Thursday, 29 March 2018

Humberstone to Markfield 28/03/18

12.2 miles, via New Humberstone, Northfields, Latimer ward, Belgrave Road, Abbey Park, 
 Abbey ward,  Gorse Hill, Anstey, Newtown Linford, Field Head, and Hill Hole Quarry.

Despite being a week into it, Spring has definitely not sprung when I'm prepped to get walking again whilst in the Old Country to spend the Easter Week with My Parents, providing company and assistance in exchange for hospitality, deciding that it's wise to get busy on the trail before My Sister and family arrive and I need to borrow Dr G to get to do a rebuild job on the raised vegetable bed in the garden which has suffered with rot and partial collapse in the last season. I look to the west for a change in the county of Leicestershire, feeling that I ought to strike for Charnwood Forest again after abandoning it back in 2013 and not having been back that way since, thinking it wise that I ought to link up to that isolated trail out that way before I envisage a year of visits to do the Leicestershire Round over my next three weeks off work in 2018, as I fear that My Dad's holidaying days are sadly behind him. So we set off to our regular start up point at Abbots Road URC, and strike to the Northwest, over the A563 Hungarton Boulevard in the direction of Humberstone village, feeling that I might be running short of unique routes across the city of Leicester already, on just my third trip, arriving by my Old Schools and Manor House gardens, pushing on along Main Street past St Mary's church and its ancient mud wall, and the enduring shopping parade and the village pub that I've still never visited, the Humberstone. The village is departed by the Grange, the Thatched cottage and the Royal British Legion, and the rain comes on as we pace down through the suburbia that has grown all over the grounds of the former Humberstone Hall, tracing Tennis Court Drive and Greenland Drive to meet the estate perimeter at Humberstone Drive, passing that one house that My Parents had thought about moving into in the 80s before choosing to extend their house instead. Move on to meet the estates of New Humberstone, ranked along Wycombe Road, where Mundella college used to reside, where My Dad was educated in his youth, and did much woodworking in the first decade of my life, all replaced by a medical centre now, while the district looks of a mode entirely consistent with the orange bricks and stucco look of Leicester's estates, not seen elsewhere. Run out onto the Portwey - Tailby Avenue, plotted as part of the original outer ring road, but never completed between the A47 and A607, though it still sees a lot of traffic as it leads us to the lower edge of the Northfields estate, where the child-shaped bollards on Hastings Road, outside Merrydale Junior School, seem to have been designed to haunt your darkest nightmares.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Rumination: Winter's Long Twitching Tail

28/02 Morley Station creates its own Snow Trap.
As we finally reach the leading edge of Spring, It's a good time to let out a small revelation, confessing publically the fact that I actually enjoy Winter weather, at least when it has the decency to arrive in the cold and dark days of December and January, the corner of the year that it can linger on in without you getting the feeling that the season isn't turning around quickly enough. What I don't like is when the worst of the Winter weeks appear to have passed, allowing the walking season to get underway and for the mind to fill with the anticipation of Spring, and then the long twitching tail of Winter weather lashes again and again to make everyday life miserable and to test the patience as you try to keep body and mind inspired when the reality of Spring being just around the corner seems to be doubtful. This where we sit right about now, having endured the bout of snow that came with The Beast from The East, which fell and lingered from 28th February through to the 4th March, which arrived too late to trap me on a work related sojourn to Seacroft Hospital, but gave me a couple of distinctly challenging trips into work, with the fierce wind from the east making Morley station even colder than normal, and frozen train units at Huddersfield causing some alarming delays to the ride to Leeds. That turned out to be a cold snap that at least managed to be short enough to not disrupt the walking day, with the wind settling down and the ice being soft enough to walk on securely and not cause difficulties, the rapid thaw off on the Sunday returning us to some semblance of normality quickly, and for all the chill and disruption that came along, we pushed through because we are hardy types nowadays.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Headingley to Garforth 10/03/18

13 miles, via Beckett Park, Meanwood, Stainbeck, Chapel Allerton, Gledhow, Oakwood,
 Hollin Park, Gipton, Wykebeck, Halton, Whitkirk, Colton, Swillington Common,
  and West Garforth.

The 'Beast from the East' passes, having lingered well into last Sunday, and it might be reasonable to assume that the weather is taking a more seasonal turn as March progresses, only to get a Thursday morning blast of Snowmageddon which throws everything out of kilter again, so bets are off once the weekend rolls around as to what sort of climate we might be getting, and damp and overcast looks like the projection, so the weather eye has to be tuned to help us avoid the worst of it. So a late start is due as we plot another track across the city from west to east, jumping off the train at Headingley after 10.35am to pick a different path across North and East Leeds, dropping down the steps to pass under the railway  and join the path that rises up through the allotments towards the high towers of the Queenswood estate, passing the Kirkstall Educational Cricket club before crossing Queenswood Drive and wandering on among the semis. The way forward is well concealed, hidden away at the top of Foxcroft Mount, where a passage between the council houses leads us to the lowest periphery of Beckett Park, which is home both public parkland and university campus, giving its name to the former Metropolitan Uni, and through the upper edge of Batcliffe Woods, another forest remnant that has endured in the expanding city. We are lead onto St Anne's Road, where the smartly upscale semis of the 1930s grew above the terraces in the main village, and where studentland never quite got a strong hold, running down to the so-called Dynasty corner, named after the infamous Chinese restaurant at the centre of the shopping parade, and above the main drag on Otley Road, where the Arndale centre is in the grip of a major renovation. Pass over to Grove Lane and Shaw lane, where the houses and terraces get larger and stonier as we move into the smartly Victorian hinterland between Headingley and Meanwood, where the merchants of their day started the trend for out of town living, in houses that are poorly located and too big for the modern world, resulting in their development of flats and retirement homes. Monk Bridge Road twists downhill past the ends of the brick terraces that signal our arrival in Meanwood, dropping us at the bottom of the valley and over the beck before we rise again, to meet Meanwood Road, between the Wesleyan chapel and the site of the infamous Beckett's Arms public house, since redeveloped as flats and having me wondering if every road corner in these part deserves to be dubbed 'Infamous'?

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Woodlesford to Headingley 03/03/18

11.5 miles, via Rothwell Haigh, Belle Isle, Middleton Park, Cross Flatts Park, Beggars Hill,
 Elland Road, Low Fields, Green Side, Upper Wortley, Whingate, Upper Armley,
  Wyther Park, Houghley Gill, Kirkstall Bridge, and Kirkstall.

And then the weather happened. A relatively bright and warm February comes to a sudden end as three of the harshest days of cold weather arrive across the country, the worst since the icy blast of March 2013, and the snow and persistent easterly winds are enough to challenge even the hardiest of souls, making travelling to work complicated and work itself improbably hard as our hospital department's air recirculators pump fresh air in from out of doors, ensuring that its fleecy jacket temperatures even deep inside the building. Despite the tests to the mental and physical fortitude that the cold snap brings, the early walking season of 2018 is not going to go on hiatus, as we have landed on my Six Year walking anniversary, and my first opportunity to head out on 3rd March since I started out in 2012 and that's not a date to be missed, though I won't be going anywhere near Gargrave, Malham or Settle to celebrate the distance I have travelled since, as that sort of terrain can wait for the summer and the sort of days when there isn't standing snow in the fields and impacted ice on the pavements. So an extra layer of insulation will be needed as we go out into a sub-zero climate, and there's even a rail strike to contend with, but that doesn't put any cramps on my travelling plans, though I do have the train to virtually myself as we ride out to Woodlesford to complete my trek around Leeds by getting my fill of the southern and western quarters, disembarking at 10.10am, with a tight schedule planned, and so my best snow legs are on as we start off westwards to meet this village that has been lost in a mass of suburbia. It's been described previously on a far nicer day than this, and so the soundest path on the pavements is found to pass All Saint's church, the Two Pointers, and the village green before we delve deep into the suburbia, which continues to expand to fill the fields next to the old colliery sites and welding it firmly to the districts of Oulton and John O'Gaunts. Meet the colliery estate and the passage over the A639 Leeds Road, and take some slippery steps to meet Haigh Lane and the way into Greater Rothwell, finding another old path to cross as the alignment of the E&WYU railway is met as Haigh Road crosses Styebank Lane, and that's going to be a major feature of the day as we've had a lot longitudinal burned across South Leeds, but very few latitudinal ones, so checking them off should keep the mind entertained, as we wander on past more suburbia and the snowclad, and super-atmospheric, Rothwell cemetery.