Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Ilkley to Bingley 07/05/18

9.1 miles, via The Cow & Calf, Burley Woodhead, Burley Moor, Hawksworth Moor, 
 Faweather Grange, Lane Ends, Compensation Reservoir, Prince of Wales Park, 
  Gilstead Moor Edge, and Ferncliffe.

Amazingley the hot weather has lasted all the way around to Bank Holiday Monday, ensuring we'll be getting the warmest and brightest May Day weekend in a long time, almost enough to have me regretting not getting further afield, or higher up,  whilst temperatures are around 25C and the skies are cloudless, but I set out my plans for the 20 mile circuit of Rombalds Moor, and that's what I'll stick to. The best laid plans to get out early and ahead of the heat came to nothing, not that it would have made that much difference anyway, as we arrive at Ilkley at 10.20am, along with the gathering throng for the Ilkley Carnival, a crowd I'll gladly step away from to strike away from the town on the one major route that I have yet to pace, away from the station and the Town Hall complex and straight up Cowpasture Road. This sets the route at a pretty steady rate uphill, all the way to the Cow & Calf rocks, which loom above the town from so many angles, but without ever getting a straight line view to them on this lane, passing up among the smarter terrace of this town, and past the Craiglands Hotel, one of only a few former Hydropathic (or Spa) establishments still in business in Ilkley. Move into villa territory beyond, and the road takes a kink to cross Cow Close Gill and the descending Backstone Beck, and meet the top suburban edge of Ben Rhydding, and the moorland cattle grid before the view opens up to Ilkley Moor and the Cow & Calf rocks, which have already drawn a holiday crowd and sit with the sun directly behind them, which will be a frustration for all of today's excursion southwards. The Tour de Yorkshire's second stage concluded up here on Friday, and the artwork on the road still endures, bringing some additional colour to the area around the cafe and the pub which share the name of the rocks, and the alert brain remembers to keep looking back with the ascent as the view over Ilkley and to Upper Wharfedale is a good one to watch evolve. Too early for elevenses at the former Highfields Hotel, but the going eases as Hangingstone Road levels off, in the shadow of the rock which names it, though when viewed from the east it looks much more like a perching stone, and we gain a wide verge to walk as the pavement ends, moving to the perimeter of Burley Moor as the eastern view emerges, mostly concealed in a heavy heat haze. Moor Road leads below Stead Crag and over the cleft of Rushey Beck before slipping around Crag House and presenting us with a walled section with far too many blind corners, to keep you alert to the traffic all the way down to Robin Hole, where the reveal of the views up the clough of Coldstone Beck and to Barks Crags are probably the best on this end of the moor.

Craiglands Hotel, former Hydropathic Establishment, Ilkley.

The Cow & Calf Rocks, Ilkley Moor.

The Cow & Calf Hotel, and the Hanging Stone.

Rushey Beck, Burley Moor.

Coldstones Beck, Burley Moor.

As the road kinks around to enter Burley Woodhead, picking a side to walk gets challenging, and the traffic calming measures cause some frustrating jams to develop, but I appreciate that they are there to prevent the Ilkley Old Road being used as a rat run, which has been done by multiple motorists I've traveled with over the years, but soon enough, we are past the castellated walls of Moorside house and are into the hamlet that marks familiar territory and a road that it's taken me 7 years to approach. It's moorland time after an hour plus of road walking, joining the Dales Way link to pound the rising path up to proper altitude, level with Crag Top farm, and getting in the views and colour that were denied us when we came up here in 2013, so it's worth a pause to take in the lower Wharfedale view from Askwith moor around to Otley Chevin, also taking in much needed liquid before our high passage continues. A firm path weaves uphill at the moorland edge, to the old quarry and the prominent and 1861 dated Crag Cottage, which looks like it was someone's fixer upper until the money ran out, leaving it looking a bit forlorn compared to the new terraced villa that has been built next to York View farm, and a rare crowd develops for this end of Burley Moor as other couples join the track as it passes below the dam of Carr Bottom reservoir, and over the beck and above the farm that share the name. Finding the right path up to the moorland crest proves challenging, as the depressions in the grass hide well when looking into the sun, so it's a bit of a meander to get to the ridge path, not aided by frequently looking back to the reservoir that was distinctly empty five years ago, eventually finding the gate in the fence that leads us onto Hawksworth Moor and the Airedale side of the Rombalds Moor massif, cresting below 290m, but I'll give it a High Moor tag regardless. There are sheep to startle on this side, as the RoW apparently leads across a former rifle range, which hasn't been used in age by the looks of its overgrowth and decay, so I'll plough straight forward over its plot with only a single pole on the horizon to guide me, which joins a clear path that passed around it, which is clearly the right way to go when not dazzled by my southerly tack into the blinding sun. Run on to meet the wall at the edge of the moor, and progress downhill, with Reva Hill rising on the eastern side, and the mass of heather moor rising to the west, with Bradford, Reva Reservoir and Baildon Hill ahead of us, and meet a solo walker coming up the path, a young lady new to West Yorkshire and to walking, keen to get some pointers as to where she is in the landscape and seeking a good route over to Ilkley, and for once, I'm in my absolute element to give her direction and directions, from my 6+ seasons of accumulated walking knowledge.

Burley Woodhead, and Moor Road.

Crag Top farm, and the Wharfedale view, Burley Moor.

Carr Bottom Reservoir, Burley Moor.

The former Rifle Range, and guide post, Hawksworth Moor.

Hawkworth Moor Edge and the way to Airedale.

The moor walk ends at Intake Gate, the farm above the accumulation point of the multiple becks that drain off Hawksworth Moor and are channeled to feed Reva Reservoir, joining the edge of Bingley Road with the ponderous thought that I may have now walked all the viable transitory routes across Rombalds Moor, which will now recede as we look to the concluding mile back down into the Aire Valley, which can start by joining the bridleway down Old Wood Lane. There's heavy machinery to contend with as we go, descending into the rural landscape behind Baildon Hill as we go, finding a huge debris pile at the long and narrow Old Wood farm, where the hard surface ends and we get a rough track to pace among the fields of horses, getting sight of the way down the wooded valley of the Aire towards Leeds before we meet the forded beck crossing below Little London house. Rise with the undulating ground to the house and farm cluster at Faweather Grange, the largest settlement of note among these field between the two moors and across from Hawksworth Cliff, the remoteness and altitude ensuring that the suburban spread has never reached up here, though the made-over farmsteads are a given, of course. We take the lane past the long barn to head over to Birch Close farm, getting a good high panorama with the moors advertising themselves to south and north, meeting the path of the Bradford Millennium Way as it passes through the yard and beyond, and make the useful discovery that the officaial route does not actually align with the equestrian galloping track with its horrible surface, though the path does transpire to have a digger parked on it. Leaving that track, we have to make west, and the route forward is no clear, as none of the tracks on the ground are marked on the E288 that I'm still using, but do find the way forwards through a bit of dead reckoning and guesswork, to find the path that passes the pair of executive houses and the tree plantation that flank the Dales Way Link from Airedale. The next target is to be found at the end of the long walled track, which incidently offers a good view up to the Bingley Moor edge, looming on the horizon and clustered around Eldwick Hall, the hamlet of Lane End, which has had the farmstead to des-res makeover at the side of Otley Road, up from Eldwick, where a trot uphill would lead to The Dick Hudson's if we were feeling so inclined. The chosen path makes best use of bridleways, for ease of location, slipping away from the road and down from the trees around Lane End, with our next target obvious, the last reservoir to find on this part of the moorside, Compensation Reservoir, a little way downhill from Graincliff on Eldwick Beck and with a name that suggests a story of shenanigans in its construction, which I'm going to imagine rather than seek out.

Heavy Machinery on Old Wood Lane.

Forded Beck, near Faweather Grange.

Heavy Machinery at the Birch Close gallop circuit.

Lane End, Otley Road (Eldwick).

Compensation Reservoir.

It would be a good place to pause for a break, but it's too damn hot to stop without shade, so a descent is made below the dam alongside its overspill channel to cross the still burbling beck at its base, and meet a particularly ancient feeling trackway of stone slabs that we'd call a Causey if it were in Calderdale, rising and falling over the wrinkles formed by the streams that form the catchwater above Shipley Glen, before it drops us off on the lane behind Tewitt House. Baildon Hill is finally behind us, having been in its company for an hour or so, as Tewitt Lane draws us up and away from the fields full of cows to meet Heights Lane, not all that far from where we topped out of Bingley on Saturday, but we have a different route into town planned, as the descending lane gives us a last look back to Rombalds Moor, and a fresh one down into the Aire valley, over to St Ives estate and Hollin Plantation, and up to Ovenden Moor. It's a lane oddly bereft of traffic as we head on to the edge of Eldwick, shared only by a lady and her miniature horse, meeting the suburban spread and the noise of contemporary living as we join Otley Road, again and push downhill to Parkside, darting into Prince of Wales park to nab a bench and a watering stop, and to check the timing on a day that is taking far too long. This is a park that has an unkempt wildness that is rater refreshing, as well as bringing a lot of shade, as does our route on the other side of the main road, as we meet the lower track along Gilstead Moor Edge, the rough bank that Eldwick sits above, offering a longed-for bluebell carpet and views above suburban Bingley, as well as advertising a higher route that could be useful for a future trip when there's much less foliage on the trees. At the bottom of the bank, the ticking clock is felt, causing an improvised route to be picked out, down the partially redeveloped and blocked off Moorbottom Lane, which propels us down over Fernbank Drive and onto Crownest Road at the heart of Bingley's terraced district of Ferncliffe, hoping to find a path downhill beyond the former RC school, soon located and offering a line of sight to the day's end. Down the steps through trees and to Stanley Street, arriving behind the Britannia Mills development, where the road adjacent leads us to the footbridge over the Leeds & Liverpool canal, and the wide stretch of the A650 Sir Fred Hoyle Way. That drops us by Olive Terrace, the last remnant of its old district by the town centre and the Five Rise centre, and we can peel right to pass through Aldi's car park to drop to the station car park and arrive at north entrance at 2.35pm, mere minutes before the train arrives, closing this bank Holiday circuit at my slowest speed in a while, but unbowed by the 25+C heat, pondering whether my toil could be eased my some non-dark walking duds?

Undulating Trackway to Tewitt Lane.

First view back to Airedale, from Heights Lane.

Prince of Wales (EVII) park.

Gilstead Moor Edge.

Ferncliffe, Bingley.

The view from Aldi's Car Park closes the circuit.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3225.5 miles

2018 Total: 126.1 miles
Up Country Total: 2946.8 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles

Next Up: Exciting Plan A, or Emergency Plan B, undecided at time of writing.

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