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'?

The Allotments and Queenswood Towers, Headingley.

Beckett Park, with traces of Thursday's Snowmageddon.

The Headingley Arndale Centre, Otley Road.

Monk Bridge Road, providing passage through Meanwood.

Only a few steps through Meanwood's commercial centre are made before we change trajectory, shifting eastwards onto Stainbeck Avenue, past Aldi and into a landscape of low rise council houses, not getting many sightlines into the woods of Meanwood valley despite our proximity to the last path through these parts, running up to the opposite corner of the junction with Stainbeck Road, and joining it northwards, and getting a secluded cyclepath to pace upon, which is a pleasant surprise. The house quality improves as this district spreads northwards, as does the relative leafiness, as we run on to the Sainsbury's, school and URC on the corner with Stainbeck Lane, where we can shift onto the rising lane beyond the Stain Beck and rise to meet an incongruous stone terrace that sits among a largely 20th century residential landscape, which must have had a decent view to the Meanwood back in the day, along with Bank House, the only other vintage residence up here among the semis and the top edge of the Miles Hill estate. Like our last North Leeds trek, which we are less than a mile north of, we soon run out to pass over the dual carriageway of the A61 Scott Hall Road, passing the police station at the corner and moving on with Stainbeck Lane and trying to get a fix on our location, soon grasped as Allerton Hall is spotted behind the flats that have grown on its front lawn, and before you'd credit it we have run out into the centre of Chapel Allerton on Harrogate Road. It bustles here, as it always does, one of the real urban centres away from the main city, and we move away from the cafes and restaurants, by passing behind the old Police station (and Fire station and library) via Town Street towards the Methodist Chapel and the Nag's head, where the centre of the old village once resided, since lost beneath houses that are undeserving of their location, where Town Street Walk gets us momentarily off the roads before we meet Gledhow Lane End, which leads us into one of the most upscale districts of the town. We've got the old lodge and gates to Allerton Park, and the still enduring Chapel Allerton Hall up here at the top of Gledhow Lane, along with many other later builds that you could never possibly hope to afford, ranked by the laneside as we descend rather steeply into the Gledhow Valley, where the value of the green space must not have been noted until too many apartment buildings had been allowed to encroach into it, and we are really too early in the season to get a dose of proper greenery and leafiness as we hit the valley floor

Stainbeck Road brings the Leafiness.

Allerton Hall, hiding away on Stainbeck Lane.

The Methodist Chapel, Town Street, Chapel Allerton.

Descending Gledhow Lane into the Gledhow Valley.

Over the beck, Gledhow Lane takes a sharp turn or two get up the north side of the valley's cleft, passing Woodside house at the hairpin, which sure joins the list of most desirable residences before we note the ivy and low hanging greenery which colours the woodlands unseasonably, before meeting the most unexpected low bridge ever encountered on my travels, linking the grounds of Gledhow Hall to the Bracken Woods, I can only assume. The views to the Hall's associated building from the lane are good, but the Hall itself hides behind a high wall and many trees, so we have to make a detour down Gledhow Wood Road and back up the Close to take a closer look at this most imposing of 18th century houses, still soot black and forbidding looking, once home to illustrious names in Leeds history, which once had commanding views aver the city since lost after flats were built on its many lawns. It looks like it needs more love, despite being at least partially occupied, and I'll to the list of necessary heritage projects before we return to the lane to resume our passage through Gledhow, where more proud houses and estates grew in the 19th century and parts of them endure still, as does the upper middle class suburban air, along with a sport and social club that CAMRA dubbed the Best in the Country for 2016. Pass the schools both old and new as we gain a slightly improbable dual carriageway to take us on through the suburbia, for maximum leafiness in pleasanter climes, which soon drop us on the bottom edge of Roundhay Park, which is coated in mist and not a lot of ball players, where a run downhill leads us to the shopping parades at Oakwood on Wetherby Road, in the shadow of the clock tower. There's general bustle here too, left behind as the rising Oakwood Lane tacks us southeast, where the smart suburbia continues, spread around the enduring old estate houses, with Oak Woodhouse getting the retirement home treatment, Bedford House getting flats on its lawn, and Hollin Hill getting the residential village makeover, a fine illustration of the modern lives of the big houses of the past, before we get a total change of urban atmosphere as we meet the A58 Easterly Road. It'll be many estates of a more modest scale from here on in, as we shift into East Leeds, across the dual carriageway and on between the council houses of Hollin Park to the west and Fearneville to the east, where nothing suggests any vintage older than the 1950s, aside from the one remnant of Fearneville farm on the corner of Dib Lane.

The Gledhow Hall Low Bridge, Gledhow Lane.

Gledhow Hall, the best of all the houses of North Leeds.

Leafy Suburbia is Gledhow's raisson d'etre.

Oakwood Clock, and Roundhay park.

Bedford House, Oakwood Lane.

That's not to say the landscape is without interest, though, for the wide boulevards plotted through Gipton to meet those in Seacroft are a source of endless fascination to me, which would have me seeking the original town plans if I took a more hands-on approach to urban history, and Oak Tree  Drive will always remain a fascinating curiosity to me as a reminder of an urban world that never quite happened. The Church of the Epiphany, at the Amberton Road corner will always delight too, as the very best example of 20th century ecclesiastical architecture, one which put the RC church of St Nicholas in the shade somewhat, further down Oakwood Lane, which comes to an end at the bottom of Coldcotes Drive, the second of the district's boulevards. We pace on, as we join Wykebeck Valley, in the shadow of the Denbigh and Brecon tower blocks, and where the outer edge of Gipton takes on a slightly more cottagey aspect as the former city edge faces the green fields of the East Leeds green space, and the final boulevard end also passes as we cross Gipton Approach, which I have no idea where it might be heading as it aims squarely at the hillside where Killingbeck Hospital once resided. Meet the A64 York Road to give us another landscape shift, past the site of the Little Chef and the Wild Wild West Play Gym that has been undeveloped for an absolute age, and joining Selby Road as it passes under the skewed railway bridge that has its own traffic calming measures below it as its too narrow to accommodate the old path of the A63 below it, despite its width. Press on by the now overly wide B6159, past the Wykebeck estate end of Osmondthorpe, and rising on past the terraces around the edge of Primrose Valley park, and taking a short detour to see St Wilfred's, Halton, a bit closer up as it's a pretty distinctive pile on the horizon and another singular 20th century church design when viewed up close. Meet more older houses as we rise towards Halton, and the dual carriageway ends untidily as if it didn't quite know whether to continue towards Selby or to crash into Temple Newsam park, and Halton village is to be found the branch of Lidl, and despite being an ancient settlement, nothing along the High Street appears to be older than the 1970s after some super aggressive commercial redevelopment, and so any interest in the older village has to be noted in the Dial House on Chapel Lane or in the Woodman Inn, or the old school house on the rising passage of the increasingly suburban Selby Road in the direction of Whitkirk.

Oak Tree Drive, the dynamic passage through Gipton.

Wykebeck Valley Road, and the Brecon Towers.

The Skew Bridge, Selby Road.

St Wilfred's Halton, a dynamic feature on the local horizon.

The Woodman Inn  provides Halton's better face.

Pass The Crescent, which conceals an underground reservoir, and the Whitkirk Memorial garden before we meet the corner seen before in these parts, by the Brown Cow inn and the medieval church of St Mary's, where a small smidgeon of the old settlement endures at the top of Colton Road, as does the Grange house, which is left behind as we carry into the outer suburban edge of the city, where we meet the A6120 and the haul out of the city between Colton and its retail park to the south, and Austhorpe and the growing Thorp Park development to the north. We're on the long haul stretch of the day now, as the fun diminishes and the concluding miles stretch on and on, and it's further from the retail parks island to the Austhorpe interchange at Junction 46 of the M1, and we can be thankful that a footway endures as we join the passage of the A63 towards Garforth, pacing that mile or so of separation that always gets forgotten about when considering that town's distance relative to the city. It's not a lot of fun to walk, with cooling air outside and too much sweaty heat within, as we pass the incongruous terraces that form the ribbon like hamlet of Swillington Common, where the old farm site has been redeveloped as the Carrwood Park business park, and further down the hill we meet the Waterloo Villa independent hospital and the redeveloped Brookfield House, before meeting the terraces and steakhouse at Garforth Bridge. It would be easy to follow the A642 to Garforth station from here, but I'm game for a bit of variety today, instead sticking to the A63 to pace the suburban edge, passing the Gaping Goose and the Toll House as we stay among the few scattered old houses of West Garforth, and the few overblown newer houses that have dropped among them (you know them if you've seen them). Pass over the Linesway to get a fresh perspective on it and the Selby Road bridge, staying with the main road rather than getting lost in the tangle of Garforth's the same looking suburbs, until we get sight of the Garforth Cliff water tower and meet The Crusader inn, opposite the fire station at the bottom of Ninelands Lane, and he we finally enter the town, following the route of the #166 bus along Hazlewood Avenue and Fairburn Drive, through the suburban splurge of roads named after rivers. This leads us neatly to East Garforth station, where we can roll up to end the day at 3.30pm, squarely between trains and just as the rain comes on to further spoil the mood, and it happens that I'm close enough to my work Supervisor's house to drop in for a sociable (and cheeky) brew, but honestly at the end of this day, I'm more than ready to high tail it homewards, as this one was a tough one.

St Mary's Whitkirk, one of the city's Medieval gems.

Pacing the A6120 by Colton Retail Park.

Providence Place, Swillington Common, on the A63.

The Gaping Goose, a remnant of old West Garforth.

The Crusader, Ninelands Lane, Scene of an epic session in 2010 (?),
which I'm sure none of the other participants would remember!

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3163.5 miles
2018 Total: 55 miles
Up Country Total: 2887.9 miles
Solo Total: 2907.2 miles

Next Up: A path around the edge of South Leeds, to prove I'm not Manacled to The City.
EDIT 17/03/18 - All Walking Plans are Henceforth Suspended, until Spring Happens.

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