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.