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.