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.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Morley to New Pudsey 20/02/16

8.3 miles, via Gildersome, Cockersdale, Tong, Fulneck & Pudsey.

Second walking day of the year is always glummer than the first, and this one proves to be no exception, and whilst I know I have plenty of fresh trails to blaze in the territory of West Leeds, getting away from Morley on paths not walked before is getting a lot more challenging, especially in this direction, with only three possible places to cross the M621. So first steps away from Queen Street at 10.30am, lead me behind the town hall and on past the leisure centre, and on Scatcherd Lane, all a case of so far so familiar, until I detour into the residential streets of East Park Street and The Roundway, located beyond the Sports clubs and their fields, just because they lead to the footpath that skirts the perimeter of Bruntcliffe Cemetery, all sought because it's a different route up to the A643/A650 crossroads. Over the M621 on the Wakefield Road once again, but detour into the Gildersome Spur industrial estate to seek the other remnant of Gildersome Tunnel, the uncapped shaft and smokestack that still endures in the yard of one unit, dressed in brick it strikes an incongruous and yet pleasing sight, largely because the west portal was needlessly landscaped away near the Showcase cinema at Birstall. Back to the trail and on along a different path across the industrial estate, which is overgrown, muddy and rather too well hidden as it sneaks between walls, fences and undergrowth, but it does provide a tiny smidge of the GNR's former Ardsley - Laisterdyke line's embankment on the approach to Gildersome Street station. Emerge dirty and prickled on the A62, and another path is made into Gildersome, again between industrial units before meeting the playing fields' perimeter and a dirt track behind a variety of council houses. Gain pavements on Vicarage Avenue, and then Finkle Street leads to Street Lane, a familiar corner and its on past the Friends Meeting House once again before turning onto Church Lane, where the parish church hides modestly and the Baptist church makes a much bolder statement.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Morley to Bramley 14/02/16

7.8 miles, via Gildersome, New Farnley & Troydale.

Once the Superbowl weekend is done and in the past, the Early Season can get underway, weather permitting as usual, and the first good day to come along is Valentines Day, and what better occasion could there be for reacquainting myself with something I love. Not wishing to push things too hard when I have new boots to break in, the initial stretches will all start from home, allowing me to not lose precious hours of daylight with travelling, and so the first steps of the day are made away from the familiar corner on Queen Street, in front of the Town Hall just before 10am. Routes northwards are getting less clear after so many trips made in the direction of Leeds, and so steps are made across the apron of Scatcherd park, passing below the war memorial and among the posh houses on Gladstone Terrace to the unfamiliar cluster of bungalows that have been dropped in off Bright Street, completely misreading the cul-de-sacs to arrive three-quarters of the way down the cobbled causeway that drops out by Hillycroft Fisheries by the A643 at Morley Hole. Avoid the most direct route to Gildersome, by taking Nepshaw Lane rather than the more recent Asquith Avenue, wandering down this older lane until new builds arrive where the motorway severed it, and drift back to cross the M621, and taking a sneakier detour in the slanted Dean Wood to pace the half mile or so above Dean Beck and the BMX tracks to get a look at the surviving east end of Gildersome Tunnel, formerly of the L&NWR's New Leeds Line of 1900-1965, and now a heavily flooded portal hidden away from view deep in the woods, finally seen in person after an article first posted in 2007 piqued my interest. Depart the way I came in, leaving the private land that is still very popular with local dog walkers, crossing the main road to enter the more accessible half of Dean Wood, where a right of way has developed along its southern edge, muddily making its way in the direction of the Gildersome Spur industrial estate, before meeting a sounder path that takes us over to the A62.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Out of the Dark Season and Onwards!

New Boots (#5), Subtly Different from the Old Boots (#4)
Superbowl weekend arrives, and that can only mean passage out of another Dark Season, the most useless and testing three moths of the year, and as I've not had my walking boots on since Hallowe'en, it's time to start planning for 2016's Walking Season once again. Last Year had a lot of miles, indeed a handsome personal best, but I don't think a pace of 600+ miles is something I need to try matching. After all, I'd like to be a bit more personally sociable along the way of this year, taking time out for drinks and such, and I'm going to have to be breaking in Pair of Boots #5 as I go, Pair #4 having been retired with over 1,000 miles under their soles, and ultimately unusable due to being worn through on the heels and loaded with leaky seals. So bring on the latest pair from Mountain Warehouse, acquired after an odyssey that took in the stores at Batley and Guiseley, and even though they appear to be exactly the same as my last couple, they go by the name of Python, rather than Viper, and they seem ever so slightly narrower, so might be snug and need some breaking in, when previous pairs had been 'plug and play'.