer Sag comes on once again as mood, impetus and energy levels all drop through the floor, and a weekend drops from the schedule and plans get shunted around again. Not that my plan for August gets altered, as a three day trek across the width of my annual walking field seems like a good way to go, but even then I struggle to get myself going, and find that riding out to Baildon station can involve some ungodly amounts of waiting, as you anticipate the arrival of the trains that run the line between Shipley and Guiseley. So onto the trail just before 11am, on the single platform which still possesses a lot more character than many stations which didn't endure 20 years of disuse, altogether a tidy little presentation, departed by ascending to the footbridge and dropping down to the path that doubles as a driveway to the houses behind Roundwood Grange, one of the many proud older houses that live among Baildon's suburbia. Langley Lane and Hollin Head give us much more of the late 20th century face of the town in the Tong Park district, and the way to the undulations of the corner of Airedale is found as Lonk House lane wanders its way into the valley of Gill Beck, with a war memorial midway down and a fishing lake and cricket field at the bottom, this probably being the flattest part of Baildon all told. Ascend the other side, to meet a golf course, and hang at its edge through rough grass and shady trees to get good looks at Tong Park Viaduct and the extensive woods of middle Airedale in one direction and to the rising edges of Baildon and Rombalds moors in the other, and focus requires you to look out for golfing hazards before a better surface is gained at Lunds farm and another long wall guides the walker in the direction of Guiseley. The golf course seems to just keep on going, until you acknowledge that there are actually two of them, Hollins Hall and Bradford, butted together, and as the track rises the view towards Bradford is pretty grand, whilst once the descent comes on the Aire-Wharfe gap is revealed in all its impressive scale.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Humberstone to Great Dalby 21/07/16

12.9 miles, via Keyham, Hungarton, Lowesby Park, Twyford & Thorpe Satchville.

Two days of intense heat, the sort not experienced in years, is not that useful for me getting active whilst on my jollies, so not get much gets done aside from an early morning start for three hours of shed painting, so the hope comes that my batteries will feel recharged when the temperature drops and the need to walk comes on. Thursday has a 4 degree drop from the previous days' highs, so it has to be the time to get some miles under my feet, as it's been 12 days since my last serious burn, and it's good to keep things relatively local whilst in Leicestershire, adding a few new places to my wandering field and establishing a new boundary to the land of Car Treks and youthful travels. A 9.30 start then for a projected 5 hour trek to the north-east, starting out from Abbots Road URC and heading up to the ring road to detour into Monk's Rest Gardens, one of the three local parks of my youth, the others seen in March, taking the route between tennis courts and bowling green to the wooded shade beneath the Cedars and Beeches on the lawn of the Italianate vicarage. Arrive in Humberstone village at the lych-gate of St Marys, and head east on Main Street to take in the Medieval Mud walls preserved on the north edge of the churchyard, and the imposing red brick house in the old folks flats that I always assumed was 18th century but is actually a 1970s reproduction, before passing my old schools once more but this time continuing east once we reach the top of Keyham Close. Across the Ring Road again, and the ongoing road will always be Keyham Lane to me, bordering the outer edge of the city regardless of a name change to Elms Farm Cottages in it early going and the Hamilton Estate having grown over the last 20(!) years to its north, and largely hidden from view anyway, with the correct name returning with its West addition as it passes on above the Nether Hall estate.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Humberstone to The King Power Stadium 18/07/16

5.9 miles, via Uppingham & Humberstone Roads, St Martin's, Kate Street & Filbert Street.

A Summer week off from work, and I'm off Down Country because it's July, and not feeling the need to attempt the 30+ miles that I did last year, so this time around we are scaling back the wandering so that the stamina might last a bit longer as the warm months press on, and it sure looks like we've got a few hot days on the immediate horizon so modest distances are a given. Rather than heading for the countryside, it's good to start with a city walk, as Leicester's centre has still to drop onto my schedule, and an early start from the East is due so the trail might be done before lunch time, departing my chosen local start point of Abbot's Road URC at 9.05am, and setting course along Scraptoft Lane. Always felt that this was a good road for illustrating the development of suburbia in the early 20th century, showing up both the planned estate developments of the late 1930s and the more haphazard and bespoke building that preceded it, and this leads to the Troc and the Terminus, already mentioned here, before joining the A47 and Uppingham Road for the Red Route to the city. The shopping parade along here has seen a lot of family custom over the years, from Nando's the Barber (spoiling the Chicken restaurant in my mind forever) to the Hong Kong (the Chinese restaurant that was a favourite until becoming takeaway only last year), before we go a bit more Victorian Residential past Coleman Road, the sort of townhouses which I always desired way back when. Pass the site of Humberstone station on the GNR Leicester extension, where the station house remains, and on into the empire of takeaways on the latter portion of Uppingham Road, ending by Swallow Park, The Uppingham Hotel (the pub being an Islamic school these days) and The Shaftesbury (a lost cinema that still names the junction). Continue on as the A47 crosses the Willow Brook and becomes Humberstone Road, and beyond the terraces, the Merlyn Vaz health centre is the major new arrival in these parts, and a telling indication of changing times is noting the second-hand electrical retail store occupying a shop which once sold Pianos. Pass under the Midland Main Line, and the site of Humberstone Road station (the building now preserved at Shenton), and some of the industrial buildings to the south are worthy of note, the ones to the north (and the St Matthews Estate) rather less so, but you do have to love the name of Lesta Packaging PLC, don't you?

Monday, 11 July 2016

Selby to York 10/07/16

15.8 miles, via Barlby, Riccall, Naburn, Bishopthorpe, Knavesmire & The City Walls.

Saturday drops from the schedule as the weather looks gross and I'm really in need of a lie in, but I've still got a timetable to maintain so footfalls have to come on the Sunday, which requires some creative transport usage to get eastwards, and unlocking a travel achievement as we go, having now departed from all 17 of the platforms at Leeds station, checking off the elusive and rarely used #14 on this morning. So back to Selby for a 10.15am start, with a six hour walking window ahead of me and a day that looks distinctly changeable in the air, ready to burn another track to York as the last of the major railway paths in the locality is to be found out here, but there'll be a few miles to go before we get there, so early steps are made to Ousegate and on over the river to find a different, non-A19 track through New Barlby, rising onto the flood embankment around the backs of the council houses to see rather a lot of vegetation and little of the river itself. It's a theme that persists as the path takes us past the towering flour mills and eyes are cast to the river to take in what must be remnants of docks which once served them, a small crane being the most interesting relic seen atop the former landing stages. Pass around the back of the small council estate at the bottom edge of Barlby, but this supposed riverside walk isn't offering much that isn't vegetation, so steps are made across the field to York Road, arriving at about the point I left it when I passed through last year, to take a proper look at the village, the best course of action as picking up the railway route would involve pacing the side of the A19 bypass. It's an altogether odd place, with an old core around Barlby Hall, along with a spread of suburbia and council houses at both bottom and top, but lacking a pub and a church, and it's still growing too, a field being claimed for new developments when I'd figure that everyone should know the folly of wanting to live on the Selby Levels these days. Still onto the superseded main road on the path north, past Turnhead Farm and finally getting some railway relics with the crossing houses at Sand Lane and Newgrove farm, before the A19 is met, still sat on the alignment of the old ECML and with an independent cyclepath for us slow travellers, and it's an odd thought to ponder that 'Flying Scotsman', 'Mallard' and the Deltics all used to consider this line home.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Tadcaster to Selby 02/07/16

15.2 miles, via Kirkby Wharfe, Ulleskelf, Ozendyke, Ryther, Cawood & Wistow.

Arriving at the High Street bus stop in Tadcaster, it looks a lot like the weather that I left here last weekend has only just passed, which is odd as you wouldn't think you could fit all this rain into the weekends when the other days have provided so much shirtsleeves weather. Anyway, it seems like it's impossible to get out here early in the day, not getting my start until 9.55am has passed, and I wonder just how many more times I might be pacing my way up Bridge Street before this season passes, having been here four times in the last month, and the ghost town is soon to be left behind as the path takes me to the riverfront once again. Pace past the 2016 footbridge, as there'll be no criss-crossing the Wharfe on this third and final leg, taking the tree lined avenue out to the east, detouring around the house on the bank, and past the local plating fields (where all the town's sounds of life are to be heard) and on to the embankment path, onwards under the A64 and the last crossing point on the river for foot passengers and rubber tired vehicles. The hiss of rain continues as the river winds on, these lowest stretches of the Wharfe being a completely unknown quantity to me, and this feels a lot like a path I might have to myself, aside from the company of the odd dog walker and a number of roaming sheep. Pass over the sluice at the outspill of Cock Beck, finally encountered after so many appearances elsewhere, and this must be where the Wharfe ran red with blood in 1461, if the chroniclers are to be believed, and the eye does wander some to seek any landscape interest as the flat lands head east, and you stop looking west to the receding town and the hills at the edge of West Yorkshire. Grimston Park spreads out to the south, but offers little more than a lot of trees, despite the relative proximity of the house, and the only other habitation in the area is Ouston Farm, distant on the other bank, so it's time to watch the livestock and waterfowl along the way as the last hiss of rain passes over, ending just as we meet the hamlet of Kirkby Wharfe. It's a pretty modest place, set just far enough from the river to be off piste, and well hidden by many trees, but the tower of St John the Baptist peeks out to give a first bit of landscape interest since the start of the day.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Harewood to Tadcaster 25/06/16

17.7 miles, via The Fitts, Woodhall Bridge, Lime Kiln Wood, Linton, Wetherby,
 Thorpe Arch, Boston Spa & Newton Kyme.

I could not say I was a happy camper with the rising of this new day, far too much ugliness arriving in this land to have me feeling especially positive, but despite that the walking must continue as it's good for my mental health and it would be folly to waste the first weekend of Summer because I'm feeling miserable, so get out of the house whilst the sun shines, early as can be managed because you know this is going to be a long day. So off the #36 bus in Harewood after 9.20am, far too early to be dropping in on my local friends for a pre-walk brew, and the early portion of the day can be burned retracing steps down the hillside from last weekend, and Fitts Lane offers inviting views to the east as passage is made once again on the Ebor Way, the least loved of all the northern long distance paths. Clear illustration of its lack of popularity is gained once the riverside path is met, with the track to Harewood bridge being tidily trimmed and the path east, along the boundaries of the low fields known as The Fitts, being overgrown with spring vegetation and long grass, so the early going isn't particularly easy. Press on among the riverside plants though, the way just clear enough to not get sketchy, and only drifting a bit too close to the high bank of the Wharfe on a couple of occasions, and it all feels pleasingly remote as it describes a long curve eastwards, with the Harewood bank slowly receding and the hamlet of Netherby on the north bank offering not much sight of habitation, the most obvious signs of life being on the slopes of the Stockton Hill Climb off to the south. I'm nearly an hour into the day when I get sent word from my Harewood friends, mildly astonished at my capacity for an early start, and I'll promise to one day manage a proper drop in, despite passing through the village three times this year, and not having dropped in in 4 years. Carthick Wood provides some tree cover and pushes the path ridiculously close to the high bank too, showing clear signs of crumblage in the wake of the Festive Season floods, and despite its presence on the map, I find it hard to believe that there is a bridleway crossing a viable ford somewhere down there.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Ilkley to Harewood 18/06/16

16.8 miles, via Denton Park, Askwith, Weston Park, Otley, Pool Bridge, Castley & Weeton.

The Spring - Summer transition offers us long days, but cooler than those to come, so it's a fine time to get some long days on the trail, and it's been an age since I gave proper attention to Lower Wharfedale, still missing from my schedule for some reason, and heading out to Ilkley feels like visiting an old friend that I haven't seen in a while, a home from home in 2013 and not seen since, so let's get busy with the bottom half of the Wharfe, it deserves the attention after three years away. Off the train at 9.30am, and the sights of Brook Street and New Brook Street are still familiar, going down the steps to Ilkley Park and setting off along the riverside path, under the bridge and westwards, a direction not previously travelled, with allotments, semis and terraces facing the Wharfe before we slip into wooded seclusion alongside the cemetery. Altogether too short a stretch before we are forced to change sides, over the 1934 chain-link suspension bridge, and to join the many cyclists on the north bank using Denton Road, a riverside lane that hides the water behind a bank of trees and offers few substantial views to the north, but still preferable to attempting the stepping stones crossing (with a huge gap in the middle) or the far too narrow Denton Bridge. Quieter going beyond there but keep away from Denton as the road wanders away from the river and its quite a surprise to shift onto the front lawn of Denton Hall, finally giving us something to see in the north, and Low Park Road provides views south to the bulk of Rombalds Moor and its ever-evolving profile. As the lane becomes West Lane, it rises further away from the valley floor and the welcome sunshine gives more definition to the southern views, as well as teasing the distant Otley Chevin, whilst my feel for the locations of southern Wharfedale seems to be instinctively good, so all the time spent over on that side wasn't wasted. Arrive in the village of Askwith, to find it quite large and strung out along the lane, superbly picturesque and an ideal spot for elevenses if it wasn't for a complete lack of benches, so paces continue on, too early for watering at the Askwith Arms and so downhill again, with the fields to the north suggesting manorial park land that has recently turned to agriculture, and that does seem to be a recurrent theme on this northern side of Wharfedale.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Tadcaster to York 11/06/16

14.1 miles, via The Old Street, Street Houses, Bilbrough Top, Copmanthorpe, Bishopthorpe,
 Middlethorpe Ings & The City Walls.

Nearly miss today's excursion because I was enjoying the sleep of the dead, so it's all a bit of a dash to get myself out of the house and onto the trail, not arriving at my start point until 10.55am, hopping off the Coastliner by St Mary's church having found the most convenient bus stop and avoiding an extra half mile of walking through Tadcaster. So first operation is to get over the Wharfe, not the straightforward task it used to be now that the bridge is out of use, but a footbridge has been constructed a short distance down stream so that the locals can now catch a bus to York or use the local Sainsbury's without needing a long odyssey across half the county. Good to see the bridge in place as the town really does have the feel of being brutally severed from half its populace, and our trail on the Ebor Way, the least loved of all of Yorkshire's paths (so neglected that even I am not interested in doing its complete length) has us heading up Commercial Street through the older part of East Tadcaster and on through to York Road, showing up this part as the more ordinarily residential half of the town, not that some of the breweries' tied houses don't have attractive faces. Press on to the countryside again, to the Toll Bar house and the tangle of roads as the A659 and the A64 merge, and the shortest route to York would be via the latter, but a trail by the dual carriageway would be no fun so the way leads us to Catterton Lane and a green and leafy road walk to pick up the trail along The Old Street, the former Roman road between Calcaria and Eboracum, and you might think it would be easy to find, but it's well hidden away from the field boundaries and deep into a strip of woodland. It's not fun going at all, dense and uncut vegetation stands waist deep and after all the inclement weather of the preceding few days means that I am soon soaked to the skin and walking in waterlogged boots before the first field is cleared, and despite clearer footing beyond, my spirits have sunken horribly, and if there hadn't been a clear dry track to the cluster of farm at Street Houses I might have considered bailing on arrival by the A64.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Leeds to Tadcaster 04/06/16

18.3 miles via Harehills, Gipton, Seacroft, Swarcliffe, Scholes, Barwick in Elmet, Potterton,
 Bramham Park & Bramham.

With June arriving at the table, it feels like the time to start hitting the long trails, and it's completely against my nature to start a walking day at the sort of time that I'd normally be starting work, it makes sense to do this when you have 2 hours worth of East Leeds to get across on the latest trail to York, and so Leeds station is departed at 8.35am, with my legs and brain prepped for a very long tour. Down the steps to Bishopgate Street, where the Scarborough Taps still forms the centrepieces of the city's real pubs quarter, and down below the railway on Swinegate, and we do seem to be hitting the paths already walked rather early in the day for the passage across Lower Briggate, but get to a fresh path to pass up The Calls and High Court, to reach Leeds Minster (still the Parish Church in my mind), and its pair of pubs, the newly arrived Lamb & Flag and the enduring Palace. Footfalls on old paths once again beyond Kirkgate, over the many tracks of the A61 to get to Marsh Lane, to check out the old station remnants of the original Marsh Lane stations (one being the first in the city, and does its gateposts endure by the old goods yard?) before passing beinhd the Kremlin (aka the Dept of Health) before passing under the A64(M). Beyond East Leeds awaits, with Beckett Street leading between the Lincoln Green and Burmantofts estates, and up to St James's Hospital (established on site in 1845 and still growing), and the original Leeds Cemetery, once on the outer edge of the city. A hard though to absorb after the growth of the vast array of terraces on Harehills in the late 19th century, with Stanley Road and Compton Road leading to the passage across Harehills Lane, and it's amazing how early the local wildlife have come out to play, the streets already busy not long after 9am.

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Washburn Valley (Bottom Half) 29/05/16

17.1 miles, via Bramhope, Pool in Wharfedale, Leathley, Lindley Wood Reservoir,
 Dobpark Bridge, Swinsty Reservoir, Fewston Embankment, Swinsty Hall, Dob Park,
  Newall Carr & Otley.

Spring bank holiday weekend, and with Saturday scratched from the schedule, it makes more sense to make good use of Sunday for a walk of decent duration rather than only doing 10 miles or so on the Monday, so the reduced service is tested on the buses as I set course for lower Wharfedale, where more trails need to be blazed, in search of its only major tributary. Start by St Giles church in Bramhope, at 9.40am as a descent into Wharfedale with accompanying views seems like a good idea, but my chosen path down Staircase Lane stops being a residential road pretty quickly and soon becomes a shady dirt track ripe with the smell of Wild Garlic, offering no panoramas of any kind. Still, it's the quickest route down to Pool in Wharfedale, arriving on the upscale edge along Pool Bank Road, descending over the old railway site and down to the village centre, around the White Hart and St Wilfred's church, and it's another off the list of notable West Yorkshire settlements that hadn't had a visit yet. Over the Wharfe at Pool bridge, hitting the lane out towards Leathley, with views aplenty to back Caley Park and the Chevin, but few in the direction we are headed, but the road needs to be walked, rather than taking the continuing field route, as the B6161 takes us as close as can be gotten to the confluence of the Washburn, the river that we will be keeping company today, which makes occasional appearances at the roadside on the way up to Leathley, a village scattered around the parkland and church of St Oswald at it heart. Soon away from the upscale country living though, as the footpath at the side of the Washburn is met above the old mill and some quiet river walking can commence upstream, rising to the site of a trout hatchery, which the path skirts along the old goit channel and rises to meet Lindley Bridge, an impressive structure over the modestly scaled river at the valley floor.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Way #3 - Londesborough to Fridaythorpe 26/05/16

14.2 miles, via Nunburnholme, Warren Dale, Sylvan Dale, Nettle Dale, Pasture Dale, Huggate, Horse Dale & Holm Dale.

National Trail means Selfies!
#3 at Londesborough
Wednesday brings the rain, as is predictable for May, and a rest day is spent with limited activity, like hitting the Woodmansey garden centre for many, many cups of tea, and taking a ride into Beverley to check out the new Flemingate shopping centre and to get in a cut price meal in Prezzo. Rest is good when faced with the glum day that follows, with no chance of the sunshine enjoyed on the first two days, and so the will is stiffened and a determined attitude is donned for a 9.30am start in Londesborough, picking up the path outside All Saints church once again, and determining this estate village as notably desirable in a brick built and Arts & Crafts sort of way, before pressing off north-ish along a lane which seems to lack a name and carries us to the very lowest edge of the Wolds Terrain. Naturally, with limited elevation and grey skies, it's here we find an interpretative board, to point out the sights of Vale of York which are largely hidden by the low-hanging cloud, only Church Hill at Holme on Spalding Moor is identifiable. It's an altogether inauspicious start to the days trail, with only Cleaving Coombe illustrating the scenery you'd expect of the Wolds, and once the next lane has been met and the yard of Partridge Hall has been traversed, we hit a field walk around the low edge of Burnby Wold and the long grass gives the trews a heavy soaking, meaning that spirits start to dip as we meet the rough growth and sketchy path down towards Nunburnholme. It's a village with a stream, and nuns, if the name is to be believed, but we won't be seeing much more of it than a few houses and the quaint church of St James (complete with organ rehearsal!) before landing on another field walk, with more long grass getting me we right up to my thighs, and spirits aren't good as we note that we have dropped well below the expected altitudes of the Wolds and the coming paths are going to feature a lot more uphill trekking.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Way #2 - South Cave to Londesborough 24/05/16

14.4 miles, via Weedley Dale, High Hunsley, Swin Dale, Newbald Wold, Hessleskew, Arras
 & Goodmanham.

National Trail means Selfies!
#2 at South Cave
I'm not going for consecutive days of walking, even when the weather is spectacularly warm and clear, I still need my rest days and Monday will be spent on Retail Therapy and Fish'n'Chips in Hornsea (both rather belatedly) and driving around Holderness to watch the continuing disappearance of the caravan park and WW2 era battery at Kilnsea. Back to the trail on Tuesday then, with the parental taxi taking me to the edge of South Cave for a 9.45 start, with the sun blazing down once again, and after the gentle start to day one, we are straight into the hard stuff today, hitting the pull and ascent away from Beverley Road and up to Little Wold Plantation, for some shady going and the rise to Comberdale Hill for what ought to be our last views back to the trail seen before and our long time companion the Humber Estuary. The descent down to Weedley Dale is made through is subsidiary branch Comber Dale, and the high sided valley below would be a fascinating feature in itself but becomes even more interesting with the presence of the former Hull & Barnsley main line running through it. I've mentioned that the H&BR was a late arrival and always doomed failure in competition with the NER, and had to build a heavily engineered route through the Wolds as their rival had already claimed the easiest path, and part of that line, operational from 1885 to 1959 can be found here. The Drewton Estate might not want us to walk the Wolds Way down their chalk cutting anymore, but I'll have a trespass when at this close proximity, westwards down to Weedley Tunnel, short and in good condition, though gated off, and eastwards to Sugar Loaf tunnel, also short but in much worse condition with deteriorating lining, but accessible right through to the cutting infilling at its eastern portal. Worth a look with no one around to chase you away, and that will satiate my need for railway relics for now, as the mile-plus beast of Drewton Tunnel is too remote and inaccessible for the casual visitor.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Yorkshire Wolds Way #1 - Hessle to South Cave 22/05/16

12.9 miles, via North Ferriby, Welton, Wauldby & Brantingham.

National Trail means Selfies!
 Leg #1 at Hessle.
Spring Jollies are here already, as 2016 continues apace, and the feeling of not having achieved anything of substance so far this year has to be put aside as my path returns me to East Yorkshire and my next tilt a National Trail, as its been two years since my last one, and the nearest available one (aside from the Pennines's Way and Bridleway) is the Yorkshire Wolds Way, established in 1982 and a 79 mile coast to coast trek entirely within one county. It's a pretty sedate sort of trail too, not regularly topping 200m, and yet pleasingly remote without ever getting into moorland and feeling far from rural civilisation, but there will be ascents and descents, of remarkable steepness, along the way, so a bit of neat planning is in order to not get yourself too many long days over the long band of chalk that rises between the flatlands of the Vale of York and Holderness. My Parents have come along too, to share another residence at Barmston Farm, Woodmansey, and the relaxed days between the trail, and it's sort of fortunate that they are not of a mood to get too ambitious in their holidaying these days as I'm again in need of a taxi service to get me from point to point over the first three legs, and I'll be fancying just as much of a sit down and relax on my days off as they would as this is proving to be a generally tiring year in nearly all aspects. Anyway, enough rambling, after sitting Saturday out after a pleasingly long sleep and relax, the parental taxi is needed for a Sunday morning start on the Humber Estuary, amongst a landscape that couldn't be much further removed from that you would anticipate in the Yorkshire Wolds.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Leeds to Otley 14/05/15

11.4 miles, via Burley Park, Queenswood Estate, Clayton Wood, Tinshill, Scotland,
 Moor Side & East Carlton.

Shockingly, we have only one weekend to fill before my Spring Jollies come along, and not feeling like attempting anything too ambitious, it's back to city walking once again, with the day looking much nicer than we were promised, allowing another late start as I exit Leeds station at 10.10am with the feeling that I'm starting to run out of unique routes to take through the city centre. It's not a huge problem as there aren't going to be many trails blazed to the north-west any time soon, initial footfalls take in Quebec Street, King Street and St Paul's Street before cutting a path across Park Square, where St Paul's House is still Thomas Ambler's masterwork and always worthy of a shot or two despite first being photographed 14 years ago. Across Westgate and its bold traffic island before heading up Leighton Street past the Nuffield Hospital to emerge by St George's, to embark on part of my old route to and from work, passing over the Inner Ring by the Clarendon Wing, and on through Woodhouse Square and Hanover Square, both Georgian attempts at creating a new suburb for the city that never quite came to fruition. The latter looks like it's having a bit of a spruce up, to retain student custom I'd guess, and Denison Hall is still there, gradually getting more and more hidden by foliage at the top of the park, still a good sight to see before I shift to Park Lane, home of the college, and slide down into the land of student apartment blocks that have grown at the town end of Burley Road. Not wishing to step again on my path to Guiseley, the pavements of Westfield Road lead into the bottom corner of Leeds 6, or Hyde Park, the quarter that has largely retained its resident population rather than being filled with transient students, and it's good to have a nostalgic amble along the terrace ends of Alexandra Road, and to find the small park that I had somehow missed along the way. Arriving on Cardigan Road, we are conveniently opposite the footbridge over the Harrogate Line and into Burley Park, a regular haunt back in the day, and not seen in nine years or so, and redevelopment seems to be claiming a couple of fresh sites for student flats, but the bulk of the Beechwoods are unchanged, and it's a rapid drop and rise again along Stanmore Hill before we can have a brief hello to my old house on Knowle Mount.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Leeds to Harewood 07/05/16

9.8 miles, via Sheepscar, Chapeltown, Chapel Allerton, Moortown, Slaid Hill & Wike.

Social walking plans for the weekend ultimately came to naught, largely because there was a lot more enthusiasm among my colleagues for a pub trip rather than the walk to get there, and also because I've been toiling with a heavy chest for the whole week, and was really in no state to do an 8 mile trip across Rombalds Moor and then be actively sociable afterwards. The arrival of Spring, on this first weekend in May promises temperatures up to 19 degrees C, so staying in bed to rest isn't really an option, so a walk is plucked from the reserve list and a late-ish start is made to make the break from Leeds once again, and even though my track has me heading north, a departure via the new South Entrance seems in order to get me a few fresh roads, emerging into the warmth at Granary Wharf at 10.05am. Back over the Aire on the footbridge to Little Neville Street and onwards to Sovereign Street, where the redevelopment of office buildings has restarted after years of stagnation, albeit on a much more modest scale than was proposed a decade ago, thence to Swingate and across Briggate to Call Lane, deep in the heart of Bar Territory to make my way up to New Market Street to take the Vicar Lane axis out of town. Kirkgate Market is looking as good as it ever does in the sunshine, but it's not in the best of health due to the redevelopment going on to create the Victoria Gate centre to its north, a scheme that I worry might overbalance the city centre and give us more shopping centres than we honestly need, though I don't object to the architecture of it like many do. The whole of Vicar Lane is a bit of a mess with the road up and the Victoria Arcade clad in scaffolding, and I'll still lament the loss of the noted venue the Duchess of York, replaced by a branch of Hugo Boss, and the vanished symmetry of Eastgate is also to be regretted. Happy though the old Bus station has finally found a use, though, but I'm on the wrong side of the street to get pics of the Grand Arcade before the city centre ends abruptly at the Inner Ring, carving its way through North Street and leaving a couple of proud buildings detached from the city, such as the Public Dispensary (a hospital of the pre-NHS days) and the Smithfield Ironworks, odd then, considering the company, that the Leeds College of Building should occupy one of the least inspired buildings in the city.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

5,000-1 - A Leicester City Fan's Musings.

NB. This post contains a lot of musing about football and absolutely nothing about walking,
 so feel free to move along, if you're not interested.

Well, the 2015-15 Barclays Premier League Season has reached its apotheosis and Leicester City have done the impossible, claiming their first ever top flight title in 132 years, in the supposed 'toughest league in the world', where titles cannot be earned by graft, and are only won by paying out money for the acquisition of 'quality' players. When you grow up in a mid-size city, you never expect your local football team to be able to do something so unlikely, your expectations are that they ought to be good enough to stay in the top division for a prolonged spell, or to be able to challenge for promotion each season if they are in the second tier, but you'd never expect them to challenge for the English title, let alone win the thing. Thus when odds were given for the start of the season, 5,000-1 did not seem like an insult, because Leicester City were not a great team and would not challenge for the title, because it's just not something that they do, but now the football world has been turned on its head, and the most improbable rise in the history of English Football has arrived at its culmination. So allow me to share my thoughts on this particular tale, as this is my personal forum, even though this has nothing at all to do with the actual purpose of my blog...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Cross Gates to New Pudsey 30/04/16

13.9 miles, via Gipton, Gledhow Valley, Meanwood, Weetwood, West Park,
 Hawksworth Wood, Horsforth New Road Side,  Calverley Bridge, Rodley & Farsley.

After my first actually adventurous trips of the year, my plans return to urban walking again, though my original plan, heading to Otley, falls when I find that the Tour de Yorkshire is due to start its stage out there, and so we find ourselves checking the reserve list for alternate ideas, and the realisation that I haven't attempted to walk across Leeds on the East-West axis. Thus a revelatory plan is hatched, travelling out to get three quarters of the City visited in a single trip and mostly staying outside the boundaries of the Victorian-Edwardian city, riding out to Cross Gates for a 10am start and striking north past the Crossgates Centre and St Theresa's church to find the rather too modest Barnbow Memorial on the A6120 island (with the literal gates on it). Start the westward trail on Crossgates Road, where the residential dual carriageway mostly shadows the old bridleway to York Road and Seacroft Hospital, and once we've met the Killingbeck Burger King, site of many student era feedings, the path beyond to the lands between the A64 and the A58 is a journey into the completely unknown. In 20+ years up country, my paths have never taken me into Seacroft or Gipton, and Foundry Lane is the old country road that separates them, even if the eponymous Foundry is long gone beneath the explosion of urban growth that started in the 1950s to become one of the largest council estates in the country. Beyond Wyke Beck, creating the green corridor that still keeps the Seacroft estate distinct from the older city, we lead into Gipton, past the garden full of pub signage, and on to the Church of the Epiphany, one of the few truly brilliant examples of 20th century ecclesiastical architecture, Grade 1 listed! It would be the most notable thing about the district if it wasn't for the boulevards, wide avenues that were part of an ambitious 1930s garden suburb plan that never quite paid off, and there's some interesting lost history to be found among the semis, to make you wonder if the residents of Amberton Road are aware of the proximity of the site of Gipton pit, or that they have the remains of a colliery tramway running through their back gardens.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Church Fenton to York 23/04/16

16.6 miles, via Cawood, Kelfield, Stillingfleet, Naburn & Fulford.

If you've decided to travel from Church Fenton station, you have to start when the two-hourly trains allow you to, so against all my normal walking instincts the day has to start by hopping off the 8.50am arrival, with the weather bringing on a bright Spring-like sky, but a fearsome wind coming on from the North-West, and the day has to start with some trainspotting before striking off along Station Road to the village centre. The road beyond the White Horse is wholly new territory, finally making an appearance after many comfortable days inside West Yorkshire, and my impression of the village holds steady, continuing to grow as a commuter settlement but still retaining a lot of rural charm, and populous enough to sustain two pubs, as the Fenton Flyer is met as Main Street starts to snake its way back into the countryside. Run out of footways as Busk lane turns to Brackenhill Lane, but for once we seem to have found a country lane that doesn't have a lot of traffic on it, and once beyond the turn to Biggin, you could kid yourself that you have this flatland lane to yourself, and attention can wander to the extensive site to the north that was once RAF Church Fenton, and has since become East Leeds airport, which seems like a rather overly ambitious title at the moment, but let's see where the economics take it, eh? Press on past Paradise Grange farm, and on to the long drag to Violet Hill farm, with only Paradise Wood and the passage of trains on the distant ECML for company, and this landscape illustrates well the difficulties of any walk from West Yorkshire to York, as your path of choice will be wholly determined by where you can cross the Ouse or the Wharfe. No train action at all to be seen once I get to the footbridge over the railway, and the farm track walking continues, onto and around Primrose Hill farm before hitting a brief field walk to meet the avenue of trees at the outer end of Fostergate Lane, which leads us purposefully over towards the village of Cawood, where contemporary development has grown around the peripheries but the centre still has the feel of a 19th century fishing village. The 19th century feeling extends to the roads, clearly inadequate for the B1223 and B1222, but it would be impossible to widen in any way, and the traffic directing measures on the 1872 swing bridge don't feel like they've been updated since its construction, and it's a wonderful moment of serendipity coming my way as I cross over the Ouse and meet a horse-drawn Gypsy caravan crossing to the south.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Cross Gates to Church Fenton 16/04/16

12.8 miles, via Manston, Barnbow, Parlington, Aberford, Lead, Cold Hill & Barkston Ash.

Let's strike away from Leeds, as the first two months have spent a lot of time breaking new ground within my experience bubble, and the oncoming Spring feels like a good time to set course for new lands beyond it, namely York, and as we are wandering to Church Fenton once again, we have to be particular with our start time, and allow ourselves a 5 and a half hour window to do a 5 hour walk. So off the train at Cross Gates station at 10am, and start the passage eastwards along the footpath to Railway Street and Austhorpe Road, noting sadly that the bridge on the old Wetherby Line has gone, thanks to road widening but the gates to the second Barnbow munitions works has gained a blue plaque to illustrates the industrial heritage of the area. Up to the Barnbow pub, knowing that name has a lot more resonance than it did to me a year ago, and onward down Manston Lane, where the industrial park is gradually diminishing and turning to residential use, but the Vickers Tank factory is still extent, but in need of a usage, and it would be a shame to see such a large factory destroyed to be replaced by anonymous suburbia. Past the sports club and Manston farm, we are soon out into the countryside, with it looking like it's going to be a good day, past Lazencroft farm, and the crossing house on the railway and there's little to strike the casual viewer that a century ago, the first Barnbow munitions work was assembled and operated in these fields. Employing 16,000 and staffed largely by women, it produced 566,000 tonnes of shells during the First World War and in December 1916 was the site of an explosion which killed 35 workers, a death toll that wasn't publically acknowledged until 1923. The eagle eyed will thus start to spot the foundation remnants that hide below turf and tree cover, and it puts something of a solution to the Mysterious Landscape that I saw here in 2012 when the Leeds Country Way brought me out here. Follow Barnbow Lane on a northward track to cross out friend Cock Beck and make my way to the footpath that leads out across Garforth Golf Course, a frustratingly sticky track that is well trodden enough to give an obvious passage among the golfers, but my hopes for a clear day are dashed as a hail storm starts to lash down, and 2016's winter indicates its going to have a pretty long tail.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Leeds to Guiseley 09/04/16

11 miles, via Burley, Kirkstall, Hawksworth, Horsforth, Rawdon & Yeadon.

A nice weekend off to start the month, drinking and socialising, returning to the trail on that weekend, the second one in April, where I always feel there's a shift in the air temperature and it actually starts to feel like Spring, and the initial suggestions for today are good, with clear skies and plenty of sunshine, but as soon as that wind from the north-west cuts in, it's evident that wintery feelings might be around for a while yet. At least starting out from the Big City might keep some extra warmth in the air, starting out from Leeds station at 10.05, and immediately heading from the Aire Street exit to head down Whitehall Road to seek out the other remnants of Leeds Central station, still enduring since its closure, notably the remains of the passageway leading into the station hotel, and the wagon hoist that remains in the midst of the Wellington Place office park, an odd survivor that is treated with due reverence, though it's frustrating that there are no good angles on the approach viaduct from this quarter. Set the north-western course by heading across Wellington Street and up Lisbon Street, past the desolate site of the International Swimming Pool, and over the Inner Ring via the footbridge that leads to the knot of council houses around Duncombe Street. Rising to Burley Street we take an interest in passage of the many terraces that once endured between Burley Road and Kirkstall Road but were swept away by the city planners to be replaced by light industry and offices in the 1960s, these days only The Fox & Newt (a regular watering hole) and The Highland (which I've never visited) remain, along with the former vicarage of St Andrew's church (itself gone). Hopefully life will return to this quarter as blocks of student flats continue to develop, and I'll wander down the access road parallel to Burley Road as far as the ITV studios before returning to the roadside, where there are plenty of terraces remaining in the LS6 - Hyde Park sector, but for some reason the missing ones interest me more as I pace on to pass under the Harrogate line, noting the only pair of 19th century houses that still stand before pressing on past St Matthias's church and down to the site of Burley Village, a patch of parkland where the old village endured until the early 20th century.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Horsforth to Bingley 28/03/16

10.4 miles, via Rawdon, Esholt, Baildon (& the Bank) & Shipley Glen.

Easter Monday dawns and British Summer Time is here at last, and a late start is in order to get in behind the rain, so the ride out to Horsforth station doesn't have me getting on the trail until almost 11.15am, but the clocks change has us in exactly the same part of the solar day as I'd previously employing, and in keeping with the West Leeds theme of the early part of 2016, it's time to start using the suburban stations on the Harrogate line to see what scope on the city they can open up. So set out onto Station Road, still uncertain where the actual centre of Horsforth might be, and find this corner looking rather desirable if it wasn't for the fact that it is located directly below the Leeds & Bradford airport flightpath, and once the turn is made onto Brownberrie Lane by the Old Ball, a feeling of sudden elevation is gained as you look out over the cricket field to Hunger Hills and the realisation that we are quite a lot higher than the Aire Valley up here. Press on through the smarter lands of outer suburbia, passing Trinity University, which I still call TASC when I want to show my age, and this is a site still growing beyond the confines of the Theological and Arts college that it started out as. Moving beyond the periphery of Greater Leeds, the lack of views starts to get frustrating, and only once we meet the green space before Rawdon can we get a look of two in the direction of Calverley and Pudsey, with the faintest glint of snow on the far distant hills to the south of Kirklees. Slip onto Layon Avenue for some quieter going and to pass around the back of St Peter's Rawdon, before returning to Town Street for a look uo to Billings Hill, the other good viewpoint in this quarter and pass the Emmott Arms and the cricket field to clock the fact that there's a lot more to Rawdon than the snippet that you see when travelling up the A65. Hit the ginnel that snakes its way among the Larkfields and start the first descent of the day past the allotments with the memorial to J. Arthur Godwin, first Lord Mayor of Bradford, before passing out across Park Road and down the passageway that leads out to New Road Side and the A65, for a short look at the familiar face of Rawdon before finding the semi waterlogged path that slips around Littlemoor Primary school and down to the A658.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Apperley Bridge to Leeds 26/03/16

9.7 miles, via Calverley Bridge, Newlay, & Kirkstall.

Back Up Country again, for a long Easter Weekend that seems to be apt to deal the best weather onto the days that I won't be walking (Friday and Sunday) and leaving the cruddy stuff for the days when I'm hitting the trail, so there's gonna be quite a bit of attempting to stay ahead of the rain as my quest to visit every railway station in West Yorkshire resumes. Apperley Bridge in a new arrival on the scene this year, one of three scheduled to enter service in 2016, and that's an extra wrinkle to add to this particular quest, and whilst it's not on the site of the original station, it's a fresh drop off point between Leeds and Shipley to use, secreted below the bridge that carries the old access road to Esholt Hall, and a handy starting point for a walk along the River Aire back into the City. So onwards at 9.55am, off through the carpark to get back to the A658 Harrogate Road, last seen only a couple of weeks back, and above the site of the original Midland Railway station (1846-1965) we find our way onto Woodlands Drive to pass up and over the line branching to Ilkley and to wander among the many expensive villas that have grown up and become hidden along this semi-private road. Footpaths lead down to the riverbank, via playing fields and freshly silaged grasslands to pick up the path last seen when walking the Leeds Country Way in 2012, but the scenario is pretty dissimilar now, as the remnants of the Boxing Day floods still scar the landscape. Plastic bags and paper still coat the low hanging branches of the waterside trees and dried grass is knotted up in every link of fence to be seen, and on the southern side there's heavy scouring on the banks and even a couple of trees have been felled, I'm guessing that this is one mess that no human hands are going to clean up. Drift away from the bank around the sewage works, but keep on towards Leeds this time around, returning to the waterside to pass below the impressive pair of railway bridges and to take in the fenced off lands to the north where a farm and former industrial park are getting the residential redevelopment treatment as Woodlands at Horsforth Vale, not yet sufficiently complete to have alarmed the new residents as the floodwaters of 2015 surged up to and through its perimeter fence.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Humberstone to Oadby 24/03/16

6.3 miles, via Old Schools, Urban Villages and Lost Estates.

Two more days of making myself useful spent, dismantling a built-in wardrobe that My Dad had constructed to never come apart, and lugging ridiculous quantities of compost around so that Spring might bring some gardening action for my folks, and the remaining day available for walking doesn't look too promising, with only half of it looking good before a lot of rain arrives. So I'll do only half of the walk planned, as it takes in quite a lot of my personal history, and leave the countryside half for later, as I ought to do more urban walking in Leicester, for it is the city where I was born and grew up. Places from my formative past are to fall beneath my feet then, and where better place to start at 9.20am than at Abbotts Road URC, where the family have had an influence for many years, and many significant social lessons were learned, not a place that will be removed from my psyche with any ease despite my religious nature being lost a long time ago. Not to far away, beyond the Ring Road and at the top of the street is to be found Humberstone village, where both my Infant and Junior schools still endure, where I had my formal education between 1978 and 1985, still housed in buildings of frustratingly indeterminate age that owe more to Victorian ideals than those of the Post-War age, and whilst the pre-fabs and the wooden nursery have gone, it's good to see how much remains. Tour the whole combined site by taking the walk along Main Street and then back through Windmill Park, to return down Lidster Court by St Mary's Church, a Victorian rebuild job of a Medieval foundation, before taking in the small corner of the villages that suggests it rural heritage before the city grew to swallow it in the 20th century. The loss of the rural aspect of this corner can be found in the tale of Humberstone Hall, the site of which, south of the village, was completely consumed by housing in the 1930s with the house itself demolished with only a couple of estate lodges remaining, and its driveway becoming the locally legendary Pine Tree Avenue, where the huge and proud trees are still present, despite actually being Sequoias.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

East Leicestershire Village Circuit #3 21/03/16

16.7 miles, via Houghton on the Hill, Ingarsby, Billesdon, Rolleston,  Illston on the Hill,
 Burton Overy, Great Glen & Stretton Magna.

Down Country as per tradition at the end of March, to offer company to My Parents and to make myself useful around the house now that My Dad is rather less mobile than he was, so a Sunday lunchtime carvery trip followed by a good afternoon of yardwork gets us off to a good start, but as Spring finally arrives on the calendar it's time to get back on the trail, and as it's been a lot of short trips around so far this must be a cue to get some good miles under my boots. Leicestershire is good country for piling on the forgiving mileages, so another village circuit comes together, almost off the cuff, and deliberately aligned to overlap with my previous circuits of the east of the county, so start out from the yard of the Old Black Horse in Houghton on the Hill, dropped off by My Mum at 9.35am, with it all looking much the same as it did last October, right down to the uninspiring weather. Head northwards up Main Street to the crossing of the A47 and thence out into the countryside along Ingarsby Lane, to take the shortest possible route to my favourite lost village, spotting the burgeoning static solar energy field developing above Houghton village, and this might be the popularist lane in this quarter today as it's here and only here that other wanderers are to be found on these tracks. Rise on the bridleway to the lost village, still as lovable as it ever was, and the lack of vegetation cover this time around means I can see the viaduct over Ingarsby Hollow, the major bridge relic of the GNR Leicester extension line, and that's a nice spot, not seen last time. Eastwards then, on the bridleway that feels like a lane that dropped from the landscape along with Ingarsby village, for some muddy going with attention focused towards Coplow Hill, the distinctive hill in these parts, prominent without being all that tall, hidden away by behind the woodlands of Botany Bay Covert, passed through before arrival on Tilton Lane, running close to the top of the hill. Unfortunately, the wood on the hill top offers no permissive walks of any kind, so a gaze into the trees is all you can offer as the roads skirt around the hilltop, which feels somewhat frustrating as a viewpoint up here would be most welcome to get views towards the city or to the majestic Quenby Hall.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

New Pudsey to Otley 12/03/16

9.1 miles, via Calverley, Apperley Bridge & Guiseley.

Onwards to test more socks and to put aside the often repeated idea that 'March means Serious Business', only fancying modest distances whilst the boots still need breaking in, and my physical eagerness is somewhat lacking. No trouble with the mental enthusiasm, though, getting my route planned and me onto the train that drops me off at New Pudsey station at just after 10am, where I get spotted by my colleague AS, and her husband PD and I suppose it had to happen eventually, what with me traveling county wide for the last 4+ years! First steps are made away to the edge of the Ring Road, a rather in auspicious start for a day that will turn out to be remarkably rural and leafy, going as far as the footbridge that crosses over to Priesthorpe School, and then the Priesthorpe Lane bridleway can lead us off into that rural space that has endured between Leeds and Bradford without development encroaching upon it, where even the old roads are largely un-adopted. The Woodhall Hills golf course has been a useful buffer to keep this land as Green Belt, but it's still a surprise to find working farms out here, as well as uninterrupted views down into Airedale, especially once Shell Lane is met to slip over the rise towards Calverley. It's all to easy to think od Calverley as a street in Leeds, rather than a place in its own right, but it's pretty substantial, still separated from Leeds and Bradford, and looking like the sort of place where a Victorian merchant might once his fortune was made, at least judging by the quarter of the town which we first meet. It's grown a lot since then but remains immensely characterful, and impressions remain good as we move from Woodhall Lane and onto the A657 Carr Road to pass St Wilfred's church and note that even the local Day Nursery has an impressive period building. All the way we go to the top left corner of the town, not tempted  by the bridleways through Calverley's wood, because I want to walk down Calverley Cutting, found at the end of a long tree-lined avenue and cut straight through the rock out crop high above the Aire, I'd always assumed that it was an industrial tramway or incline, judging by its steepness and heavy engineering, but in reality it's a product of Victorian residential speculation proving that not all entrepreneurs of that period were blessed with the vision thing.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Bramley to Bramhope 05/03/16

8.8 miles, via Newlay, Horsforth Woodside, Ireland Wood, Tinshill Moor & Cookridge.

So the travelling to new lands starts here, fortified with new socks, because if Mountain Warehouse are going to keep giving me money off vouchers, I'm going to keep on shopping there, and wearing my new woolly pair, it's off the train at Bramley just before 10.30am, hopeful that I'm going to miss the worst of the weather that has been projected, and that the snow that fell yesterday hasn't left any awkward going between here and the Wharfedale fringe. So northwards, across Stanningley Road, and letting Hough Lane guide me along its kinky course among Bramley's terraces to crest the hill by St Peter's parish church, with its notable landmark spire, and to meet the A657 Low Town Street just above the Bramley Shopping centre, and a fine view over the Aire towards Leeds could be had here, only if you could gain that extra bit of elevation. Hit the main road for a stretch, spotting the old bits of Bramley that were here before the city consumed it, before finding the convenient alleyway that cuts the corner over to Broad Lane, and the day starts to warm through as Newlay Lane brings a more suburban aspect, and once over Leeds & Bradford Road, Pollard Lane provides an altogether leafier aspect on the descent to the riverside. Bramley Fall Park seems a tempting location, offering rough paths among the woodland and former quarries, but I'm heading over the canal, railway and river, cramped together at Newlay, where the Aire is looking pretty busy with post-snowfall runoff as it churns below Pollard bridge. Newlay Lane on this side gives an altogether more expensive face, and that's the story along much of this quarter, the expensive Victorian villas standing on the rise away from the river, and across the A65, Outwood Lane is a bit more modest in scale, but no less desirable, hung above the deep wood cleft of Hawksworth Clough. Press on through Horsforth Woodside, where extensive residential development never quite put an end to the many local woods, clinging to hillsides just that bit too steep for building upon, and pass across the A6120 Ring Road and onto Low Lane before hitting the rough path down to Old Mill Beck, which is  also having a fierce churn with wintery runoff.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Morley to Cross Gates 25/02/16

11.3 miles, via Middleton Park, Hunslet, Cross Green, East End Park, Osmandthorpe,
Halton Moor & Primrose Valley Park

Long weekend due, with My Parents visiting for the first time since Dad was discharged from hospital, and as they'll be my shopping transport for the coming days, it makes sense to get out before they arrive, and Thursday offers me the best day of the four, and this should be my last wander away from Morley for this year, so you can stay in bed until 15 minutes before you need to start walking. No surprises on my initial steps, a 10am start down Queen Street and up Chapel Hill, taking in New Bank Street as the new route, still feeling the absence of the former Wesleyan Chapel destroyed by fire last year, passing the progressive development out to Daisy Hill and re-joining known paths out to Broad Oaks farm, keenly guarded by an exuberant dog, and thence on downwards to the old footbridge across the railway. Surprised I have never come this way before, as it clearly presents the quickest route to the White Rose Centre, and those who don't wish to shop can take the woodland walk around the perimeter, or they would if the installation of level access for the neighbouring business park had not blocked the path, so paces are taken back to access the car park, to head back in the right direction. Down by the 'lakeside path' and the channel of Mill Shaw beck before popping out onto the A6110 Ring Road Beeston, and find a lack of paths on the short route over to the A653 Dewsbury Road, and my path starts to get loopy as I rise to cross the railway by Stank Hall barn, choosing to not attempt the rough path over the golf course this time. Instead take the hard path that slips around the back of the Park Wood estate to follow one of the really lost railways of the county, the GNR Beeston Junction - Hunslet Goods line (1899 - 1967), whose alignment endures as a green space around to Ring Road Middleton, where the bridge tops remain and the line is nicely memorialised, before vanishing. Join Gipsy Lane to pass the Cockburn school, and to meet the best route up through the Golf Course, ascending into the woods of Middleton park, hopeful that the path I seek will be obvious, but manage to cross it beneath the shade of the woods before descending back to get onto it, you'd think a tramway would be more obvious. This isn't some leisure tramway though, this was the Leeds Tram route, operational from 1925 to 1959, where the shortest route up the hill to |Middleton was through the wild woods, just like the former colliery line on the other side of the park it is an absolute delight to discover and walk in the wintery sunshine.