Sunday, 28 October 2018

Saltaire to Leeds 27/10/18

13.8 miles, via Shipley, Windhill, Idle Moor, Thackley, Greengates, Calverley, Farsley, 
 Bagley, Coal Hill, Bradley Hill, Swinnow, Hough End, Farnley Reservoir, Silver Royd Hill, 
  Blue Hill, Green Side, New Wortley, and Holbeck.

After last weekend's deeply unseasonal warmth, normal service is resumed as we land on the last weekend of British Summer Time, as things look a whole lot gloomier and greyer as our walk down the Aire Valley gets set to resume, and despite the need to make the most of the daylight hours and to not have to end the day chasing the fading sunlight, we set out an hour later than initially planned to that the morning's rains might have had a chance to pass. Fortunately for us, the last of the early drizzle is just departing the air as we land at Saltaire station, ready to strike on to the south-east at 10.10am, feeling saddened that we aren't going to see this proudest of Victorian townlets in the best of lights again, but countering that thought with the knowledge that if you really want to see Saltaire at its brightest and best-est, you should be here in summertime, along with every other urban day-tripper in these parts. So we start, away from Victoria Road and down the steps to the level of the yard of Salt's Mill, which looms large and only slightly Italianate above us to our left as we press to the east, pondering that's it's still odd that I've never been inside it to see the Hockneys and whatever else is contained within, passing the towering chimney and moving on past the low range of buildings that house the Early Music store and the large bicycle emporium. This leads us to Salt's Mill Road and the main car park for Saltaire, in the post industrial space around the Leeds & Liverpool canal, which is also home to the offices of HMRC, strangely, though hints of the late 19th century industry endure at the waterside, and beyond we meet the Victoria Mills, Shipley's sizable companion to the more famous one upstream, now in residential use, and then we meet the views up to Shipley town centre as we cross the A6038 Otley Road between Airedale Mills and the Noble Comb. Up the side street of View Croft Road we head, around the Boatmans Wharf flat block, where I first looked at a property to buy back in 2006, and up the steps to the towpath of the canal, crossing it via Gallows Bridge and emerging through the stone shops and houses beyond to land on the side of the A657 Leeds Road, which will be our companion for a chunk of the day as it takes us away from the long curve of the valley of the Aire. We start off by passing under the contemporary railway bridges and over Bradford Beck to pass the enduring site of Shipley Windhill station, still intact despite the demolition threats, and rise up through the Windhill end of Shipley, passing the branch library, the board school and the Traveller's Rest inn before the road starts to elevate us significantly, as we pass the basilica of Christ Church before we pass the older limits of the town and slip firmly into 20th century suburbia with flat blocks and semis clinging to the fringes of Idle Hill.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Skipton to Saltaire 20/10/18

16.6 miles, via Snaygill, Bradley, Farnhill, Kildwick, Cross Hills, Eastburn, Steeton, 
 Utley, Keighley (Beechliffe & Aireworth), Riddlesden, East Riddlesden Hall, Sandbeds, 
  Crossflatts, Bingley (Five Rise, Priestthorpe, Ferncliffe, & Gilstead), Higher Coach Road, 
   Glenwood Estate, and Hirst Wood. 

Back on the trail after a usefully scheduled weekend off, used by travelling to see my good friends in Calderdale, and for having an outing to Vocation & Co in Hebden Bridge for a sociable sharing of beer and tacos, feeling somewhat fortunate that we dropped this past weekend as neither day brought weather that would be considered usefully walkable, but entirely seasonably predictable as the cloud and rain descended. So back we go to Airedale, determined to put an end on my long distance travels away from home, still finding myself challenged by the train strikes that are still afflicting us thanks to the ongoing Northern Trains - RMT beef, not giving us trouble as we ride out to Skipton, but giving us a pretty fixed deadline for the other end of the day as we head out at 9.40am, feeling that we might be about to experience one of those days where all the day's best weather was misplaced in the early hours of the day, in the miles distant from where we are actually walking. So get going at a relative clip as we've a lot of miles to put down in 6 hours, setting off down Black Walk, behind Morrisons on the old Cattle Market site, over Eller Beck and getting our panoramic view over the town before meeting Craven Street and passing around Tesco on the site of the former railway goods yard as this leads us past the proudly terraced edge of the town and onto Keighley Road, passing Skipton's cottage hospital as we go. It'll be road walking for the bulk of the day, following main Airedale road for a fair chunk of it, passing out of the town under the bridge of the Grassington branch line and on into that odd little cluster of terraces around a former mill site, squeezed into the space between the Leeds & Liverpool canal and the railway line, before the way forward opens out somewhat and we run on past the Snaygill industrial estate, which extends all the way down to the A6131 - A629 junction, and the Rendezvous hotel, which fits its considerable bulk into a really rather small plot. We depart the main road by the Bay Horse Inn, joining the minor Skipton Road as it ascends over the canal by the Snaygill boatyard and on into the fields, which gives us view to the rising hills on the far side of Airedale, with Ramshaw, Fiddlers Hill and Gib Side rising most prominently as we pass the cottages clustered here to absorb the grand view. It looks like the day is taking a turn for the better as we rise over the lane's crest, which gets a confirmation as we meet the sunshine raining down from the south, an unseasonal wall of heat that makes for a feeling of being over-dressed for Autumn, and that gives the spirits a lift as Low Bradley reveals itself in the declivity between Skipton Moor and Farnhill Moor, passed by the major roads but not without its own suburban growth around a stone built and pretty ancient feeling heart.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Bolton Abbey to Burnsall via Troller's Gill & Grimwith Reservoir 07/10/18

15 miles, via Riddings Hill, Barden (Beck, Scale, Tower & Bridge), How Gill, Skyreholme, 
 Troller's Gill, Appletreewick Pasture, Grimwith Fell, Grimwith Reservoir, Gate Up, 
  Hartlington Moor, Hartlington Raikes, and Hartlington.

The last viably warm weekend of the year comes around, and it's not feeling as good as some that we've had in previous seasons, as if Autumn in 2018 feels determined to disappoint us, and we're going again on Sunday as the Saturday weather doesn't look so clever and the appeal of a lie in after an extremely testing week as work is strong, and we can be quietly overjoyed that the road up Wharfedale is open again, which allows us to take the bus ride up to Bolton Abbey without having to take any stressful diversions. The additional bonus is that travelling on the Sunday gives us an extra half hour on the schedule, which is most welcome as a 15 mile tilt over some rough and remote paths in only six hours would certainly be a bit of a test as the cooling days of October start to take their grip, and despite the waning season, the #874 seems to be busier that ever as it's not even standing room only all the way to our start line, somewhat delayed as we disembark at 10.40am, but still with plenty of time available to complete our trip. Our first hour will follow the B6160 as we head north to Barden, setting off behind the Priory Gatehouse that has been gradually redeveloped into Bolton Hall, passing the tope edge of Priory church's grounds before rising with the path above the dramatic loop of the Wharfe and meeting the Cavendish Memorail Fountain, where we split away from the Bolton Abbey estate to continue against the oncoming traffic past the farmstead at the roadside and above the riverside car parking fields. Thankfully the Sunday traffic is light and the sightlines keep progress un-fraught as we elevate further to see the company of hills on the fringes of Hazlewood Moor and Barden Fell rising above the river valley, with North and South Nab, with Carncliff Top beyond, presenting a drama filled view that had been seen many times when riding the bus down Wharfedale, and one that need to be added to my walked experience list. This keeps us company as we progress past Cowpert Gill and Riddings farm, as we skirt Riddings Hill on the green south-eastern edge of Barden Moor, getting a truly fresh perspective on this quarter before the road descends markedly and views diminish as the road grazes the top edge of Strid Wood, where we pass more car parking and tourist facilities to keep the day trippers happy, sneaking a view west to the heart of the moorlands as the depression filled by Barden Beck approaches. The thing to see here is beyond the plantation as the road bottoms out, and that's the Nidd Aqueduct, making another of its appearances above ground, just south of where its castellated companion passes over the Wharfe, making a multi-arched passage over the beck before disappearing underground again on its long journey to Chelker reservoir and on towards Bradford, which I take many pics of, not really satisfied that they're better than the ones I once took from a moving bus.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Washburn Valley (top half) 30/09/18

15 miles, from Swinsty Moor car park, via Fewston Reservoir, Blubberhouses, 
 Redshaw Gill, Thruscross Reservoir, West End, Capelshaw Beck, Holme Field, 
  Roundell's Allotment, Thruscross Dam, Limekiln Plantation, Blubberhouses, 
   Fewston Reservoir, Swinsty Reservoir, Spinksburn Lagoon, Swinsty Dam, 
    Swinsty Hall, and Swinsty Moor Plantation.

It's rather unfortunate that last Saturday, probably the best day of the declining Autumn, doesn't get walked as I've scheduled things around it that make it unusable, as I've got My Mum visiting for the first time in over a year due to My Dad having a week of experimental residential care, and her having a week of much needed respite, and while she does bring the Parental Taxi with herself, trying to put an extra 60 miles onto her Up Country journey to drop me off in the Washburn Valley is probably beyond my natural charm. So we have to go on Sunday, bussing it out on the very last day that #821 Nidderdale Rambler runs this year, and it would have been useful to know two months ago that the three scheduled Dalesbuses all deliberately pile up in Otley so that travellers from all over West Yorkshire might transfer between them, as that's knowledge that has no use at all beyond the end of September (remembering that the #874 goes through Otley would also have helped too, of course). So we finally get to our ride to the Washburn, as I get squeezed into the small single-decker that seems to be crammed full of people who've been travelling this route regularly, bouncing our way o'er hill and dale via Farnley, Norwood and Bland Hill to get to our start line at Swinsty Moor car park, between the pair of reservoirs in this quarter, and below Fewston's dam, where there are crowds out in force for an organised run around the Swinsty perimeter, and I need to take a facilities break before we set off at 10.30am, with a seven hour window of success ahead of us. Our circuit that's been 3+ years in the planning finally gets underway as we head north, down through the woods steeply on the path that soon arrives on the perimeter of Fewston Reservoir, and immediately we note that this will be a day with more company than many of its predecessors as the healthy exercisers, family strollers and dog walkers will be out in force in the lower portion of the dammed Washburn, which is quite a contrast to the quiet paths we found when first coming out here, back in 2004(?). Stroll around the first main inlet feeding the reservoir, which is still ridiculously low more than two months after this year's drought conditions ended, and take looks back towards the embankment dam, where the valve tower sits markedly above the waterline, before we press on, with views to the north/east bank being frequently shrouded by waterside foliage and overhanging trees as we move on to the second major inlet into the reservoir. this is where the various streams running off Blubberhouses Moor feed the reservoir, and the path rises sharply as we take a marked westwards turn, rising into the neighbouring plantation where that path appears to have been redirected away from below some crumbly cliffs, staying up high below the tree cover before meeting an unfriendly sharp descent to cross Thackray Beck as it runs in from the west, back on the original path route once again.