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.
|Kirkstall Lights, with fantasy redelopment opportunity at centre.|
|Kirkstall's many fields and woods in the Aire Valley.|
|Bramley Fall Park.|
The rising B6157 runs us along the bottom edge of the Bramley Moorside estate, but greenery still dominates on our left, as we've come up to the top edge of Bramley Fall park, where lands formerly quarried have been turned over to leisure use with both playing fields and a wild wood hanging on the valley side, a space that deserves a visit, like a modest version of Calverley Wood. Things become a bit more residential as we run on into Bramley Whitecotes, passing the Acorn Inn and the road down to Newlay Bridge, finally getting a view way up the Aire valley and seeing a dark haze hanging over it as it looks like this promised day of unbroken sunshine was actually a pack of lies, so we'll have to enjoy the warmth for as long as it lasts as we press on past The Rock, where its too early to pause for beveraging. Before we slip down Rock Lane, we have to admire the continued presence of the 104m trig post on the embankment in front of the suburban semis, and indicator that this was once a prominent hillside above the Aire, visible enough for surveying purposes before suburbia landed upon it, a lovable little curiosity to note before we shift down to meet the A657 and the Lane to Rodley. There's definitely a few remnants of the rural age up here before the road slips downhill to meet the terraces and factory buildings that cluster around Rodley Park, and the proximity of the canal is really hard to acknowledge, really only a stone's throw away but completely obscured, only visible down the lane to the nature reserve and indicated by the names of the apartment buildings on the old wharf site, and the fact that the local pub is the Crown and Anchor. Rodley village is a place that I don't think I've ever seen, despite having walked the towpath, but its really only the one street that I've never visited, having previously encountered the Barge and the Owl on my travels and there's a lot along the main road to suggest that this was quite a smart small town beyond the edge of Leeds in the days before the city grew outwards to absorb it, like Horsforth on the northern bank. The distance travelled is soon brought home as we pass over the A6120 Ring Road and hit the elevating path along the A657 as we rise to get the views across the sentinel hills above the Aire, Hunger and Billings, and see the vast woods that coat so much of the valley, a view that would be grand on a sunny day, but right now looks about as colourful as it did in March as we run on towards Calverley, arriving by the Arms pub, and deciding that trying to make straight run through the former grounds of Brookleigh House is probably not the best idea.
|The Leeds & Bradford Road Trig Point.|
|Town Street, Rodley.|
|Billings Hill & Hunger Hills.|
|Calverley Victoria Park.|
So we find another fresh route through the village, along Capel Street and Ruston Street, which affords another perspective on its many stone terraces and curiosities, leading us to Parkside primary School and Calverley Victoria Park, which sits completely enclosed by terraces on all sides but is still large enough to contain the local cricket field, and all those who might want to utilise the green space for any other purpose, a place to pause for elevenses and to hope that the day might warm through again. The skies suggest it might but this summer has done enough to dissuade me from being hopeful, and so we return to the A657 side, departing the village past the New Inn and the entrance to the Cutting, finally getting sight of Idle Hill as we press forward down the main road, where suburbis faces the farm above Calverley Woods, before the road drops down to cross Fagley Beck, gouging its way through exposed rock strata to get there. For the sake of variety, we detour onto Carr Bottom Road, slipping around the northern edge of Greengates to get another view over the Aire Valley, above Apperley Bridge, and feel fearful that this is one that might be soon lost to the suburbia that is claiming the fields above the river, though other, much older cottages give this lane a properly ancient feel as we meet Harrogate Road above St John's church on the edge of Bradford district. Cross to Stockhill Road, again feeling like the old lane as it leads between terraces and the old and new schools to cross the A657 Leeds Road again by the Albion inn, and Albion Mills to meet the rising Albion Road, which soon has me convinced that this was once the main road to Idle, rising steeply among Bradford's terraces, semis and blocks of flats, giving us a good view back to Thornhill Hills before we run into Idle by the Alexander inn. This small town on its hill is certainly a place to charm, as it does appear somewhat out of time, having not lost many of its period buildings, and it's a place to entertain too as every other shop suggests they don't try to hard up here at the Idle Pharmacist, Idle Balti or Idle Beerhouse, but of course the very best of these is to found further up the hill, the Idle Working Men's Club, the very definition of a joke that doesn't get old. A lot of elevation has been gained once High Street has passed the pub cluster by the old chapel, Westfield Lane seemingly slipping out above Airedale with plenty of suburban houses still upon it, and giving clear indication of our destination, sat 40m above with masts and covered reservoir at its top, Idle Hill, a viewpoint that I've desired to see for quite a while.
|Idle Hill at a remove, from the A657.|
|Albion Mills, Greengates.|
|Idle Working Men's Club, Idle High Street.|
|(Nearly) on the Idle Hill of (almost) Summer.|
Getting to the top would require three layers of trespass though, through an equestrian field on the communications company's track to get to Yorkshire Water's reservoir, so I'll err to stay at only 180m up above Airedale, cursing the lack of sunshine that fails to bless the view up the valley to Saltaire and the woods of the St Ives estate, across to Baildon and its Hill, over Windhill and Thackley, and beyond to the ridges of Rombalds Moor and Otley Chevin. You can even see over to the high points beyond Wharfedale, which has me disappointed to not get the higher view, which could have revealed much of Bradford too from the southern side, but the suburban spread has claimed most of that face for some odd and inexplicable reason, so pause for lunch, examining the view for a long while, whilst also befriending a local dogwalker and her Pug, who regularly pace this track to see one of the best views in this district. Having decided that it isn't going to get any sunnier, we depart as the rough track swings around the hill to its western face, passing the house in Catstones Wood and seeing the rash of suburban dwellings on the sunny side of the hill, as well as the developing view down Bradford's valley, descending to meet the old houses at the end of the lane before running into the suburbia of Wrose. This is the estate that seems to perch on a cliff edge when viewed from down in Shipley, and it certainly has a slightly odd feel as we pass through it along Low Ash Grove, as if suburban semis shouldn't quite be so elevated, though you can be sure that the folk who live up here don't notice, unless they are blessed with a superb view. The old heart of the village, almost completely consumed by suburbia can be found on Towngate, hidden behind the Wrose Bull, and the descent in earnest can start from Wrose Road, down Gaisby Hill through fields too steep to have house built upon them enjoying views forwards to Lister Mills and Bolton Woods, and back to the Shipley - Saltaire conurbation. Losing height we regain the residential development, and gradually gain views towards Bradford city centre across the roofs of Gaisby's semis, though most of them are of Valley Parade stadium, and it's odd to find the randomly located villas up here too, as if Victorian suburban flight never quite caught on up here. Giasby Lane eventually reaches the valley bottom, where the bridge still stands over the missing cut of the Bradford Canal, rolling us out onto the A6037 Canal Road, opposite the garden centre and conveniently adjacent to Frizinghall railway station, where a bit of local knowledge is essential to get onto the correct platform and the back of a factory looks like part of an old station building, but that's where we wrap for the day at 1.15pm, before we resume the Bradfordian trails in the Late Season.
|To Saltaire, St Ives, Baildon and its Hill.|
|To Windhill, Thackley, Hawksworth Cliff and the Chevin.|
|Ancient Wrose, hidden by suburbia and at altitude.|
|Down Gaisby Lane, with Lister Mills on the horizon.|
5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 2989.3 miles
2017 Total: 424.3 miles
Up Country Total: 2729.8 miles
Solo Total: 2733 miles
Next Up: Down Country for My Parents' Golden Wedding, with 3,000 miles on the Horizon!
And for the sake of it, Here's the full text that inspired this trip:
A Shropshire Lad 35: On the idle hill of Summer
No, I don't understand how My Mind works, either.