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.

Bolton Abbey station, 1888-1965, & 1998-Present.

37294 running round at Embsay.

Holywell Halt, in BR north-eastern region colours.

Taff Vale Railway 85 brewing up at Bolton Abbey.

Embay station, 1888-1965, & 1979-Present.

The small problem is that Embsay is still a good distance from any available public transport, especially on a Sunday evening, and thus the 2+ miles to Skipton will have to be walked, and we depart Embsay Station at 5.45 at the hurry up with the intent of walking mostly new paths as our latest starting walk gets underway, down from the Goods yard to Skipton Road, the railway terrace and the Cavendish Arms before we join the path under the Railway bridge that 37294 and TVR 85 sit atop. This rough track leads us into Haw Park woods, where various paths split off  among the many signs warning us to stay away from the quarry workings, and the ROW can be followed along the northern boundary, where views out to Flasby Fell and Barden Moor suggest rain coming among the greying haze, following the path as it leads on an undulating and sometimes precipitous path among rough faces of rock below the cover of trees before we are spilled out on the A59 Skipton bypass. The path beyond, above Hawbank tunnel and next to the Crookrise Camping and Caravan park follows the alignment of the former tramway that ran from Haw Park quarry to the Springs Branch of the canal behind Skipton Castle, a route which we will continue to follow as we meet the A6131 The Bailey and trace the swelling suburban edge of the town as we meet and cross the last route we made down from Embsay, joining the paths above the old tramway as it dives down into Skipton Woods. It's a route to follows with some scenic appeal but it starts of quite a detours as there's no direct route down as the sides of the wood are quite so steep, and thus the high path has to be followed in the wrong direction for quite a way north before we can descend beyond Round Dam and met the path between Eller Beck and the mill race, enjoying the fact that it appears that I have the woods all to myself, with the smell of wild garlic still thick in the air. It's raining plenty once we meet the houses around the old mill at the head of Chapel Hill lane, which can be followed out of the woods to emerge by the chapel and Corn mill by Grassington Road, a stone's throw from All Saints church and the main drag through town across the canal, all left in our wake as we push down Water Street, giving a face to the quarter of Skipton that my travelling hasn't really seen. That leads to Gargrave Road and the parkland around Ermysted's Grammar school, which we leave behind as we head down through the terraces on Brook Street to pass over the Leeds & Liverpool canal and past the mill conversions and redevelopments that fill this northern side of Broughton Road, down which the railway station lies where we arrive at 6.45pm, my all time latest finish, but at the end of a 3 mile burn in only one hour, where the late Sunday trains will align to get me home in only 85 minutes, concluding a very long but thoroughly satisfying excursion.

Below the E&BASR, with TVR 85 & 37294.

The rough track through Haw Park Woods.

The Haw Park quarry tramway, former.

Round Dam, Skipton Woods.

Water Street, Skipton.

The Landscape of Mill Redevelopments, Broughton Road.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3337 miles
2018 Total: 243.6 miles
Up Country Total: 3021.9 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles

Next Up: The most Ambitious Trek of the Year, Definitely, Come What May...

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