Sunday, 12 November 2017

Keighley to Baildon 11/11/17

8.9 miles, via Thwaites Brow, Transfield Top, Druid's Altar, Bingley, Eldwick,
 and Baildon Moor, Hill & Bank.

Well, I'm happy to say that we've made it to the final weekend of the 2017 walking season, having had worries that we might not get here after the physical and emotional beating that I've taken over the last few weeks, but my fortitude has held strong and gotten me out every weekend through the fading days of October and November, so my planned finale can run on the day allocated to it, and what's more the sun is expected to shine on it, so let's give Season #6 the ending it deserves. After doing most of the season in Bradford and the lands north of the Wharfe, Airedale seems the most apt place to conclude this year's trekking, midway between the two, and a sub 10 mile day doesn't require the earliest of starts, arriving at Keighley at 10am, to look to the K&WVR platforms and not that they've already been running for an hour by now, and wonder why I've never asked friends of colleagues out for a social occasion on this most lovable of preserved lines. Emerge into the crisp morning, that's going to feel like early evening all day as the sun never gets that high, to take a right turn out from the station, to admire the backdrop of Rombalds Moor before turning onto Dalton Lane to get the flavour of the towns commercial and industrial quarter, where there's still a lot of business going on around Dalton Mill, that large and dynamic structure that really ought to be at the heart of Keighley's civic pride and industrial heritage. The lane leads on, over the River Worth and on to meet Thwaite's Bridge, passing over the railway and the site of a former MR station that the internet seems to have no visual record of at all, before we split left, past the yard with a steam crane in it, to hit the ascent of Thwaite's Brow Road, a steep, cobbled and very minor road that twists sharply up the bank on the south of the Aire, offering a test for the legs and some fine views into the valley as we go up, encountering more descending traffic that I'm honestly happy with as we go. The views are worth the effort, though and the scattered houses of Thwaite's Brow give the road a bit more purpose as it winds on uphill to meet the terminus of the bus that serves it and Long Lee, beyond where the road gets a bit more normal and the houses a bit more suburban and ordered, still not sure why people might be drawn up onto a hillside like this but you start to ponder that once development space runs out down in the valley, up on these hills is the next obvious place to go.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Cottingley to Cottingley 04/11/17

14.7 miles, via Churwell, Beeston Royds, Farnley Moor Side, Nan Whin's Wood,
 Roker Lane Bottom, Pudsey (Littlemoor, Owlcotes & Waterloo), Thornbury, Fagley,
  Eccleshill, Five Lane Ends, Wrose, Windhill, Shipley, Saltaire, and Nab Wood.

First trip out past Samhain / Hallowe'en / Start of GMT, and a pun walk descended on my mind, having located the Cottingley of Fairies fame in Bradford district, and realised that I've never travelled from the Cottingley station on the edge of Leeds, despite it being the nearest station on the line through Morley, and now we are on the edge of the dark season, we can start out early, as we are really starting out at a sensible hour, and so off we go, on one of the rare days when the ride out is shorter than the walk to the station. Start out on the nose of 9am, beginning our circular walk in a linear fashion, and we won't actually be passing through the Cottingley Hall estate, named for the farm long lost beneath it streets, so we won't be getting any closer to its distinctive pair of tower blocks, as we instead drop down through the growth of Lego houses which has attached itself to the bottom of Churwell, and the ongoing path is immediately vague, hidden by new buildings arriving on one of the few green plots left in this quarter. The way under the M621 is eventually found via a detour and finding Snittles Farm hidden away in the space between the motorway and the railway is a surprise, hidden in plain sight as I've never noticed it in 10 years of passing by, before we finally get on our way along the farm access track, onwards past the embankment of the L&NWR Leeds New Line and on to the A62 to pace along between the industrial plants and the Jewish cemeteries. At the entrance drive to Spring End farm we strike into the countryside, for the field walk over Beeston Royds (or Farnley Wood), rising on a path previously tramped with the Cottingley Towers constantly on the horizon behind us, passing through the sheep and horses to meet Wood Lane at the hillside's crest, pressing on westwards and retaking the panorama of views from the top as the lane presses us on towards Wood End farm, which gives more suggestions of former forestry up here. Soon enough run out onto the A58, at the westernmost extremity of New Farnley, though we don't have to follow Whitehall Road for too long as we can switch off onto Walsh Lane at the suburban edge, to pass through Low Moor Side, and High Moor Side, two odd little hamlets associated to but separate from New Farnley. Full of rural charm at the outermost edge of Leeds, with the Lancasterian school room, a Quaker establishment of 1813, being an immediate point of interest and still in use as the community rooms at this quarter, where rural and suburban mix on a small footprint where Back Lane provides our passageway on towards Pudsey.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Frizinghall to Keighley 28/10/17

12.4 miles, via Lister Park, Manningham (& the Mills), Girlington, Allerton, Harrop Edge,
 Harecroft, Cullingworth, Catstones Moor, Hainworth, and Ingrow.

I swear the autumnal weather is just messing with me now, having brought us all-day blue skies on the Friday and Sunday at the end of this week, whilst sending us dense cloud and a fearsome wind blowing in from the west as I plan my last trip over the exposed hills of Alpine Bradford, and to just to add to the fun, we have no trains running through Morley this weekend, so the route to this day's starting line has to be creatively planned, figuring it's actually easier to travel on the bus via Bradford rather than Leeds to get to Frizinghall station, where we can begin from the northbound platform at 9.35am. The reason to start here is because we have no obvious route out from the city here, so half way up the valley from the town centre gives us a completely fresh perspective for the, though starting from this side of the tracks means we'll have no shots of what appears to get the remnants of grand station building that is actually just the end wall of a factory, and attention will instead turn to the immediate pull uphill on Frizinghall Lane, past the bold terrace ends and the Black Swan inn, sat elevated from the road, whilst looking back over the valley to see the hills at Wrose, Gaisby and Bolton Woods. On past more villas and proud terraces to pass the playing fields of Bradford Grammar school before we cross the A650 Keighley Road to enter Lister Park by its overstated and battlemented gatehouse at the northeast corner, another green space that dererves attention, as its probably the best one in the city, and our sothwards tack can take us around the edge of the ornamental boating lake, and on up to the Cartwright Hall art gallery of 1904, which is surely the grandest of all park pavilions in these isles. Also worthy of note are the formal gardens, in the Victorian style in front on the hall, and in the Mughal style of Northern India to the south, illustrating the many faces that contemporary Bradford has these days, and it's would be a grand place to linger in any of the months preceding October, but for now we need to press on, exiting the park to North Park Road and seeing up close how the proudly planned suburb of Manningham, built for the wealthy middle classes of Victorian Bradford, has still to fully adjust to the changing demographics brought by the 20th century.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Bradford to Steeton 21/10/17

13.5 miles, via Brown Royd, Four Lane Ends, Chellow Dene, Sandy Lane, Wilsden,
 Harden (& the Moor), Long Lee, Keighley, Cliffe Castle and Hollins Bank.

So as the season turns Autumnal at apace, we return to Bradford for another trip up to Airedale, and for the sake of interest and variety, it's worth making a trip out from Forster Square station, which I may have cursed as little more than a tram stand since its redevelopment, but it's a damned long one when you have to walk down eight carriage lengths of platform to get off of it, and it's also a station that I have been pronouncing wrongly for 20 odd years too, as that first R is there for only decorative reasons. So off into the city once more at 9.10am, starting early to hopefully stay ahead of the gross weather scheduled for mid afternoon, and cutting a course from Cheapside and Market Street along Hustlergate and Tyrell Street past the Wool Exchange to get to the City Hall and Centenary Square, which is avoided by taking the back street of Aldermanbury, as if I were playing the old game for the Acorn Electron in the 1980s called 'Watchperson' where you were tasked with plotting a walking path down every street on a town plan, but only once. Roll up on the A6181 Inner Ring, across from the disused cinema, and our course westwards can start in earnest as we join Thornton Road from its very start, and we are not too far along, past the Jurys Inn before we have slipped into another stretch of Bradford industrial, or post-industrial landscapes, as we have mill and factory buildings down here in quantity, with the buildings of the University providing some variety on the horizon of Lister Hills. We have pubs to note as we progress, the Lord Clyde, the Black Swan and the Ivory as we pass through these many buildings in yellow stone, lit pleasantly as the morning tries so hard to be sunny, before we run past the site of the GNR's City Road good depot, now occupied by the Freemans - Grattan warehouse, and the brain is left to ponder how the catalogue firms used to me such a major feature of West Yorkshire life, as nearly every person of a certain age that I've known in Leeds spent at least some time working for Kay's. Meet the course of Thornton Road previously walked as we press west through Brown Royd, keeping to the other side of the road this time to get even more of the feel of being on Burley Road in Leeds (a completely uncanny feeling), to give a bit less attention to the mills on the north side and to take a few more views south past the car dealerships and the Adam Masjid mosque, in the direction of the looming mass of Horton Bank as we run out of central Bradford and over the A6177 Outer Ring Road.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Bradford to Ilkley 14/10/17

15.9 miles, via White Abbey, Girlington, Heaton, High Bank, Cottingley, Bingley, Crossflatts,
 East Morton, Sunny Dale, Upwood, Bradup, High Moor Plantation, Long Ridge End,
  Cragg House and Heber's Ghyll.

It's pretty bizarre to think that after all those miles put down in Bradford during the early season, five months have now elapsed since I last ventured into that city, unless you are counting the trip made over Idle Hill, which I am not, so as the late season now takes hold, it's time to return to make some paths through the north western quarter of the city, the portion that really ought to have been fitted into my schedule by now. So travel out to Interchange, on a day that promises to be potentially warm and sunny with a lot of ominous skies rising to the west, to join the trail after 9.40am, with the city looking like it took a dousing in the hours before we arrived, admittedly later than I'd have liked to get going, so rapid footfalls are made through the main point of convergence in Bradford, down Bridge Street and past City Hall before we can start our fresh route northwards. This is met off Market Street, as Ivegate presents itself as that sort of street that you don't think of when you consider Bradford, steep and cobbled and rising past the oldest Pharmacist in the county and the pub with and enormous Wild Boar on its roof, leading us up to the concrete monstrosity that is the Kirkgate shopping centre. The eye tries to keep attention on the warm-toned stone buildings along Westgate, but there's too much redevelopment in concrete up here, like the Oastler Centre and the tall building on the corner of New John Street, and the shopping parades of the city continue at the roadside until we hit the angle of the B6181 where we can look east to the Congregational chapel and the Bradford Central Mosque. Cross to join the B6144 White Abbey Road, past pubs The New Beehive and The Rose & Crown, as well as St Patrick's RC church and the parkland next to where one of Bradford's original Infirmaries once lived before we push on along an oddly wide stretch of road, lined with council house and terraces, before we hit the rise up Whetley Hill, where the standard of the terraces improves markedly. This leads us to passage over the A6177 ring road, which is almost missable in the scheme of things, continuing to elevate among more terraces that illustrate the rise, growth and decline of the city in a relatively short distance, passing St Chad's church and getting some elevated looks south to Horton Bank as we join another stretch of dual carriageway as Toller Lane presses on through Girlington, among country villas placed before the city's terraces grew around them, and the great risk of autumnal walking is exposed to me, as my new boots have virtually zero traction on wet stone slabs, coated with dead leaf residue.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Morley to Kirkstall Forge 06/10/17

7.1 miles, via Rooms, Beeston Royds, New Farnley, Farnley, Gamble Hill, Bramley,
 Moorside and Fall Park.

It's not often that I have useful brainwaves, but they can be good when they come, such as when I plan to take three day weekend to break up the autumn run at work and realise that if I were to go walking on the Friday morning that it would free up the Friday evening and Saturday for being sociable and giving me Sunday to recover, so I could have a whole weekend off, and still get some extra miles in as a bonus. Genius, I'm sure you'll agree, and a short burst from home gives me as much flexibility as possible before Friday drinks comes around to give more of my colleagues a send off as they depart to greener pastures, so no hesitation is to be had as I push out to Morley town hall for a start on the cusp of 9am with another of West Yorkshire's new railway stations firmly in my sights. There must still be new ways out of Morley to find, despite feeing like they've already been exhausted, so after the walk down Queen Street to meet the Cheapside Parade at Morley Bottoms, glowing in the autumnal sunshine, we can take a left turn to the western half of Bank Street, rising to meet Victoria Road by Stubley Farm Mews, and then follow the A643 north past the old and suspiciously well-presented Ingle Estate of council houses, dated at 1920 and surely the oldest in the borough. Pass the parade of bungalows and turn off by the Shell Garage, to follow Springfield Lane, past its long blocks of terraced houses which once housed the workers of Springfield Mill, which is now lost beneath the parkland that shares its name, an industrial site that the mind really has to stretch to situate among the suburbia to the west of Churwell Hill, and away from this greenery we join Rooms Lane, as it's still the red route in this direction out of Morley and over the M621. Countryside follows, west of the city of Leeds, dropping down the unsurfaced and shady portion of Rooms Lane that leads past the isolated Lister Cottages and on past the site of Gildersome East station on the L&NWR New Leeds Line, revealing itself a lot more clearly than when we first came this way, before we run on to meet the A62 and take a right to meet the stench of the waste recycling plant. Don't dwell long on Gelderd Road though, soon finding the bridleway that drops to cross Farnley Wood Back before we hit the rise to the hillside that I still call Beeston Royds, despite my certainty that it has another name, observing the men in the fields harvesting veg and enjoying the views across to the Cottingley estate and around over Beeston, Middleton, Morley and Gildersome.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Harewood to Ilkley 30/09/17

15.6 miles, via Harewood Bar, Arthington, Pool in Wharfedale, Caley Hall, Otley (sorta),
 Burley in Wharfedale, and Ben Rhydding.

I had made a point of saying that I was done with trails above Airedale for this year, but once the late season plotting was done, there was found to be one glaring omission from the paths in Wharfedale, discovering that I had not made a single path of note along the lower edge of the southern bank in any of my seasons so far, and as there still threatens to be sunshine in the air, it's worth getting that down before October's seasonal shift renders the days too short for a long trail. So board the bus for Harewood, at this season's eastern extremity to start the day, getting off the #36 at 9.45am, and suddenly realising that I've left my camera on board, only to have it quickly retrieved and returned by another passenger, who then gets turfed off the service by the driver because he had an open can of lager in his hand, which leaves me pondering the truth in the statement that 'No Good Deed goes Unpunished'. So away, on a rather sour note, taking the path that leads along Church Lane away from the village and into the Harewood Estate, saving up the diagonal path that runs through the woods, close to the castle for another time, a leafy start to the day that leads to the reveal of Wharfedale with a mist hanging over it, and the path to Harewood Bar is met down through the North Park, which will probably provide the only bit of challenging going in the first half of the day. The Red Deer that hide so well on this estate are found to be grazing in the lowest portion of the park, too far away to be happily photographed but present in huge numbers, and it's still one of my dreams that I might one day get a shot of a deer up close before if is inevitably frightened away. Depart the park at the Bar House, unoccupied presently but with substantial flood defences arranged around it, passing through a small door in the large gate to meet the edge of the A659, which will take us all the way to Pool, as if I hadn't had enough of A-Road from last week, largely because the Otley & Tadcaster turnpike really is the only available route in this quarter. The estate perimeter will keep us company for a while as the traffic is faced down on the way over Stank Beck, and the low fields by the Wharfe-side give us a few good views across to the north bank, the to ridge that Kirkby Overblow sits atop, and to the Rougemont Carr woods and this year's constant companion, Almscliff Crag.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Harrogate to Apperley Bridge 23/09/17

15 miles, via The Stray, Oatlands, Fulwith, Pannal, Huby, Riffa, Pool (Bridge & Bank),
 Old Bramhope, Leeds & Bradford Airport, Yeadon, and Rawdon.

Boots #6 (!) are ready to roll.
Well, it's definitely been a while since I last got on the trail, inactivity and no big mileage gain in September certainly doesn't feel right, especially as the End of Summer is usually one of my favourite times of the year, and so we start to focus on the late season trails and just how many more days we can get out on the trail before the walking season becomes too difficult to maintain, through factors internal and external. A few word of explanation for this unduly long break before we get going again, as My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary needed several days of celebration whilst I was down in Leicestershire, both before and after my last trek, and it was an absolute delight to get the family and friends together to give them a celebration which had looked like a bit of a tenuous proposition for a while, but we all made it and good times were had, of which more will be said when my 2017 summation comes around. Also this period coincided with one of those headcolds that lingers in your throat and sinuses for a solid 8 days without ever taking a firm grip that forces you to take time out, but ensures that trying to work through it will be especially tough, not what you need when you know that the work pile at the hospital will have probably grown in your absence. So when the next walking day comes around, the will to walk was there, waking with the alarm and pondering how long of a lie-in could be had before having to travel, before the body decided that it would be more useful to stay in bed to see if any more sleep could be had, and 5 hours later an answer to that thought could be found. Now we're ready to go again, and with new boots, pair #6 (!), to be broken in on the trail, as pair #5 have approached their expiration date and have been left behind in Leicester so I don't have to take a pair with me every time I travel down country, and so let's get the late season underway, hopeful that these Mountain Warehouse Breacons will do me right as we symbolically move out of the High Season fields of North Yorkshire and back to the more familiar territories of West Yorkshire as the Summer comes to an end.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Leicester to Loughborough 06/09/17

16.1 miles, via Frog Island, Abbey, Stocking Farm, Leicester North, Mowmacre Hill,
 Thurcaston, Rothley, Swithland, Woodhouse, Quorn, Woodthorpe, & Charnwood Water.

No Late Summer Jollies away this year, as we are instead Down Country to celebrate My Parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary, and after the exertions of the last walking weekend and a frankly harsh four day week, I could be forgiven for not wanting to walk at all when my nine day break comes around, but that would be a foolish choice to make, with 3,000 miles on the immediate horizon, and so we fit in one day to wander at the mid point of the week, tidily accommodated amongst everything else that's going on. I do seem to have spent a lot of my blogging life lamenting the industry and the railways that we have lost over the last half century and more, and so to make a change, we will today take a more positive approach and go in search of the Great Central Railway, both former and preserved, between Leicester and Loughborough, because as of this very week, exciting developments are afoot, and probably demand my immediate attention while I have another landmark to attain in my walking career. To the Town then, bussing it out to give the Parental Taxi another break, starting out, as so many days used to in Leicester, from the Clock Tower at 9.05am, with our long and meandering path setting off down High Street, rapidly away from the shops that haven't even opened yet, to the High Cross, and on to St Nicholas's Church on the far side of the Inner Ring road, a location that seems to always turn up on my city walks regardless of where I'm headed. Detour to Great Central Street to start the railway exploration proper, at the site of Leicester Central station, active from 1899 to 1969, it's still largely intact, probably because it would be too hard to demolish, and we keep on hearing of the redevelopment plans for it, but for now it still hosts light industrial units within and upon, high above street level. Press north to meet the A50 across the canal and Frog Island, still a largely industrial quarter, taking the turn onto Slater Street to catch the sole section of viaduct that endures, standing tall in blue bricks up to the edge of the River Soar, and it hurts my mind to think that there used to be so much more of it, having not been demolished along with its many bridges until 1980, on measure, one of those sights that I'm really glad I didn't witness in person.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Headingley to Frizinghall 28/08/17

9.2 miles, via Kirkstall, Bramley Fall, Whitecotes, Rodley, Calverley, Greengates, Idle,
 Wrose, and Gaisby.

August Bank Holiday Monday rolls around and the long weekend has been pretty decent so far, so there's no reason to believe that it won't continue in a similar vein, and I need to use my bonus day as every other one of this year's has been wasted or under-employed, so we look somewhere that's not as remote as the Wharfe - Nidd bracket and return to Airedale to seek out a viewpoint that hasn't been visited so far, my thoughts having been entirely organised by a pun that has loitered in my mind for a while. 'On the Idle Hill of Summer' is a poem by AE Housman, published in 1896 in the anthology 'A Shropshire Lad', and is a deeply pessimistic verse, filled with an anxiety of a youthful idyll doomed to be consumed by war, an unfortunately prophetic text famously set to music by both George Butterworth and Arthur Somervell, and not the sort of thing you might expect to inspire a stroll in West Yorkshire, but we do have an Idle Hill, north of Bradford, and it makes sense to go up there whilst Summer still reigns in 2017. Away to the start line in Headingley then, breaking out early at 9.05am to keep ahead of the out-going Leeds Festival traffic and the incoming Test Match traffic, and the way west is going to be the same as the last time we came this way, away from the little MR station complex and down Kirkstall Lane, mixing it up by walking down the other side of the road as we pass through the absent heart of Kirkstall village and between superstore and gym to the passage over Kirkstall Road. The buildings on Bridge Road, opposite the shopping centre, always entice my mind, as if I'd ever wanted to run a conference and wedding venue, and we pass over the road by the Bridge Mills and Inn, where I'm still to go drinking after so many years in this city, passing over the Aire and its valley's railway to take the right turn onto the Leeds & Bradford Road, which offers a few fine views over the Kirkstall playing fields and meadows, thick with corn at the moment, across the dale to the Abbey and the wooded hillsides beyond. Altogether this is a much leafier track than I expected, being shaded by trees after passing over the Leeds & Liverpool canal, and it provides a handy reminder of just how easy it is to forget the West Leeds green space, which dominates so much of the Aire valley whilst being so seemingly easy to ignore.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Harrogate to Pateley Bridge 26/08/17

14.9 miles, via the Nidderdale Greenway, Ripley, Bedlam, Burnt Yates, Hartwith Hill,
 Summerbridge, Low Laithe, Wilsill, and Glasshouses.

The last excursion of the High Season comes around already, and I'm already delighted that my plans for August came together so easily, and so we set off with a well-developed scheme to fit in just about as much as possible of Nidderdale before the End of Summer returns us to more local climates, a scheme that immediately gets off to a rocky start thanks to the first train of the day running late enough for me to miss my connection in Leeds, and thus the day does not start in Harrogate until 9.35am. Before we go onwards, I must share the observation that I have damned Harrogate station as possibly the ugliest in the county, but the real truth of the matter is only a quarter of it is truly hideous, as the remainder is either merely mundane, or actually pretty well presented, as the Harrogate Tap occupies the remains of the original NER station that provide a marked contrast to the 1970s Brutalist nightmare that lives on the other end of platform one. So away and northwards, past the Victoria Centre with its many sculptures and the bus station with its overly ornate metalwork, feeling hopeful for a sunny day, and immediately feeling discouraged by the dark and slate-y clouds that drift over the end of Station Parade, taking a turn east to pass under the railway, despite the red route to Nidderdale being to the North-West, as we have a date with Route 67 and the Greenway path to Ripley before we get there, and so we process northwards among the high terraces of Bower Street and Haywyra Street to follow this route burned for the use of cyclists. To get to its official start, we first have to pass alongside the Asda superstore and through its car park, a route designed to make you feel conspicuous, before meeting the Greenway path as it runs through the railway cutting, alongside the contemporary line, which seems like it's twice as wide as it needed to be, possibly to provide access to the former goods yard where the supermarket now stands, getting some surprising green and leafy space as we pass on below the Skipton Road bridge. Slip out to Grove Park Road, where we briefly pass through the town's outer suburbia before passing back over the existing railway to roll up to the site of Dragon Junction, where the NER constructed a spur in 1859 to link the original metals of the Leeds & Thirsk and the York & North Midland railways, which despite passing out of use in 1967, still forms the north-eastern boundary of Harrogate, with suburban Bilton butting up to the path, and the interior of the former railway triangle remaining rural.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Harewood to Ripley 19/08/17

12.6 miles, via Harewood Bank & Bridge, Lane Ends, North Rigton, Briscoe Ridge,
 Beckwithshaw, Pot Bank, Oaker Bank, and Killinghall.

Summer marches on at a pace, and we've already come to the last of the trips that I had planned for the second phase of the High Season's wanderings, and after all those early starts and complicated arrangements to get to get to my jump-off points up Wharfedale, it's good to have a nicely straightforward ride that doesn't require a super-early start, as the #36 can be ridden out to Harewood, and the eastern end of the dramatic stage of the valley of the Wharfe, hopping off at 9.45am. The theme for the day, aside from Wharfe to Nidd for the final time, is model villages, not the miniature kind and a completely unintentional theme that only came after I been drawing more lines on the map, and even with the distance for the day being a modest one and not having a firmly set finish time, I still make no effort to take a tour around John Carr's planned village from the mid 18th century, the Harrogate Road fronts being familiar from my previous visits, but those along Harewood Avenue still remaining unseen as the path for the day leads northwards. So away from the Harewood Arms, the modest and tasteful council estate around Spring Gardens, and the mixed vintage cluster at Bondgate to meet the views of the part of Wharfedale that hasn't been seen in a while, as the A61 picks its path down Harewood Bank, a route I pick for today as it's one I'd rather experience for the first time going down rather than up, and at its top we meet the north westerly wind that has been blowing for a full month now, sure to keep this Saturday's weather  as changeable as all the ones that preceded it. On foot, the curve of the bank seems more harsh than the incline as we sweep westwards around the outer perimeter of Harewood Park, the densely wooded corner that conceals Harewood Castle, the ancient ruin that still seems neglected and forgotten about when it surely ought to be a cherished attraction, and again the views forward suggest angles across Wharfedale that I'd allow myself to forget about in the time spent in its many other corners. Descend to Harewood Bar and sweep north with the A61 as it passes the shed and gazebo manufactory and meet the passage across Harewood Bridge, over the Wharfe and soon to be greeted by the bridge house and the courtyarded apartment complex that used to be a hotel, settling onto a course along the main road that will have us walking against the traffic for more than a mile and testing our progress by counting the editions of the #36 bus that pass us as we go.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Weeton to Brimham Rocks 12/08/17

17.7 miles, via Huby, Almscliff Crag, Briscoe Ridge, Stainburn Forest, Scargill Reservoir,
 Beaver Dyke, Knabs Ridge, Kettlesing Bottom, Cinder Hills, Darley Moke Hill, Hartwith,
  Burtree Hill, Brimham Moor, Brimham Rocks, Hartwith Bank, and Summerbridge.

Last week's trip felt like it came to a bit of an abrupt end, feeling like it ought to have an extra hour or so to it as it dropped us in Summerbridge at the bottom of the hill on which Brimham Rocks stand, not to be seen on that occasion as the walk up Hartwith Bank was not something to be attempted after 13+ miles on the trail, and thus we have a target already set for this weekend, as it would be profoundly foolish to both holiday in Nidderdale and have half a summer of making trails over there without attempting to visit the locality's most famous attraction. So we pick our start line by moving downstream on the Wharfe, and we won't quite be able to see if Brimham Rocks really are accessible directly from West Yorkshire as there is no crossing point on the river between Arthington and Castley, and even if there were it might prove to be just that bit too far to be viable on a single day's trek, especially when the route we have plotted, from Weeton station on the Harrogate line, is going to be close on the year's longest, even with being a mile or so into North Yorkshire already. Rail travel at least gives us the option on an early start for a trail that will absorb most of the day, dropping us off at 8.50am, where the surviving station houses have already been noted, though the period coal yard is something I hadn't noticed before, and we set out onto the A658, through the outer edge of Huby village, where Weeton station is inexplicably located, pacing the edge of the Dudley Hill, Harrogate & Killinghall road past the Almscliff Village hall and on to our rising path up Holly Park, where various vintages of suburbia have landed deep in the Yorkshire countryside. Having gained some altitude we meet the tracks around Holly Hill farm, and sight of our first destination is met as we hit the rising field boundaries that elevate us above Wharfedale and point us in the direction of Almscliff Crag, looming high above, but before we get there we'll have to negotiate a path among the cows, thankfully docile in the field below Crag House, before we can get a firm footing on Crag Lane. Pass on around the low skirt around the Crag, passing Cliff House and Crag farm, to show the Grotstone outcrop really is the only feature of note in these parts, taking views of the rock as it looms high above Wharfedale, and enjoy the evolving views around as we meet the track pioneered in June and leave the Crag behind us we hit Long Lane and find it reveals a completely different aspect on the valley when descended, like that should come as a surprise.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Pool in Wharfedale to Summerbridge 05/08/17

13.2 miles, via Leathley Bridge, Farnley, Lindley Wood reservoir, Norwood Edge,
 Bland Hill, 'Dangerous Corner', RAF Menwith Hill, Darley Head, Dacre, & Dacre Banks.

For my Wharfe to Nidd trails, it makes sense to progressively head downstream with my start points as we aim at a west to east exploration of the terrain of these new lands, and the next place down the river to start out from is obviously Pool in Wharfedale, which seems to be one of those places designed to be as hard as possible to access by public transport, so some thinking has to be done to land the bus changes and avoid an unwanted walk down either of the Pool Banks. Happily, departing the X84 and catching the #967 at the Dyneley Arms proves way easier than expected, and we can descend to the town, hiding below its high embankment, for a start at 9.20am from the Pool Bank Road - Arthington Lane corner below the village fingerpost, illustrating the idea that the name of the village might be a test of whether you are local or not, as the local might call it just 'Pool' whilst the clueless visitor might add 'in Wharfedale' without knowing any better. We press on to the river, away from the White Hart, St Wilfred's church, the Half Moon and away from this place that really has no alternative routes away from the main roads to make our rapid transition into North Yorkshire, over Pool Bridge and the Wharfe and along the side of the A658 to the B6161 corner and move on to Leathley Lane as this trip is again going to be all roads as we seek the easiest routes into Nidderdale. Push west, below the looming mass of the Pool Bank - Caley Park - Otley Chevin hill to the south, looking forward beyond Leathley to the high sides of the Washburn, and back to the wooded lumps of Riffa wood and Rawden hill, past the collection of farms in the low flat fields around the Wharfe riverside before taking the turn north to shadow the low outspill of the Washburn. Switch roads, at Leathley Lodge, which seems to be too small to practically live in, passing over the narrow Leathley bridge to the west side of the Washburn, dodging too much traffic as we go, before settling onto the rising road as it rises around the boundary of Farnley Park, with Hasling Hall farm occupying most of the lands to the south, over seeing the view to Rombalds Moor, and gaining 50m of elevation on the way up the East Lodge gives us some fine views over the Lower Wharfe and Lowest Washburn to Almscliffe Crag and a lot of sun-blessed greenery, bidding it a farewell as the lane hits the park's northern perimeter, but certain it will reappear again when we least expect it.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Otley to Pateley Bridge 29/07/17

15.2 miles, via Newall Carr, Weston Moor, Askwith Moor, Beecroft Woods, Blubberhouses,
 Stonehouse Crossroads, Padside, Braithwaite, Heyshaw Moor, Nought Moor, Bewerley,
  and Bridgehouse Gate.

With phase one of the Summer's walking plans done, having covered all the immediately obvious trails in the Wharfedale - Washburn - Harrogate bracket, it's now time to move on to the second phase and to press on to the north, and to overcome the idea that a great and seemingly insurmountable distance in the mind is actually a lot less than that which is measured on the ground, finally providing an answer to the thought, that has tested me for several years 'Does One simply walk into Nidderdale?'. The only way to find out is by attempting to walk it, and thus four fresh trails are put on the slate to breech the emotional distance between Wharfedale and Nidderdale, and our first plan has us riding out to Otley to set course for the heart of that distant valley, over the moors and dales, getting off the bus at 9.15am with another route to blaze through the town to get over the Wharfe at Otley Bridge. So away we go, under gloomy skies, up Crossgate and over Boroughgate to the long stone terraces of Wesley Street, North Parade and Manor Street, passing the spires of the United Reformed church and former board school, to meet the riverside in the narrow greenspace of Tittybottle Park (no sniggering at the back), noting that the Wharfe seems higher than usual, or at least that bit less placid, before striking north again over that many arched bridge and setting off up Billiams Hill to retrace steps previously made through Newall Carr last year. An ascent does bring on a somewhat differnet feel to the walk, noting the consumed grounds of Newhall Hall this time around, as well as noting the old sign set into local walls, hammering on past the old and new Wharfedale hospitals, still unvisited in all my years working for LTHT and wondering if Otley's suburbia grew to meet the edges of West Yorkshire or if the border was placed where it is to contain it. Countryside arrives with North Yorkshire and all the views come to the west as the bulk of Rombalds Moor rises and reveals itself, as we push on past the Copmanroyd terrace and Clifton's village hall, nowhere near the actual village, and find that Nidderdale's AONB is only 35 minutes out from our start and we could claim an early success in our quest and go home if we were feeling cheeky, but we have a real mission to accomplish as we press on up the hill on the welcome footway to pass the Roebuck inn and to meet Clifton Lane and our sentinel friend, the Clifton Moor mast.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Ilkley to Harrogate 22/07/17

16.9 miles, via Middleton, Bow Beck, Denton Moor, Timble Ings woods, Timble village, 
 Fewston Dam, Fewston village, Swinsty reservoir, Beaver Dyke, Haverah Park, Pot Bank,
  RHS Harlow Carr, The Pinewood, and Village Gardens.

Back up country having had too short a week with My Parents back in Leicester, but having lost one weekend at the start of me week off, I cannot afford to lose another when I still have six walks planned for summer in the Wharfedale, Washburn and Beyond bracket, with a limited amount of available to get them in before the seasons make their inevitable shift, and so we get back onto the local trails after two whole weeks away, despite the weather not looking at all promising. To Ilkley we head, for its first appearance in 2017, and it is absolutely persisting it down with rain as we alight the train at 9am, and I'll be hopeful for this weather to not have too firm a grip on the day as more than a couple of hours of this might destroy the spirits on along trail that doesn't have any obvious escape route, and so we return to familiar pavements, striking north along Brook Street and leaving my planned exploration of the 1888 portion of the station for a less inclement day. Familiar sights come along quickly as we pass the Crescent hotel and the parish church, while a dense wall of mist obscures the moor from view, and it's odd that despite burning many trail around this town, I have never struck off to the north, so now the time to rectify that, pounding my way across the Wharfe vis the New bridge, and carrying on over East Holmes Fields, home to the Rugby, Football and Crickets clubs of varying stature, as well as the famous lido that still endures to this day. Early 20th century, and leafy, suburbia rules the day along the rising Middleton Avenue, convincing me further that every edge of Ilkley looks like the sort of place I could never afford to live, noting a very old Victorian post box along the way, with the vintage of houses getting progressively more recent as we join Curly Hill to pass up through Middleton Woods, which look a lot like they could be the outer boundary of the town until we meet still more suburbia above. This part of town, all looking rather achingly contemporary, would have an excellent view on a better day than this one, as we meet the town edge and the road up Hunger Hill to the modest collection of farmsteads and cottages which form the actual Middleton village (a settlement that names virtually everything on this side of the Wharfe above Ilkley), some 100m up from the river, which affords some fine aspects across Wharfedale, revealed pretty quickly as the rain eases off to less than a drizzle after 45 minutes of pounding down on the walking day.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

East Leicestershire Village Circuit #4 19/07/17

15.2 miles, from Humberstone, via Netherhall, Scraptoft, Beeby, Hungarton, Quenby Hall,
 Coplow Hill, Houghton on the Hill, Thurnby & Bushby, and Thurnby Lodge.

We're down country again, for my customary week off work in July, mildly frustrated that my first weekend got scratched from the schedule as my legs really needed a rest, despite having had a couple of days out from my usual routine at the hospital, and so to the Old Country we return, having travelled without a concrete plan, and so when my walking day comes free, we are as close as possible to heading out with a completely improvised plan. A village circuit seems in order, starting from close to home as I think that the Parental taxi deserves a rest, having aleady done a year's worth of driving in May, to give myself plenty of walking time whilst allowing My Parents to do their own thing while My Dad is not in the best of conditions, sadly, so onwards to walking in circles once more, not getting out too early to burn my way around some familiar territory in East Leicestershire, more filling in some un-walked paths than venturing far afield. So we commence in Humberstone, just after 10am, with a 6 hour circuit in mind, commencing from the corner in front of Abbots Road URC, a mile of so distant from my weekly base, starting out north and clockwise, to Hungarton Boulevard, where the Leicester eastern relief road was somehow squeezed between the houses, up to the corner of Netherhall Road, where the Moat Inn still dwells in my mind, despite having been replaced by a suburban branch of McDonalds more than decade ago. Onwards into the Netherhall estate, still showing a fa├žade of many 1950s vintage council houses coated in a layer of off-whitewashing, followed in great quantity up the shopping parade that has a much more singular character and on past the open park with Scraptoft Brook running through it, having gained enough altitude to be able to look back the various tower blocks in Leicester's city centre. Pass the school locally known as Scrappy Valley, which appears to have been half shut down and forgotten about, and roll on to the newer part of the estate, 70s vintage below Hamilton College, and sweeping around the curve of New Romney Crescent, which leads us to the edge of the city, where Scraptoft's Nether Hall farm still endures as an equestrian establishment, and lending its name to the estate below.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Ben Rhydding to Hornbeam Park 08/07/17

16.8 miles, via Denton, Hundwith Beck, Askwith Moor, Washburn Farm, Folly Hall,
 Sword Point, Norwood Edge, Stainburn Forest, Lindley Moor, Moorside Bridge,
  Briscoe Ridge, Brackenthwaite, Lund House Green, Rossett Green, & Oatlands.

Because of rail strikes, I don't have an option other than getting an early start on the day, with services being reduced early in the day and concluding in the late afternoon meaning that I have a pretty specific window to get my trail fitted into, and thus we ride out to Ben Rhydding station, at the smart end on Ilkley, to get going on a 16+ mile day, starting of at 8.55am with the sunshine already in the sky, but the summer heat still being some way off, thankfully. Pass under the railway and down Wheatley Road, quickly getting a revelation of the high northern side of Wharfedale that we will be traversing today as we pace down through the suburban edge of Ilkley to roll out onto the A65 to look back to a beautifully illuminated view of the Cow and Calf rocks up on the high moor edge, crossing the main road to soon be at the side of the Wharfe, which needs to be crossed via Denton bridge, the steel through-arch construction that is almost too narrow to accommodate pedestrian and traffic. We meet Denton Road on the other side, still not offering any more views of the adjacent river than it did last year, and still playing host to the traffic that acts like the A65 is just too slow a road for their tastes, otherwise a calm and shady lane that is Wharfedale cyclists' red route, leading us on to the corner of the Denton Hall estate and the lane that leads up to the village. This is where the day's ascent begins, rising by the perimeter wall and offering some fine views back to the evolving profile of Ilkley and Burley moors, a lot like last week but well-lit today, proving that an occasional early start can get the sun in the best possible angle for your photographic needs, and we've raised about 30m from the river once we meet Denton Village. It's a very small place, hosting only a few cottages by its farmsteads, and not all that many estate houses either, considering the proximity and size of Denton Hall, and we'll approach that down its lane, not getting as far as its gates, but instead taking a closer look at St Helen's church, with its curious octagonal turret, before retracing steps down to the crossroads at the village centre and peeling north on the ascending Smithy Lane. Tracing the boundary of Denton's High park, we ascend much further on the road up to Willow Hill and Yarnett House farms, getting more evolving Wharfedale views as we go, despite them being in a similar vein as last week's, but this time around we'll get much better sight of Beamsley Beacon, Round Hill and Denton Moor on the north side, inviting further exploration before this season is out.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Burley in Wharfedale to Starbeck 01/07/17

14.9 miles, via Askwith, Clifton, Lindley Wood reservoir, Norwood Edge, Stainburn Forest,
 Little Alms Cliff, Moor Park, Beckwithshaw, Harlow Hill, West Park, & The Stray.

Back to the Wharfedale and Washburn bracket we go, our main target for the early summer wanderings, wondering if this part of the world seems incapable of bringing the warm weather in the early going of the day as cloud cover reigns once more on another day that promised unbroken sunshine, dropping ourselves off at Burley in Wharfedale station at 9.25am after some excellent train connection discipline at Leeds. It's about three years since I was last here, out for le Grand Depart of the Tour de France, my sole previous encounter with the town, and the impression gained then is still much the same now, as it's a proud Victorian suburb somehow transported away from the city it ought to be attached to, clearly an expensive place to live judging by the house sizes down Station Road and the style of boutiques to be found on Main Street. It feels like I'm headed out to the A65 bypass once again as previously seen pavements are traversed, all looking a bit less busy this time around, but a new course is forthcoming away from the stone cottages and terraces to find the bridleway that leads under the bypass road to meet Leather Bank, and the way out to the Wharfe crossing. There's more to see down here than you might think, certainly more houses than expected, and past Greenholme Farm, it would be easy to meet the path by the Goit channel to Burley's mills and start heading south again, instead of passing over it to find Burley's famous stepping stones, which I approach with some trepidation seeing as my only other attempt to cross the Wharfe on stones ended in failure, but thankfully these are wider and flatter than those at Drebley, and a passage across below the weir isn't challenging despite the higher level of water after much rain in the last week. Good to see them well used too, but it looks like remedial work might be necessary in the future as the north bank seems to be in retreat, and the case for a proper crossing surely ought to be made, but that can wait for another time, as we pass away from the river, as the brief sunny spell for the crossing ends, hitting the field walk to the north and the pull uphill starts, up through fields full of cattle and sheep, which offer some excellent profiles of the edges of Burley and Ilkley moors as we look back, getting the feeling that the Wharfedale panoramas will be a feature of the early session, rising onwards to meet the bridleway and hard track by a remote cottage, that leads us up to Askwith, already acknowledged as a picturesque corner of North Yorkshire that offers bucolic charm and excellent Wharfedale views in equal measure.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Harrogate Ringway #2 - Knareborough to Pannal 24/06/17

13.7 miles, via Bilton Hall, Nidd Gorge, Bilton, Knox, Jennyfield, Oakdale, Birk Crag,
 RHS Harlow Carr, Beckwith, Lund House Green, & The Warren.

Long Distance Trail
means Selfies!
#2 at Knaresborough.
There's no early start to today's trek as a 4+ pint session from last night has to be slept off, after seeing off another colleague from my department at the hospital, and when we do get to depart from Knaresborough station, we're overdue after the train crew had to deal with a fare-dodger at Harrogate, and because I'm apt to fart around at this station that has already been dubbed the prettiest in the county, not getting underway until after 10.25 am, and the day ahead isn't going to be short. Feel fortunate that's we've got the sunshine out again as the descent down Water Bag Bank is made to rejoin the Harrogate Ringway trail, seeing the facades of Waterside being shown to the best effect, and allowing ourselves a detour to the riverbank to see the early morning row boaters already out and the old bridge carrying the A59 across the Nidd being shown up in a good light. Rise to the main road and over the river, passing The World's End and Mother Shipton's cave before we depart Knaresborough without really having seen enough of it, entering Mackintosh Park and the beginnings of the Nidd Gorge green space, initially following the Beryl Burton cycleway, named for the Seven times World Champion, and local girl, who dominated road and track cycling in the 1960s. We gain a leafy path as the ringway ascends away from the river, denying us any views towards the stately Conygham Hall on the opposite bank, recombining with the cycleway to follow a field boundary uphill, where all the views are found by looking back to see Knaresborough's castle and parish church rising above the riverside foliage. The shady track eventually leads us out to Bilton Hall, also hidden from view and these days forming a retirement and care home, and a country lane leads us onwards, in the direction of Old Bilton (a name that you'll soon notice starts to crop up all around these parts), and the sunshine passes from the morning, and a cool wind blows in to remind you that Summer does not bring guaranteed warm days. A northward shift comes as the path leads us on to the Nidd Gorge proper, following a rough path into the woods, following a line that doesn't seem to correspond with the one on the map, but the destination should be obvious if the descent is continued as the river must be located at the bottom of the valley, carved through the carboniferous and Permian sandstones by post glacial runoff after the last Ice Age.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Harrogate Ringway #1 - Pannal to Knaresborough 17/06/17

6.9 miles, via Fulwith, Hornbeam Park, The Showgrounds, Crimple, Forest Moor & Calcutt.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#1 at Pannal.
2.15pm is a bit late to be starting a Long Distance Trail, it might be my latest start on any walk of any kind, but I'll not be tilting at the full 20 miles today, wouldn't even go for it if starting at 9am on a much cooler day, and as our day is already 11 miles old, it would make sense to get a move on along the Ringway to give Harrogate its circuit during the hottest stretch of the day, and so we're off, through the yard of St Robert of Knaresborough's church and off into the meadows beyond, soon leaving suburban Pannal behind us. We might expect another river walk, along the Crimple, but the trod seems intent on keeping us away from the riverbank, despite where the path might appear to be on the map, and we ought to enjoy these fields while they last, as multiple notices encourage us to resist the spread of suburban growth across these fields as the town seeks to grow further into the green spaces that surround it. We soon run into the woods below the embankment of the A61, but take a north western turn to follow the passage of Stone Rings Beck, taking an uphill and largely shady path that offers sight of the outer suburban edge of Harrogate through the trees, before dropping to pass over the stream and then up into the full bore of suburbia along Stone Rings Lane, wondering where the actual stone rings might have once been. Meet the A61 Leeds road and pass over it, into the district I'll call Fulwith as its name is attached to literally every road in the vicinity, taking Fulwith Mill Road eastwards, through that sort of upscale suburbia that is pleasant enough on the older plots but really looks a bit much on the newer builds, as if expensive modern dwellings aren't naturally tasteful. From there we'll find our sole previous path into Harrogate, following the long ands shaded driveway towards the town, where the best views of Crimple Viaduct can be gained even with a lot more foliage cover on this occasion, splitting off east to pass over the railway and meet the back of the Hornbeam Park business, leisure and educational estate, familiar with its distinctive metal pyramid, and pass in front of the grounds of Crimple House, before heading into the woods again, the path good and clear, and popular, as this town really has done a lot to promote cycling with multi use trails seeming to go off in all directions.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Otley to Pannal 17/06/17

10.9 miles, via Farnley, Lindley Bridge, Braythorn, Stainburn, Almscliffe Crags,
 North Rigton, and Burn Bridge.

Finally, the high season amblings can get underway as attention shifts to the lands north of the Wharfe for most of the summer, and it seems to have taken a long time to get here having first trailed it at the start of May, and having been plotted for 2016 before my attention turned elsewhere, only getting going as the last weekend of Spring arrives, promising to bring a day of unbroken sunshine with it. So naturally there's a mood of disappointment in the air as my arrival in Otley is greeted by overcast skies that seem far too common in Wharfedale, with our course being set from the bus station at 9.15am with a very long day ahead of us, starting off down Mercury Row to reveal more of those ancient side streets that deserve a more detailed explore, and crossing Kirkgate to take a circuit around the Parish church of All Saints as it hasn't had an up close look on my previous visits, and also finding the Bramhope Tunnel monument in the yard, commemorating the 24 men killed during its construction. Then follow the passage that leads across to Westgate to wander on to the riverside through the yard of a presently disused mill complex, arriving on the high bank above the Wharfe below the shade of many trees and starting the eastwards tack to drop down into the Manor Garth gardens, where a hard path is joined, leading us to probably the best spot to get sight of Otley Bridge, stretching long and low across the wide and placid river. Cross over and ender Wharfemeadows Park, forming a garden apron in front of the riverside terrace before we reach the weir which livens the river up a bit, and beyond the play area we move away from the bankside to find the way to the northeast, passing us through the town facing gates of Farnley Hall, before turning away from the parkland and through the suburban enclave of the Riverside Estate to join the B6451 Farnley Lane to push us out of town and on into North Yorkshire. General gloom means the view back to The Chevin and its companions aren't that great, and so we press on , accompanied by the long wall of Farnley Park, longtime seat of the Fawkes family, where no good views are forthcoming until we meet the estate houses and the walled garden, framed by the hills to the south, but the house will remain unseen as we go on, obscured by a thick woodland that keeps on all the way to the north entrance, and thus interest has to come from elsewhere, like the tiny Farnley church, peeking out from across distant fields, and the complex at Home farm, which has had about as impressive residential makeover as any 18th century farmstead in this county.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Crossflatts to Ben Rhydding 11/06/17

5.7 miles, via Micklethwaite, Bingley Moor, Ilkley Moor, and the Cow & Calf.

There's far too much rain on Saturday morning to even consider attempting a 17+ mile trek from Wharfe to Nidd, and after a largely sleep free General Election week, a lie in to start the weekend was certainly welcome, but having lost too many Bank Holiday excursions on this year already, a Sunday morning stroll is a good time to get in the 6 mile jaunt that I 've had planned for the last two in May, without risking burning up too much energy before the next week of work rolls around. So not out all that early, barely qualifying it as a morning stroll at all, alighting at 11.10am, at Crossflatts station deep in the heart of Airedale, below the wooded hills of the St Ives estate to the south and on the western edge of Greater Bingley, where the amazing engineering feat of fitting the A650 Airevalley Road adjacent to the railway was somehow completed, leaving the southbound platform with possibly the longest approach ramp to be found anywhere on the network. Rise to the original Keighley Road to press north, among the flats and low apartment buildings that seem to make up the entirety of this district, with attention immediately drawn to the rising bulk of the higher lands below Rombalds Moor, starting the ascent on Micklethwaite Lane, to meet the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the only path that I've previously walked in this corner, where the Limefield and Airedale mills have both had residential makeovers, whilst maintain completely different characters. Over the swing bridge and past the field with many ducks and geese, rising steadily past the allotments to get views up the valley to Keighley and back to the still unwalked woodlands around Druid's Altar to soon meet the suburban enclave that has grown on the bottom edge of Micklethwaite itself, with the high valley side looming above it, another place to wonder why people might be drawn to living in such an out of the way quarter. The reveal of Micklethwaite proper gives strong indication of its desirability, as it's stone village of incredible quaintness, one that would attract much more attention if it were located in a remoter corner of the county, rather than hidden away in the Aire valley, and it's all very pleasing in the sunshine, looking rather 17th century in places, with a road so steep that it actually has to take a wandering detour at the top, where we get more views coming in the direction of Keighley and East Morton, hiding away in their respective side valleys of the Aire.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Steeton to Otley 03/06/17

14 miles, via Silsden, Holden Bank, Rivock moor, West Morton, East Morton,
 Graincliffe reservoir, Weecher reservoir, Reva reservoir, Menston, and Ellar Ghyll.

No Spring Bank Holiday wanderings were forthcoming as a three day weekend of rest after my holidays seemed like a much better option, and the weather was pretty awful on the day as well, and so after a short week back in work, the body isn't feeling hugely enthusiastic at getting an early start on so we don't get to the high trail down Airedale until after 10.05am, alighting at Steeton & Silsden station with my OL21 in hand, setting off on this side of the map for the first time since 2013. It's looking altogether sunnier than it did when I was out on the Millennium Way back then, and as usual, the path north has to take us along the A6034, over the A629 Aire Valley road, and over the Aire itself, where the bollards on Silsden Bridge are still painted in Tour de France colours, and the wander across the low fields up to the town is made more interesting by enjoying the panorama created by the valley. Looking to the north west we see where the river vanishes apparently among the high hills and to the northeast where we will be heading, looking to the high points of Rombalds Moor, with Nab End and Rivock Edge standing high above, bisected by the wooded clough of Holden Beck. Onwards to Silsden then, past the sports clubs, the industrial estate and the branch of Aldi to hit the rising lane as it enters among the old mills and stone cottages to pass over the Leeds & Liverpool canal, where the scenarios in both directions are still excellent, with the Main Street inviting a first visit beyond, but our path is to lead east today, so we swing right to Clog Bridge, over Silsden Beck (which passes under the canal) and onto Holden Road where the canalside mills are both industrial and residentially made over. A picture of Silsden's growth is then gained as we push on and up, passing long stone terraces, stone semis and all sorts of later suburbia scattered among as we ascend to the edge of the town, passing Springbank house and the cemetery, and even though the intention is to follow the road to the high edge above the valley, if a path is available to take us away from a lane that is really too narrow and twisty to accommodate both walkers and traffic, we'll take it. Two such come along in the early going, one away from the substation, and another through the fields towards Howden Park farm, where we mustn't get too tangled up among the herding sheep, and despite this feeling like an unfamiliar landscape, there are two former paths to cross as we go, so those 4 years between visits has clearly been long enough to make this all feel fresh again.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Nidderdale Way #4 - Bewerley to Ripley 26/05/17

13.4 miles, via Nought Moor, Guise Cliff, Heyshaw, Dacre Banks, Darley (station),
 The Holme, Swarcliff, Birstwith, Hampsthwaite, and Clint.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#4 at Turner Bridge, Bewerley.
There's not going to be a third rest day on this trail, as four days of walking doesn't fit well into seven when two are needed for travelling, and it would be impolite to leave my parents at a loose end so I could finish this on my preferred day of Saturday, and so leg #4 follows immediately and despite plotting so the two shortest days come at the end, I'm still going to nab a lift in the Parental Taxi to the Turner Bridge junction, as I'm in no mood to do an extra half mile on a day that promises to be even hotter than the one that preceded it. So off we go, from south of Bewerley to start the concluding stretch of the Nidderdale Way at 9:05am, so early that the morning haze hangs heavily over the valley, and the opening footfalls have us starting out up Nought Bank Road, soon avoiding its sharp twists and ascents by heading into the fields for a more direct route uphill that soon gets the knees and lungs feeling that this final day isn't going to be much easier that others. Pass into the woods that fringe this high hillside, still panting and straining, up to the rough field above, with the path passing an ice house that seems too far removed from anywhere to be useful, crossing the bank road to meet the rise up onto the high moor, with the route guide telling us to look out for the local rock formations as we go, but none would get close to rivalling Brimham Rocks for detail, despite the Crocodile Rock having an accurate name and the Pulpit and Giant's Chair having hugeness. The focal point interest has to be Yorke's Folly, a pair of columns suggestive of ruined abbey, built during an agricultural depression in the late 18th century as a method of keeping local workers employed, now sitting high and sentinel-like above Pateley Bridge to give anyone ascending the hillside an obvious destination on the edge of  Nought Moor, interestingly the exact same upland that has Simon's Seat and Barden Fell at its opposite side above Wharfedale, a splendid and desolate space that brings peace and remoteness to this transition away from Upper Nidderdale.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Nidderdale Way #3 - Middlesmoor to Bewerley 25/05/17

11.7 miles, via How Stean Gorge, Studfold, West House, Ramsgill, Gouthwaite Reservoir,
 Heathfield, Ashfold Side Beck, Prosperous Mill, Brandstone Beck, and Ladies Riggs.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#3 at Middlesmoor.
Second rest day is used for that expressed purpose, rest, doing nothing more strenuous than taking a drive out to Brimham Rocks, and to get in ice cream at Birchfield Farm, plus there's also laundry to do, by hand, as we may live in an age of free Wi-Fi but we're not going to pay £6 per load to get our clothes refreshed, so as leg #3 comes around, we're ready as the hot days start to pile up in a way that seem most unseasonal. The Parental Taxi is booked for an early start to drop us in Middlesmoor, the remotest parish in Nidderdale, resuming The Way from the car park above the village, at 9.40am, having encouraged My Mum to get out of the car to photograph the view to the south that she wouldn't have seen otherwise, and thus we resume wandering down though a village that seems far bigger than it needs to be at this remove from civilisation. Maybe all these cottages and farmsteads clustered together so that the citizens of Stonebeck Up parish could gather for solidarity and security in a blasted landscape, having a pub, the Crown, and a church, St Chad's, that seem outsized for a corner so remote, a fine place to visit or to summer in, but not a place to dwell in the rotten quarter of the year when the ridiculously steep road needs to be traversed for access. Onwards then, as the day's peak temperature seems to already be coming on with hours of the morning still to come, enjoying the cooling breeze as a field walk takes us away from the high moors and down in the direction of the hamlet of Stean, not quite getting there as our walk is set to pass over and largely alongside the cleft of How Stean Gorge, where the beck has gouged through the surface gritstone to the limestone below to shape a sculpted channel in the fashion of The Strid, albeit much longer. It's not easy to photograph from the lane, as Spring foliage keeps it well covered, and the visitor centre is closed for repairs that involve a very large crane that must have required fun and games to get it here, passing on the meet Studfold Farm, which has been made over as a campsite and activity centre styled to educate and entertain young kids about the realities of country life.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Nidderdale Way #2 - Pateley Bridge to Middlesmoor 23/05/17

14.9 miles, via Wath, Gouthwaite reservoir, Bouthwaite, Lofthouse, Limley, The Edge,
 Woo Gill, Scar House reservoir, and In Moor.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#2 at Pateley Bridge.
First rest day of our jollies is used for just that, rest, with no more strenuous activities going on than getting supplies in from the Dales Market store at Bridgehouse Gate, or getting an afternoon brew in the Pancake House in Pateley Bridge, so when the big day on the trail, comes up I feel about as fully charged up as possible, and apt to get some of this slightly excessive holiday diet burned off, and there isn't even great need to hurry as the start line is only a five minute drive distant. So onwards on a northward track for the day, departing from the Nidderdale Way sign at the bottom of Pateley Bridge's High Street at 9.25am, and approaching the River Nidd up close for the first time, and finding that Pateley's bridge is impossible to photograph satisfactorily from either side, turning to Mill Lane and wander past the flood walls (thinking that you rarely hear about this river inundating anywhere), passing behind the gardens of The Sidings and finally making our acquaintance with the riverbank, already looking idyllic in the sunshine. To mix in with our river walking, we also get some railway walking to do, as our path follow the low embankment of the Nidd Valley Light Railway, built in 1903 as a narrow gauge line to facilitate the construction of the reservoirs up the valley by the Bradford Corporation Waterworks, and converted to standard gauge in 1907, transporting men and machinery until closure in 1936 with the completion of the works, having never made as a viable regular line. It gives us a good firm path to follow away from Pateley Bridge, soon retreating into the landscape, with no good sight of the Scott Gate Ash quarries or their incline up the hillside gained as we push on following the riverbank and the river's quiet murmuring, getting very few looks to beyond the south bank, shrouded in trees and continuing on the railway alignment as it drifts from the riverside to offer a substantial retaining wall in the woods between Low Green house, pressing on through the fields of pasture and sheep, far below the high north side of the dale.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Nidderdale Way #1 - Ripley to Pateley Bridge 21/05/17

14.2 miles, via Cayton, Shaw Mills, Woodfield Mill, Brimham Lodge, Brimham Moor,
 Smelthouses, White Houses, Blazefield, and Knott.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#1 at The Market Cross, Ripley.
'One does not simply walk into Nidderdale.' I remarked a few years back, rather dryly, and that still seems to be the case in 2017, as Spring Jollies roll around again, and I have to rely on the Parental taxi to drive me out to this most hidden of Yorkshire's dales, not much above an hour's ride away from home but a real challenge to access on foot or by public transport. So here we set ourselves up at Bewerley Hall farm, in Barn Owl Cottage, just across the river Nidd from Pateley Bridge, a nicely spacious let that might be comfortable for us all, especially for My Dad as his mobility issues have not improved over the last year, with the next Long Distance Trail on the slate, selected as it is the closest available path to home, straightforwardly do-able without requiring My Mum to put in hours of driving on my behalf. After bedding in on Saturday, our trail can get going from Ripley, at the easternmost extremity of the trail, and only a few miles distant from Harrogate to remind us that we really aren't all that far from home, getting dropped off among a tonne of visitors arriving for an equestrian event in the castle grounds, at a rather early hour on a Sunday Morning. Pick up the path at 9.55am by the Medieval cross in the village square, which with the castle and church, is one of the few ancient survivals in a village that was completely rebuilt in the early 19th century by the Lords of the Manor, the Ingilbys, after the fashion of an Alsatian village, apparently, complete with an Hotel de Ville, and thus looking like a slightly more Gothic variant on Harewood to my eyes. Main Street leads us to the B6165, telling us that its less than 10 miles to Pateley Bridge from the A61 roundabout, but naturally this trail will be finding us more miles to do as we soon head off into a bucolic landscape along Birthwaite Lane, rising past the farm and barn that share its name, before moving onto a rougher track that follows the field edge and offers faint glimpses across the Vale of York before slipping in to the woods above Cayton Gill.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Rumination: Fatigue is the Worst.

Please Indulge Me, as I am going to Moan for a While.

Am I getting too Old for all This?
As you'll be aware, I get frustrated and miserable every time I have to drop days from my walking schedule, for my good mental health frequently depends on the ability to get out onto the trail and let the stresses of my mind, and our world, take a back seat as I exercise the limbs, work off the calories and oxygenate the blood as I pound out a trail around another part of West Yorkshire that I haven't seen before. Unfavourable changes in the weather are frustrating, but ultimately forgivable as the seasons in the North Country are rarely predictably consistent (or consistently predictable), and even then cold spells like the unseasonal Arctic blast we've just had coming on over the last two weekends can easily be walked around, and an unseasonal Barbeque Spring like we'd had in preceding weeks can be a source of great joy as we move out of the dark season. However, the other reason to stop is always fatigue and fatigue is just the worst, it's not just feeling tired or lacking the will to force yourself out of a comfortable bed, it's a deep and soul destroying feeling that makes you unable to focus on doing much of anything at all, it knocks you out and your body and brain just have to be left to their own devices, hopefully tuning themselves back into some feeling of normality within usually hours but sometimes days.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Low Moor to Burley in Wharfedale 06/05/17

14.3 miles, via Odsal, Staygate, West Bowling, Bradford city centre, Valley Parade,
 Frizinghall, Shipley, Baildon (& the Moor), Hawksworth, and Burley Woodhead.

Dropping the May Day Bank Holiday from the walking schedule, as a long weekend of rest feels like in its in order, proves to have been a good decision to make before one of the most testing four day weeks I've ever worked, after which I'm still forcing myself out of the house despite the fact that I'm still tired and we are still in the grip of a cold spell that continues thanks to the persistent north-easterly wind that is now working into its second week. Anyway, an early conclusion to draw for this year is that Low Moor station has been the true gift to the 2017 walking season, as we arrive here for the fourth time this year, with another course across the city of Bradford in mind, our last for the Spring before the high season draws us into rather more remote territories, and despite alighting the train at 10.05am it takes several minutes to get going, having to exit via the footbridge and car park because there is no direct access from the southbound platform to Cleckheaton Road. Our way forwards is immediately obvious, across the main road and between the pubs, the George, and the Black Horse and straight forwards to Railway Terrace, a long parade of houses built to service the old L&YR station, engine shed and goods yard, the latter pair of which dwelt on the site now covered by a nature garden and woodland reserve, through which our path travels, once located. We rise to the other extant end of the Low Moor Junction footbridge and cleave close to the railway as the path undulates through the woods alongside, the tracks eventually dropping away below as we move along the perimeter of the South Bradford golf course, but before we hit the westward turn, we do need to drop downhill, to meet the other local footbridge to get a clear sight of the south portal of Low Moor tunnel, passed through many times but never seen in person, as it were. Get back on track as the fuzzy right of way crosses the golf course, following a local dog walker as he knows where we are supposed to be going, and it's always good to annoy some golfers by crossing their fairways. Drop out on the access lane, passing the local cricket field, but all interest drifts to the site on the other side of the fields and the impromptu fairground, to Odsal stadium, home of four times Super League champions Bradford Bulls, seemingly hiding from view but actually located below ground in a bowl, and it draws most of my attention as we meet it along the A6036 footway.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Batley to Apperley Bridge 29/04/17

14.1 miles, via Upper Batley, Howden Clough, Birstall Retail Park, Adwalton, Drighlington,
 Tong, Scholebrook, Pudsey (Fartown & Waterloo), Woodhall Hills, Calverley & the Woods.

It's true that Batley is a bit far out of the way from my area of walking focus for this year, being several miles deep in Kirklees district but it's a good spot to start to make a good day's distance when trekking across the Leeds and Bradford hinterland whilst mostly avoiding both cities, and it also has the added bonus of being only a short ride away from Morley so a lie in can be had on a Saturday morning, with the start of the day's trail coming only 20 minutes after leaving the house. So open a six hour window to get to the Aire Valley, departing the utterly charming  Batley station at 9.40am, setting off with the intent of seeking out the one local railway that hasn't appeared on my radar so far, the GNR line between Batley and Adwalton junction (open from 1864 to 1972), once one of the seven (!) directions that trains once travelled from this now vanished hub. The double width cutting below Soothill Lane might still be there with only the L&NWR's metals remaining below them, but nought can now be seen of the GNR's platforms to or lines from Ossett and Dewsbury to the south, lost beneath overgrowth and industrial redevelopment. We go north, on Lady Ann Road, but keep the path interesting by dropping down through the foot tunnel that leads under the railway to the back of Batley Mills, located down a steep path, and the high retaining walls and the stream of Howley Beck are followed to meet the long and low foot tunnel that leads below Batley junction, thankfully lit up well as it passes deep below the embankment at natural ground level below the point where the lines split off to the L&NWR Birstall branch and the GNR lines to Ardsley and Beeston, the impressive abutments of the latter can be seen when we finally emerge into daylight on the other side. Primrose Hill forms a long terrace that rises as the Adwalton line's embankments rise alongside the extant railway, passing one cattle creep with no obvious purpose and dropping us off at Lady Ann Crossing on Howley Street, below the massive and often seen abutments of the bridge that once took the old railway overhead, still operated by the local signal box and taking us over the contemporary line into Upper Batley.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Low Moor to Shipley (Alpine Version) 22/04/17

14.4 miles, via Wyke New Road Side, Royds Hall, Shelf, Queensbury, Mountain, Thornton,
 Stoney Lane, Sandy Lane, Noon Nick, Moorhead, and Saltaire.

So after the last stretch, two extra days of recovery were needed as my chest cold lingered horribly, and the short post Easter week ended up being only two days of work long, with all of it being toil, and thus a wiser man would have stayed home for the weekend, but the weather looked decent and my walking spirit still wants to make the most of the Spring days, so we are back to the trail with the lungs and legs still feeling less than 100%. An early start on the day isn't an option when Low Moor station is a complicated location to travel to, and so we resume our long loop around Bradford by setting course for Shipley again, but this time aiming for the hills to the west and our first major excursion over Alpine Bradford in a few years, and our first non-urban excursion of the year, departing at 10.05am and aiming ourselves off down the Spen Valley Greenway to get back to the circuit started last weekend. This involves noting that the most singular building in the Transperience complex has gone, demolished to enlarge the freight distribution depot, and also finding the plaque installed to commemorate the munitions works explosion of 21st August 1916 which killed 40 people, a useful reminder of the civilian casualties of the First World war that are still not fully acknowledged in the popular consciousness. This track leads us to Oakenshaw tunnel where we depart the Greenway to push up back to Wyke Lane and head into the green fields and onto the path to the west, rising up to Fearnley Farm and then splitting off to Wilson Road, which is partly un-adopted to prevent it being a rat run between Oakenshaw and Wyke, and as it rises above the rough fields and common land that used to be occupied by the chemical and munitions works, we get a visual confirmation that Low Moor is one of those rare enduring bastions of heavy industry. Soon we meet the outer edges of Wyke's suburban outspill, followed down to the B6379 Huddersfield Road, and then we get an older sort of face to High Fernley Road, leading us on to the A641 Woodside Road which illustrates that this quarter, New Road Side, seems to have two main roads running through it.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Leeds to Low Moor 17/04/17

11.2 miles, via Holbeck, New Wortley, Upper Wortley, Tong, Westgate Hill, Birkenshaw,
 East Bierley, Cliff Hollins, and Oakenshaw.

The long Easter weekend nearly turned into a complete washout, after promising such a good start with social beveraging in Hebden Bridge and a visit to Batley Mill on the return trip to invest in new boots from Mountain Warehouse (pair #6 not being needed just yet, and will this be introduced in due course), with Saturday's trip then being lost to a heavy chest cold and Sunday needing a refocussing of my energy to get myself going on Easter Monday morning. So plans are revised down extensively, and I convince myself that I feel fit enough for a 4 hour burn, starting my trail from Leeds at 9.05am just so we might get an early finish and plenty of recovery time afterwards, setting a course to the southwest as it is the sole remaining trajectory out of Leeds that hasn't been explored all that much, leaving the station via the South Entrance to see the morning sunshine falling on Granary Wharf. Pass over the canal junction and around the old canal warehouse that is still my favourite industrial building in the city, heading west along Water Lane and next to the Hol Beck, still adoring the industrial heritage of the district and pointing my camera at buildings already photographed a dozen times, heading on past Tower Works and onto Globe Road and it's only once we've passed under the high railway bridges do I remember that this wasn't the way I wanted to travel today. Not going to turn back to pace Springwell Road instead, pressing on to Whitehall Road to pass the Central Viaduct, head under the railway again and past the walled off passage to the old Holbeck stations, and also the railway goods shed that has failed to catch my attention so far. It turns out that my route of choice was a non-starter anyway, as the Sutton Street foot tunnel, the old access point to Holbeck High Level station, has been fenced off due to demolition work going on around the Polestar Petty printworks, so that way will have to have another day, and we press on to Spence Lane and onto the A643 to pass under the railway for a final time and loop around onto the footbridge that rises above the Armley Gyratory, dropping us down by the gasometer at the top of Wellington Road.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Low Moor to Shipley 08/04/17

13.6 miles, via Bierley, Dudley Hill, Holme Wood, Tyersal, Laisterdyke, Thornbury, Fagley,
 Ravenscliffe, Eccleshill Bank, Thorpe Edge, Idle & Thackley.

Low Moor station finally arrives on the WY Metro network to open up transport possibilities in the south of Bradford and at the top of the Spen Valley, and I'll be there to meet it on the first Saturday of operation, along with hardly any other passengers, but that's largely due to the railwaymen's strike that has truncated services and landed me here for a 10.25am start, an hour later than I'd have liked on a what promises to be a very warm day indeed. So we immediately join the top of the Spen Valley Greenway, below the Cleckheaton Road bridge, and among the buildings of Transperience, the infamous museum of Public Transport that proved to be one of the worst financial debacles of the 1990s, the tram sheds visible off to the south with the auditorium and tram stand still in situ off to the north. The Greenway path leads north alongside the railway and the former site of the original L&YR station and engine shed, closed in 1965, onwards into the Kingsmark industrial estate and up to the half of the footbridge that once reached its way across Low Moor junction, where the GNR branch to Dudley Hill once had its southern end, a line that only operated from 1893 to 1918 and might thus be one of the most forgotten lines in West Yorkshire. Nothing can be seen of it as we rise along the roadside to junction 2 of the M606, even as we follow the alignment exactly, passing through the Euroway industrial estate and departing Merrydale Road along the cycleway that carries NCN Route 66 off towards Bowling Park, shadowing the line up towards Tanhouse farm and also getting sight of the former estate of Bierley Hall along the way. Our railway search proper starts as we meet the outer suburban edge of Bierley and take a few road corners to find the infilled plate girder bridge by Brogden House farm, and then keep to the countryside roads as we pace up Spen View Lane to find the narrow path that leads between farm buildings and fields to the extant section of embankment that is accessible to the walker, despite the underbridges at the access point and at the long lost Scales Lane being missing, and the sole extant cattle creep below the suburban houses of Meadowcroft Rise is sadly inaccessible from atop the formation.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Cross Gates to Bradford 01/04/17

14 miles, via Killingbeck, Osmandthorpe, East End Park, Burmantofts, Leeds city centre,
 Armley, Upper Armley, Bramley, Stanningley, New Pudsey, Thornbury & Barkerend.

Back Up Country for the weekend and My first Fool's Day walk since I attempted to walk from Halifax to Keighley in Arctic conditions, and there will be no such craziness on this occasion, though the weather doesn't seem to know which season it is supposed to be, so it looks like its going to test out all of them in a single day. Leeds has suffered too much neglect whilst our focus has been on Bradford, and whilst it's my intention to burn some more trails around West Leeds in 2017, it looks like East Leeds might not get much of a look in, so let's do at least one side to side trip on this city via the town centre, something that I haven't done before, and aim to fill in a York Road shaped hole on my experience map. So to the red brick wonder of Cross Gates station as the morning weather promises little, pushing up to the main road for a 9.35am start, and noting that The Station has had a makeover and that there are many more ways of getting to the other side of the Ring Road once past the Crossgates shopping centre, even though our trajectory towards the gated traffic island and Crossgates Road is ultimately the same as the last two trips out of here. Westwards is our path today, down this most suburban of dual carriageways, pressing on to the Burger King junction with York Road, and on to meet the perimeter wall of Seacroft Hospital, site of occasional working exile and of quite a lot of active ongoing medical capacity, despite its diminished size from the original scale of the old Isolation Hospital, a sunnier day would demand pictures of what's left of it. I'm pretty sure housing will be in its future as the Leeds THT looks to dispense of the valuable lands to fund further development of the city site, and it seems that residential development is already coming to the fields around it as a new road has been cut into them from the A64 opposite Killingbeck RC cemetery. The walk to the city feels like it ought to be downhill all the way, and it is past the Asda and B&Q complex and Paddy's Crossing, to the Killingbeck towers and the beck itself that separates the older and newer suburbs, but there are still rises to come, over the throat of Selby Road and the wacky traffic signalling below the railway bridge, and up between the top edge of the Osmandthorpe estate, and below the lower edge of Gipton, passing the unloved, and closed, Dog and Gun, and the matching police station and fire stations at the bottom of Gipton Approach.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Leicester Circular 29/03/17

17.5 miles, via Humberstone Heights, Northfields, Rushey Mead, Belgrave, Abbey,
 New Parks, Western Park, Braunstone Park, Rowley Fields, Aylestone, Knighton Fields,
  South Knighton, Stoneygate, Horston Hill, & Crown Hills.

The end of March is time to go Down Country to see My Parents and to help out around their house for a few days, and having already done city circulars in Leeds and Bradford, doing one on the city of my births seems like a good plan whilst I'm here, as does seeking out the remnants of the Leicester Corporation Tramways, long lost to history, grown between 1874 and 1927, electrified in 1904 and closed down from 1933 to 1949, a rough plot the termini of which gives me a tour of some 17 miles. So, a more modestly sized city than those of West Yorkshire gives a circuit that is much longer, but this will take in a lot of suburbia as well as the limits of the Victorian - Edwardian city, and this will be the best opportunity to put in a significantly long distance down before the bright and warm days of late Spring arrive, and thus we steel ourselves for a long day, starting out at The Terminus on Uppingham Road by the 1934 tram shelter, our constant local companion, and set out in search of the other remaining shelters about the city as well as the end point of every other line on the city's major arteries. Head off anti-clockwise for a change, pushing up the suburban lane of Humberstone Drive, between the suburbia that grew on the Humberstone Hall site and the council estates to the west, heading in the direction of Humberstone village but pulling away at the Thurmaston Lane corner and noting that the grounds of the Towers Hospital, the former lunatic asylum, has been completely redeveloped residentially, dropping a wholly new settlement into the local landscape, which I'll call Humberstone Heights, after the local golf course. Join Gipsy Lane for the westward push, looking into the new suburbia and noting that most of the old hospital buildings have endured, sure to get an executive makeover in the future, for all those who'd wish to put up with the local ghosts, and than its on, over the A6030 link road that took decades to arrive, and on into the district of Northfields, where council houses and terraces face each other at quite a remove from the city, as well as containing The Salutation Inn, one of the most infamously rough pubs in the locality. Then we pass below the Midland Mainline under the low bridge that still seems to attracts regular collisions with wayward high vehicles, and on to the Catherine Street corner, often pronounced incorrectly by non locals, and home to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple, which has such an elaborate makeover that you'd never believe that it used to be a factory.