Sunday, 8 October 2017

Morley to Kirkstall Forge 06/10/17

7.1 miles, via Rooms, Beeston Royds, New Farnley, Farnley, Gamble Hill, Bramley,
 Moorside and Fall Park.

It's not often that I have useful brainwaves, but they can be good when they come, such as when I plan to take three day weekend to break up the autumn run at work and realise that if I were to go walking on the Friday morning that it would free up the Friday evening and Saturday for being sociable and giving me Sunday to recover, so I could have a whole weekend off, and still get some extra miles in as a bonus. Genius, I'm sure you'll agree, and a short burst from home gives me as much flexibility as possible before Friday drinks comes around to give more of my colleagues a send off as they depart to greener pastures, so no hesitation is to be had as I push out to Morley town hall for a start on the cusp of 9am with another of West Yorkshire's new railway stations firmly in my sights. There must still be new ways out of Morley to find, despite feeing like they've already been exhausted, so after the walk down Queen Street to meet the Cheapside Parade at Morley Bottoms, glowing in the autumnal sunshine, we can take a left turn to the western half of Bank Street, rising to meet Victoria Road by Stubley Farm Mews, and then follow the A643 north past the old and suspiciously well-presented Ingle Estate of council houses, dated at 1920 and surely the oldest in the borough. Pass the parade of bungalows and turn off by the Shell Garage, to follow Springfield Lane, past its long blocks of terraced houses which once housed the workers of Springfield Mill, which is now lost beneath the parkland that shares its name, an industrial site that the mind really has to stretch to situate among the suburbia to the west of Churwell Hill, and away from this greenery we join Rooms Lane, as it's still the red route in this direction out of Morley and over the M621. Countryside follows, west of the city of Leeds, dropping down the unsurfaced and shady portion of Rooms Lane that leads past the isolated Lister Cottages and on past the site of Gildersome East station on the L&NWR New Leeds Line, revealing itself a lot more clearly than when we first came this way, before we run on to meet the A62 and take a right to meet the stench of the waste recycling plant. Don't dwell long on Gelderd Road though, soon finding the bridleway that drops to cross Farnley Wood Back before we hit the rise to the hillside that I still call Beeston Royds, despite my certainty that it has another name, observing the men in the fields harvesting veg and enjoying the views across to the Cottingley estate and around over Beeston, Middleton, Morley and Gildersome.

Cheapside Parade, Morley Bottoms.

Springfield Lane for Springfield Mill (former).

Gildersome (East) station on the L&NWR New Leeds Line.

Over Beeston Royds (or Farnley Woods?) looking towards Cottingley and Middleton.

Reacing the crest and top, we can look across to the city of Leeds, revealing its many high spots and vast extent in this hazeless sunshine, before Pudsey starts to show up to the north and we pass over Wood Lane and meet the field walk that draws us down to the A58, where more suburbia has spread than you might think, getting a good view to the city across Armley and Wortley, a still under seen corner of Leeds before the path drops us on someone's driveway and on to the Whitehall Road. New Farnley is this place, having initially grown to service the nearby Iron Works, but nowadays looking to be mostly a collection of retirement homes with some suburbia scattered around it, not a place to linger, and we're soon away from it as Lawns Lane rises to the green space that offers a fine view east to Elland Road stadium before we meet the perimeter of Farnley Park. Pass the cricket field and war memorial before following the old road alignment to meet the former parish church, opposite Lawns House, now St Makarios the Great of the Romanian Orthodox church, and a sneak needs to be made into the park to get a look at the more local version of Farnley Hall, a Georgian pile at heart of parklands that seem very accessible to the public as part of the West Leeds Green Space. Return to the Lane and swing around the grounds of the manor house which seems to be one of the few survisors of the old Farnley Village, now lost beneath the council estates which we will skirt as Butt Lane descends down the ends of the ranks of low rise flats, offering us the view across West Leeds to come, with the Gamble Hill flats prominent as we drop to cross over Tong Road, and enter the city proper among the many council houses and suburbia. Pass over the A6110 Ring Road and make our third passage past Farnley Reservoir before crossing Pudsey Road and hitting the ascent up Henconner Lane, which still has a couple of old rural houses along it to advertise its vintage before in got consumed by the post war growth of Leeds, taking us uphill to pass under the Leeds & Bradford railway line to get the best close look at the colourful tower blocks at Gamble Hill. The vintage and growth of suburbia in West Leeds makes very little sense to this observer as we run past the Bramley Bus depot, the discovery of which comes as a bit of surprises as it's not the sort of place you might expect to find it, and it's not much further on to meet the A647 Stanningley Bypass passing below, along with the Greggs Bakery next to the island on Stanningley Road that went completely unnoticed when we came this way in the spring.

The A58 Whitehall Road, New Farnley.

Farnley Hall, the City of Leeds version.

From Butts Lane, the view to Gamble Hill.

Henconner Lane showing a century of suburban growth.

Cross to join the AS657 Lower Town Street and to push on into Bramley, the suburb that composes so much of West Leeds, which still has a rural flavour, indicated by the pub The Barley Mow, as well as being the limit of the expanse of the 19th century terraces, though the mind and the eye will always be drawn to how the 1960s brought a type of Brutalism to the district, well illustrated by the Rosefield Terrace flats and the Bramley Shopping Centre, which is a lot larger than I'd ever credited it, nearly on a par with that at Cross Gates. Strike down Waterloo Lane to get a surprisingly good view of the city's silhouette from the west from above the industrial units before crashing into another jumble of suburban vintages before the crossing of Broad Lane, next to St Catherine's Mills, with a footpath leading us on into the heart of the Moorside estate. Not the sort of route to usually be favoured on my travels, but it's the shortest way over to Leeds & Bradford Road, and it's pretty clear that its original planners had a grander sort of plan for it as St Catherine's Green provides that sort of wide and leafy boulevard that might have been a grand entrance when initially plotted, now a mere cul de sac with much greenery. Over the B6157, and we've done a grand job of stitching together many West Leeds paths before we meet the perimeter path of Bramley Fall park, descending steeply and muddily while offering views into the untamed woodland that offers many tracks, enough to make me wish I had many friends around the city to take out on random park walks, as they're not the sort of paths that offer thenselves to my regular routes. Drop down to meet the Leeds & Liverpool canal, easily crossed by the footbridge over the three-rise chambers of Forge Locks, before we briefly follow the towpath west above that loop on the River Aire that has the Airedale line cross over it twice in short order, and we can look from here over the site of Kirkstall Forge, which I'll always remind people was in continuous industrial use for over eight centuries. Established by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey in the 12 century and a major iron producer since the 17th, it now lies fallow, awaiting the revival that is promised as the brown field site is ripe for redevelopment, and a new path leads down from the canal to the new railway station, opened in 2016, which currently serves a car park and a sole office building that still hasn't been finished. It'll eventually be a commercial and residential complex by the Aire riverside, hopefully well-protected from flood risk, but for now it'll be another one off my station odyssey and a finish line for my morning blast in the Autumn sunshine, wrapped up at 11.40am with time to trainspot the 333 units before the weekend's necessary social intercourse can commence in earnest.

Bramley Shopping Centre.

St Catherine's Green, Bramley Moorside.

Descending through Bramley Fall Park to Forge Locks.

Old Kirkstall Forge is Dead, Long Live New Kirkstall Forge!

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3043.1 miles
2017 Total: 478.1 miles
Up Country Total: 2767.5 miles
Solo Total: 2786.8 miles

Next Up: Remember Bradford?

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