Friday, 27 July 2018

Leicestershire Round #5 - Saddington to Frolesworth 26/07/18

14.7 miles, via Fleckney (sorta), Shearsby, Bruntingthorpe, Peatling Magna, 
 Willoughby Waterleys, Dunton Bassett, and Leire. 

Long Distance Trail means
Selfies! #5 at The Queen's
Head, Saddington.
The off days between treks get filled with useful activities, like trimming My Parents' hedge (again), belatedly celebrating My Dad's 77th birthday, and mug washing (don't ask, long story), when we are not trying to avoid the heat, and after getting a Hottest Day of the Year peak on Monday, we get the promise of another on Thursday, so we need to plan creatively for a day that promises to get thirsty fast, and so I scheme the idea of chilling two litre bottles in the fridge, while freezing a third to ensure I have sufficient cool liquid in my bag for a six hour trek. Starting early is the other trick to beat the heat, as the Parental Taxi can get out to Saddington for an 8.20am start as we have probably the shortest drive out of the entire Round today, which is mildly ironic as the entire path for today will be through a part of the county of my birth that have barely seen in all my years, and so onwards, away from the Queen's Head (which I have manged to colour coordinate with) and St Helen's church, possibly the only one on the trail that I won't deliberately detour to see up close. Onto the Round Path once more by The Limes, a house with an impressively large mud wall at its boundary, and we depart the village by the path that leads from Bakehouse Lane between the back yards of virous houses and out onto Kibworth Road, where we are immediately presented with a cow problem as this Longhorn breed is not apt to move away from the gate that I need to access. Fortunately a second gate up the lane allow easy access, and I sneak past them to find the next gate in the hedge which leads us over towards Fleckney, a village that has seen some exponential suburban growth, even though it's quite a distance from Leicester and between two A-roads, and we'll draw right up to the edge of it, meting dog walkers and fence builders before we turn west, the fields looking like they are being plotted out for some future building work as the village continues to bafflingly expand. It's a field boundary walk for quite a distance to come now, and in the early going we at least have Fleckney lodge to keep us company but soon we slip into a landscape of hedges and bare fields that would challenge anyone's powers of description, lacking an obvious horizon and looking the same from plot to plot, and so we have to content ourselves with the fact that the early morning sun isn't coming on hard and that the local cattle around Glebe Farm are feeling docile before we get a location of sorts to see, as we drop out onto Arnesby Road.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Leicestershire Round #4 - Hallaton to Saddington 23/07/18

13.9 miles, via Othorpe, Cranoe, Glooston, Stonton Wyville, Langton Caudle, 
 Thorpe Langton, East Langton, Foxton, Gumley, and Smeeton Hill. 

Long Distance Trail 
Means Selfies! #4 at the 
Bewicke Arms, Hallaton.
Summer Jollies coming around has me hurrying Down Country with almost indecent haste, so that I can get onto the Leicestershire Round again on the days available to fit in around My Parents' plans and needs, happy to lend a hand when needed and aiming to scratch off another three legs from the guide book in two trips, and that cold day on Saturday is already seeming like a distant and aberrant memory, as we are already back in the grip of hot, hot days where the heat tells even when leaving the house in the early morning. So Leicestershire in July looks much riper than it did last year as the Parental Taxi rolls me out to Hallaton so that we might get a jump off at the Bewicke Arms at 8.35am, still rating the village as one of the prettiest in the county in the Rutland Ironstone fashion and we start our track into the southeast corner of the county by walking along Churchgate, past the church of St Michael & All Angels and the CofE primary school to find the path that leads us out into the countryside for the start of the field walking down to cross the stream that flows on down towards the River Welland, reminding us that we are in the corner of the county that doesn't sit within the vast Trent-Humber watershed. A fun thing to note in the adjacent field is Hallaton Castle, a motte and bailey construction that is dated to the Iron Age and the protection of the ancient metalworking industries in this quarter, and looks particularly well preserved and is something to regard as our field walk raises on a southwestern track to eventually present views over the wrinkles around the Welland valley, where Slawston village sits in the shadow if its own hill and an almost new farm is located at the hills crest. Drop sharply down through the pasture to cross the stream at Horseclose Spinney, and then rise again to meet Othorpe House Farm, which mostly hides behind its woods, and standing as all that remains of the lost village of Othorpe, a theme that just keeps on coming around in this county, soon left behind as we pass the barns and machinery store to hit the fields once again. Onwards through wheat fields and more sheep pasture to approach Cranoe village, which also hides, below the slope of the hillside that we are traversing, and just off the alignment of the Round path, but a short detour has to be made so we can get an up close look at the church of St Michaels's, as taking many pictures of the village churches in the county will probably always be a hobby of mine.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Grassington to Pateley Bridge 21/07/18

11.6 miles, via Hebden, Dibble's Bridge, Fancarl Top, Dry Gill, Stump Cross cavern, 
 Craven Moor, Keld Houses, Greenhow Hill, Cold Stones (the Quarry & The Cut), 
  Toft Gate (& the Lime Kiln), Red Brae Bank, and Bridgehouse Gate. 

That preceding week felt like it went on for two days longer than it should have, with me feeling so tired and deflated at its end that I got anxious that I might not have anything in reserve for walking when my first Summer break came along, which itself feels like its taken an age to arrive, which it has as it's a week later than I'd usually break up in July, and the fight we've had with the heatwave conditions and broken AC at work coupled to me being unusually active through the High Season transition has left me feeling levels of exhaustion not felt in along while. So as the day takes a turn for the overcast and cool, it's not a massive disappointment as I really need a break from the relentless heat and sunshine after four solid weeks of it, and while some bright illumination would have been appreciated for our last trip of this season from Wharfe to Nidd, it will instead allow us to see the high roads and their environs when they display a completely different visual character. Thus we ride out to Grassington on the #874 bus, knowing that the day will feature more travelling time than actual walking time, but safe in the knowledge that we are testing the very limits of trekking by public transport in this quarter, departing the National Park Centre bus stand at 11.25am and immediately turning our back on the town as we join Hebden Road, pacing along in front of the grey stuccoed council houses soon departed past Barden Fell View. The road rises and twists as it passes Mil Gate Lathe farm, and we are going to have to get used to the behaviour of the B6265 as we go today as it will be our constant companion as we make our way across this finger of Limestone country, and I realise that I haven't much talked about geology on our travels this year, but this is a fine spot to see how the Craven faults elevated the older Carboniferous Limestone to the levels of the younger Millstone Grit over 50 million years back. The rising bulk of Barden Moor contrasts markedly with the grassy valley below, the result of much weathering over the ensuing millennia, as we pace on east past the plots of Garnshaw House and its flower meadows, and meeting a very large party of Asian students out on a country ramble (not the first party seen today, so that seems to be A Thing), and as the road rises some more we can look north to see the exposed and broken crags that rise above the cleft of Hebden Gill. Also get sight of the chimney on Grassington Moor before we drop down to meet the top end of Hebden village again, on familiar territory before we strike off onto the moors to the east, passing the coach depot and the Clarendon Hotel with the village to the south before crossing the 1827 Hebden Bridge over the beck and then starting the first serious rise of the day a climb of 60+m out of the dene up towards Bank Top farm.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Burnsall to Darley 14/07/18

14.1 miles, via Hartlington, Appletreewick, Skyreholme, Forest Road, Pock Stones Moor, 
 Hoodstorth Lane, Stone House Crossroads, Thornthwaite, Carr Lodge, and Darley Beck. 

The Summer weather may have wavered a bit in the last week, but the temperature still managed to peak at 30C at work, and I feel heartened that the heat hasn't beaten me down and I still want to walk as another bright Saturday comes around, getting in another late start, which surely helps matters, as the Dalesbus penetrates even further into Wharfedale for our third trip over the moors to Nidderdale, arriving at Burnsall at 11..15am, which gives us a pretty clear window of 5 and a half hours to complete today's trip. So we need to start off quickly, away from the many people using this corner as their focus point for a day's tripping, setting off across the Wharfe over the justifiably famous Burnsall bridge and setting off up the lane above the riverside pasture that the Dales Way crosses, immediately getting us into virgin territory as we establish a new perimeter to my walking field, looking back to admire the rising flank of Burnsall Fell as it looms over the village and river, creating a unique sort of setting for the village that retreats behind us. There's ancient field terraces and boundaries to admire in the limestone fields by this road, all looking distinctly parched as our heatwave continues, so all the shade we get is welcome as we approach the hamlet of Hartlington as our first port of call, not that it amounts to more than a loose collection of cottages and farms at an elevated remove from the river, soon in our wake as we pass on over Hartlington Bridge on Barben Beck, which forms a large and well hidden valley coming down from Grimwith reservoir to the north. Past the Woodhouse farm, we move below the steeply looming Kail Hill and move up closer to the river, and on above the vast plots of Masons Campsite, which seems to be full to bursting even though the summer holidays have still not started, and I regard the folks in their tents in much the same way as they would me as I press on past Low Hall and the Craven Arms pub to get our first good view of the looming masses of Barden Fell, with the crags of Simon's Seat prominent on the northern face. Soon enough, we run into Appletreewick, which is as quaint and lovely as it's name suggest it ought to be, rising up among the many cottages from the New Inn and Mock Beggar hall at the bottom to St John the Baptist's church and High Hall at the top, and a real place to aspire to dwell if it wasn't for the fact that it only gets three days of bus services each week, and then on past the isolated village hall and back into the countryside, looking up to Barden Fell again, and spotting the Nidd Aqueduct hiding in the trees as it skirts its way around the flank of Carncliff Top.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Bolton Abbey to Birstwith 07/07/18

14.3 miles, via Cavendish Pavilion, Bolton Park, Hammerthorn Gate, Hazlewood Moor, 
 Rocking Hall, Rocking Moor, Thrusscross Reservoir, Hanging Moor, RAF Menwith Hill, 
  High Birstwith, and Swarcliffe Top.

It's a bit early in the Summer to start complaining about the heat, but two weeks into a national heatwave, and after two months of having barely functional AC at work, it's all starting to get a bit much for me, but I'm determined to keep my focus on, as getting out and about on the moors will involve less exposure to high temperatures than going through my regular daily routine, and anyway, I have far more interest in doing my own thing than much of the rest of the nation, who are getting themselves all excited by England being in the last eight of the World Cup. So we ride to Wharfedale again, on a Dalesbus that is much less busy than last week's, happy to see some cloud in the sky as we go, alighting at Bolton Abbey at a shade before 11am, only a mile north of where we last travelled from to Nidderdale, but with a complete fresh perspective to take on as we plot another route over the moors, starting out up the driveway to the Bolton Priory ruin and the extent church of St Mary & St Cuthbert. Head on above the dramatic scene of the bowing Wharfe and past the Cavendish memorial fountain to walk down the long driveway to the Riverside car parks, getting a good view up to the way to come on the hillsides beyond the river, and finding that the Bolton Abbey estate is already pretty busy with people as elevenses time lands on the day, though I'll not be visiting the Cavendish pavilion on this occasion either, instead we cross the Wooden bridge among the trippers and cyclists to start our trail to the east. Meet the path up the wooded glade of Stead Dike to reach Bolton Park farm, in the shadow of the looming mass of the South Nab hill, and then hit the rising farm track beyond which will elevate us some 150m up to the moorland edge as the sun beats down, testing my resolve on the early going as the local sheep look on at me as I struggle, but the views that emerge are worth it, over Skipton Moor and Barden Moor, and back to the Priory ruins, and forward to the mass of Hazlewood Moor that is so far unseen. Meet the passage onto the moor at Hammerthorn Gate, above the Nab Hill at 300m up, where we can look back to Addingham High moor and Beamsley Beacon before a gravelled track leads us on into the sea of heather, on a gentle rise before forking left sharply to land us above the moorland valley of Hudson Gill, flowing down to the forests around the Valley of Desolation. Our track evens off a bit at 350m elevation, and we can look north to the company of Barden Fell, with Carncliffe Top, Simon's Seat and Lord's Seat forming the high and rocky features on the horizon, and that's where we were headed this weekend, five years back, on a day equally hot, though we do have sufficient liquid for the journey this time around, as well as enough cloud cover to keep much of the Sun's radiant heat off as we carry on along this shadeless track with the majestic view to its north.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Bolton Bridge to Hampsthwaite 30/06/18

14.2 miles, via Beamsley Hospital, Hazelwood, Kex Gill, Kex Gill Moor, Hall Moor, 
 Blubberhouses, Dangerous Corner, Kettlesing (Head & Bottom), Tang, and Swincliffe.

The weather on walking days in June has certainly been inconsistent, rarely being better than average in terms of heat and temperature, but as the month ends, it seems to have settled into a long sequence of being consistently hot, and so it continues as we reach Phase Two of this High Season's walking plans, having blazed a few fresh trails into the top half of Wharfedale in Phase One, it's now time to start stitching this valley to distant Nidderdale along one of the few local axes so far unexplored in the West Riding. The long days of Summer also allow for late starts and finishes, and we'll being having both of those after riding the crowded Dalesbus all the way from Leeds, and being the only person wanting to alight at the Devonshire Arms at 11.10am, a mere 20 minutes behind schedule, at this most familiar corner of Bolton Bridge, that looks a whole lot brighter than on any of my preceding visits, and steps will be rapidly made away from the pub and teashops on the Bolton Abbey estate with the feeling that I'll pretty much have this walking day to myself. We pass again over the Wharfe via the old Bolton Bridge, noting just how firmly the look of summer has gripped the fields around Red Lion farm and meet the side of the A59 in short order, still mostly closed to traffic after a month, and the red route we will be taking up the passage of Kex Gill, not that its unusual quietness counts for much in the initial climb has a footway for us to pace, in place so local children might be able to walk to the Boyle & Petyt primary school safely. We are soon away from the Wharfe and into the shadow of Beamsley Beacon, rising to our south, following the pavement and bypassed old lane up past Lane Houses farm, Beamsley Hospital again (in much better conditions for photography) and the former Methodist Chapel that is now the Beamsley Project, an accessible holiday property that caters for the disabled, a deeply admirable business that has a grand old setting, among the green fields below the moors. We run past the road to Storiths and lose the footway after a mile to join the lane that runs into Hazlewood, undulating away from the direct course of the A59 and getting some good looks down into the descending Kex Gill as we rise past Laneside Farm, and then drop again at Hill End farm to get back on the main road, which I really could walk in any way I fancied as there is so little traffic that you could choose to pace any part of it. I'll stick with facing the theoretical oncoming traffic as we pass the layby and the clearly twisting path of the old turnpike alignment that has been straightened out by the modern A59, the course we continue along as we rise on the bypass past Summerscales farm, not quite in the crawler lane, but with enough space to avoid the odd boy-racer using the empty road, and the odd police van looking for those stray vehicles that really shouldn't be out here.