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.

King Street, Leeds, doing Georgian through to Modernist.
The Old Police HQ, Grace Street.

The Swarthmore centre, & Co, Woodhouse Square.
Fairbairn House, UoL, Clarendon Road.

Woodhouse Moor awaits, and I pass the statue of the Duke of Wellington to note his bronze still has red boots painted on it, though it lacks a cone on its head like it usually had in the 90s, taking the main tree lined avenue on to the centre of the park, laid out by the Leeds Corporation at the city's edge in 1857 and having enjoyed a particularly varied history since then, as showgrounds, allotments and as summer magnet for student land, leaving the covered reservoir and bowling greens in my wake as I set course for Hyde Park. I go thus way as Headingley Lane and Otley Road have already been walked on my travels, and because I've made very few visits to the area since I moved away in 2007, and I'm curious to see if anything has changed with the dynamic of student living having changed to favour fully serviced flats. Heading down Brudnell Road, it's hard to tell if the change has come, as it looks scruffier than it used to, with far too many town houses suffering a fate that they probably didn't deserve, not big enough to divide into flats and too large for single family occupancy, soon left as we hit the Welton Road corner with its turreted shopping parade, just up from the Hyde Park picture house, which I never visited enough in the years I lived locally. Pass over Chestnut Avenue, that most infamous of the districts roads, and down between the Weltons and Hessles, much more modest terraces than those closer to the park, where a blue plaque indicates Hedley Vertity's birthplace, and School View appears where friends once lived and many nights of flowing wine were passed for the better part of a decade. At the bottom of the road, the 20th century's failure to adopt the terrace design successfully is well illustrated before we drop out on Cardigan Road, opposite the famous Co-op, taking the shift towards Headingley and heading into the land of Victorian Villas with vast grounds which have proved too large for the modern age, and where conversion for commercial use or demolition for building aprtment blocks has been the norm. The small item of fascination here must be the Headingley Bear Pit, which always appeared to be a surreal folly, but actually stands as the last visible remnant of the Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens which once occupied a vast site in the 1850s but folded as loss making venture with its grounds being lost under decades of urban regeneration, and few passers by to this date would acknowledge that real bears used to live below those castellated towers by the side of Cardigan Road.

The Duke of Wellington's unadorned Statue.

Woodhouse Moor, with the Student's red route.

The Brudnell Road - Welton Road corner, Hyde Park.

The Headingley Bear Pit, Cardigan Road.

Press on to the route that runs behind Headingley's centre, passing over the paths that I used to walk when out in search of second hand books and music, or drinking opportunities, from my local days, passing the many townhouses that have exploited their rear aspects' views across Headingley Cricket Ground, before crossing over the bottom of end North Lane next to South Parade Baptist church, the one that's all red brick with stone accents. Beyond we rise through Ash Gardens, an odd collection of semis with little student land influence, which sit surrounded by terraces to the west and north, where the transient populations still passes through, one of those parts that I never knew anyone that lived in when I was at university, probably as it was that bit too far away to ever contemplate visiting in my less active days. So along Ash Road and past the many Grimthorpes to meet Headingley Mount and to pass across the Edwardain city boundary into the land of very proud 1930s semis on the far side of St Anne's Road, taking the passageway to Beckett Park Crescent, which forms an oval at the heart of the estate, taking the eastern and largely downhill side to take us around to St Chad's View, an aptly named lane as the church advertises itself on the local horizon. St Chad's Rise presents the best views of it, the spire rising above the houses you could never hope to afford, even though it leads us in the wrong direction, forcing a course correction along the passages that from it via the Avenue to meet Otley Road by the Weetwood Lane corner, where The Three Horseshoes has gotten it identity back after getting it erroneously changed in 2015. I'll be off with the A660 for the remainder of today now, moving to pass the Far Headingley war memorial, and to sadly note that Woodies Ale House has been taken on by Greene King, which will surely blandify it beyond recognition, pressing north and taking plenty of shots of St Chad's church, probably in my top three of Victorian churches in this city, still surrounded by plenty of open ground to give it many good angles. So off we go, past the nursery in the old school building, and that parade of very large townhouses to meet the housing development on the site of the old waterworks, and to acknowledge to the still very active one on the far side of the road, which must be the main plant to supply the city with water from the Washburn valley, judging by its size and relative concealment, and then it's on past the Village Hotel and to that corner that I always think is in Weetwood but is probably the edge of West Park, where the cafes are doing good elevenses business and the launderette has always seemed rather incongruous for the otherwise distinctly upscale area.

South Parade Baptist Church, Headingley.

Beckett's Park Crescent.

St Chad's, Far Headingley.

West park shopping parade, Otley Road.

Pass the back entrance to the University's Oxley Hall, the one which's name I can never remember, and past the new-ish Lawnswood school which is already starting to look rather care worn, as the road opens up to dual carriageway as it approaches the Ring Road and I ponder that despite pass the Weetwood Hall centre a good few times in my life, I've still got no actual idea what the hall itself looks like, 17th century if the signage is to be believed. Cross over the A6120 Ring Road and stay on northwards, passing the Police station on the far side, and getting sight of the more visible, and significantly less old, Weetwood Grange, surrounded by its families of apartment blocks on this, before we hit the corner of Otley Old Road, the route I ought to be taking if the historian in me were taking charge, but we've seen a surprisingly large amount of it on our travels, whilst the newer turnpike has been crossed many times with very few paces made along it. A fun thing to note about the new road is the stone sign posts, as every major junction from here to Pool Bank has one, unique to this single road, and giving it a definite flavour of the days before the institution of national roads, definitely something to spot as we go, as we pass between the YMCA's and the University's playing fields, and noting that all traces of the former Bodington Halls have now gone, replaced by the Bodington Manor residential development. Next we meet the edge of Lawnswood Cemetery spreading extensively to the west, one of the town burial grounds developed at the city's edge as it grew so rapidly in the inter-war years, and then run on past the smart facing edges of Lawnswood and Adel, where very large townhouses line the road before meeting the Lawnswood Arms, and the city path seen in 2016, where more suburban houses seem to have dropped since I last came this way. That's the final edge of the urban city, and Manor Farm presents our first rural aspect of the day as we keep to the walkway, and we don't get much more countryside to see as hedges and embankments restrict views on the drag out to the Leeds Mercure Parkway hotel, also seen on the trail two years ago, and stayed at in 2009(!) for friends' 10th Wedding anniversary bash, which seems like ten minutes ago, in honesty (as does their marriage for that matter). Reach slightly more recent events as we touch the perimeter of the Breary Marsh Nature reserve, as that means we are soon to be upon Golden Acre Park, passed through on the Leeds Country Way in 2012, and apt to provide a venue for a sit down and a watering break, and I'll have to dash across the road here, despite the many thunderous signs warning you not too, not least because the footway switches sides without warning a little further along.

Weetwood Grange, Lawnswood.

Lawnswood Cemetery.

Manor Farm, beyond the urban edge of Leeds.

Golden Acre Park, well placed for a watering break.

Get the feeling of the road cresting as we arrive atop the North Leeds Plateau between the Aire and Wharfe, with the road gouging its way through rock before meeting the open fields south of Bramhope, encountered from only couple of fields distance in February but looking quite different today, as the sports fields hide from view, but we have metal mile posts to spot along this road to before we meet Kings Road, one of those lanes that appears to go somewhere when it really doesn't. Around the traffic island and cross over by the wine shop, again as we meet Bramhope's southern edge, this time getting a close up look at the large wood carving by the corner of The Birches, which calls itself Triathlon and makes a whole lot more sense once named and viewed up close, and then I'll detour slightly to use the off-road bridleway which ought to be walked as someone took the time to lay it out, though it peters out rather frustratingly before it reaches the bottom of Creskeld Lane. I think I've made four different points of interaction with Leeds Road in this village, without having walked very much it, and they can be checked off in succession as we go, having made the passage of Breary Lane multiple times, and will always note and love the presence of the Bramhope Tunnel vent at the roadside, though particularly old and bold houses seem in short order in these parts, with Ashfield House the only obvious one among the suburbia. As the road bends around by St Giles Church, a sign indicates a short detour down to the village pump and well, only rediscovered in the last decade, and also tells of a long local history of a village that didn't witness any accelerated growth until the 20th century. Out of the village we head, via the Britannia Hotel and the Puritan Chapel, and the views into Wharfedale arrive as we pass the top of Staircase Lane, and the sunshine arrives too to light up the daffodils and give us some contrast as we look on towards Almscliffe Crag and Arthington Viaduct, as well as observing the traffic as it hauls its way up and down Pool Bank as we pound the footway down towards the Dyneley Arms, shining golden in the welcome Spring sunshine. Tree cover comes on past the A658, and I've often pondered why a dealership to serve your Subaru and Isuzu chose this remote corner to set up, located just above the deep cleft that the road shifts into and dives down before meeting the Bar House and the remnants of the Pool Quarry tramway bridge, before revealing another of those views that deserves and round of applause, revealing the valley from the Washburn, past Norwood Edge and down to Pool bridge.

'Triathlon', Bramhope.

The Old Pump and Well, Bramhope.

(New) Pool Bank, and Almscliffe Crag.

The Bar House and Quarry Tramway remnant, Old Pool Bank.

I walk for views like this, and it's a good one to get from the bus too, for those less adept at travelling on foot, and it's inspiring enough for some to have wanted to bring suburbia up to it, risking the exposure of the weather and eschewing the comforts of town living to have a front of house aspect that is second to none in the county, clustered above the junction of Old Pool Bank. It's a view for the scrapbook to be absorbed from many angles before we pass behind the woods above Caley Hall farm, and that causes the attention to be directed uphill from the descending road, up to the boulders and outcrops of Gritstone that form Caley Crags, a popular climbing spot that has been seen from above on the Dales Way link, sat at the eastern extremity of the Chevin Forest Park, which forms the woodland that soon takes over the whole aspect to the south. So attention turns back into the dale, using the telephoto lens to get a good look at Farnley Hall, and back to Almscliffe Crag, whilst also picking out the various masts on the horizon, all seen up close last year, and noting the view down towards Leathley,  picking out the church and both the Hall and the Grange houses from their rural surroundings. In all it's a great spot for views, though a little disturbing for the walker as the traffic pounds uphill while you worry that the concrete barrier in place to protect you might not offer much if things were to go wrong, something to keep you alert as Otley starts to emerge in the landscape, revealing it high points and large extent as a sight line appears to get both All Saints church and St Mary's Burley into a single frame. Finally get sight of the lost railway line as we hit the suburban edge of town, where the locals are out to tend their gardens and an unusually large amount of water pours off the Chevin, like a burst water main, ensuring damp going before we come around the bypass roundabout and take Leeds Road downhill, above the spread of suburbia and down into the tangle of very pleasing terraces and surviving mill buildings before shifting onto Gay Lane. The pub here is still out of business, which is odd as the ones along Bondgate are still doing roaring business, as they do today as the whole town comes out in their shirtsleeves for a drink at the Junction, the Rose & Crown and the Bowling Green, and I feel rather over dressed for this now hot afternoon, taking a shady route to the town centre up New Market past the Otley Tavern and the Black Bull (with its own ancient well). That's Otley tagged for a future pub crawl as I land on Market Street, and final steps take me back through the Orchard Gate centre to land at the bus stand at 2.55pm, and board the X84 with the hope that some Spring weather might finally inspire this walking season to get going again after a month of frustrating stagnation.

Caley Crags, Chevin Forest Park.

Super-Zoom view to Farnley Hall, and Norwood Edge.

Descending Leeds Road into Otley.

New Market, Otley, where a pub crawl plan crystallises.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3187.9 miles
2018 Total: 79.4 miles
Up Country Total: 2900.1 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles

Next Up: Continuing to beat the long road through Wharfedale, to Airedale!

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