Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Leeds Country Way #1: Bruntcliffe Crossroads to Bradford Road 10/03/12

Taking on a long distance path can seem immediately intimidating, the matter of distance and remoteness clouding your judgement of your abilities, this is why I still can't come to grips with the idea of attempting the Pennine Way. So, it's a very good idea to find a circular path as your first, especially one which can be neatly divided up into unitimidating chunks, all of which are readily accessible by public transport (with a Metro Card making it free of charge!) No long journeys to start points or costs of accommodation here. the Leeds Country Way might not be one of the classics, and may lack dynamism and cache, but it's on the OS maps and it passes within a mile of where I live and that's what counts. It's been my walking target for 2 years, and its 62 miles to be taken in six pieces, so let's get going!

Active March: Day Two

Leeds Country Way #1: Bruntcliffe Crossroads to Bradford Road.  7.8 miles

Self at Bruntcliffe Crossroads

So onward from home to Bruntcliffe Crossroads, the crossing of the A643 and A650 for my 9.50am start, looking toward a relatively short day's exercise, and at this road junction is an obvious stone obelisk which I thought was a Millennium monument of some sort, but turns out to be just a marker on behalf of Morley in Bloom. We'll be walking clockwise, so off along the A650 we go, passing such sites as the M621, Gildersome Spur Business Park, and the remnant of the Great Northern line to Morley hiding in the landscape at Junction 27, by the A62. Wandering down Street Lane, Gildersome, you do start to wonder where the 'country' might be, having started on the longest stretch of road walking on the entire trail. Woodhead Lane finally leads us off metalled paths and once the trees part, you get the first vista of countryside open up before you, cue feelings of joy, even if the country view is relatively modest. Trot off down Andrew Hill to Andrew Beck, and then get hit by that problem of tracing a path in open country when then the route isn't obvious, honestly it's a bit early in the trail for getting lost, and once you find the fence which leads to Nethertown, onward past an impressive duckpond to cross the A58. One hour in, and the Valley Inn provides a good spot for a break, well, it would if it were open.

Valley Inn, Cockersdale
Onward into Cockersdale, and the farms that haven't been smartened into retreats provide something of a bucolic scene, also an even more impressive duckpond! Beyond the path leads to Tong Beck, and under the trees in the late winter sunshine, you feel quite removed from the city, and I love woods when the trees are bare of leaves, they're so much more atmospheric and attractive that way. Arrive at Tong Lane, and admire the done-up Union Bridge Mill, and then the guide map throws one of the colloquialisms that still foxes me. I out myself as not a True Yorkshireman by stumbling on the word 'Ginnel', it takes a while to realise it means 'passageway'. Onward along Pudsey Beck for a stretch, and the path gets seriously squishy for the first time, but you can't get too lost if you're keeping the beck on your left, and at South Park Mill, you can insert Cartman quote of your choice. A Bit derelict this one, and feels a tad remote for the executive do-over, even if the Fulneck Settlement is just over the hill to the north. Lunchtime here, anyways, and I discover that left-over pizza makes for ideal marching rations.

South Park Mill, Pudsey
Next on to Pudsey Golf Course, to walk along the fairways and feel like I might be annoying the golfers, and along here is the first place where the dog walkers are out in force, also young families with kids pleading their dads to retrieve golf balls from the stream. Towards Pudsey, the path broadens out and there are signs of recent bulldozing as the path is enlarged to become a bridleway, almost on cue this is the moment to dodge out of the way of cantering horses. Staying by the stream, I explore my way into scenes of past quarrying, until I realise I have wandered off the path and I have to take a bit of  a scramble to re-attain it. Next though, are the hidden treats of the day, the remains of the Great Northern Pudsey Branch. The massive embankment across the valley has been calculated to possibly be the largest of its kind by volume in the world, and the sight of Greenside Tunnel looks awfully tempting for an explore, dark places do intrigue me but this is not the best time, and it's not something I'm going to start doing alone, so that'll have to be for another day.

The GNR Pudsey Branch
Up into Pudsey to resist the lure of The Fox and Grapes (any fool can despise what he cannot have, for those who know their Aesop's), and then straight out again back to the beckside, past sewage works and unappealing industrial units, before heading up again on a very odd cobbled path, and from the top you get your last view back toward the start point at Gildersome. Past Wild Grove Farm and you wonder "Are we actually in Bradford yet?", and then descend toward the railway on the Leeds - Bradford Interchange line, where snaring a pic of the passing train in the landscape is easy, but waiting for a pic at Duckett's crossing proves to be a complete waste of time. There effectively end the country for the day, and then it's along stroll along Daleside Road, where the interest points are Thornbury Cricket Club and the cutting of the Great Northern's Shipley Branch which is actually the width of countryside which separates Leeds and Bradford (writing this I note that the Great Northern lines really suffered in West Yorkshire when the Beeching Axe was wielded). Thence to the A647 Bradford Road, which isn't Leeds & Bradford Road here I learn after being a resident of 19 years, and a short walk on past Thornbury Lodge and The Farmer's Inn (and I'm being very well behaved in not treating myself to booze), before we stop for the day where the path heads north again. 1.50pm and 7 & a half miles done in 4 hours, but still plenty of walking, albeit not very quickly, once you've factored in my opening jaunt from home and the stretch to New Pudsey station, which is much further away than it looks on the map.

To be continued...

1,000 miles cumulative total:  22.4 miles

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