Sunday, 29 April 2018

Ben Rhydding to Cononley 28/04/18

10.3 miles, via Ilkley, The Dales Way, Small Banks, Addingham Middle Moor, Brown Bank, 
 Silsden, Kildwick Grange, and Farnhill.

It was a works outing on Friday night, with 13 of us sitting down for dinner (somewhat ominously) at Red Hot Buffet to get in multiple plates of All-You-Can-Eat, on one of those occasions that thankfully didn't see my drinking exploits stretching long into the evening, so that a hangover doesn't have to be worried about as the following morning rolls around, though I am still feeling the bloat some 14 hours later as I get up to face my next trail. It's also about time that I sought out a new station, as there haven't been any this year so far, so ride out to Wharfedale to pick out a track to Airedale, a minor theme for this portion of the season, while the weather takes a turn that has it looking a lot more like late April than it did last week, alighting at Ben Rhydding station at almost 10.05am. The track naturally takes us westwards, down Wheatley Lane and under the railway bridge, along the narrow footway to take the turn onto Valley Drive, where the definitively not posh quarter of Ilkley resides, the north east portion being where the modest semis and council houses reside, away from the upscale living in the other three quarters, probably still expensive in the scheme of things, but certainly the only part of town I could afford to retire to. I've made a lot of the views of the looming edge of Rombalds Moor above the town on previous trails, so stick to the south side of the road so a view or two might be picked out towards Denton Moor and Round Hill rising above Middleton on the north bank, above the rooftops of suburban Ilkley. Pass an incongruous section of dual carriageway at the heart of the estate, and over Backstone Beck at its western edge before we join Little Lane and follow it into a landscape of blackened terraces and light industrial buildings which fill all the space below Leeds Road, met by the cinema and crossed over to pass between the school, the conservatory outlet and lawnmower supplier on Wharfe View Road, before arriving at the Riverside Gardens by the Ilkley Playhouse. Descend to the path by the Wharfe and pass below the New Brook Street bridge, and along the length of the popular parkland to meet the Old Bridge, and the Dales Way seat, still obscured by the wares of the local nursery, and join the long route to Bowness for a second time as I fear that obvious fresh routes through Ilkley are starting to run a bit thin. Thus we'll have a bit of a nostalgic trek down the riverside in the shadow of Myddelton Lodge before meeting the driveway to the Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash club, where many legs appear to be flailing around in the upstairs picture windows, as part of a keep fit class, I'd assume.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Otley to Skipton 21/04/18

16.3 miles, via Burley in Wharfedale, Manor Park, Ben Rhydding, Ilkley, Addingham, 
 Chelker Reservoir, and Draughton.

Spring has finally sprung now that we are a month into it, with three days bringing all the heat that we have been denied for the preceding weeks, giving the odd experience of being able to complain about it being both too cold and too hot within the space of three days, and as we now need to start hitting the long days on the trail. it's slightly frustrating to not be able to get out to Otley on the X85 for a start earlier than 10am. I had caught the earlier edition of the X84, to aim for a 9.30am drop off, but that ride got no further than the University's Parkinson building as the driver suspended the service as the vehicle issued to him had a driving position that was aggravating his bad back, and he was unprepared to do a 2 hour drive in it to Skipton, which is a new one on me and thus my 6+ hour plus walk risks keeping me out through the hottest part of an already hot day. Away from Otley bus stand then, returning to Bondgate and head around to the corner by All Saints and up Kirkgate, where the Saturday market is already in full swing and several stores appear to still be trading on a model not much seen since the 1970s, passing the Clock Tower and crossing to Beech Hill and Westgate by the Black Horse and my particular favourite parade of shops in this town. Set course for Ilkley Road, passing the Cross Pipes, the blue ceramic terrace and the back of Waitrose to meet the Fleece and that impressive terrace of three-storeyed townhouses that start the bypassed section of the old road, and the stature of the houses diminish as we push out of town, before we run into the Otley Mills complex, in various states of usage after 200 years, where Wharfebank Mill remains employed, while another is boarded up and a third demolished to start the development of a new business park. Join the stub end of Ilkley Road as the A660 bypass roars by behind a shroud of trees, running into a rather musty atmosphere coming from fires lit in what appears to be a shanty town on the western edge of Otley, not something you'd expect to find as the path runs us up to our first contact with the bank of the Wharfe and pushes us out to the side of the main road, which will accompany us for most of today's trip. Thankfully a footway is going to be provided for much of it as we hang by the riverside as far as Mickle Ing bridge and switch to the southern side as we roll on past Maple Grange farm and the sewage works in the bow of the river, observing the traffic to see if anything interesting passes by, as well as watching the aeroplanes overhead flying in to land at Leeds Bradford airport, all of which seem to be operated by Ryanair or Flybe.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Leeds to Otley 14/04/18

12.2 miles, via Woodhouse Square, Woodhouse Moor, Hyde Park, Headingley, Far Headingley,
 West Park/Weetwood, Lawnswood, Golden Acre Park, Bramhope, and Caley Crags.

Back on the trail Up Country, at long last, hopefully putting the frustrations of the past month behind me, and casting all the missed walking plans onto the reserve list for later in the year, filling myself with the intent to put wandering around Leeds behind me, and to set course for this year's planned stomping grounds for the High Season, and so we choose to head away from the city bound for Wharfedale and Upper Airedale. Starting out from Leeds station at 10.05am, and heading to the north west, it seems wise to pick myself a fresh route of unwalked roads, noting that Spring is still unsprung as we move past the redeveloping Majestic theatre and along Wellington Street to turn to King Street to get the terracotta bright redness of the Hotel Metropole contrasting against the modernistic weirdness of the Bank of England's inverted ziggurat. Take a left onto the back street of York Place, where Victorian textile warehouses sit alongside Georgian townhouses, along with the former Horse & Carriage repository and many encroaching office buildings, where the Purple Door still endures against all good sense, switching onto Queen Street to see the office buildings that were unfinished when I last passed this way. This leads to a walk around the former Police HQ on Grace Street, and finding the footbridge over the A58(M) below the Westgate Island, leading us to Park Lane and the college that no longer shares its name, and taking our turn northwards to Hanover Way, and around the Joseph's Well building, where hospital business hasn't taken me in the longest time, to meet Woodhouse Square with its proud Georgian terrace around the Swarthmore centre facing the green with its statue of Sir Peter Fairbairn, the 19th century engineer and Mayor of Leeds. Rise with Clarendon Road, where upscale suburban living away from the city was first tested in the Victorian age, and where every other house seems to have an association to a period worthy, and there's a lot of Jacobean and Gothic accents on the villas as we head uphill, before we meet the Classical accents that make Fairbairn House, now owned by the University, quite so distinctive. Despite having been to UoL, this isn't a road I ever walked much so the routes down into the campus don't hold much immediate resonance for me, and things only looks familiar as we run up the Old Grammar School on the corner of Moorland Road, and my red route to campus down University Road, diagonally opposite Henry Price Flats, my very first address in this city.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Rumination: The Season has Stalled, Again.

The product of of our two days of
creative DIY, and while I'm not normally
one to trumpet my successes, on this
occasion I think I have to say 'Toot Toot!'.
Once again in this frustrating seventh season of walking that is 2018, I find myself unable to get out on the trail, my fourth consecutive weekend that I have failed to get onto the trail in any capacity, which starts to get me fearful that any more delays in this season might result in my will to walk to drain away, a thought that hadn't been entertained at any point in the last four seasons. It's been a frustrating few weeks since my last trail Up Country on 10th March, losing a weekend to grim conditions and illness, before taking another out to be sociable and entertained by other means, and as Spring has been resolute in its unwillingness to appear, allowing us only three nice weekdays since the turn of the seasons, and I find myself in a glum place once again. I ought to talk up the good things that have come from this last month so that I don't wallow too hard, and the first of these has to be the days of woodworking and labour which had Dr G and myself rebuilding the raised vegetable box in  My Parents' garden, a task that had seemed like it might be just a remedial patch-up job when first planned, but turned out to be much more serious once the extent of the rot had been discovered and instead requiring some £60 worth of fresh materials and two days of work. It could probably have been done quicker, but both of us were doing a lot of planning on the fly as we are both skilled in the fine art of bodging, and one of us is much less skilled in the handling of tools than the other, plus we had to deal with some deeply inclement weather which made going underfoot sticky in the extreme, while rain showers had us darting indoors for brews, and bailing early from working on both Good Friday and Saturday afternoons once we decided we had already gotten damp enough. It was the task that I had planned for the Easter weekend, and hopefully it will keep my parents on beans and carrots for a good few more years, but it absorbed the viable walking parts of three days, and while the morning of Easter Sunday was probably the clearest sustained period of the whole week, it was entirely absorbed with shoveling compost and doing dinner prep for all seven members of Family Wren, both of which turned out to require a lot more labouring than I had actually anticipated.