Sunday, 24 June 2018

Ben Rhydding to Hebden & Burnsall 23/06/18

21 miles, via Denton stones, Middleton, Ling Park, Langbar, Beamsley Hospital, Storiths, 
 Postforth Bridge, Park Plantation, Barden, Barden Moor (Broad Park, Lower Barden 
  Reservoir, Pitshaw, Upper Barden Reservoir, Standard Hill, Burnsall & Thorpe Fell, 
   Hesker Gill), Thorpe, and Hedben bridge & stones.

With an 18+ mile day plotted over much variated terrain in distant Wharfedale, and only one potential bus available to get me home again, it makes good sense to start out as early as possible on the longest available walking day at the top of the year, feeling like we've managed to arrive ahead of this Summer's weather as we disembark the train at Ben Rhydding and make for this station's hidden other exit to start our long day's journey at 8.25am. Our initial steps are down through the suburbia around Valley Road, down Strathmore Road and Wyvil Crescent to get to the passageway to Leeds Road, which is crossed so we can descend to the riverbank and cross the Wharfe via the Denton Stepping stones, a fine idea in theory and they might be slightly less friendly than those at Burley but they present a crossing without terrors until more than halfway across where a gap presents itself, far too wide to stride over and it's far to early to get to paddling and so we have to retreat. Back to Leeds Road to pace the A65 eastwards to pass out of greater Ilkley, as far as Denton Bridge to make our crossing of the Wharfe there, and that's why I'd felt the need to factor in as large a walking window as possible as this feels like its going to add an extra mile on my day as we make our way along Denton Road to the other end of the stone and walk out midstream once again so that I might have touched all of them, without having made a successful transit. So onwards, after that faff around, and hit the rising Carter's Lane to haul us uphill past Beckfoot farm and on to some fine emerging views to the southwest as we run on steeply to meet Westville House school, which must have a particular reason for it's odd location and large size, at the corner where the road levels out to pass through Middleton, where suburban houses with fine views have settled by the roadside in a distinctly rural landscape. Pass among the local farms, both active and holiday residential, to meet the corner with Hunger Hill and the very top of expensive suburban Ilkley where pricey bungalows face the rising fields below the high moors, and views down to the town and the panorama presented by Rombalds Moor and the rising high southern side of Wharfedale will keep us company as we progress onwards, the straight line of Slates Lane only being interrupted by the wooded cleft of a descending beck that has created someone a particularly good garden feature. The mind starts to feel a bit lost as to our location as we move on along Hardings Lane, but soon get a fix as we spot ourselves behind Myddelton Lodge, and the farm buildings associated to it, last seen 5 years ago after my trip up Beamsley Beacon, which gives me my orientation back as we start to ascend again, rising to meet 200m elevation and spotting an oft heard but rarely seen Wren in a hedge, and noting the most enormous Hare grazing away in a neighbouring field.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Bolton Abbey to Embsay & Skipton 17/06/18

A ride on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, 
 plus 3.1 miles, via Haw Park and Skipton Woods.

It's been a while since I did a walk ending on a preserved railway, not since visiting the K&WVR in October 2013, and as I've done more than my fair share of lamenting the passing of the former Midland Railway line of 1888 from Ilkley to Skipton, it makes sense that I should make use of what remains of it while I'm in the vicinity, and it's a good treat for me for Father's Day, if you ignore the lack of children but to factor in the advance of middle age. So to the trains at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, and I'm lucky that it's a two train day as the 3pm departure from Bolton Abbey station is due to leave and I board with barely enough time to see what is hauling it, though I do know it's a diesel in BR blue, departing the modest distance to the west through a landscape of quarries to the south and views to the flank of Barden Moor to the north, taking this ride in British Railways Mk 1 corridor stock, which I'm old enough to remember still being in use on BR back in the day. Features along the way are the Stoneacre Loop, established in 1991, where we pass the signal box and the steam service heading in the opposite direction, and also Holywell Halt, the line's terminus from 1987, where the Craven Fault can be viewed, as well as the Holy Well, I'd assume, taken in on the 20 minute ride to Embsay which has been the base of the railway's operations since 1979 and publicly operational since 1981, home to its sheds and workshops, and very nicely preserved with many of its original MR features enduring. Disembark to see what's hauling us, a BR English Electric Type 3, 37294, which soon runs around and then takes us back from whence we came, passing the steam service again and thinking it looks like a Caley Tank, before we roll into Bolton Abbey again, where we can have a poke around the site that has been open since 1998 and is now in the midst of having its island platform rebuilt, letting the diesel service depart before we examine the stock parked up here. The line almost has an unparalleled collection of Hunslet and Hudswell Clarke Industrial locomotives, all Leeds built and in various states of viability, including line stalwart Wheldale, parked up and awaiting funding for its revival, and then the steam train arrives, hauled by Taff Vale Railway O2 class 85, actually a Welsh locomotive but Scottish built in 1899 and a real survivor having been in colliery use for over 40 years after withdrawal by the GWR in the 1920s. This visitor from the K&WVR can haul us back on the last train of the day, as I had promised myself a steam train ride, even if we get double headed by the Class 37 for the very last leg as we run into Embsay at 5.40pm feeling like I got my money's worth on my £11 ticket, having fitted in a there and back, and there again into my two and a half hours on the E&BASR.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Burley in Wharfedale to Bolton Abbey station 17/06/18

13.4 miles, via Greenholme Mill, Askwith, Hundwith Beck, Denton Moor, Lippersley Ridge,
 Stainforth Gill Head, Gawk Hall Ridge, Middleton Moor Enclosure, Round Hill, Fell Side,
  Kex Beck, Hazlewood, Storiths, Bolton Abbey, and Bolton Bridge.

Six years ago, on 16th June 2012, and after taking a frightening soaking on the trail between Horton and Kettlewell, I learned what might have been my important walking lesson, namely 'If you're planning to walk a long and remote trail on a day that promises lots of inclement weather, Don't.', and that came lesson cam around again this year as the height of June once again failed to bring the weather that you'd hope it should, and I took the choice to hibernate whilst rain fell over the distant hills of Wharfedale. Not that a weekend will be lost to such things, and a reshuffling of the schedule brings up the other trip for the top of the year, over a slightly more modest distance and not quite so far away, which makes it ideal for a Sunday, even if the rail services don't allow me to make the super early start I might have wanted as the earliest I can get to my jumping off point at Burley in Wharfedale is 9.35am, which has the clock ticking for us even before any steps have been made. As the only way north to the moors is via the stepping stones, our route choice has to be creative to see a different face of Burley, which means starting off down Prospect Road, Hasley Road and St Philip's Way to get my fill of the local suburbia of council houses and many bungalows before we meet the more engaging landscape of terraces down Lawn Avenue on our way to meet Main Street, which is located from down the narrow land behind the Lawn House residential home. Cross to meet Iron Row, a very nicely presented terrace that sits on the former driveway to Greenholme Mill, which now provide access beyond the mill gates to the local playing fields and the passageway bathed in orange light below the A65 bypass road, from which we meet the lodge house and the way to the former Worsted mills, which isn't the way we need to go as our route leads us down Great Pasture Lane to the very oddly located cluster of semis and the way into the woods at the mill's perimeter. This popular track for local joggers and dog walkers leads us to the track alongside the mill's long goit channel, and the way to the Burley steeping stones, our passage point over the Wharfe which is looking pretty busy after yesterday's rains, even though these are not stones to intimidate anyone when crossing as they sit at a nice stride length across, even for a short-arse like myself. The way then leads to Askwith, but by the bridleway this time around, elevating us away from the noise of the river, and the A65 eventually, as we trace a path away from the local cattle and among the sheep as the moorland rises boldly on the southern horizon, while offering no distant elevation at all to the north, hitting the village by the Manor House farm, and showing up the Askwith Arm as currently up for sale and offering a unique business opportunity for anyone who'd want to run a country pub and restaurant in a not too distant corner of North Yorkshire.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Addingham to Grassington 09/06/18

17 miles, via Farfield Hall, Lob Wood, Bolton Bridge, Bolton Abbey, Westy Bank Wood, 
 Hare Head Side, Barden Moor (Halton Moor, Brayshaw, & Embsay Moor), Sun Moor Hill, 
  Rylstone, Cracoe, Swinden Quarry, & Linton.

It's been a long time coming, having had two excursions that could have been considered preamble, but the High Season is finally here, which means its time of to start pushing the mileage and to make the most of the long days that the middle of the year brings, so naturally the hot and bright days of Maytime have passed, to be replaced with conditions that are somewhat gloomier, which shouldn't come as a surprise after six years of walking. Also I'm not in the best of nick after walking last Sunday, as a haul of 16 miles followed by five days of solid work and then another long trail is never the best way to organise yourself, without factoring in necessary rest, so as the High Season comes around, my body is ready to rest, but after taxing days at work, by brain needs to exercise and so that desire wins out and I board early buses to ride out to Addingham, not the swiftest way to travel, but easily the cheapest as Metrocarding the #51 and X84 costs me literally nothing. The day starts by the Memorial Hall at 9.20am, and I've done my share of lamenting the loss of the railway between Ilkley and Skipton, so for starters today, we shall set out from where the railway station used to stand, easily located by heading south up Stockinger Lane and then switching back onto the old formation where Mount Pleasant and the old folks flats now reside on the site of the goods shed, to meet Old Station Way where literally nothing but a green space occupies the site with nothing but a name to advertise its presence. Then it's down to see where the bridge once crossed Main Street, and to find the remnant of its abutment by the gardens on Sugar Hill, a lane that can lead us out into the local greenery and on to Back Beck Lane where a substantial feature endures, Bridge 55, preserved and still looking as fresh as it did when built by the Midland Railway in 1888, and one that may one day see trains return to it if the Embsay & Bolton Abbey railway ever extend their line back to Addingham. Trot down past the Primary school and get on track as we join Bolton Road and head northwards into our tour of Upper Wharfedale, rising through the suburban edge of the village and beyond as we make our way past the High Mill caravan park and stay alert to the behaviour of the oncoming traffic on the B6160 as we pace the tree lined lane and look up to Beamsley Beacon, back in the landscape from this side of the river. Farfield Hall is the first main feature of the day, well hidden by the trees along the road and flanked by its parklands of High and Low Park (names which now make more sense in context), the house only briefly glimpsed from the road before it slips into an stone lined cutting, emerging by the Farfield Quaker chapel, incidentally providing a fine illustration of why the Dales Way preferred to come this way via the riverbank.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Skipton to Ilkley 03/06/18

15.9 miles, via Aireville Park, Stirton, Tarn Moor, Embsay, Eastby, Halton East, 
 Bolton Abbey, Bolton Bridge, Beamsley, Nesfield, and Ilkley Golf Course.

Before the High Season gets underway, I should probably provide a foot health update, after my unprecedented problems with blistering, and the good news is that the calf strain went away without much difficulty or too many painkillers, allowing me to shed the support bandage on the Wednesday, but the blister itself gave me grief right through to Friday, requiring application of multiple pads and plasters before finally rupturing and leaving me with a flap of dead skin to walk on over the coming weeks. Nonetheless, I feel a little physically tender and emotionally under-inspired as Saturday dawns, so I choose to suspend the first trip of the High Season until Sunday, which allows some grotty and damp weather to pass before the second day of the weekend promises something better as we start to make our fresh tracks into Upper Wharfedale for the first time in 5 years.
Sadly the promise of morning sunshine doesn't last and general gloom coupled to greenhouse-like temperatures will prove to be the feature for most of the day as we ride the early trains out to a start from Skipton station, not getting onto the path until almost 9.20am as pictures need to be taken of the MR vintage architecture and of the view to the path travelled on Bank Holiday Monday, heading out to Broughton Road and immediately getting a delay before I can cross the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as a boat has to make its passage before I can use the swing-bridge. Out of the town very quickly we go as we immediately enter Aireville Park, which occupies a large portion of the west of the town, where the trees are bold and the locals already out to play, and utilise its many facilities around the Craven Leisure centre before we head out to meet Gargrave Road, once we've negotiated the confusing paths leading up to and down from the Craven College. We have good reason to be heading north-west, past the Keelham Farm Store and what looks like the start of a cycle race called Le Petit Depart as it exits the cattle market, meeting the island on the A59, and starting off on the A65 towards Settle before switching onto Stirton Lane to pass into the desirable hamlet-let that shares its name. This is probably the best sort of place to do countryside living, just a stone's throw from the neighbouring town and the supermarket, but with surroundings that suggest remoteness on the fringe of the Yorkshire Dales, all of it looking very pleasing as Stirton stretches to meet the rising Bog Lane, where you can look up towards Flasby Fell and back to the distant Pendle Hill, as it also brings the leafiness as we rise up the ascent past Thorlby House and on to Tarn House farm and caravan park. This brings us to about 200m up and on a path previously seen in 2012 but appreciated a lot more this time around, below the route down from Sharp Haw and Rough Haw, where we can look up towards Upper Wharfedale with the passage of Grassington Road, and across to the bulk of Barden Moor, with the Crookrise and Embsay Crags prominent, pacing the field walk to get us on our easterly tack above Skipton, looking forwards to Skipton Moor and meeting the road by the Craven Heifer Inn. Altogether it's a pretty fine natural amphitheatre to take in among the rising 300+m hills as we join Brackenley Lane to pass among the fields of Tarn Moor, noting the Memorial Woodlands and burial ground, whilst taking in the rural flavour and spotting the railway heading to the north before the road declines to pass above Skipton Golf course, and over Eller Beck.