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.