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.