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.