Sunday, 22 October 2017

Bradford to Steeton 21/10/17

13.5 miles, via Brown Royd, Four Lane Ends, Chellow Dene, Sandy Lane, Wilsden,
 Harden (& the Moor), Long Lee, Keighley, Cliffe Castle and Hollins Bank.

So as the season turns Autumnal at apace, we return to Bradford for another trip up to Airedale, and for the sake of interest and variety, it's worth making a trip out from Forster Square station, which I may have cursed as little more than a tram stand since its redevelopment, but it's a damned long one when you have to walk down eight carriage lengths of platform to get off of it, and it's also a station that I have been pronouncing wrongly for 20 odd years too, as that first R is there for only decorative reasons. So off into the city once more at 9.10am, starting early to hopefully stay ahead of the gross weather scheduled for mid afternoon, and cutting a course from Cheapside and Market Street along Hustlergate and Tyrell Street past the Wool Exchange to get to the City Hall and Centenary Square, which is avoided by taking the back street of Aldermanbury, as if I were playing the old game for the Acorn Electron in the 1980s called 'Watchperson' where you were tasked with plotting a walking path down every street on a town plan, but only once. Roll up on the A6181 Inner Ring, across from the disused cinema, and our course westwards can start in earnest as we join Thornton Road from its very start, and we are not too far along, past the Jurys Inn before we have slipped into another stretch of Bradford industrial, or post-industrial landscapes, as we have mill and factory buildings down here in quantity, with the buildings of the University providing some variety on the horizon of Lister Hills. We have pubs to note as we progress, the Lord Clyde, the Black Swan and the Ivory as we pass through these many buildings in yellow stone, lit pleasantly as the morning tries so hard to be sunny, before we run past the site of the GNR's City Road good depot, now occupied by the Freemans - Grattan warehouse, and the brain is left to ponder how the catalogue firms used to me such a major feature of West Yorkshire life, as nearly every person of a certain age that I've known in Leeds spent at least some time working for Kay's. Meet the course of Thornton Road previously walked as we press west through Brown Royd, keeping to the other side of the road this time to get even more of the feel of being on Burley Road in Leeds (a completely uncanny feeling), to give a bit less attention to the mills on the north side and to take a few more views south past the car dealerships and the Adam Masjid mosque, in the direction of the looming mass of Horton Bank as we run out of central Bradford and over the A6177 Outer Ring Road.

Fo(r)ster Square station is way longer than you'd expect.

Aldermanbury and trying to walk every street in Bradford city centre.

Thornton Road and the post-industrial landscape.

Adam Masjid Mosque and the Thornton Road car dealerships.

The landscape gets that bit more terraced and residential past the Round Thorn, as we scrape the bottom edge of Girlington, passing the West Bradford Morrisons sore before we quickly find our new course branching off to the north west from Four Lane Ends, where only three lanes seem to end, as West Park Road takes us on past West Park, natraully and on among the terraces, where one store still advertises Webster's Brewery, some 20+ years after its closure. Soon enough we hit another strange stretch of dual carriageway, built to manage traffic as the landscape gets more council estate-y and suburban, giving off the exact same feel as Toller Lane from last weekend, as Allerton Lane pushes on to Pearson Lane, where we take a short detour northwards to correct our trajectory, as for the sake of variety, we are going to seek one of the few linear green spaces in this city. Chellow Lane leads us into the city's outer suburbia, which mostly hides behind tree cover as the road takes into Chellow Dean, a deep cleft of a valley that is home to the city's oldest reservoirs, which surely act more as a leisure facility these days than having any use as water supply, which provides a green space to gladden the heart of anyone who has seen so many roads when tramping about this city. The valley provides shelter from the gathering wind as we meet the lower reservoir, passing its house and across its dam to pace along its southern bank, soon losing any feeling of still being in the city as we pass below the tree cover and watch the late season bird life active on the water surface, rising gradually and then very steeply as we meet the upper dam. Push up to that body of water, and admire the views in both directions from the dam top, returning to the northern bank, and pacing the flagged path onwards, feeling like the locals ought to be out in greater force than they are, despite the turning weather, and thus we have an autumnal landscape to ourselves, a grand old feeling when you are still city walking, moving on to meet the channel of the beck as the head of the upper reservoir is met. So on into the woodlands, to meet a large and marshy depression which looks like it might have been a third reservoir or an emergency cistern for the valley, soon left behind as the beck and woodland split off to meet the encroaching edge of suburbia at Sandy Lane, where the B6144 Haworth Road is met, at the very outer edge of the city, just down the hill from the waterworks at Chellow Heights, where Bradford's water is distributed having come down its aqueduct from Nidderdale.

Allerton Lane through Suburban Bradford.

Chellow Dean Lower Reservoir.

Chellow Dean Upper Reservoir.

The top of Chellow Dean and the way to Haworth Road.

Passing over the path made in the spring around western Bradford, we can finally start to make trails across the hills of Alpine Bradford, really rather to late in the season but better late than never, and the turn of the weather to chilled is felt as the road rises sharply uphill towards Swain Royd farms and Shay Gate, at some 260m up, which invites some fine views into the Aire valley and to the moors beyond, as well as back to the waterworks up the hill, as the path we took up Chellow Dean retreats rapidly from view. Wilsden Road leads us on towards our next destination, and having crested offers some southern views and further afield to Ovenden and Keighley moors, looming on the distant horizon and looking as ominous as possible beneath October's grey skies, whilst attention is also drawn to the mass of pylons in the area, all spreading out across the fields from the vast substation off in the middle distance. That's off our course for now, as our attention is focused on the approaching town and the valley of Harden beck beyond, and past the few odd bits of suburban overspill, we soon meet the top end of Wilsden, formerly recognised as a railway station located quite some distance away, by the Ling Bob pub, and the road through it joined, with its identity rapidly revealing itself. Some small country towns seem to lack a purpose or an obvious reason for their location, but Wilsden's history of industry explains why it has endured, as for much of the way down Harden Road, mills and factories were built to exploit the power supply of the beck that runs down through the town, and thus the urban growth was drawn around them, with suburbia attaching itself as the post-industrial age came on. It's a lovely and fascinating place, as it's history and purpose are so clear and obvious to the keen eyed, with two centuries of history sitting so close to the roadside as we pass through a rural, industrial and suburban town on the long declining road, an ideal place to do urban study, which my A-Level geographer brain still wants to do on occasion, altogether one of the best places in the district. It feels like its more than a mile long , as it takes a long time to pass though it and back into the countryside as we drop down towards Harden Beck, getting a fresh sense of location as we meet the path of the Millennium Way at Cherry Tree Row, and lose the footway as we pass the Stephen A Smith garden centre and have to follow the new road side down to the valley bottom as the old, direct path is currently up because of roadworks, eventually meeting the passage over the beck by The Malt Shovel inn.

Above Sandy Lane, looking to Baildon Hill and Airedale.

Prospect Mills showing Wilsden was built on Industry.

Spring mills further down the hill, and the industry keeps coming!

The Malt Shovel and the passage of Harden Beck.

Despite the angry sounding beck, it is its own little idyll down here, soon left behind as Wilsden Road sets off uphill, and the brain figures the best way to get a look at Harden village is to follow the old road on its much twistier course uphill but there isn't as much of a village up here as might have been expected, as varieties of 20th century growth seem to rule the day, even around the village green, and thus Harden is judged to be as nothing compared to its neighbour across the valley. Back on the main road we suddenly get a sunlit view towards Baildon Hill, and the qualities of the village are soon revealed as its more dynamic growth seems to have been along the Bingley to Halifax Road, where we can find the Congregational Chapel and St Saviour's church, as well as the blackened terraces and the more dynamically interesting houses, plus development where its mills must have once been located. Over the B6429, our ascending starts once again, rising out from the village for a pull of over 100m altitude as we rise to the edge of the St Ives Estate, and lose the footway again as Keighley Road traces its perimeter and offers a few views back over the course previously walked before setting course for Harden Moor, with numerous blind summits and long straight runs having me feeling a lot safer by walking with the traffic behind me, the definitively wrong way to road walk. Break from the woodland cover to find a bridleway up though the estate that would have kept me securely off the road, and get greeted by sunshine as the day's summit it approached, seeing Ovenden Moor and the Alpine Bradford hills rising above Harden moor to the south, a riot of heather despite not being at high moor altitudes, and as the day tops out at 270m, the identity of the farms up here is revealed as mostly equestrian as I am twice stopped by passing ladies on the lookout for a runaway horse, lost from their riding club. Past the top of Altar Lane, the view north emerges as the wall of the St Ives estate ends, with the bulk of Rombalds Moor rising above Airedale, giving us a look from Morton Moor to the long, stepped end of Rivock, illuminated by the sunshine against a dark backdrop, a view that will keep us company as we descend along the roadside, gradually shifting to a directly westward course and getting the reveal of the sprawl of Keighley. It's amazing how well hidden and sheltered the town appears to be, as the eye is drawn to the rising hills further up Airedale, and across to Keighley Moor and to the Worth Valley, which makes its first appearance on this year's schedule, when I'd initially expected to see it in the summer.

Harden Congregational church and War Memorial.

Ascending Keighley Road by the St Ives estate.

Looking toward Harden Moor, and Ovenden Moor.

Across Airedale to Rivock, and Rombalds Moor.

Again, better late than never is the motto as we run into the suburban edge of greater Keighley as we meet Long Lee, once a collection of farmsteads on the high edge of the valley that sits above the town, now a suburb at an altitude that must be challenging to access on foot or during wintery months, and we descend past its largely rural and terraced face on Long Lee Lane, getting views up the valley before we run into the council houses and semis that have filled in the gap between the settlements on Park Lane. This provides a challenging and steep descent, that has been walked before in part as we drop towards the town, a route not actually recognised until we get sight of the distant railway bridge and the Globe Inn, and we're just that bit too far away to get a shot of the train running over it on the K&WVR, though the grey livery of the locomotive immediately identifies it as the USATC S160. So down over and under the old railways to meet the crossing over the Worth, and taking a left turn immediately afterwards to pass straight through the town centre, along Longcroft and over Worth Way to make a passage between the Morrisons store and the indoor market on Church Way and Market Street, and passing behind the multidenominational Parish Church to cross over Low Street to pass through the Airedale Centre, as it's always worth wandering among the throng of Saturday shoppers when dressed in your walking gear. Emerge by the bus station, and across from Keighley Town Hall, one of the least prepossessing Council offices in the county, which would be easy to miss if the signage didn't indicate it as such, and our late lunch spot is to be found beyond it and Bow Street in the Cenotaph Gardens, where one of the county's best war memorials is to be found, with statues honouring the Army and Navy service men of both world wars. Post feeding, we need to push on, as the weather is clearly shifting towards the threat of persistent rain, so we move away from Keighley's civic quarter of courts and library, along the side of the A629 Skipton Road, past the Picture House and St Anne's RC church, departing the town centre by shifting up Spring Gardens Lane, which takes us past the edge of Devonshire Park, and into Victorian suburbia. Rising with the lane we soon run into Cliffe Castle, the Gothic Reviaval cum Joacobean house that has been home to Keghley's Museum since 1959, immediately identifiable by its tall tower and looking like its in the midst of a bit of a revamp, probably one of those places that every schoolchild in Bradford district has visited on at least on one occasion or another.

Long Lee and the descent into Keighley.

The K&WVR bridge and the Globe Inn.

Keighley Cenotaph Gardens.

Cliffe Castle museum and gallery, Keighley.

Pressing, we continue through and above the suburbs, passing above the top edge of Uttley before we shift onto Hollins Lane and the last batch of suburban houses, facing the disused school at Whinburn Hall, before we head out into the rural climes once more on what was surely once the old lane up Airedale before the turnpike and dual carriageway both superseded it, hanging high above the edge of the valley and offering views to the western edge of Rombalds Moor and up the river towards Silsden. The quality of the views is hampered by the fact of the rain coming on, just as predicted, but we can get many looks up and down the valley for quite a stretch as the worst of the precipitation is kept off by the tree cover, and what views up the southern hillside we have are somewhat tempered by a complete lack of paths onto Steeton Moor, meaning this is one upland that will remain largely unseen up close. Beyond The Hollins, the only notable house at the roadside, we run out of cover and the road rises and narrows to make the going extra challenging against the few vehicles on this lane, and eventually lose the views forwards to the valley as they are obscured by mass of Hawkscliffe Wood, though interest above them is found as we approach Tower Farm, a notable feature in the landscape as its five-storeyed, Victorian and crenelated Bastle is particularly distinctive 100m above the River Aire. The descent then comes on, revealing a damp view across to Silsden as we head down Hollins Bank, getting clear sight down to the B6265 Keighley Road, but not having a direct route down that doesn't take us through Steeton village, which turns out to be a blessing as there is another quite charming collection of old cottages and stepped terraces along High Street, and the Mill Lane terrace is another winner, encountered again at the eastern end of this conurbation of five villages that still hasn't been properly investigated in six years of walking. As we are here, it's worth crossing Keighley Road to wander through the Memorial garden to get a closer look at St Stephen's church and Steeton High Hall, which can only be visited deliberately as they both sit on a dead end lane, and then we can return to the main road to put on the kick to the finish line, away from the Goat's Head and down Station Road among the few buildings in the village that aren't built in darkened stone. Push to Steeton & Silsden station, but route finding between the two platforms gets me confused, missing me my target train by that much, annoyingly, but even with that we roll in at 2.30pm, happy to have mostly beaten the weather and gotten in plenty of Bradford and Airedale before a damp end to the day.

The view to Airedale and Silsden from Hollins Lane.

Tower Farm, above Hawkscliffe, Steeton.

The Stepped Terrace, High Street, Steeton.

St Stephen's Steeton, from the High Hall driveway.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3072.5 miles
2017 Total: 507.5 miles
Up Country Total: 2796.9 miles
Solo Total: 2816.2 miles

Next Up: Across North-West Bradford to the Worth Valley, again!

No comments:

Post a Comment