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.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Headingley to Thornton 25/03/17

12.7 miles, via Kirkstall, Bramley Moorside, Intake, Farsley, Woodhall Hills, Thornbury,
 New Leeds, Bradford city centre, Brown Royd, Four Lane Ends, Fairweather Green,
  Leaventhorpe, & Hill Top.

First weekend of Spring proper, and the last day of GMT, and the sun is out, promising a day of wall to wall sunshine and the hottest last weekend of March since that sunburnt day in Mallerstang five years ago, the sort of day that probably deserves better than another city trail, but after spending a month moaning about the lack of good weather in Bradford, it makes sense to see it when the day is going to be about as bright as it can possibly be. So, the cross town trip starts out from West Leeds once again, starting out from Headingley station on the Harrogate line at 9.40am, and it's a mystery how I've never travelled from here in my walking days, or found ,much reason to use it in the preceding decades, probably something to do with it being not very convenient for its namesake, and it's got a station building to admire too, one of the best examples of the NER's domestic styling. It's a short walk downhill, on the B6157 Kirkstall Lane to land us in the heart of Kirkstall, much more convenient for the station, and soon cross two old tracks on Morris Lane and the A65 Abbey Road, passing the drinking fountain and war memorial on the way down to Bridge Road, home to the former hotel with the excess of windows (still seeking an occupant), and the Kirkstall Bridge retail park, which is celebrating a year of business as we speak. This leads us to Bridge Mill and it's neighbour the Bridge Inn, and the path across the Aire on Kirkstall Bridge itself, also over the railway where the MR's original Kirkstall station once lived (closed in the 1960s when Headingley was favoured for retention), and then we hit Broad Lane, leading us up the Kirkstall Brewery flats, owned by the Metropolitan University ('Leeds Carnegie' be damned, I say), not actually the home of the currently operational Kirkstall Brewery, but idyllically placed by the Leeds & Liverpool canal, the bridge over which we cross.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Morley to Saltaire 18/03/17

12.4 miles, via Gildersome Street, Adwalton, Drighlington, Westgate Hill, Tong Street,
 Dudley Hill, East Bowling, Bradford city centre, Manningham, Frizinghall, & Shipley.

No need for an early start when the first longer walk of the year starts from your home town, so rising can start at an unhurried pace and there's no pressure to get the bags gathered quickly, as the start line isn't too far away and an hour of the day hasn't been burned with travelling as we arrive at Morley Town Hall for a 9.40am jump off, to walk cross Bradford again and head south on a path that initially seems counterintuitive. The main issue with walking in Morley is finding a unique path that hasn't been walked before, so it's good to find that there is still at least one major road in the borough that hasn't already been tramped, and that's High Street, initially accessed behind the New Pavilion theatre and rising in a mostly upscale residential fashion to the B6127 island and then on, below the bridge abutment that is the last physical remnant of the GNR's Morley Top station, and onwards through a landscape of enduring industrial mills and terraces on cobbled lanes. It seems to be named High because of elevation, rather than importance, and leads us out to the A650 Wakefield - Bradford turnpike, and our path turns to the northwest at the Stump Cross Inn, the roadside marker itself being long lost, and this is a section of Britannia Road that hasn't had much occasion to be travelled in all my years in Morley, with the Cross Keys, the Mermaid fish restaurant and the Asda superstore having all gone unvisited in the last decade. Pass the Halfway House, and the B6123 before we pace more of the unseen turnpike before passing St Andrew's church and the way out from Dartmouth park and joining the path of Bruntcliffe Road that has been frequently travelled, where many establishments seem to claim a 27 in their names, and the path stays familiar as we hit Bruntcliffe crossroads and press on past the Toby carvery and onto Wakefield Road over the M621. It's the frustration of travelling that the motorway provides such an obstruction and limits my choice of routes, but here we go past the Gildersome Spur industrial estate and onwards to Gildersome Street and the island of Junction 27 again, to finally find a fresh path on the other side of the A62 Gelderd Road as we meet the dual carriageway stub left behind as Bradford Road was cut off and isolated by the construction of the A650 Drighlington bypass.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Apperley Bridge to Queensbury 11/03/17

9.9 miles, via Idle, Five Lane Ends, Swain House, Bradford city centre, Great Horton,
 Horton Bank, & Clayton Heights.

Three days off from work and after much busy-busy, with the much appreciated help and company of My Parents, we have all decorating and cleansing targets achieved, but there's not much enthusiasm left for a Sunday walk, and ultimately the weather will make the decision of if I wish to be outside or not, so a weekend drops out and we find ourselves further on into March, without any more Spring being felt in the air once it's time to get walking again. Still using the early season to explore Bradford, and the best way to get used to its many hills is to travel across it from one side to the other, which pretty much guarantees a couple of ascents and a few more miles on the clock as our days get longer and warmer, theoretically, of course. So off we go to Apperley Bridge station, for a 10.20am start as a 10 mile day still doesn't demand a super early rise, and once off the platform the panorama of the northern edge of Greater Bradford invites our exploration, but to get there we need to walk some familiar paths down Harrogate Road and past the pubs as yet unused as we make our way over the old Apperley bridge itself and the River Aire before the rural Apperley Road snakes its way on towards the canal, inviting a path into Thackley woods and still showing the muddy scars of December 2015's floods. The edge of the city is met once over the L&LC, suburbia spreading out to fill every available space among the farmsteads and the older houses, and the ascent out of the Aire valley comes on strong as Apperley Road ascends towards Leeds Road, offering views back to the many woodlands and not really offering any suggestion of where Apperley itself might have been. Cross over the A657 by The George, which might have an excellent view from its back rooms, and press on into the outer parts of Idle, where terraces and suburbs mix together, but don't get too close to the village centre as our path swings up the narrow and ascending Howgate in the direction of Albion Road for an even more increased sense of altitude and The Alexander presents itself as another pub with a fine aspect.