Sunday, 18 February 2018

Cottingley to Leeds 17/02/18

10.8 miles, via Beeston, Middleton, Belle Isle, Hunslet, Knostrop, and Richmond Hill.

As is happens, there were no options for new trails to be burned in Lancs when I spent last weekend with My Sister, largely due to the weather being persistently unpleasant, and with her having a lot of work to do thanks to her change of career path, but I do come away with plans for three days of walks for future visits, and also with a new cookbook, all about the art of sandwiches. Thus February is already on at a pace when we rejoin the trails in the city of Leeds, and not forcing ourselves out to an early start as we look to a trail across South Leeds, largely due to the fact that we need to start once the worst of the weather has passed, and that I have to run an early morning errand in Morley before we can even consider getting going. So it's only a short ride away to get to the start line at Cottingley station, for a 10.55am start, conveniently placed between the Cottingley Hall estate and Churwell by the footbridge that predated it and surely ensured its location when new in 1988, which we pass over to make acquaintance with the council estate, a resolutely 1970s low rise and pitched roofed affair on this side, entered by the primary school on Dulverton Grove. The distinctive pair of towers rise at its centre, overshadowing the small commercial centre, once home to a pub known to locals the Sphinx due to its pyramidal roof, which houses barely any business nowadays, and we pass to the other side of this small hillside to find the way down, past the church and the somewhat browner houses to Cottingley Drive, once the driveway to the Cottingley Hall farm that named the estate. Drop out onto the A6110 Ring Road and cross over by the Sulzer works and the Drysalters pub, passing the brand new Kia dealership and turning right to hit the steep Crows Nest Road, which ascends sharply as the other back road up onto Beeston's hill, passing over the railway line to Wakefield and Doncaster and the buildings of Crows Nest farm, still looking rural on the edge of the city. The height gain gives us some looks back to the way travelled from Cottingley, and to the hills inhabited by Churwell and Morley, and we can find that contemporary development can fill any available patch of land, as new builds cling onto this hillside, left behind as we ascend to emerge between the Whistlestop Inn and the Beeston primary school and hit Town Street by the turning circle of the bus route terminus, where a fine view to the north can be found, through the greyness.

Cottingley Heights & Towers, and 'The Sphinx'.

Crows Nest Road and the sneak route into Beeston.

Weleyan Chapel and St Mary's church, Town Street, Beeston.

Press on eastwards when the mind thinks its travelling north, past Hugh Gaitskell school and the memorial gardens to the Old White Hart inn, and the Beeston shopping centre, opposite the Wesleyan chapel and St Mary's parish church, both perched on the sharp edge of the hillside above Elland Road, and we take a sharp right here, to start our southwards tack, past the Co-op and the RC church of St Anthony of Padua, prominently located at the top of Old Lane. Push onwards through the suburbia that has grown to form the mass of south Beeston, and it would take a keen historical eye to note that we are now on the old country lanes that once ran from Beeston to Hunslet, which we will trace for their full length, but I'll tone my boasts of good geographical awareness down, as I'd never acknowledged the industrial patch at the heart of Old Lane, or that an ASDA superstore had developed here in recent years. Soon run on to the A653 Dewsbury Road junction, wondering if my new camera's battery life might start to vex me, passing over by the Tommy Wass, one of those pubs and junctions that everyone in the city knows about, even if they never have to come this way, like the Fforde Green in Harehills, and we join the Middleton Ring Road, passing over the bridge remnant of the GNR Hunslet Goods line, seen before here and due to be encountered again before today is done. Push uphill, along the section of road that superseded the old lane, which digs a groove between the sports fields and the extensive grounds of South Leeds golf course, and the uninspiring surroundings can be ignored as we take interest in the elevated views around, aided again by the telephoto capacities on my new Lumix to see the high towers in  the city centre, the mass of the distant moors beyond St Bart's Armley and to the closer towers and spires above Morley. The last of the high panoramas come as we run into the greyness of this end of the Middleton estate, before we meet the junction by the Water Tower and the changing landscape of smarter semis, where we can rejoin the old lane over the hill, to join Town Street, as it runs along facing the many bare trees at the top edge of Middleton Park, where the eye seeks the remaining cottages of the old Middleton village, and the mind wanders to imagine the sort of suburban Middleton that might have grown up here, had the estate not grown, which offers little of what actually happened, whilst elevated peeks towards the distant city keep coming off to the north, beyond the skeletal tree cover.

St Andrew's, and St Anthony's, Old Lane.

The Tommy Wass and Dewsbury Road.

Ascending Ring Road, towards Middleton.

Town Street and the top edge of Middleton Park.

Old Middleton village was never particularly extensive, and its Hall is long gone, but the odd Medieval survivor is its church, St Mary's secluded away below much tree cover and seemingly too large for the settlement that endured up here, and we can get another impression of what has passed from the landscape as we meet the low rise houses that have grown down Manor Farm way, where the farm has long gone and the views to the sun bathed city are good, but the sightlines poor, even with a telephoto lens. Find the last pieces of old Middleton where the village school has been redeveloped into flats, and the trace our way into a landscape that is wholly one of council estate once more as the lane starts its northwards swing, and the mind has to recall that we are still on an old lanes as the terrain of house starts to look distinctly landscaped, passing into Belle Isle by the Working Men's Club as the skies grow slatey and the views diminish. I might curse February weather for being changeable, but it looks like the city centre is getting the rain right now, so we stay dry as we pass the old shopping parade and drop out onto the dual carriageway of Belle Isle Road, crossing over to track north and pass the shops that have taken over the Grey Goose pub, switching off onto the resuming path of Middleton Road on a declining lane, past the site of a newly developing school and hoping that the views to East Leeds and Temple Newsam park might remain in light before the rain blots them out. Hit the greyest and dampest portion of the day as we meet the eastern edge of the Belle Isle estate, rolling out to run between the plots of Hunslet Cemetery, which seems to have been massively extended at least twice, and a hidden little gem here are the Scott's Alms houses of 1896, located right next to the block of terraces which sit above the passage of the M621, which carved such a path through Hunslet that this is one of the few Victorian parts that didn't get demolished and re-planned in the 1960s. Past the Parnaby Tavern as we skirt the eastern edge of Hunslet, passing over the railway to look both ways to see the Stourton freightliner depot to the east , and the locomotive shed and rakes of wagons on the city side, and thence its onwards, past the old Mann's Steam cart and wagon factory and sidle around the playing fields as Pepper Road becomes Sussex Avenue and meets the A639 between the Screwfix warehouse and the pub the Punch Clock, which has new life and a new identity since we last came this way.

St Mary's Middleton.

Grey Skies over Belle Isle.

The Cresecent on Middleton Road, Belle Isle.

Scott's Almshouses, Hunslet.

Mann's Patent Steam Wagon & Cart Company (former), Hunslet.

Across Thwaite Gate, and the sun comes out outside the Skoda dealership, and head down Thwaite Lane in the direction of the Mill, but only going as far as the pivot tower of the Knowthorpe swing bridge of the GNR Hunslet goods line, which still stands proud at the edge of the Knostrop Fall moorings on the Aire & Calder navigation, and its around here we'll go to see what's been going on since the floodings of 2015 and the removal of the Knostrop Cut. That means passing over the gates of Fall lock, and noting the infilled second lock chamber, and meeting the embankment between the Navigation and the Aire, to note the new footbridge and weir to carry the Trans Pennine Trail to the north bank, a short measure upstream from the remaining pier and abutment of the railway bridge, which need a thorough recording as my 2012 pictures got deleted. I'll trot up the central embankment first, as far as the pipe bridge, to confirm that the Knostrop Cut has been dug out, to form a larger flood basin south of the city, and the path up to Flood lock is gone, one of the few paths from my odyssey that will never be retraced, and thus we'll have to cross to the north side via the bridge to the Knowthorpe Side to carry on, only laid fresh within the last couple of moths. So towards the city we'll go, on a path that seems popular, moving along the riverside and in the shadow of the old Wellington colliery line, and the bulk of the Hunslet Goods yard, taking back in the views to the south bank before the freshly planted trees obscure the view, needing another change of batteries before we meet the new Bridge at Knostrop Flood, an altogether modest and temporary looking affair. Back to the south bank, pondering the loss of the old canal cut, but then recalling that the Aire is heavily managed river to the south of the city anyway, and the channel here has been re-dug anyway, as it used to pass to the south of the A&CN, and the stubs at both end still endure here, and new developments have grown here in quantity over the last six years. Let's hope that are well prepared for the next inundation on the Aire, flood free for two years so far, and press on by the river until we meet Victoria Mill, Hunslet, which is finally on the path to redevelopment and redemption, and we tack inland along Goodman Street and Atkinson Street to see how far they've gotten on, before passing the Hunslet bus depot and meeting the John Smeaton viaduct,  passing under it to cross the Aire by the western side of South Accommodation Road.

Knowthorpe Swing Bridge Pivot Tower (former).

Visual confirmation that the Knostrop Cut is no more.

New Weir and Footbridge, Knostrop Fall.

New Footbridge, Knostrop Flood.

Victoria Mill, Hunslet, on the road to redemption.

Move along by the tangle of the A61 and A63, below Cross Green, crossing over to meet the old Cross Green Lane, to tack into Richmond Hill by the distinctive towers of the Echo Central One development, as well as other low rise development since that have grown since I came a-photographing up here in 2003, meeting Ellerby Road to meet St Saviour's church, one of the most prominent in the city, and built by the Tractarians in the 1840 to save the souls of Leeds for the Anglo-Catholic movement. Not sure is they succeeded, or if they came here to deliberately oppose the Roman-Catholic Mount St Mary's, hidden away behind the associated school, and the best look at that can come from tracking downhill to pass the Saxton Gardens blocks, which have had a significant makeover, and then heading up the steps to Church Road to see just how badly it has decayed since passing out of use in 1996. Onwards still, among the new houses on Cross Catherine Street, before passing over the railway above the Marsh Lane yard, and on to Shannon Road and Street where half the industrial units seem to be evangelical churches, rising to meet York Road, just up from the Department of Health Kremlin, and the York Road bridge leading into the A64 (M), passing under it to meet the former St Patrick's church, one of my favourite ones built in brick. The Bridge community church lives in newer buildings across Rider Street, below the Lincoln Green estate, and we pass the former church schools of this and the now absent St Mary's Mabgate, on the way down to see this quarter is getting a makeover too, meeting Regent Road, the A61, where a new Hampton by Hilton hotel is growing on the edge of New York Road. Follow the road up to the meeting point with North Street, and it seem new builds are going up every where in the city, and it would be easy to hop the bus home from here, but we've still a few sights to see among the shoppers, like the old Chest Clinic, the Wrens hotel (naturally) and the Grand Theatre on New Briggate, before we move on to reach the station via a path unseen previously. That's on my walking travels at least, as we head onto the Headrow, and down Lands Lane among so many people to pass through the Trinity centre, emerging on Boar Lane by Holy Trinity church, and getting the hurry up on New Station Street, past the supposedly largest mural in the country on the refitted City House and not held up by the throng of folks as we hit our aim of arriving in time for the 3.26pm train homeward.

St Saviour's Richmond Hill.

Mount St Mary's RC church, and the old school.

The Department of Health, aka the Leeds Kremlin.

New Developments due on New York Road.

The Wrens hotel, New Briggate, ought to be my favourite boozer.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3128.4 miles
2018 Total: 19.9 miles
Up Country Total: 2852.8 miles
Solo Total: 2872.1 miles

Next Up: West to East across the City with another New Companion (or two?).

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