Sunday, 29 October 2017

Frizinghall to Keighley 28/10/17

12.4 miles, via Lister Park, Manningham (& the Mills), Girlington, Allerton, Harrop Edge,
 Harecroft, Cullingworth, Catstones Moor, Hainworth, and Ingrow.

I swear the autumnal weather is just messing with me now, having brought us all-day blue skies on the Friday and Sunday at the end of this week, whilst sending us dense cloud and a fearsome wind blowing in from the west as I plan my last trip over the exposed hills of Alpine Bradford, and to just to add to the fun, we have no trains running through Morley this weekend, so the route to this day's starting line has to be creatively planned, figuring it's actually easier to travel on the bus via Bradford rather than Leeds to get to Frizinghall station, where we can begin from the northbound platform at 9.35am. The reason to start here is because we have no obvious route out from the city here, so half way up the valley from the town centre gives us a completely fresh perspective for the, though starting from this side of the tracks means we'll have no shots of what appears to get the remnants of grand station building that is actually just the end wall of a factory, and attention will instead turn to the immediate pull uphill on Frizinghall Lane, past the bold terrace ends and the Black Swan inn, sat elevated from the road, whilst looking back over the valley to see the hills at Wrose, Gaisby and Bolton Woods. On past more villas and proud terraces to pass the playing fields of Bradford Grammar school before we cross the A650 Keighley Road to enter Lister Park by its overstated and battlemented gatehouse at the northeast corner, another green space that dererves attention, as its probably the best one in the city, and our sothwards tack can take us around the edge of the ornamental boating lake, and on up to the Cartwright Hall art gallery of 1904, which is surely the grandest of all park pavilions in these isles. Also worthy of note are the formal gardens, in the Victorian style in front on the hall, and in the Mughal style of Northern India to the south, illustrating the many faces that contemporary Bradford has these days, and it's would be a grand place to linger in any of the months preceding October, but for now we need to press on, exiting the park to North Park Road and seeing up close how the proudly planned suburb of Manningham, built for the wealthy middle classes of Victorian Bradford, has still to fully adjust to the changing demographics brought by the 20th century.

The Black Swan, Frizinghall, looming over Bradford's valley.

The Boating Lake, Lister Park.

Cartwright Hall Gallery, Lister Park.

Our path to the northwest begins as we hit Oak Lane, rising away from the main road and into the heart of contemporary Manningham, pressing on uphill among the terraces and the parades of Asian shops to soon get sight of Bradford's most distinctive structure, looming large on the horizon, which is of course Lister Mills, once the largest silk mill in the world and a producer of high quality fabrics from 1873 to 1992, built and run by Samuel Lister who, along with Titus Salt and WE Forster, is probably responsible for most of Bradford's growth in the 19th century. It's a beast of a structure, with two mills in the Italianate style, six storeys tall with over 100,000m of floor space, with its 76m tall chimney being a sentinel visible from all around the district, and it's surely in need of love, despite having been in the slow process of regeneration since 2000, it would be a fine candidate for being this city's version of Salt's Mill, if it wasn't for the fact of that being only a couple of miles away in the Aire Valley. There's so much history within those walls too, having employed 11,000 people at it peak, having produced silk, rope and twine for the military and velvet for royalty through the 20th century and having been site of the 1891 strike that was instrumental in the formation of the Independent Labour Party, it's worth walking all the way around the site, which is nearly a mile around, to take it all in, hopeful that it could become a beacon for all that is good about modern Bradford. Having had my architectural and historical geek out, it's time to press west again along Lilycroft Road, through the half of Manningham that leads us out to the odd junction with Toller Lane and Duckworth Road, where the hourglass shaped island is just that bit easier to approach from this angle, joining the latter road as we continue westwards into Girlington. Looking down the declining terraces to the south gives us more views to Horton Bank and the valley of Thornton Beck, and we haven't gone too far before we meet older rural cottages that illustrate the one time urban edge of the city, and beyond here we meet the site of Bradford Royal Infirmary, developed here on a green field site in 1936 and now the major hospital in the city, despite it's distance from the centre. It's an address I know well, from the amount of post I've sent here in the course of my working life at LTHT, but it's the first time I've been here in person, to admire the size of the site and the fact of its design landing squarely in the period of history where functionality was starting to usurp ornamentation and historicist stylings, giving it something of a neither-here-nor-there sort of look.

Ascending Oak Lane to Lister Mills.

Lister Mills, the most prominent mills in the county.

The Toller Lane - Duckworth Lane junction.

Bradford Royal Infirmary.

The westwards course continues, through the edge of the overbuilt rural and outer suburban district of Daisy Hill, to soon meet the passage across the cleft of Chellow Dean, to join Allerton Road and to head up towards the district of Allerton (pronounced with an O, rather than an A), and the immediate feeling is we are now into the land of councils houses and suburban semis once again, which is rapidly shown to be completely incorrect as we pass Prospect Mills and the rows of Victorian town houses that face Ladyhills Park, where the large War memorial can be located. Breaking for watering here, it's soon realised that sometimes, a failure to read your map properly and deciding to not do too much online investigation means that the discovery of somewhere you haven't been before can be completely different from what you might anticipate, and that's certainly the case here, as I had not acknowledged the hill that Allerton Road rises up, nor the presence of the extensive site of Allerton Mills and St Peter's church standing right next door to it. It's really satisfying to discover that this borough is way older than expected, retaining a Victorian and terraced look all the way up past the Hope & Anchor, the Primary School and the pair of Non-Conformist Chapels before we finally meet the anticipated council houses at the angle of the road, though even here, it's pretty clear that there are plenty of rural remains within the district, once inhabiting high fields, from where we can look bac across the top of the woods of Chellow Dean, to Manningham Mills and down into the city's main valley. The altitude gain should not have come as a surprise, as we've tramped this way across Alpine Bradford already this year, but the rural terrace at Hilltop, and the countryside flavoured pub, the Fleece, indicate clearly how the city and the countryside can merge, and it's to the latter of these we finally head as we cross the Alpine path of April at the top of Cote Lane and Prune Park Lane to pass out of the suburbs and to feel the full force of the winds that were forecast for the day. City walking can leave you under-prepared for such a change of climate, and as we pass into the fields, the winds strikes hard, slowing the pace, whilst low cloud, hanging at about 300m up obscures so many of the views we might have hoped to get up here, Queensbury's hillside being completely invisible, with Thornton only barely traceable, whilst the look north hardly shows anything of Airedale, despite it being less than a mile further away than it was last week, and so tracing a way along the road among the farms looks like its going have to suffice for now.

Prospect Mill, Allerton.

Allerton Mills and St Peter's church, Allerton.

Allerton Hilltop.

Allerton Lane leading to the oncoming weather of Alpine Bradford.

There are Alpacas to note at Moorhouse Farm, and the mind can wander as it tries to trace anything distinctive in the landscape to the south, not too usefully as we run out of footway and have to face down the traffic traveling at too great a speed on this lane, and the wind crushes my chest as we walk against it, gusting at 40+mph if the forecasts are to be believed, which makes it the toughest wind walked against so far, comparable with that blustery day in Bretton Park. Still, our day is almost at its top, as we trace a path towards the house cluster and former pub at Dean Lane Head, and we cross to High Moor altitude as we meet the junction of the roads, and you might hope for a view from 300m up on Harrop Edge, but that grey wall dominates the view to the south and west, which is why you learn to not store up your walks in dynamic landscapes for the late season. So downhill, along Old Allen Road, and attention can be drawn to the clustering of pylons that approach the substation previously seen, soon met and passed alongside as we turn onto and follow Harrop Lane, and it utterly dominates this corner of the rural landscape, calling itself Bradford West and in a seemingly bizarre location (but then again, what sort of location would make sense?). Farmsteads rule the horizon as we pass above the distant top edge of Wilsden, illustrating just how different the landscape can be from only a mile or so distant, rolling with the lane to the junction by the big pylon which gives us a look down to Hewenden Viaduct on the former GNR Queensbury to Keighley line which still dominates its landscape despite having not seen trains since 1963. The lane leads us on to meet the top of Harecroft, a most welcome little hamlet on the B6144, with houses to provide some shelter from the wind, as well as a long terrace and the Station Hotel, which once served Wilsden station, some distance from its town, and from here for that matter, and the lower part of the settlement offers a fine view to the valley of Harden Beck and the viaduct, and it all seems to get a bit tangled as traffic and horse riders fight for supremacy on the road before Cullingworth Road dives downhill. Following this lane proves challenging, as it's steep and lacks a footway all the way down to the bottom, making walking either side seem alarming, especially when my attention naturally looks across to Hewenden Viaduct, and it can be all a bit heart in mouth as we reach the beck crossing, previously seen on the Millennium Way, by the converted Hewenden Mill, and whilst we might now have to ascend the other side now, we at least gain a footway to do it on.

The Dean Lane End houses, Harrop Edge.

Bradford West Substation.

The (Wilsden) Station Hotel, Harecroft.

Hewenden Viaduct and the horror of Cullingworth Road.

So pound it uphill again, looking west to trace the old railway and back to the path previously travelled and to the high edge of the valley to the west of Wilsden, seeing the curve of the viaduct from both ends before we start to run in to the edge of Cullingworth, initially by a long terrace and then past the amount of suburbia that has arrived on this town that really seems to lack a strong sense of purpose, just that bit too far from Bradford and Keighley to be really appealing to me. Still enough people have lived and been industrious here over the century to bring the railway here in the 1880s, and its major relic is met by the Fleece Inn and the junction of the Haworth and Halifax roads, where Cullingworth Viaduct sweeps overhead on eight arches, not especially high up but virtually impossible to get a good angle on from any of the three viewpoints that I try, so press up Haworth Road past the stone terraces to meet the rough track of Turf Lane that will take us along the town's western perimeter before taking a turn right over the old bridge at the north throat of the old station, its site still occupied by industrial plant. Press down Station Road to the old heart of the town, all built in dark stone and clustered around St John's church, the memorial hall and the George Inn, where we can finally break for lunch before a steep ginnel is taken to join the B6429 briefly before switching onto Keighley Road and dropping below the level of the town to pass over Ellar Carr beck and past its associated mill conversion. The road walk beyond has us pushing uphill again, on a long drag up towards moorland altitude again, dodging traffic and getting more elevated views back as we run across the edge of Catstones Moor, below the bulk of Harden Moor, and the rising cloud gives a perspective to Alpine Bradford that simply demands we return to it next year, and then attention can focus forward to our next junction, where the Guide Inn sits at the junction of five lanes at 280m elevation, surely a welcome sight to the old time traveller after a mile of uphill slog. The Worth Valley awaits beyond, as the route to Keighley descends us along the lane to Hainsworth, where a local bus is met, with the driver worried that he might be lost as Goff Well Lane doesn't seem suited to minibus usage, and a whole lot of altitude is lost beyond the farm of the same name before we startle a flock of Starlings as we run into the hamlet, which still retains so much of its rural aspect as it's just that bit too inaccessible for the swell of suburbia and upscale living.

Cullingworth Viaduct, spanning the Halifax and Haworth Roads.

St John's Church in the heart of old Cullingworth.

Over Catstones Moor, to the Guide Inn.

Hainworth Hamlet, above the Worth Valley.

The decent of Hainworth Lane beyond is steep and cobbled, and also slick wet and thankfully unpopular with drivers, providing another challenging downhill trek as we run in towards the outer edge of Keighley, getting views up the Worth valley before we take a turn into Spring Bank Wood, where damp stones, mashed leaves and an intermittent grab rail by the broken wall make for some scary going, another more testing lane than the day really needed. The block of terraces met at the town has been seen before, and as we drop down to the bridge over the lost GNR line, it looks like the void below it has been cleared, and so an improvised route and trespass is in order from Hainworth Road to get a few shots of it and its retaining walls from both sides, hopeful that demolition or infilling won't be a feature of its future. As we are passing the site of the site of Ingrow East station, we are not too far from Ingrow West on the K&WVR, just a little way down Halifax road from the puzzling disused Great Northern tavern, and despite being a replica it completely looks the part of a modest Midland Railway station, not to be used on my station visiting odyssey this time, and with me arriving too late to trainspot successfully once again. Return from the station yard to the main road, crossing over the River Worth to run on into the town, passing below St John the Evangelist Ingrow, and on past terraces, industrial units and large piles of steel pipes before the road kinks left by Knowle Mills, now home to the Keighley Business Centre, and we strike on through a landscape that manages to be both residential and industrial at the same time. Take a right onto Worth Way, and thus don't do another traversal of the town centre, past more factory buildings and commercial units before we pass over the outspill of Dean Beck and run past Morrisons again, meeting the bottom of the shopping drag of Low Street and marking the Royal Arcade as being the best of the shop fronts in the town, which I've still to get a real feeling for after a good few visits. Then we reach the run to the finish line, down East Parade, with its many eateries to run past Aldi and to be finally presented with the haze covered view of Airedale, rising on the northern side of the valley, and approaching the station has me happy to be finally wrapping up today, running in a good half hour late as the day ends at 3pm, all due to leaning on the wind for most of the trail, and it would be a good time to join the K&WVR to enjoy their beer festival, but the poor organisation of my walking has me discovering that that was on last weekend. Knickers, frankly.

Hainworth Lane, through Spring Bank woods.

Ingrow West on the K&WVR.

Knowle Mills and South Street, Keighley.

Royal Arcade, Keighley's best shopping parade.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3084.9 miles
2017 Total: 519.9 miles
Up Country Total: 2809.3 miles
Solo Total: 2828.6 miles

Next Up: Picking a trail purely for the Pun value.

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