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.