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.

Of course, the End of Summer has come and gone in the time since I last walked and Autumn has already come on strong, with temperatures already in the low teens and so little sunlight that the gilet is no longer of any use and the long sleeved jacket comes out once again, though the early hours of this Saturday suggested that we might have some sunshine on an otherwise drab day, but all hopes of that were gone after my ride out had passed through Bramhope tunnel and a distinctly leaden pall had settled over Wharfedale. So, off the train in Harrogate at 10.05am, for my final trail through this town for this year, my fourth through the town and seventh in the vicinity but I still don't feel like I have gotten to know it particularly well, which is a pretty odd thought, one which has me thinking that an off season trip or two with my Pevsner might be in order, but for now we'll just have to move on, away from Station square and down Station Parade to assemble my thoughts on the town. There's more of those well-dressed parades of shops down here, as well as other houses, hotels and the wide boulevard of Victoria Avenue that advertise the strong aesthetic of the old nineteenth century Spa town, which certainly makes it one of the most visually appealing settlements in the county, with all that bold building in well-dressed stone with that late-Georgian feel. Our path leads us to the Stray, and we hit the diagonal path to the south west, and even on a glum morning like this, the dog walkers and sports teams are out to use this rather singular example of public parkland, and its another of those great curiosities that Stray is a Yorkshire vernacular word for any urban common land, but had become so singularly associated with this one. Meet the A61 Leeds Road at its southwest corner, in the heart of the suburbia filled with those tall villas that just ooze the qualities of upscale living in Victorian times, and also encounter the Royal Crescent, possibly the strongest example of period domestic architecture in the town, that has a look of a much scaled down and less classical version of John Wood's famous compositions in Bath. The road rises on, through the suburbia of Oatlands, past St Mark's church, and remaining Victorian and upscale all the way to the cluster of terraces at the Leadhall Lane - Hookstone Road junction, by the largest M&S Foodhall in the county, and then its onwards through the many vintages of  20th century suburbia along Leeds Road down through Fulwith, all the way to the passage across the Ringway path.

Station (or Victoria) Square, Harrogate.

Crossing The Stray, again.

Harrogate's Royal Crescent, not quite as Bold as Bath's.

Pounding the A61 through Oatlands and Fulwith.

The turnpike takes a long and wooded descent down the hill which the town sits upon, entering the countryside as we cross over the River Crimple via Almsford Bridge, and starting the slow ascent up the other side of the valley, wondering how long the footway is going to endure and taking looks back to see the mass of Crimple viaduct revealing itself in the landscape, always good to look at because it can be rather too easy to ignore the active railway structures when attention is drawn to those that have passed out of use. Rise on towards Pannal, passing the garden centre noting that the local filling stations have car dealerships and suit hire (!) stores attached to them, which must suggest something about this area, and we pass over the railway north of Pannal station to see some Super Sprinter action before we run over the junction at the bottom of the Follifoot ridge Road. Don't see too much of the suburbia that spreads to the north and south of here, but do catch up on the car dealerships and rather out of place roadside farm, that gives this corner a bit more vintage, and the newest development here seems to be the Vida Grange Dementia Care Home, which is another illustration of the priorities on the modern world in which we live. Rising with the road, we come to a fine view of the parting branches of Crimple Beck, with the prominent ridge of Horn Bank sat above them, with the woodlands of The Warren giving us something familiar to look at, and beyond the new traffic island we meet the edge of Harrogate's limits and the footway ends abruptly, only to reappear again quickly as we pass through a sunken section of road by Walton Head farm, and we can stay on away from traffic as we pass the junction of Burn Bridge Lane and roll on to island where the Leeds Road A61 crosses the A658 Bradford Road, and we'll join the latter here, as the Dudley Hill & Killinghall turnpike is going to be our companion for most of the rest of today, pressing on hopeful that the footway will endure for a while longer as it leads us down to Nab End farm, before it degenerates on the drop down to Nab bridge, where the road twist through two sharp curves to get over the railway again. We've no protection at all from the traffic as we are forced into the carriageway by thick hedges of hawthorn all the way down to Whitegates farm and kennels, and it's a handy reminder of why walking along trunk roads is no fun at all and why its best avoided, unfortunate when the most obvious route between two points is occupied by the main road, which makes total sense from just about any considered perspective.

Crimple Viaduct, 31 arches of Victorian engineering joy.

Roadside farms, Pannal.

The Warren and the dividing Crimple valley.

Nab Bridge and the pathless A658.

Despite being on a road that runs parallel to the railway, and passing at a short distance behind the rising bulk of Healthwaite Hill, we get no sight of either as the tree cover at the roadside gives us absolutely no perspective in that direction, and so it's pretty featureless trudge until we meet the bottom of Hall Green lane and the way up to North Rigton, where bus stops and the level crossing on Dunkeswick Lane provide sudden interest. We finally gain a footway, of sorts, between the lanes up to North Rigton, which keeps us away from traffic despite providing its own cahllenges underfoot with the amount of overgrowth, and its along here that I discover probably with my bag, finding its own way to come undone and shed its contents because its secure straps aren't tight enough, another illustration that I'm still a rank amateur with me walking gear despite six years on the trail. Gain a better surface beyond the Church Hill corner, as well as suggestions of a vista to the south, but despite our proximity, not a single view towards Almscliff Crag is to be had, which goes to show that close up is rarely the best way to get a good perspective. Soon run into the north edge of Huby village, and the joy that comes with sight of civilisation, meeting the odd suburban enclave seen when we trekked to Brimham Rocks, and retrace steps following the lane down past the Almscliff village hall to meet the village centre, and the arrangement of railway houses around Weeton station, a loveable collection of NER architechture to be admired before the line pulls away to the south. We continue to the southwest away from this suburban oasis, and wander on among the rolling fields above the Wharfe which finally give us a bit more landscape perspective as we pass the lane ends to Castley and Stainburn, finally getting a revelation of Wharfedale Viaduct crossing the valley on its many arches, and that's another I'll never tire of looking at, and the eagle eye can spot the roof of Arthington Hall peeking above it. Move on through this bucolic landscape, getting the reveal of the Chevin - Caley Park - Pool Bank ridge ahead, and the eye tries to trace the path to come over it, before we move on among the farms that surround the tiny hamlet-let of Riffa, clustered around the petrol station and pub, The Hunters Inn, in the shadow of Riffa Wood, looming above it to the north. The temptation to stop here for lunch is strong, as the Local Pantry farm shop offers us Yorkshire's best Bacon sandwich, but we need to keep a move on below these glum skies, to mix ourselves up with the path between Carlton and Huby that we walked last year, to hopefully get a completely fresh perspective on Pool Bank this time around by walking up it.

The Dudley Hill & Killinghall turnpike, near Rigton crossing.

Weeton station houses, Huby.

Wharfedale (or Arthington viaduct)

Riffa Wood, and Hamlet-let.

I guess that the A658's approaches to Pool bridge will still have future paths to offer, even with making my fourth crossing on this occasion, though going south for the first time today, and the local signage indicates that my suspicion that only a visitor and non-local would add 'In Wharfedale' to the village name, as Pool alone is highlighted for all to see. The view across the bridge and the Wharfe has a different sort of look today, and it takes a while to notice that the Shell garage on the A658 - A659 island has been mostly demolished since we last passed this way not much above a month ago, and redevelpoemt is underway on this site, though the rest of the village looks unchanged, still sat at that awkward spot between the two direct roads to Leeds. Its lack of side roads means that the main road has to be tracked through it, regardless of where you are headed, but the opposite side of Main Street can at least offer a different view of the Half Moon Inn, and of St Wilfred's church, while the memorial garden can offer a place to pause for lunch, slightly later than usual but you have to sit where the benches are available. The bank await after that, passing the White Hart and the fingerpost junction to press up the A658 as it starts its way uphill, pushing on through the village's suburban growth, certainly feeling steeper than it did when I last came this way down, over the old railway line and below the junction of Staircase Lane, pondering if Avenue des Hirondelles shadow the old quarry tramway before the climb sweeps right and the real push starts. The footway sits below the banked road, almost teetering above the wooded slopes down to the beck below the lane, and its easy to wonder why anyone might have fancied their upscale Victorian house in the country along here, as it doesn't look like a road that it's easy to turn on and off of, but at least the traffic isn't insane, tempered by the traffic lights at the A660 crossing. It's still a long push to get up to the Dyneley Arms, one of those pubs that has been in and out of business regularly over the last two decades, and it good to see it trading at present, and having risen above the tree line of Pool Bank's woods, we can finally get that look back across Wharfedale to get little indication of the path travelled, but a good view of Almscliff Crag at last. There's still more bank to come beyond the Otley Road, as the New Road pushes up past more woodlands and the hidden covered reservoir to offer another good Wharfedale view to the west before we meet the top of the Old Pool Bank, and the hamlet of Old Bramhope, and despite having ascended only 160m from the Wharfe, to a 210+m summit, the lungs and knees really feel it as attention now focuses towards Airedale, off to the south.

Pool Bridge and the absent Shell garage.

Pool Bank departing the village.

Pool Bank rising to the Dyneley Arms and the A660.

Pool Bank rising to Old Bramhope.

From the Old Lane junction, we get a fine horizon of the hills and moors that reside above and beyond Bradford and Keighley, not seen in detail since the end of Spring, and also from up here, we can look across to the high upper portion of Leeds, around Tinshill microwave tower, and down to the sentinel hills above the Aire valley, though the most obvious feature in the landscape has to be Leeds & Bradford airport, laid out to the south. This is the only angle where it appears as a visible airfield, and this will be our fourth close approach to it without having gone past its main entrance, but it's still a distance away from here, and after having had a footway since Huby, we're back to walking on the verge again as the A658 offers nothing to the walker along here, but thankfully, this stretch is already familiar and the way down to the Otley Old Road junction can be traced without difficulty. Continue on, using the wrong side of the road, with the traffic running behind me, because the verge feels a lot more secure on this side, soon running across the path previously walked up to Carlton and rising to meet the enormous depot which seems be used only for car storage, and its a site that I had assumed was once part of Avro's plant where Lancaster bombers were built in the 1940s, adjacent to Yeadon Airfield, but that's a site that historical digging still hasn't located properly. There's also a heliport up here, which is a new discovery, as well as various office buildings conveniently located for the airport, and we finally regain a footway as we approach the Whitehouse Lane traffic island, where the Hawthorne Farm pub offers a fine aircraft viewing spot, as well as what appears to be a wartime memorial of some kind, located on the wrong side of the road, unfortunately. The holiday traffic still seems to departing in earnest with the End of Summer as three jets taxi and take off in the time that it takes me to approach the runway, all of them operated by Jet2, and I'd honestly forgotten how loud they could be as well, but shelter comes as the A658 and its footway pass below the runway via a long tiled tunnel that seems unusually well lit, though it probably needs to be seeing as its three times longer than most of the foot tunnels you'd encounter. More airport and field is viewable from the south side, as well as other factory buildings that might have been the Avro plant, and soon enough we are upon the edge of Yeadon, where semis sit rather too close to the airport for comfort, and blackened terraces suggest a lot more age to this quarter that might be considered of a vintage with the airport as the Harrogate Road leads us on past Murgatroyd's F&C restaurant and the Premier Inn - Beefeater on the Bayton Lane corner.

Airedale Hills revealed, from the Old Lane corner.

Leeds & Bradford Airport, hiding in the landscape.

Plane Spotting by the A658 tunnel.

Suburban Yeadon, with Fish restaurant.

Suburbia of many vintages rules from here on, and it had been my intention for us to follow the official route of the A658 down Green Lane as we made our passage through Yeadon, but when heading south it makes a lot more sense to stay on the apparently more direct route of Harrogate Road, and the junction by the Jet station could easily be missed entirely from this side of the road. So that leads us to our bit of Yeadon that is already familiar, though views around still suggest that this is one town that I still don't really have a feel for, as we run on to the Stone Trough pub and the fields of Benton Park school before we can get a view that suggests we are at a much closer proximity to Airedale as Baildon Hill rises on the horizon above the parkland at the top of Quakers Lane. Then we are upon another old path as we run onto the shopping parade at the transition into Rawdon, which has always felt a little more upscale in business than the standard of the shops really allows, and where we meet passage across the A65 Leeds Road, passed over by the old Co-op building to join Micklefield Lane, skirting its was around Micklefield Park, both nowhere near actual Micklefield. The B6152 draws us down into the enclave of Little London, one of those clusters of stone terraces and cottages that is as haphazard as it is charming, providing another small reminder that this quarter was one totally rural, well beyond the influence of the nearby cities, and at its bottom we run out onto the A658 again, which we meet at angle confirming my belief that today's route is clearly the best choice for heading downhill. On the main road again, we can now fill in the gap between the Aire valley and the settlements above it, getting some fine views across towards Baildon Hill, Thackley Woods and Idle Hill as we descend past the fields of Crow Tree Farm, above the grounds of Esholt Sewage Works, before we meet the edge of the Cragg Woods estate to the east. This has always been an odd sort of development, feeling rather secretive hidden away on its many private lanes for more than a century, clearly the sort of place you could never hope to live, fleetingly glimpsed many times as the road descends to meet the bridleway at the Walk Hill farm corner. This is familiar terrain once again, that cluster of houses around the pub and church, as well as the piravte schools that loiter around Apperley Bridge, above the Aire, and rolling to the finish line we link the two halves of this year's walking territory together again, landing on the station at 5.45pm (ahead of schedule!) and a nicer day might have inspired a push for the remaining 4 miles into Bradford, but that not happening today as it sure isn't Summer anymore.

Benton Park, Yeadon, and the view to Baildon Hill.

Little London, Rawdon.

Cragg Wood estate, many private lanes where walkers are not welcome.

Apperley Bridge, where the station has been a gift to this walking man.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3020.4 miles
2017 Total: 455.4 miles
Up Country Total: 2744.8 miles
Solo Total: 2764.1 miles

Next Up: One Last Day in Wharfedale, despite the promises to the contrary.

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