|Self at Morley Town Hall|
Walking to Windermere: Morley to Leeds. 7 miles
Our odyssey begins at the top of Queen Street, under the colonnade of the Town hall, that majestic statement of 19th century civic pride. Interestingly, the front gates do not act as an entrance at all, and the vestibule behind the gates is apparently used for storing chairs! Anyway, it's 10.25am and Bowness-in-Windermere is only 110 miles distant, so let's start this long amble cross-country by heading through some familiar territory, down Queen Street, which is this town's main drag for take aways (I count 11 of them), past Scatcherd Park, one of the better appointed urban green spaces that I know. To Morley Bottoms, where the main block of shops would really spruce up nicely if entrepreneurs wanted to send this town down the boutique route, and thence up Chapel Hill, the sort of slope that makes you wonder how they once managed to send trams up and down it. Here we meet one of the forgotten relics of this town, Croft House, notable as the birth place of Herbert Asquith, Liberal Prime Minister of Great Britain 1908-16. As Church Street meets Victoria Road, we depart the obvious route to Leeds down Churwell Hill, and instead start out past Morley Parish Church, St Peter's, and along Rooms Lane, where a century of different housing styles can be absorbed, from Edwardian terraces through to awful contemporary builds that seem to have been abandoned off a farm access road. Beyond we pop out into the countryside and leave Morley behind, crossing over the M621 and getting a view of the site Gildersome East station again, before following the path that leads up to the jumble of buildings that makes up Hill Top farm, and there's a lot of activity going up up here for a Saturday Morning.
|The New Leeds Line Embankment|
Beyond here is the view towards Leeds, still shrouded in mist as the sun beats down on me, necessitating the shedding of layers, and then descend from the side of the motorway by the path that we ascended two weeks ago on my circular tour, down past New Stables to find our first railway relic as an overbridge in the familiar styling of the L&NWR crosses the farm lane as it carries the route of the New Leeds Line down a massive curved embankment down towards Farnley Junction. I follow the path alongside the length of this, a route which I first trod on the 2011 Nocturnal Ramble of Legend, and it would be conceivable to mount the embankment as various track lead up it but I don't fancy tangling with the barbed wire or marshy field between me and it. Stay away from trespassing then, and stick to the path as it squeezes between embankment and motorway and ascend to where the farm track crosses by the Jewish Cemetery to take a look back and take in the view of this huge earthwork as it curves through the landscape, and it's amazing that something so huge could disappear so easily, and I wonder how many people travelling along the nearby A62 would even notice it. There are not many visible remnants of the 'flying' Farnley Junction itself, and what does remain is on the wrong side of an inaccessible field, so I have to share a couple of fields with the horses as I squelch my way down to the A62 to cross over in search of my route north. A somewhat forgotten about path leads down the side of the Huddersfield Line, and a look back to the Gelderd Road bridge at least shows up the point where the New Leeds Line ascended away from here, and I head off north through the undergrowth above the rails to seek out Remnant #2.
|Farnley Junction Tunnel|
More correctly, it is the site of many remnants as this now utterly abandoned and overgrown area used to be the site of Farnley Junction engine shed (55c), and spurs off the main line to the fireclay works and the Dunlop & Ranken steel works, half a mile distant in New Farnley, forming a triangle. Once a major industrial site and now completely off everybody's radar, so I'm free to enjoy it at will, and note the overbridge that remains over southern spur, and follow the track down to pass under the abutments of the bridge that crossed the northern spur, which closed some time in the 1980s, and between is the site of the engines shed, closed in 1966 and there are no remnants of it visible. To leave this site, we find the tunnel under the railway which once brought workers to the shed and this feels like a path that hasn't been used by anyone in years, and so pass beneath the main line from a brick portal in the west to an older stone one in the east, and negotiate around the piles of earth deposited on the path to discourage (!) people from entering the tunnel. I love the fact that such a large site seems so abandoned and remote whilst so close to the city, but seriously someone needs to put a cycle path through that tunnel. Onward to enjoy the longest stretch of cobbles that I've ever met in the city, and in such an obscure location too to meet the A62 again, and if you want a game to play as you cross the Ring Road, try counting the traffic lights as this junction as I'm sure you'll never count the same number twice.
|Holbeck Viaduct - West|
|Holbeck Viaduct - East|
|Leeds Town Hall|
|Leeds University - Parkinson Building|
Next on the slate: Into the (Meanwood) Valley!
1,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 495.4 miles
(2013 total: 30.1 miles)