Sunday, 12 November 2017

Keighley to Baildon 11/11/17

8.9 miles, via Thwaites Brow, Transfield Top, Druid's Altar, Bingley, Eldwick,
 and Baildon Moor, Hill & Bank.

Well, I'm happy to say that we've made it to the final weekend of the 2017 walking season, having had worries that we might not get here after the physical and emotional beating that I've taken over the last few weeks, but my fortitude has held strong and gotten me out every weekend through the fading days of October and November, so my planned finale can run on the day allocated to it, and what's more the sun is expected to shine on it, so let's give Season #6 the ending it deserves. After doing most of the season in Bradford and the lands north of the Wharfe, Airedale seems the most apt place to conclude this year's trekking, midway between the two, and a sub 10 mile day doesn't require the earliest of starts, arriving at Keighley at 10am, to look to the K&WVR platforms and not that they've already been running for an hour by now, and wonder why I've never asked friends of colleagues out for a social occasion on this most lovable of preserved lines. Emerge into the crisp morning, that's going to feel like early evening all day as the sun never gets that high, to take a right turn out from the station, to admire the backdrop of Rombalds Moor before turning onto Dalton Lane to get the flavour of the towns commercial and industrial quarter, where there's still a lot of business going on around Dalton Mill, that large and dynamic structure that really ought to be at the heart of Keighley's civic pride and industrial heritage. The lane leads on, over the River Worth and on to meet Thwaite's Bridge, passing over the railway and the site of a former MR station that the internet seems to have no visual record of at all, before we split left, past the yard with a steam crane in it, to hit the ascent of Thwaite's Brow Road, a steep, cobbled and very minor road that twists sharply up the bank on the south of the Aire, offering a test for the legs and some fine views into the valley as we go up, encountering more descending traffic that I'm honestly happy with as we go. The views are worth the effort, though and the scattered houses of Thwaite's Brow give the road a bit more purpose as it winds on uphill to meet the terminus of the bus that serves it and Long Lee, beyond where the road gets a bit more normal and the houses a bit more suburban and ordered, still not sure why people might be drawn up onto a hillside like this but you start to ponder that once development space runs out down in the valley, up on these hills is the next obvious place to go.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Cottingley to Cottingley 04/11/17

14.7 miles, via Churwell, Beeston Royds, Farnley Moor Side, Nan Whin's Wood,
 Roker Lane Bottom, Pudsey (Littlemoor, Owlcotes & Waterloo), Thornbury, Fagley,
  Eccleshill, Five Lane Ends, Wrose, Windhill, Shipley, Saltaire, and Nab Wood.

First trip out past Samhain / Hallowe'en / Start of GMT, and a pun walk descended on my mind, having located the Cottingley of Fairies fame in Bradford district, and realised that I've never travelled from the Cottingley station on the edge of Leeds, despite it being the nearest station on the line through Morley, and now we are on the edge of the dark season, we can start out early, as we are really starting out at a sensible hour, and so off we go, on one of the rare days when the ride out is shorter than the walk to the station. Start out on the nose of 9am, beginning our circular walk in a linear fashion, and we won't actually be passing through the Cottingley Hall estate, named for the farm long lost beneath it streets, so we won't be getting any closer to its distinctive pair of tower blocks, as we instead drop down through the growth of Lego houses which has attached itself to the bottom of Churwell, and the ongoing path is immediately vague, hidden by new buildings arriving on one of the few green plots left in this quarter. The way under the M621 is eventually found via a detour and finding Snittles Farm hidden away in the space between the motorway and the railway is a surprise, hidden in plain sight as I've never noticed it in 10 years of passing by, before we finally get on our way along the farm access track, onwards past the embankment of the L&NWR Leeds New Line and on to the A62 to pace along between the industrial plants and the Jewish cemeteries. At the entrance drive to Spring End farm we strike into the countryside, for the field walk over Beeston Royds (or Farnley Wood), rising on a path previously tramped with the Cottingley Towers constantly on the horizon behind us, passing through the sheep and horses to meet Wood Lane at the hillside's crest, pressing on westwards and retaking the panorama of views from the top as the lane presses us on towards Wood End farm, which gives more suggestions of former forestry up here. Soon enough run out onto the A58, at the westernmost extremity of New Farnley, though we don't have to follow Whitehall Road for too long as we can switch off onto Walsh Lane at the suburban edge, to pass through Low Moor Side, and High Moor Side, two odd little hamlets associated to but separate from New Farnley. Full of rural charm at the outermost edge of Leeds, with the Lancasterian school room, a Quaker establishment of 1813, being an immediate point of interest and still in use as the community rooms at this quarter, where rural and suburban mix on a small footprint where Back Lane provides our passageway on towards Pudsey.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Frizinghall to Keighley 28/10/17

12.4 miles, via Lister Park, Manningham (& the Mills), Girlington, Allerton, Harrop Edge,
 Harecroft, Cullingworth, Catstones Moor, Hainworth, and Ingrow.

I swear the autumnal weather is just messing with me now, having brought us all-day blue skies on the Friday and Sunday at the end of this week, whilst sending us dense cloud and a fearsome wind blowing in from the west as I plan my last trip over the exposed hills of Alpine Bradford, and to just to add to the fun, we have no trains running through Morley this weekend, so the route to this day's starting line has to be creatively planned, figuring it's actually easier to travel on the bus via Bradford rather than Leeds to get to Frizinghall station, where we can begin from the northbound platform at 9.35am. The reason to start here is because we have no obvious route out from the city here, so half way up the valley from the town centre gives us a completely fresh perspective for the, though starting from this side of the tracks means we'll have no shots of what appears to get the remnants of grand station building that is actually just the end wall of a factory, and attention will instead turn to the immediate pull uphill on Frizinghall Lane, past the bold terrace ends and the Black Swan inn, sat elevated from the road, whilst looking back over the valley to see the hills at Wrose, Gaisby and Bolton Woods. On past more villas and proud terraces to pass the playing fields of Bradford Grammar school before we cross the A650 Keighley Road to enter Lister Park by its overstated and battlemented gatehouse at the northeast corner, another green space that dererves attention, as its probably the best one in the city, and our sothwards tack can take us around the edge of the ornamental boating lake, and on up to the Cartwright Hall art gallery of 1904, which is surely the grandest of all park pavilions in these isles. Also worthy of note are the formal gardens, in the Victorian style in front on the hall, and in the Mughal style of Northern India to the south, illustrating the many faces that contemporary Bradford has these days, and it's would be a grand place to linger in any of the months preceding October, but for now we need to press on, exiting the park to North Park Road and seeing up close how the proudly planned suburb of Manningham, built for the wealthy middle classes of Victorian Bradford, has still to fully adjust to the changing demographics brought by the 20th century.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Bradford to Steeton 21/10/17

13.5 miles, via Brown Royd, Four Lane Ends, Chellow Dene, Sandy Lane, Wilsden,
 Harden (& the Moor), Long Lee, Keighley, Cliffe Castle and Hollins Bank.

So as the season turns Autumnal at apace, we return to Bradford for another trip up to Airedale, and for the sake of interest and variety, it's worth making a trip out from Forster Square station, which I may have cursed as little more than a tram stand since its redevelopment, but it's a damned long one when you have to walk down eight carriage lengths of platform to get off of it, and it's also a station that I have been pronouncing wrongly for 20 odd years too, as that first R is there for only decorative reasons. So off into the city once more at 9.10am, starting early to hopefully stay ahead of the gross weather scheduled for mid afternoon, and cutting a course from Cheapside and Market Street along Hustlergate and Tyrell Street past the Wool Exchange to get to the City Hall and Centenary Square, which is avoided by taking the back street of Aldermanbury, as if I were playing the old game for the Acorn Electron in the 1980s called 'Watchperson' where you were tasked with plotting a walking path down every street on a town plan, but only once. Roll up on the A6181 Inner Ring, across from the disused cinema, and our course westwards can start in earnest as we join Thornton Road from its very start, and we are not too far along, past the Jurys Inn before we have slipped into another stretch of Bradford industrial, or post-industrial landscapes, as we have mill and factory buildings down here in quantity, with the buildings of the University providing some variety on the horizon of Lister Hills. We have pubs to note as we progress, the Lord Clyde, the Black Swan and the Ivory as we pass through these many buildings in yellow stone, lit pleasantly as the morning tries so hard to be sunny, before we run past the site of the GNR's City Road good depot, now occupied by the Freemans - Grattan warehouse, and the brain is left to ponder how the catalogue firms used to me such a major feature of West Yorkshire life, as nearly every person of a certain age that I've known in Leeds spent at least some time working for Kay's. Meet the course of Thornton Road previously walked as we press west through Brown Royd, keeping to the other side of the road this time to get even more of the feel of being on Burley Road in Leeds (a completely uncanny feeling), to give a bit less attention to the mills on the north side and to take a few more views south past the car dealerships and the Adam Masjid mosque, in the direction of the looming mass of Horton Bank as we run out of central Bradford and over the A6177 Outer Ring Road.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Bradford to Ilkley 14/10/17

15.9 miles, via White Abbey, Girlington, Heaton, High Bank, Cottingley, Bingley, Crossflatts,
 East Morton, Sunny Dale, Upwood, Bradup, High Moor Plantation, Long Ridge End,
  Cragg House and Heber's Ghyll.

It's pretty bizarre to think that after all those miles put down in Bradford during the early season, five months have now elapsed since I last ventured into that city, unless you are counting the trip made over Idle Hill, which I am not, so as the late season now takes hold, it's time to return to make some paths through the north western quarter of the city, the portion that really ought to have been fitted into my schedule by now. So travel out to Interchange, on a day that promises to be potentially warm and sunny with a lot of ominous skies rising to the west, to join the trail after 9.40am, with the city looking like it took a dousing in the hours before we arrived, admittedly later than I'd have liked to get going, so rapid footfalls are made through the main point of convergence in Bradford, down Bridge Street and past City Hall before we can start our fresh route northwards. This is met off Market Street, as Ivegate presents itself as that sort of street that you don't think of when you consider Bradford, steep and cobbled and rising past the oldest Pharmacist in the county and the pub with and enormous Wild Boar on its roof, leading us up to the concrete monstrosity that is the Kirkgate shopping centre. The eye tries to keep attention on the warm-toned stone buildings along Westgate, but there's too much redevelopment in concrete up here, like the Oastler Centre and the tall building on the corner of New John Street, and the shopping parades of the city continue at the roadside until we hit the angle of the B6181 where we can look east to the Congregational chapel and the Bradford Central Mosque. Cross to join the B6144 White Abbey Road, past pubs The New Beehive and The Rose & Crown, as well as St Patrick's RC church and the parkland next to where one of Bradford's original Infirmaries once lived before we push on along an oddly wide stretch of road, lined with council house and terraces, before we hit the rise up Whetley Hill, where the standard of the terraces improves markedly. This leads us to passage over the A6177 ring road, which is almost missable in the scheme of things, continuing to elevate among more terraces that illustrate the rise, growth and decline of the city in a relatively short distance, passing St Chad's church and getting some elevated looks south to Horton Bank as we join another stretch of dual carriageway as Toller Lane presses on through Girlington, among country villas placed before the city's terraces grew around them, and the great risk of autumnal walking is exposed to me, as my new boots have virtually zero traction on wet stone slabs, coated with dead leaf residue.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Morley to Kirkstall Forge 06/10/17

7.1 miles, via Rooms, Beeston Royds, New Farnley, Farnley, Gamble Hill, Bramley,
 Moorside and Fall Park.

It's not often that I have useful brainwaves, but they can be good when they come, such as when I plan to take three day weekend to break up the autumn run at work and realise that if I were to go walking on the Friday morning that it would free up the Friday evening and Saturday for being sociable and giving me Sunday to recover, so I could have a whole weekend off, and still get some extra miles in as a bonus. Genius, I'm sure you'll agree, and a short burst from home gives me as much flexibility as possible before Friday drinks comes around to give more of my colleagues a send off as they depart to greener pastures, so no hesitation is to be had as I push out to Morley town hall for a start on the cusp of 9am with another of West Yorkshire's new railway stations firmly in my sights. There must still be new ways out of Morley to find, despite feeing like they've already been exhausted, so after the walk down Queen Street to meet the Cheapside Parade at Morley Bottoms, glowing in the autumnal sunshine, we can take a left turn to the western half of Bank Street, rising to meet Victoria Road by Stubley Farm Mews, and then follow the A643 north past the old and suspiciously well-presented Ingle Estate of council houses, dated at 1920 and surely the oldest in the borough. Pass the parade of bungalows and turn off by the Shell Garage, to follow Springfield Lane, past its long blocks of terraced houses which once housed the workers of Springfield Mill, which is now lost beneath the parkland that shares its name, an industrial site that the mind really has to stretch to situate among the suburbia to the west of Churwell Hill, and away from this greenery we join Rooms Lane, as it's still the red route in this direction out of Morley and over the M621. Countryside follows, west of the city of Leeds, dropping down the unsurfaced and shady portion of Rooms Lane that leads past the isolated Lister Cottages and on past the site of Gildersome East station on the L&NWR New Leeds Line, revealing itself a lot more clearly than when we first came this way, before we run on to meet the A62 and take a right to meet the stench of the waste recycling plant. Don't dwell long on Gelderd Road though, soon finding the bridleway that drops to cross Farnley Wood Back before we hit the rise to the hillside that I still call Beeston Royds, despite my certainty that it has another name, observing the men in the fields harvesting veg and enjoying the views across to the Cottingley estate and around over Beeston, Middleton, Morley and Gildersome.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Harewood to Ilkley 30/09/17

15.6 miles, via Harewood Bar, Arthington, Pool in Wharfedale, Caley Hall, Otley (sorta),
 Burley in Wharfedale, and Ben Rhydding.

I had made a point of saying that I was done with trails above Airedale for this year, but once the late season plotting was done, there was found to be one glaring omission from the paths in Wharfedale, discovering that I had not made a single path of note along the lower edge of the southern bank in any of my seasons so far, and as there still threatens to be sunshine in the air, it's worth getting that down before October's seasonal shift renders the days too short for a long trail. So board the bus for Harewood, at this season's eastern extremity to start the day, getting off the #36 at 9.45am, and suddenly realising that I've left my camera on board, only to have it quickly retrieved and returned by another passenger, who then gets turfed off the service by the driver because he had an open can of lager in his hand, which leaves me pondering the truth in the statement that 'No Good Deed goes Unpunished'. So away, on a rather sour note, taking the path that leads along Church Lane away from the village and into the Harewood Estate, saving up the diagonal path that runs through the woods, close to the castle for another time, a leafy start to the day that leads to the reveal of Wharfedale with a mist hanging over it, and the path to Harewood Bar is met down through the North Park, which will probably provide the only bit of challenging going in the first half of the day. The Red Deer that hide so well on this estate are found to be grazing in the lowest portion of the park, too far away to be happily photographed but present in huge numbers, and it's still one of my dreams that I might one day get a shot of a deer up close before if is inevitably frightened away. Depart the park at the Bar House, unoccupied presently but with substantial flood defences arranged around it, passing through a small door in the large gate to meet the edge of the A659, which will take us all the way to Pool, as if I hadn't had enough of A-Road from last week, largely because the Otley & Tadcaster turnpike really is the only available route in this quarter. The estate perimeter will keep us company for a while as the traffic is faced down on the way over Stank Beck, and the low fields by the Wharfe-side give us a few good views across to the north bank, the to ridge that Kirkby Overblow sits atop, and to the Rougemont Carr woods and this year's constant companion, Almscliff Crag.