Active March: Day Five
Leeds Country Way #3: Golden Acre Park to Barwick in Elmet 13.8 miles
Self at Golden Acre Park (I should have started the LCW with my beard trimmed short so it could have grown
as I went around the trail, ending with me looking like a mountain man when I finished!)
Despite living in Leeds district for 18+ years, I'd never ventured to Golden Acre Park before my LCW ramble, and I had to get in an early start for my longest day on the route, 14 miles on a bafflingly hot day, aiming for a 4pm finish. So I can be somewhat surprised how many other people seem to be out for an early stretch in the country at 9.45am, certainly more than you'd expect in the middle of the week when it's not a school holiday, and from my quern stone I head off east, amused by the sight of summer weather and bare trees everywhere. Golden Acre is a lot smaller and wilder than I'd anticipated, nowhere near as formal as I'd imagined, though is has the ornamental ponds and boating lake, and also the remains of a rather unimpressive looking miniature railway. Beyond it's off onto the mess of lanes in the area north of Leeds that has so far resisted the encroachment of development, and having had my first two days on the LCW cleaving close to the city around Pudsey, Greengates, Horsforth and Cookridge, we are now leaving the city far, far away and the Country of this walk will really dominate. Points of interest along this stretch include Eccup Whin Nature reserve and the New Inn, Eccup Lane, the first pub I've seen since Apperley Bridge, and also many notices advertising a 'Mole Catcher', and that recalls an old Jasper Carrott routine which reminds us that the only way to get rid of a mole is to "Blow its Bloody Head Off!". North of Eccup reservoir, our path joins the bridleway leading to the Harewood Estate, one of those twisty paths between the fields which is obviously and ancient track but never got turned into a road, so it's now left for us walkers to enjoy. Walkers and a very large party of cyclists, that is. Arriving on the Harewood estate, I get sight of a village which isn't on the map and this confounds me until I remember that this is the set for Emmerdale, which I had always assumed was on a different part of the estate. I would call said village Beckindale too, which dates me somewhat as it hasn't had that name in 18 years, apparently. Onward into the shade of the trees, wondering if a fleeting glimpse of Harewood House, is the best I'm going to get. Looks like there's been a lot of felling of the mature conifers in this section of the park, and logpiles just test my arty photographic instincts. Tea break at New Bridge, and then the road up to Lofthose gate provides me with superb views of the House (built by John Carr & Charles Barry), better than you get from the grounds that you pay for admission to, and also sights of the many Red Kites which live on the estate. Impossible to photograph with my crappy camera, until a shadow glides over your head and you snag one about 15 feet above you.
|Harewood House and Estate|
|Red Kite action!|
|All Hallows, Bardsey|
|Red Bus Cafe, Kiddal Wood|
There's also an enclosed stone of some kind, which looks like it's a grave, and not an old one either, it's dated 2009, but I made no further note of the details unfortunately. I did make note of the most passive-aggressive sign erected by a farmer to keep walkers from straying on his land, and it's a notice worth quoting in full: "The only Public footpath though this farmland is 4ft wide, clearly indicated by signs and yellow markers. Walkers must stay on this path otherwise they are liable for eviction and prosecution for trespass." Defensive, Much? So take great care to stick to the path as the last hill of the day is ascended as Barwick appears, looking very close, and the downhill again, before ascending the last hill of the day to go into the village, with time on my side, I make a detour for Barwick Fort, the significant Iron Age - Norman motte which stands proud in the village, and ascending that is definitively the last hill of the day.
1,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 59.2 miles