Sunday, 25 February 2018

Headingley to Woodlesford 24/02/18

10.6 miles, via Meanwood, Miles Hill, Potternewton, Harehills, Osmandthorpe,
 Halton West, Skelton Moor, Newsam Green, and Leventhorpe.

The Specs that saw Everything so far
get retired after 11+ years service.
Before we get going again, we have to announce another early season retirement as my other constant companion of the last decade gets replaced, the specs that I got in 2006 finally get an update, and the eyes that have literally seen everything I have over my walking career get renewed, not because my sight is suffering, more that the time has come for something new. So the small and wiry pair that were definitively the best glasses I have ever worn get retired, replaced by the nearest equivalent that I could find in Specsavers as current styles of chunky and plasticy are certainly not my thing, and not costing me a whole lot of coins either, and if the new ones do me right for 11+ years, I'll certainly be a happy camper. And so we move on, due for more Crosstown Traffic in the City of Leeds, as there have been so many trails radiating out from the centre and not enough going from side to side, and so we set out with a two-day circular route in mind, to get in much of North and East Leeds along the way of leg #1, disembarking at Headingly station at 10.40am, starting late and hopeful that the winter sunshine will offset the low temperature and persistent easterly wind, with the day warming through a bit as we go. So eastwards we head, from this charmingly domestic station in the suburbs, past the railway cottages and setting course along Kirkstall Lane for the village centre, among the suburban spread, but noting the large Victorian houses of Oakfield and St Ann's Tower that stand on either side of the railway line and the Queenswood Drive junction before we run into the terraces that student land is still just about clinging onto. The looming mass of Headingley stadium, home of Yorkshire CCC and not enough England Test matches, appears on the horizon, looking much larger now that the Carnegie pavilion rises above the Len Hutton gates, and it's telling that my detachment from cricket is so bad that the last time I came here was in the days when Twenty20 was a fun diversion rather than a scourge on the modern game.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Cottingley to Leeds 17/02/18

10.8 miles, via Beeston, Middleton, Belle Isle, Hunslet, Knostrop, and Richmond Hill.

As is happens, there were no options for new trails to be burned in Lancs when I spent last weekend with My Sister, largely due to the weather being persistently unpleasant, and with her having a lot of work to do thanks to her change of career path, but I do come away with plans for three days of walks for future visits, and also with a new cookbook, all about the art of sandwiches. Thus February is already on at a pace when we rejoin the trails in the city of Leeds, and not forcing ourselves out to an early start as we look to a trail across South Leeds, largely due to the fact that we need to start once the worst of the weather has passed, and that I have to run an early morning errand in Morley before we can even consider getting going. So it's only a short ride away to get to the start line at Cottingley station, for a 10.55am start, conveniently placed between the Cottingley Hall estate and Churwell by the footbridge that predated it and surely ensured its location when new in 1988, which we pass over to make acquaintance with the council estate, a resolutely 1970s low rise and pitched roofed affair on this side, entered by the primary school on Dulverton Grove. The distinctive pair of towers rise at its centre, overshadowing the small commercial centre, once home to a pub known to locals the Sphinx due to its pyramidal roof, which houses barely any business nowadays, and we pass to the other side of this small hillside to find the way down, past the church and the somewhat browner houses to Cottingley Drive, once the driveway to the Cottingley Hall farm that named the estate. Drop out onto the A6110 Ring Road and cross over by the Sulzer works and the Drysalters pub, passing the brand new Kia dealership and turning right to hit the steep Crows Nest Road, which ascends sharply as the other back road up onto Beeston's hill, passing over the railway line to Wakefield and Doncaster and the buildings of Crows Nest farm, still looking rural on the edge of the city. The height gain gives us some looks back to the way travelled from Cottingley, and to the hills inhabited by Churwell and Morley, and we can find that contemporary development can fill any available patch of land, as new builds cling onto this hillside, left behind as we ascend to emerge between the Whistlestop Inn and the Beeston primary school and hit Town Street by the turning circle of the bus route terminus, where a fine view to the north can be found, through the greyness.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Kirkstall Forge to Arthington & Bramhope 07/02/18

9.1 miles, via Horsforth Woodside, Horsforth, Cookridge, Breary Marsh, Bramhope,
 Creskeld Hall, Arthington Viaduct, & Arthington Junction.

New Boots! Pair #6b.
Season #7 launches whilst I'm in the midst of an 11 day break from work, taking time out to visit My Parents for a long weekend, and to go see My Sister to catch up on last year, and to also to get this thing started again as we lapse out of the Dark Season, especially as I have new pair of lightweight boots to road test, acquired from Cotton Traders at Batley Mill for not a whole lot of coins, when I wasn't even looking for any, hopefully durable enough to survive me pounding them around the city, whilst my regulars can be reserved for the country trails. So away as Winter sunshine beats down on a Wednesday morning, not starting too early as it's freakishly cold, hopeful that the window of clear skies will last long enough, a familiar risk at this time of year, and so we disembark at Kirkstall Forge at 10.40am, with a trail ready in my mind, plotted as the alternate finale between Aire and Wharfe for 2017, so we shouldn't need maps for this trip. The Kirkstall Forge development still amounts to no more than a single office building, two car parks and a lot of cleared post industrial land, but to seems the first building task was to secure the banks of the River Aire, which bisects the site, to insure the future riverside development doesn't get inundated, and the channel is crossed to follow the new access road up to the A65 Abbey Road, emerging where it crosses Oil Mill Beck. The passage down the wooded clough to the north is the route we will follow, for the third time, by a different route as Hawksworth Road brings suburban living to a ribbon of plots along side the beck and the looming banks of primordial trees, a familiar sight around these parts of Horsforth Woodside, and we soon have risen to meet the Bridge Inn and the mill conversion at the bottom of Butcher Hill, along with the feeling that some points in this city will always be a locus of convergence, where trails from all different directions will meet, cross and disperse. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Out of the Dark Season & Onwards!

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70
is my new toy for 2018!
Another Dark Season is traversed, as Imbolc passes and Superbowl weekend arrives, and I mark this by taking an 11 day break from work in order to visit both My Parents and My Sister & her family, and to get the 2018 walking season underway, grateful that the days have finally lengthened so that the perpetual night can recede away for another nine months. Not gonna lie, this has been another tough one, as despite promises to have two months of sociability, I have mostly hibernated, only getting out for the seasonal festivities, and not even getting that much rest as I did as little as possible. Altogether a quarter-year to forget, with 43 feeling like the age when middle aged feelings started to outweigh those of lingering youth, but one not without its positives, the festive portion having been entirely acceptable as a social venture, and it got me gifts that finally allow me to get my new toy up and running, with memory cards, batteries and a new carry case for my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 camera coming my way courtesy of My Sister so that my old Fuji Finepix E-900 can finally be retired. It feels like a really snazzy camera on first impressions, but it's probably a price range equivalent a decade or so newer, but having a memory capacity for 5,000 pictures, with the smallest possible memory card, and the ability to do HD video and image retouching makes it feel so much better, but I worry is it as sturdy as the old one, as it feels like it won't survive as many trips to the ground as the old one did. Still, it's something new to adapt to as another season of out of doors exploits comes around, my seventh, and it starts to feel like this might be the make or break season for me, as like many great TV series' or the concept of marriage, seven years feels like as far as you can go before you run the risk of things starting to feel stale and repetitious, or having routine and ennui starting to overtake your life.