Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Nidderdale Way #2 - Pateley Bridge to Middlesmoor 23/05/17

14.9 miles, via Wath, Gouthwaite reservoir, Bouthwaite, Lofthouse, Limley, The Edge,
 Woo Gill, Scar House reservoir, and In Moor.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#2 at Pateley Bridge.
First rest day of our jollies is used for just that, rest, with no more strenuous activities going on than getting supplies in from the Dales Market store at Bridgehouse Gate, or getting an afternoon brew in the Pancake House in Pateley Bridge, so when the big day on the trail, comes up I feel about as fully charged up as possible, and apt to get some of this slightly excessive holiday diet burned off, and there isn't even great need to hurry as the start line is only a five minute drive distant. So onwards on a northward track for the day, departing from the Nidderdale Way sign at the bottom of Pateley Bridge's High Street at 9.25am, and approaching the River Nidd up close for the first time, and finding that Pateley's bridge is impossible to photograph satisfactorily from either side, turning to Mill Lane and wander past the flood walls (thinking that you rarely hear about this river inundating anywhere), passing behind the gardens of The Sidings and finally making our acquaintance with the riverbank, already looking idyllic in the sunshine. To mix in with our river walking, we also get some railway walking to do, as our path follow the low embankment of the Nidd Valley Light Railway, built in 1903 as a narrow gauge line to facilitate the construction of the reservoirs up the valley by the Bradford Corporation Waterworks, and converted to standard gauge in 1907, transporting men and machinery until closure in 1936 with the completion of the works, having never made as a viable regular line. It gives us a good firm path to follow away from Pateley Bridge, soon retreating into the landscape, with no good sight of the Scott Gate Ash quarries or their incline up the hillside gained as we push on following the riverbank and the river's quiet murmuring, getting very few looks to beyond the south bank, shrouded in trees and continuing on the railway alignment as it drifts from the riverside to offer a substantial retaining wall in the woods between Low Green house, pressing on through the fields of pasture and sheep, far below the high north side of the dale.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Nidderdale Way #1 - Ripley to Pateley Bridge 21/05/17

14.2 miles, via Cayton, Shaw Mills, Woodfield Mill, Brimham Lodge, Brimham Moor,
 Smelthouses, White Houses, Blazefield, and Knott.

Long Distance Trail means Selfies!
#1 at The Market Cross, Ripley.
'One does not simply walk into Nidderdale.' I remarked a few years back, rather dryly, and that still seems to be the case in 2017, as Spring Jollies roll around again, and I have to rely on the Parental taxi to drive me out to this most hidden of Yorkshire's dales, not much above an hour's ride away from home but a real challenge to access on foot or by public transport. So here we set ourselves up at Bewerley Hall farm, in Barn Owl Cottage, just across the river Nidd from Pateley Bridge, a nicely spacious let that might be comfortable for us all, especially for My Dad as his mobility issues have not improved over the last year, with the next Long Distance Trail on the slate, selected as it is the closest available path to home, straightforwardly do-able without requiring My Mum to put in hours of driving on my behalf. After bedding in on Saturday, our trail can get going from Ripley, at the easternmost extremity of the trail, and only a few miles distant from Harrogate to remind us that we really aren't all that far from home, getting dropped off among a tonne of visitors arriving for an equestrian event in the castle grounds, at a rather early hour on a Sunday Morning. Pick up the path at 9.55am by the Medieval cross in the village square, which with the castle and church, is one of the few ancient survivals in a village that was completely rebuilt in the early 19th century by the Lords of the Manor, the Ingilbys, after the fashion of an Alsatian village, apparently, complete with an Hotel de Ville, and thus looking like a slightly more Gothic variant on Harewood to my eyes. Main Street leads us to the B6165, telling us that its less than 10 miles to Pateley Bridge from the A61 roundabout, but naturally this trail will be finding us more miles to do as we soon head off into a bucolic landscape along Birthwaite Lane, rising past the farm and barn that share its name, before moving onto a rougher track that follows the field edge and offers faint glimpses across the Vale of York before slipping in to the woods above Cayton Gill.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Rumination: Fatigue is the Worst.

Please Indulge Me, as I am going to Moan for a While.

Am I getting too Old for all This?
As you'll be aware, I get frustrated and miserable every time I have to drop days from my walking schedule, for my good mental health frequently depends on the ability to get out onto the trail and let the stresses of my mind, and our world, take a back seat as I exercise the limbs and oxygenate the blood as I pound out a trail around another part of West Yorkshire that I haven't seen before. Unfavourable changes in the weather are frustrating, but ultimately forgivable as the seasons in the North Country are rarely predictably consistent (or consistently predictable), and even then cold spells like the unseasonal Arctic blast we've just had coming on over the last two weekends can easily be walked around, and an unseasonal Barbeque Spring like we'd had in preceding weeks can be a source of great joy as we move out of the dark season. However, the other reason to stop is always fatigue and fatigue is just the worst, it's not just feeling tired or lacking the will to force yourself out of a comfortable bed, it's a deep and soul destroying feeling that makes you unable to focus on doing much of anything at all, it knocks you out and your body and brain just have to be left to their own devices, hopefully tuning themselves back into some feeling of normality within hours or days.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Low Moor to Burley in Wharfedale 06/05/17

14.3 miles, via Odsal, Staygate, West Bowling, Bradford city centre, Valley Parade,
 Frizinghall, Shipley, Baildon (& the Moor), Hawksworth, and Burley Woodhead.

Dropping the May Day Bank Holiday from the walking schedule, as a long weekend of rest feels like in its in order, proves to have been a good decision to make before one of the most testing four day weeks I've ever worked, after which I'm still forcing myself out of the house despite the fact that I'm still tired and we are still in the grip of a cold spell that continues thanks to the persistent north-easterly wind that is now working into its second week. Anyway, an early conclusion to draw for this year is that Low Moor station has been the true gift to the 2017 walking season, as we arrive here for the fourth time this year, with another course across the city of Bradford in mind, our last for the Spring before the high season draws us into rather more remote territories, and despite alighting the train at 10.05am it takes several minutes to get going, having to exit via the footbridge and car park because there is no direct access from the southbound platform to Cleckheaton Road. Our way forwards is immediately obvious, across the main road and between the pubs, the George, and the Black Horse and straight forwards to Railway Terrace, a long parade of houses built to service the old L&YR station, engine shed and goods yard, the latter pair of which dwelt on the site now covered by a nature garden and woodland reserve, through which our path travels, once located. We rise to the other extant end of the Low Moor Junction footbridge and cleave close to the railway as the path undulates through the woods alongside, the tracks eventually dropping away below as we move along the perimeter of the South Bradford golf course, but before we hit the westward turn, we do need to drop downhill, to meet the other local footbridge to get a clear sight of the south portal of Low Moor tunnel, passed through many times but never seen in person, as it were. Get back on track as the fuzzy right of way crosses the golf course, following a local dog walker as he knows where we are supposed to be going, and it's always good to annoy some golfers by crossing their fairways. Drop out on the access lane, passing the local cricket field, but all interest drifts to the site on the other side of the fields and the impromptu fairground, to Odsal stadium, home of four times Super League champions Bradford Bulls, seemingly hiding from view but actually located below ground in a bowl, and it draws most of my attention as we meet it along the A6036 footway.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Batley to Apperley Bridge 29/04/17

14.1 miles, via Upper Batley, Howden Clough, Birstall Retail Park, Adwalton, Drighlington,
 Tong, Scholebrook, Pudsey (Fartown & Waterloo), Woodhall Hills, Calverley & the Woods.

It's true that Batley is a bit far out of the way from my area of walking focus for this year, being several miles deep in Kirklees district but it's a good spot to start to make a good day's distance when trekking across the Leeds and Bradford hinterland whilst mostly avoiding both cities, and it also has the added bonus of being only a short ride away from Morley so a lie in can be had on a Saturday morning, with the start of the day's trail coming only 20 minutes after leaving the house. So open a six hour window to get to the Aire Valley, departing the utterly charming  Batley station at 9.40am, setting off with the intent of seeking out the one local railway that hasn't appeared on my radar so far, the GNR line between Batley and Adwalton junction (open from 1864 to 1972), once one of the seven (!) directions that trains once travelled from this now vanished hub. The double width cutting below Soothill Lane might still be there with only the L&NWR's metals remaining below them, but nought can now be seen of the GNR's platforms to or lines from Ossett and Dewsbury to the south, lost beneath overgrowth and industrial redevelopment. We go north, on Lady Ann Road, but keep the path interesting by dropping down through the foot tunnel that leads under the railway to the back of Batley Mills, located down a steep path, and the high retaining walls and the stream of Howley Beck are followed to meet the long and low foot tunnel that leads below Batley junction, thankfully lit up well as it passes deep below the embankment at natural ground level below the point where the lines split off to the L&NWR Birstall branch and the GNR lines to Ardsley and Beeston, the impressive abutments of the latter can be seen when we finally emerge into daylight on the other side. Primrose Hill forms a long terrace that rises as the Adwalton line's embankments rise alongside the extant railway, passing one cattle creep with no obvious purpose and dropping us off at Lady Ann Crossing on Howley Street, below the massive and often seen abutments of the bridge that once took the old railway overhead, still operated by the local signal box and taking us over the contemporary line into Upper Batley.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Low Moor to Shipley (Alpine Version) 22/04/17

14.4 miles, via Wyke New Road Side, Royds Hall, Shelf, Queensbury, Mountain, Thornton,
 Stoney Lane, Sandy Lane, Noon Nick, Moorhead, and Saltaire.

So after the last stretch, two extra days of recovery were needed as my chest cold lingered horribly, and the short post Easter week ended up being only two days of work long, with all of it being toil, and thus a wiser man would have stayed home for the weekend, but the weather looked decent and my walking spirit still wants to make the most of the Spring days, so we are back to the trail with the lungs and legs still feeling less than 100%. An early start on the day isn't an option when Low Moor station is a complicated location to travel to, and so we resume our long loop around Bradford by setting course for Shipley again, but this time aiming for the hills to the west and our first major excursion over Alpine Bradford in a few years, and our first non-urban excursion of the year, departing at 10.05am and aiming ourselves off down the Spen Valley Greenway to get back to the circuit started last weekend. This involves noting that the most singular building in the Transperience complex has gone, demolished to enlarge the freight distribution depot, and also finding the plaque installed to commemorate the munitions works explosion of 21st August 1916 which killed 40 people, a useful reminder of the civilian casualties of the First World war that are still not fully acknowledged in the popular consciousness. This track leads us to Oakenshaw tunnel where we depart the Greenway to push up back to Wyke Lane and head into the green fields and onto the path to the west, rising up to Fearnley Farm and then splitting off to Wilson Road, which is partly un-adopted to prevent it being a rat run between Oakenshaw and Wyke, and as it rises above the rough fields and common land that used to be occupied by the chemical and munitions works, we get a visual confirmation that Low Moor is one of those rare enduring bastions of heavy industry. Soon we meet the outer edges of Wyke's suburban outspill, followed down to the B6379 Huddersfield Road, and then we get an older sort of face to High Fernley Road, leading us on to the A641 Woodside Road which illustrates that this quarter, New Road Side, seems to have two main roads running through it.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Leeds to Low Moor 17/04/17

11.2 miles, via Holbeck, New Wortley, Upper Wortley, Tong, Westgate Hill, Birkenshaw,
 East Bierley, Cliff Hollins, and Oakenshaw.

The long Easter weekend nearly turned into a complete washout, after promising such a good start with social beveraging in Hebden Bridge and a visit to Batley Mill on the return trip to invest in new boots from Mountain Warehouse (pair #6 not being needed just yet, and will this be introduced in due course), with Saturday's trip then being lost to a heavy chest cold and Sunday needing a refocussing of my energy to get myself going on Easter Monday morning. So plans are revised down extensively, and I convince myself that I feel fit enough for a 4 hour burn, starting my trail from Leeds at 9.05am just so we might get an early finish and plenty of recovery time afterwards, setting a course to the southwest as it is the sole remaining trajectory out of Leeds that hasn't been explored all that much, leaving the station via the South Entrance to see the morning sunshine falling on Granary Wharf. Pass over the canal junction and around the old canal warehouse that is still my favourite industrial building in the city, heading west along Water Lane and next to the Hol Beck, still adoring the industrial heritage of the district and pointing my camera at buildings already photographed a dozen times, heading on past Tower Works and onto Globe Road and it's only once we've passed under the high railway bridges do I remember that this wasn't the way I wanted to travel today. Not going to turn back to pace Springwell Road instead, pressing on to Whitehall Road to pass the Central Viaduct, head under the railway again and past the walled off passage to the old Holbeck stations, and also the railway goods shed that has failed to catch my attention so far. It turns out that my route of choice was a non-starter anyway, as the Sutton Street foot tunnel, the old access point to Holbeck High Level station, has been fenced off due to demolition work going on around the Polestar Petty printworks, so that way will have to have another day, and we press on to Spence Lane and onto the A643 to pass under the railway for a final time and loop around onto the footbridge that rises above the Armley Gyratory, dropping us down by the gasometer at the top of Wellington Road.