Monday, 29 December 2014

Rumination: The Conclusions of 2014

Once again the concluding thoughts of the year come along after the business of the 2014 walking season has receded to be replaced by the surprisingly involved festive season that has absorbed most of the last 5 weeks, I might not have had any self-powered excursions to fill my days, but it feels like I have barely had any time to relax since celebrating my 40th birthday. The conclusion of 2014 feels a whole lot better than the similar end a year previous, 2013 ending with me feeling mentally drained and physically exhausted, whilst this time around I'm already looking forward to what 2015 might bring and seeking out the new trails to occupy my legs as there are still so many routes to walk, around West Yorkshire and beyond. Still, nearly half way through this particular Dark Season and at the end of the 1,000 Miles Before I'm 40 odyssey, and we have to wonder it once again, What have we learned this year?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Rumination: 40 Years Achieved & Celebrated!

So, how does 40 years old feel, exactly? Not all that different to 39 to be honest, or to any age back as far as about 32 for that matter, it's more of a marker along the way of life than the start of old age, and so many people I know have turned 40 without it affecting them at all that it held no dread for me, indeed hitting 30 was far harder for me than 40 could ever be. No one believes the 'Life Begins at 40' adage any more, and the fears of irrelevance with the passing years have been shunted on by a decade or more, certainly no one I know feels like life left them behind with their fifth decade starting, and I can now look back on the last decade with a great feeling of satisfaction and hope for the one to come. My fourth decade may have started with some moments of serious emotional instability, followed by the dissolution of my settled existence in Burley, but at its end, I am permanently settled in Morley and feel like I am in my prime, at the end of a walking odyssey that has taken me cross country and given me fresh perspectives on all corners of West Yorkshire, feeling good about my current self rather than lamenting my lost youth. So, taking a week off work seemed like a good plan for my 40th Birthday week, so that I might enjoy some time to myself rather than having to exercise my limbs at the hospital, and when you have gone and walked 1,400+ miles, you deserve the opportunity to do nothing for a while.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Last Act: Bradford to Leeds 11/11/14

Well, the last day of the season is here, indeed the last day of my 3 year, 1,000 mile odyssey has finally arrived, it seemed such a long way away when I was first thinking about a long walking season to conclude on my 40th birthday, but over 1,100 miles have gone down since then, and I'm only just shy of 1,400 on the whole enterprise. Having featured five long circular trails, two cross-country treks and a whole mess of summits and high points, the season almost calls out for a dramatic conclusion, but mid November is no time to be making for Black Hill or Great Whernside, and I'll have to settle for somewhere a bit more mundane, and a trip to the old country of my first 14 years in West Yorkshire seems to be in order as I haven't visited my old haunts in Burley and Hyde Park since I moved away 7 years ago. Of course, a start in Bradford is pretty remote from there, but it makes more sense then striking out from New Pudsey or Horsforth, and anyway, filling in the gap between Leeds and Bradford seems appropriate at this late stage, indeed the city of Bradford deserves another apology, as whilst the district as a whole offers plenty for the walker, the city offers nothing at all. I have kept avoiding it as it has no green corridors or riverside walks, whilst development has ruined much of it historical face and the town planners seem to have favoured the motorist far more than the pedestrian, and whilst the terraces and suburbs of Leeds offer a kind of familiarity to me, those of Bradford have no resonance for me at all. But none of that is such a worthy excuse to ignore it completely, it is the second city of West Yorkshire after all, and so it deserves more than just the one visit during my 3 years of travels.

Bradford to Leeds, via Tyersal, Pudsey, Upper Armley, Burley & Hyde Park  12.6 miles

Monday, 10 November 2014

Brighouse to Batley 09/11/14

The final corners of the season are here already, the last days of my three year odyssey as well for that matter, and having been good to my word to do a lot of wandering below the Calder - Colne boundary, I still find that there are corners of Kirklees that I haven't ventured into. Far too many actually. Last year I apologised for not getting anywhere near Slaithwaite or Meltham, and a year on neither of those locations have been visited on my travels, and even with all those lines coming down on my map, I have somehow failed to go anywhere  near Mirfield as well, so I can only conclude that there will still be plenty of paths to pursue when more walking comes on in 2015. For now, though, a trip across the Spen Valley seems in order, as the top corner of this district has been largely forgotten when most of my routes went south, and so we head to the land of Cleckmondedge once again, to see if its best features are still there, and to sneak in a railway walk that could have easily been forgotten about. Additionally, as I'm trying to make the best of the weather whilst November offers days that are little more than 8 hours long, I'm travelling on a Sunday without making any changes to my plan, which means that my start line in Brighouse is not 35 minutes distant, but nearly 2 hours via the long way round through Bradford and Halifax.

Brighouse to Batley, via Clifton, Liversedge, Heckmondwike & Birstall.  10.5 miles

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Darton to Outwood 01/11/14

Hello, November, I get the feeling that we haven't been acquainted in a while, having not gotten out onto the trail at all in your last iteration, having put on your gloomiest face when my walking enthusiasm had dwindled back in 2013. This time round you are putting in quite a different face, offering sunshine and a balmy temperature that really shouldn't be seen this late in the season, it's such a shame that I dropped the FOSCL trip to Wild Boar Fell from my plans when I started to rationalise down the trips for the late portion of the season, as I had no expected anything like this from you this late in the day. So FOSCL deserve an apology for my failure to join them at all in 2014, but even though I won't be taking to the high edge of Mallerstang today, there's no reason to not go on a ridge walk when the cloudless skies could offer views for many miles around, and whilst Black Hill ought to be the obvious target, the excessive mileage counts against it in these days of all-day evening sunshine and rapidly diminishing daylight hours, so we require a much more modest high land, like the loftiest elevations of Wakefield district.

Darton to Outwood, via Woolley Edge, Crigglestone, Horbury & Wrenthorpe  12.7 miles

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wakefield to Dewsbury 25/10/14

This time last year I had just about run out of energy and was trying to keep the season going when my body was feeling extremely reluctant to keep going, and it's a good feeling to find that twelve months on my demeanour is feeling much more resolute and my body feels like there are still many more miles to be put down this season. A change in the weather helps, and after glum days and general exhaustion taking hold in September, the weekends of October have felt much more amenable to being out of doors, and with the joys of Autumn in the air, I finally look towards that major architectural feature that has cropped up again and again on my travels without me ever getting that near to it, and if the day is only going to be a relatively short stroll once again, I'm going to find plenty to see as I fill in another gap on the map and make a significant trip between Wakefield district and Kirklees for the very first time. (A deeply trainspotterish thing to note along the way is on riding out to Wakefield Westgate, I think that on all my travels, I have now ridden on every type of rail unit that serves the lines of West Yorkshire, the class 322 EMU being the only one not previously encountered, and whilst that has nothing to do with my walking exploits, it shows that a small part of my youthful brain is still active.)

Wakefield to Dewsbury, via Lupset & Ossett  9.3 miles

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Woodlesford to Wakefield 18/10/14

If you cast your minds all the way back to the start of this year's walking season in February, you might recall that my trip from Morley to Wakefield took in a section of the old route of the Leeds Country Way, between West Ardsley and Alverthorpe, and so another section must remain of the 1980s route, unwalked to the east, discarded when the route was sensibly re-directed entirely with Leeds district. Helpfully, this section between Fleet Bridge and Alverthorpe doesn't come into too much contact with tracks already walked in the Leeds - Wakefield hinterland, and I need a reason to stroll in this quarter after spending so many weeks in the grip of Kirklees. Also, if you recall this time last year I was owing Kirklees an apology for having neglected it so badly in 2013, and now I find myself owing an apology to Wakefield for letting it drop from my schedule so comprehensively in 2014, especially as we got out to such a good start before it only made one appearance in the second half of the year, I guess that the Wakefield Way and this land of coal and agriculture will have to wait until 2015, it's good to have something to look forward to, I guess.

Woodlesford to Wakefield, via Bottom Boat & Stanley  10.5 miles

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Huddersfield to Halifax 12/10/14

I'm not going to ruminate on running out of steam as my third walking season runs into Autumn, that would involve even more writing when my enthusiasm for this blog is already at an all time low, so let's just admit that once October rolled around, I was desperate for a weekend off to have a couple of long mornings in bed and to look forwards to running down the season with some more modest exploits. That means there will be no attempt on Black Hill this year, and a late season jaunt to Mallerstang shifts to the improbable side of unlikely, and filling in the blanks on the map starts to look like the plan for the remainder of the year, as once the three years of lines have been overlaid on Google Maps, there are still a few distinct holes where my feet have failed to fall. So after the third celebration of a 40th Birthday this year, for my best friend IH whose distaste for birthdays is unmatched among all the people I know, has gone by on the Friday evening (Thai food and Ales in Hebden Bridge, if you are wondering), I've still got most a weekend to use, and going out for a Sunday morning exercise seems to be the best course, and to make a return trip to Calderdale after claiming that I would only make it out there the one time, and the plan for the day is Colne to Hebble, or out through the north of Huddersfield, and into Halifax from the south, both routes which I have not taken on my travels around the county.

Huddersfield to Halifax, via Lindley, West Vale and the Halifax Arm.  10.4 miles

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Egerton to Ramsbottom (successful!) 28/09/14

I had imagined that the trip to Pendle Hill would have had a much greater mileage than it did, somewhere in the region of 6 miles, so only putting down 4 miles seems a bit low for the journey to the other side of the Pennines. So, we look to a bonus stroll for Sunday, to get some miles down quickly before I head homewards, and I'm not fancying any hills after yesterday's escapade and the girls would rather play with Lego or take a trip to the park rather than tag along again, and we have to get it in before lunchtime too, which means options are naturally limited. Rivington Park is the obvious port of call but we've done that too many times already, and my idea of walking down the valley into Bolton won't take us anywhere near Moss Bank park, so that doesn't wash either, and the third choice comes together eventually to keep everyone happy, Dr G takes the girls to Nuttall Park, whilst My Sister and I make another attempt to do Egerton to Ramsbottom in under 3 hours.

Egerton to Ramsbottom (successful)  7.3 miles

Monday, 29 September 2014

Pendle Hill 27/09/14

If I hadn't planned to head over into Lancashire for this weekend, I'd almost certainly have spent all of it in bed, as my activities last weekend left me feeling like my battery was almost completely flat after 5 days of work, and mix that in with far too many nights of restless sleep and agonising pains in my neck, and heading to Bolton for a weekend with My Sister's family seems like a very poor idea. However, September is Completion Month, and I had planned for this visit for nearly two months so such considerations need to be cast aside as this is the last opportunity for the weather to still look decent as I make for the hill that has been on my target list for all of the last two seasons, always proving an elusive goal. Younger Niece needs to get up a hill under her own power too, as Elder got out with us last year, and whilst they have both done more physical activity in the intervening time than I managed in my entire childhood, Younger is still to achieve a summit without being carried and she's now at a similar age to when Elder topped the Coniston Old Man. So cast aside the physical problems, gather yourself some fortitude and let's get on the shortest of trails for a Saturday afternoon, not walking a recognised long distance path for the first time since July, and that means the first trip in nine without the reader having to look at my grinning mug as they read of my exploits here.

Pendle Hill, from Barley  4.2 miles

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Kirklees Way #6: Hepworth to Marsden 20/09/14

Self at Hepworth
Moving into the third day of a head cold is not the way to be going when you have the last day of a major trail on your schedule, but I'm not feeling too bad all things considered, there's certainly no restriction being felt in my lungs, so I feel that I need to get a move on as this is notionally the last weekend of Summer, and this isn't something I need loitering on my schedule any further into Autumn. Indeed, i am otherwise occupied for two of the coming three weekends, and if this day doesn't get walked soon, it could still be on my un-walked as the third week of October rolls around and who knows how the weather or my physical condition might be holding up by then? Anyway, I'm dubbing September as Completion Month, as I aim to get this trail done and another major walking target off the slate before Autumn brings the short and cold days that do not inspire me to putting down the miles with alacrity. So take an early start and onwards, for the 100 minute ride by rail and road to Hepworth and its distant corner of Kirklees, beneath skies that don't suggest the slightest possibility of sunshine, but also carry a forecast of no rain, still feeling brave enough to don only the gilet and to see if my dodgy respiratory system can handle the moisture laden air that will be hanging heavy today.

Kirklees Way #6: Hepworth to Marsden  12.7 miles

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Kirklees Way #5: Clayton West to Hepworth 13/09/14

Self at Clayton West
As a brief post script to me Summer Jollies, I ought to mention that on the evening after my completion of the Hadrian's Wall Path, my Mum suffered a fall at our holiday home, injuring both her feet quite severely, so our last day was spent getting her checked out at Cumberland Royal Infirmary, and my Dad was compelled to do all 270 miles of driving homeward afterwards. I'm happy to report that she is going to be fine, though, having only suffered bruising and the slightest of breaks, with mostly swelling to endure in its wake, indeed she's off on a week of rail touring around Scotland right now, demonstrating that she still a trooper as she heads on into her 70s. Still, it makes me realise that I owe my parents a huge debt of gratitude for how they put themselves out for me so that I can tour remoter parts of the country, and I think I need to emphasise that and thank them here, because the truth is that, ultimately, none of this would have been possible without them. Still as the End of Summer comes on, it's back to West Yorkshire to get the Kirklees Way back on the schedule as the days of summer pass on, loading up to walk against the clock again, as it's going to be last Night of the Proms with my pals in Mytholmroyd in the evening, the clear indicator that the decline of the year has finally arrived. So the backpack is weighed down with a change of togs, the heaviest load I've taken on since striking out on the Dales Way and I've got a 5 and a half hour window to make my way around this distant corner of the county, largely because the shortest possible trip to my start line is on a 90 minute bus ride via Wakefield.

Kirklees Way #5: Clayton West to Hepworth  12.4 miles

Friday, 5 September 2014

Hadrian's Wall Path #6: Eden Bridge to Bowness on Solway 04/09/14

Self at Eden Bridge
As a brief aside from the Wall Path, I feel it my responsibility to report that Scotland is open for business, having last come this close to the Scottish Border back in 2010 and visited Coldstream, a military town that you might expect to have a low hum of activity vibrating around it, only to find it mostly closed with only the pub and the memorial gardens having about half a dozen total people in them. So it's with some joy to report that Gretna positively buzzes with activity, at least the Outlet Village and the tourist trap around the Gretna Green Smithy do, as when you are that close to a venue for reduced cost clothing and entertaining local produce, it demands that you pay a visit, though I'm sure it's only there to tempt English tourists' pounds into the Scottish Economy. It does make you wonder how this sort of thing might work out in the wake of Scottish independence, which side of the border would be good for the cheap goods and which side would be dealing the moneyed tourists? Crossing over also gives you a chance to see how the architecture changes, visualising the differences that make it all feel actually Scottish, demonstrating that a line on the ground can effect building styles just as much as it would accents, but there's surely some cross-pollination to the styles on both side of the Solway Firth, and there are indeed, especially those low square windows closer to the wall angle than the central door, the long, low one-storeyed cottages, and that taste for whitewash with black window frames and details. Anyway, I digress again, the last day on the trail beckons, through a landscape quite dissimilar to that encountered in all my travels, heading for an end that seemed such a long ways away when in Wallsend last May.

Hadrian's Wall Path: Eden Bridge to Bowness on Solway  14.8 miles

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Hadrian's Wall Path #5: Banks Turret to Eden Bridge 02/09/14

Self at Banks Turret
The End of Summer has definitely been delayed, judging by the harsh reddening that the left side of my face and neck has suffered, and whilst that should be the primary source of my moans, the reality of my situation has me wondering just how we managed to live in the 20th Century. Sure it wasn't really that different from now, but once you have gotten used to having mobile communications and wi-fi you start to forget what it is like to live without them, and I'm hardly one who is umbilically attached to my mobile device, but things do certainly get a bit more complicated when sending a message when out on the trail becomes a task in itself. Similarly, having no wi-fi means getting an accurate weather forecast requires a trip to the nearest available coffee shop to piggy-back on their free service, and any query about facilities in the locality or the accessibility of sites in Carlisle has you rooting through leaflets and maps in your holiday house. Such are the risks of staying in a location as mobile unfriendly as the Eden Valley, I suppose, and it's a real shame because I got myself a laptop for the purpose of live blogging when away from home and haven't managed to get it done on either of trips away this year, and I'm in the writing form of my life too, hammering out the paragraphs at the clip, when shorn of distractions my writing can proceed at a pace, it seems, so maybe that's a reason to not want wi-fi?

Hadrian's Wall Path #5: Banks Turret to Eden Bridge  14.6 miles

Monday, 1 September 2014

Hadrian's Wall Path #4: Steel Rigg to Banks Turret 31/08/14

Self at Steel Rigg
Five hours on the trail without feeling any need for sunblock last weekend, followed by an August bank holiday Monday that is regarded as having been the coldest and wettest in over 50 years suggest that the End of Summer is upon us and that is the surely the cue for me to go on my late summer jollies. So it's time to get Kirklees out of my system for a week and refocus my attention to the far north once again, time to get the services of my Parental taxi service and head out for seven days staying in Cumwhinton, at the top of the Eden Valley, just shy of Carlisle, to make my attempt on the last three legs of the Hadrian's Wall Path, resuming in the high lands atop the Whin Sill and heading for the Irish Sea coast. So cast away from your mind the environs of Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and the views across to the Colne valley and the Emley Moor transmitter, and return your view to the sights from May time, and say Hello again to the A69 and the Military Road, Hello to Northunbria National park and the escarpments of Dolerite, and Hello once more to tramping through 2,000 years of history, in the footsteps of the Romans, and Britons of all ages.

Hadrian's Wall Path #4: Steel Rigg to Banks Turret  13.1 miles

Monday, 25 August 2014

Kirklees Way #4: Dewsbury to Clayton West 23/08/14

Self at Dewsbury
August has been going well so far, so I think this is a cue to go against the clock again, not because I'm feeling like i should be going at a healthier clip, but more because I've got a hot date in the late afternoon (or that's how I've been teasing it on Facebook, more prosaically it's a barbecue at my supervisor's house in Garforth, scheduled in whilst we can still claim Summer is in the air). I've realistically got one bus ride from my destination that will get me home in time, and that's due at 2pm, so a very early start is in order, rolling through Dewsbury town centre as the low sun glowers down into my eyes, long before the citizens emerge to hit the shops and the only people about are busy setting up the urban beach around the town hall for August bank holiday weekend. One thing to ponder at this early hour, however, regarding the statue of two figures in the town hall square, notionally titled 'The Good Samaritan', it actually looks like someone tending their drunk friend after a heavy chundering session and ought to be titled something like 'I think that's the last of it' or 'That curry was a really bad idea'. Also, I'm not the only person on the internet to have made this observation, so look it up, but anyway, I think I'm starting to digress, so onward...

Kirklees Way #4: Dewsbury to Clayton West  12.6 miles

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Kirklees Way #3: Oakenshaw to Dewsbury 16/08/14

Self at Oakenshaw
On my wanderings this year, I have already discovered just how extensive Kirklees district seems to be, spreading into areas that i would have placed within other sections of West Yorkshire if you had directed me to do so. The start of today is within territory that I would have considered as being the outer suburban fringe of Bradford, and the course of today will lead us ridiculously close to home, and that shouldn't really come as a surprise as Morley sits at the bottom left corner of Leeds district, I clearly cannot get the my mind to accept the that the Dewsbury / Batley / Cleckmondegde agglomeration is a component of the same district as Huddersfield and all the rural land and the moors to the south. It comes so close to home, like the Leeds Country Way, that it could be met within a 10 minute of a bus ride from my flat, but after checking the route profile, there's really no way of breaking up the route to start from Howden Clough Road and get a satisfactory division of the route into five or six legs, as one day always turns out to be far too long, and so, we just come close to home for a while on part of a longer loop, and even when we will be finding paths previously walked, it'll also be good to find that there might still be some virgin territory right on my doorstep.

Kirklees Way #3: Oakenshaw to Dewsbury  11.1 miles

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Kirklees Way #2: Birchencliffe to Oakenshaw 09/08/14

Self at Birchencliffe
This is not a particularly original thought, but following circular trails is not usually a good way of getting from A to B and today is not going to be any sort of deviation from that idea, following a long s-curve for 14+ miles when a rapid dash along the M62 would have the whole day done in less than 9 miles. still, we should have learned that it's all about the journey and if I'd wanted to get places quickly I would have taken up jogging by now. It's also good feeling to be back onto the trail on a Saturday, this being my first trip out on the first day of the weekend in four weeks, it makes me feel like I'm getting myself back in order and taking charge of my walking life again, after all I did say that hitting a long trail was the best way to getting yourself focused once more. Also Saturday travel is the way to do it after all, no need to worry about irregular trains or getting stuck at remote bus stops, I can get from my front door to my start point on Halifax Road in just over an hour, and getting an early start means that the ride from Huddersfield today took less time than the trip in the opposite direction a week ago, despite being uphill all the way.

Kirklees Way #2  Birchencliffe to Oakenshaw  14.7 miles

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Kirklees Way #1: Marsden to Birchencliffe 03/08/14

Self at Marsden
August has to count, it's that simple, Summer has proved to be more climatically unpredictable than previous years and my motivation drop has had me having to reschedule most of the later part of the year, and what better way to focus yourself than to embark on a long trail, making sure that each coming weekend has another portion to draw you out, and so the Kirklees Way drops onto my schedule because I had wanted to see this district's high land and byways during the height of summer, rather than risking a conclusion during the seasonal turns of Autumn. Of course, I'd hoped to be on this 72 mile trail a month ago, and to be half way round by now, but there's not much point in further lamenting the failures of July, and we should instead look forward to this long tour of this district of marked contrasts, where the moors, towns and agricultural fields both pile up in close proximity and also spread out to provide a terrain that is both remote and crowded at the same time. Additionally, I'm on to Sunday walking again, not because I want to but because a Saturday that provides weather and moods that are distinctly uninspiring means my start has to get shunted so I can make hay whilst the sun shines, and with the trains landing right, the ride to Marsden is only 20 minutes longer via the crappy Sunday service on the Huddersfield Line, and I also get the bonus of a ride into platform 2 as well, the one that never seems to get used.

Kirklees Way #1: Marsden to Birchencliffe  12.2 miles

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Morley to Leeds (x4) 27/07/14

Back at the top of the year, I had high hopes for the second half of my walking season, feeling like I could safely aim for 500 miles on the year and also manage to fit in all my major targets and have some weeks to spare as my 40th approached, but a month on and I'm feeling like the wheels have been spinning for the last few weeks with little progress being made. July isn't quite the time to declare the season beyond redemption, but it's looking unlikely that I will be able to fit in both of the Kirklees Way and Wakefield Way before November as it will take a total of 12 trips to complete them, and that would be three whole months of my schedule. I had really been hopeful to be half way around the Kirklees Way by now, but tiredness at the end of June and wanting to fit the the Tour de France at the start of the month lost me two weekends, with my weekend after my trip down country being a non-starter as the heatwave had had me turning into Freddie Flakeout and rain coming down on the Saturday was not the inspiring change I'd hoped for. Then my trip for yesterday failed as I made out early to catch the train to Marsden only for my plan to be scuppered by its non-appearance due to a lack of available train crew, the first time I've heard that be announced by the tannoy, by the way, and missing my connection up the line would mean a trip of over two hours before I could get going and a longer stretch of walking in the hottest part of the day, so I am shortly heading home to sulk. Still, heatwave feels over by Sunday morning, and July needs a conclusion, before moving on to hopefully make August count, and the reserve list has another route to the city on it...

Morley to Leeds, via Beeston Royds and Whitehall Road  6.9 miles

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cossington Mill to Kilby Bridge 16/07/14

First summer break from work, and down country to enjoy my parents' hospitality, I need a walk that doesn't look too challenging as the season starts to warm up significantly, and as my Old Country walks so far have kept me well away from the City of Leicester, it's time to make amends for that and to plot a path along a stretch of  the Grand Union Canal. As canal companies go, this one isn't particularly old, having only been founded in 1932, but actually being an agglomeration of several older canals, notably the Regent's canal and the Grand Junction, established to attempt to stay in business as the days of the canals passed in the 20th century, and to continue to provide a link between London and Birmingham, and the East Midlands into this century. The so called Leicester Line, the longest and most significant branch from the main route, reaches from Norton Junction, Northamptonshire, to Ratcliffe on Soar, on the Nottinghamshire border, where it feeds into the River Trent, and along the way it passes all the way through the city of my birth. There probably isn't a better way to traverse the city during this season, one that keeps away from the roads that can be walked once the season turns, and gives me some countryside to enjoy whilst the hot season comes down upon us.

Cossington Mill to Kilby Bridge, via the Grand Union Canal path  16.2 miles

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wakefield to Barnsley 12/07/14

So why walk to Barnsley, I keep promising it but it keeps on dropping from my schedule, so why does it need to be done? Well, I've never wandered that far into South Yorkshire in all my travels and only know the town from my rides through on the railway to Sheffield, and more pertinently, there's a canal walk to follow, one which I missed out on my travels in 2012 because a disused canal surely couldn't be as interesting as the six active waterways in West Yorkshire? As this year has taken a much greater interest in the trails of industry around the county, this seems as good a time as any to dive into the heart of coal country to see what's left of a canal that history seems to have completely forgotten, finally getting this off the slate of unwalked routes before the summer gets much older. Anyway the Barnsley Canal is too important a canal to ignore anyway, opened in 1799 and travelling 16 miles between Wakefield and Barugh, it was a booming route through much of the 19th century before the railways dominated the transportation of coal, providing a key link between the waterways of the Aire - Calder basin and the Dearne - Dove - Don basin to the south. It enjoyed a good 150 years of service before closure came in 1953, finally done in by declining traffic and the problem that has blighted South Yorkshire ever since the commencement of deep mining, subsidence, now a channel that has retreated far into the landscape, only to be rediscovered by the most intrepid of explorers.

Wakefield to Barnsley, via the Barnsley Canal and the Trans Pennine Trail  14.3 miles

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Tour de Yorkshire: Le Grand Départ 05/07/14

When Leeds and Yorkshire won the rights to host Le Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France, I thought is would be quite an event and provide a grand day out for fanatics and spectators of cycling throughout the north country, but my actual interest in going to see it myself were pretty limited. I've never been much of a cyclist, last riding regularly when there were 8s in the year, and as a fan my interest in Le Tour was strong during the Miguel Indurain years and lapsed hard due to the 'dominance' of Lance Armstrong, only to revive again when Great Britain hatched a scheme to dominate track cycling through the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Having Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome winning in consecutive years ensured that would never be a better occasion to have three days of racing in these isles, but my distaste for crowds and the chaos that comes with them had my mind entirely prepared to be heading in the completely opposite direction, for wandering alone where I could continue to enjoy the solitude. Only it was when less than a week until the curtain raiser did I find myself actually engaged by the prospect, thanks largely to my Sister's encouragement, and a scheme had to be hatched to get me to the roadside, in a spot that might be relatively quiet, and that would have to involve some outside the box thinking, and so on to Wharfedale, for my only visit for the entire year.

Le Grand Départ: Burley in Wharfedale to Guiseley  4.4 miles

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Hadfield to Penistone 21/06/14

Top of the year already, and I rarely get out to do anything with the longest day before the decline of Summer kicks in, so as we are entering the final corner of my three year odyssey this seems like a cue for a long day on the trail, aiming for the second most talked about route of all the paths that I have been considering over the last few years, namely the Woodhead Route, the late and lamented Manchester, Sheffiled & Lincolnshire Railway / Great Central Railway line from Hadfield to Penistone, now enduring as the central stretch of the Trans Pennine Trail. A big day also deserves company, and I request the company of my good friend MW, himself a keen walker and in the midst of his own voyage of experience in his 40th year, so that me might share a social expedition that the previous years have missed. Even before we have set out he has shown his value, acknowledging that a train ride from Leeds to Hadfield is unduly long and expensive, and that alighting at Stalybridge and getting a taxi will cut 40 mins of time and £10+ from travel costs. So onwards into virgin territory for the both of us, starting out on the very fringe of Greater Manchester, but actually with the High Peak District of Derbyshire, and it you'd like an alternative perspective on the day, hop over to MW's blog to enjoy a much brisker and more engaging writing style.

Hadfield to Penistone, via the Trans Pennine Trail  16.5 miles

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Ravensthorpe to Holmfirth 14/06/14

The good news is that the latest 40th birthday celebration on 7th June went off in a much more predictable manner than the previous one, with 30+ people descending on AK's house to enjoy afternoon tea, a larger crowd than I'm usefully sociable in, but enough familiar faces to keep me company before staying on late for pizza and drinks, altogether a good day, enjoyed by all. The bad news is that the following weekend has me dropping Wild Boar Fell off my schedule again, as I can see no way to fit it into a day that also has me invited out for a dinner date with a group of my colleagues, attending the restaurant which we had been due to visit at Christmas last year before being curtailed by a power cut. Travelling out to the bottom corner of Cumbria and then being back in time for a 6.30pm table seems beyond my scheming, even with FoSCL doing the organisational work, lateness will either ruin it or I'll arrive still reeking and sore after topping a 700m+ hill. The later considerations come down to cost, as a rail trip and a meal seems like a lot of green to drop on one day, especially with another trip coming on the next weekend, and the weather finally looks not really good enough for a trip that really would deserve to be a year highlight. So on Friday evening, we look to the reserve list instead, wondering where else in Kirklees has avoided my gaze so far, and that's where a wander to Holmfirth drops in, for it's the notable town in the county that I have still never visited in all my years up country.

Raventhorpe to Holmfirth, via Lepton, Kirkburton & Brockholes.  12.1 miles

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Morley to Leeds (version 3.0) 01/06/14

Every walking season so far seems to hit a point in the Spring where my early season enthusiasm drops off and the need to take some time out from the trail comes down, mid-May last year and mid-June in 2012, and sure enough, at the end of May this year, my enthusiasm falls off once again. It's mostly the need to have a Saturday morning lie in this time around , and not having much desire for the planned trail along the Barnsley canal, thus ending the month with only 7 days walked when I had hoped for 9, but the need this time is more the need for a rest, and knowing that June is going to be a much quieter month, some time out feels earned. However, the change of months has some excellent weather upon it, and that means the weekend can't go to waste, and with a trio of walking targets still outstanding from my last walk, it takes only the slightest amount of shuffling to find a fresh route to take in a Sunday morning stroll through the industrial heritage of Leeds once again.

Morley to Leeds, via Middleton Park & Hunslet  7.6 miles

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Morley to Leeds (again) 26/05/14

Bank Holiday Monday rolls around and I'm back home again, eager for a stretch whilst the sun is out and the skies clear, a surprisingly good day after a sequence of four grotty ones, and yet I'm not feeling that well-disposed towards the world, no a particularly happy camper at all. There has been a shift in this nation that I do not approve of at all, one which marks a particularly unpleasant change that this country has happily avoided for several decades, and I get the feeling that the discourse is going to get rather more poisonous in the coming years, not a good places to be for sure. Not that this has anything to do with walking of course, but right now I'd really like to disappear far away from the world as it is to gather my thoughts and harden my resolve, but there's no option for a distant retreat as I need to work on Tuesday, instead taking a walk into the town again, happy that my city has retained a small amount of sanity in these testing times.

Morley to Leeds, via Middleton Park & Hunslet Dewsbury Road  6.3 miles

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Hadrian's Wall Path #3: Chesters to Steel Rigg 21/05/14

Self at Chesters
Moving on swiftly as the Spring weather still has no idea of how to be consistent, and since I travelled for holidays it has been a pattern of three good days and one misty one, to be followed by one more good day and two completely awful ones, so naturally hay has to be made whilst the sun is shining. I'm pretty sure that today is going to be pretty rough, I'm still feeling sore after putting down over 30 miles over the preceding three days and I'm certain that some part of my right leg is going to suffer badly, but I need to use the bright and clear weather as today sees the transition out of rural Northumberland and into the high lands. When I made my first steps on the Hadrian's Wall Path in 2011, it was a cold and glum day in July, and all my intentions after that were to travel into the most dramatic landscape of the path and onto the ridges of the Whin Sill when the sun was shining, and as Wednesday is looking like the only day that that will happen, let us make to the trail ASAP.

Hadrian's Wall Path #3: Chesters to Steel Rigg  12.1 miles

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Hadrian's Wall Path #2: Heddon on the Wall to Chesters 20/05/14

Self at Heddon on the Wall
A satisfyingly huge Sunday dinner, and legs that felt like they needed an extra day of rest meant that the superb weather of Monday was not put to walking use, and dropping a day like this one is always a pity, even if you can find other entertaining distractions to fill your day, so for the day off we took a visit to the Corbridge Roman town, named Coria or Corstopitum, or some other variant depending on who you listen to. Only half a mile outside the contemporary settlement at the crossing point of Dere Street and Stanegate, it's an excellent example of a Roman town growing out of a 1st century AD military encampment that predated Hadrian's Wall into a significant urban centre that lasted for three centuries, before retreating into the landscape to be rediscovered in the 20th. It also shows up the fact that regardless of how grand a settlement may have been, the fragments that remain will often be of the most mundane parts, like the granary cellars, the drainage and cistern, and the military strong room, giving a sense of the basic nuts and bolts of Roman living. Additionally, unearthed inscriptions illustrate the sheer range of peoples that travelled and worked with the Roman empire, with Coria having been built and operated by people from such remote corners as Syria, Algeria and Romania, which proves that movement of labour in Europe is an ancient and historical phenomenon, not something to be considered as a modern evil perpetrated by the EU. Seriously folks, getting a Sense of History will expand your mind, and decrease your prejudices.

Hadrian's Wall Path #2: Heddon on the Wall to Chesters  16.3 miles

Monday, 19 May 2014

Hadrian's Wall Path #1: Wallsend to Heddon on the Wall 18/05/14

Self at Segedunum, Wallsend
Spring Jollies arrive and that's a cue to travel far from my normal walking comfort zone, and to utilise the generosity of my parents for travelling and boarding purposes, and it's to Northumberland we head, basing ourselves in Corbridge for my first National Trail, as I should feature at least one before my initial three year odyssey ends, and that is going to be the Hadrian's Wall Path. Established as a National Trail in 2003 and 73 miles long, it follows the coast to coast route of the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, and as a geographical and historical feature, it really should not need an introduction, but I will provide one in case you haven't been paying attention. Constructed on the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD122, it was an 80 mile long defensive border and customs facility between Roman Britannia and the troublesome provinces of Caledonia (subject of two unsuccessful military campaigns in the preceding century), marking one of the first established frontiers anywhere in the world and of the beginning of the end of the centuries of expansion of the Roman Empire. Now it endures as a fascinating historical curiosity which has left a band of remnants across a broad stretch of Northern England, which should demand the attention of anyone who has an interest in the ancient history of these islands.

Hadrian's Wall Path #1: Wallsend to Heddon on the Wall  15.8 miles

Monday, 12 May 2014

Upper Rivington & Anglezarke Reservoirs 10/05/14

Even as a n adopted Yorkshireman, it seems a terrible and unnecessary cliche to perpetuate the theory that it always rains in Lancashire, because being on the windward side of the Pennines really should make so much difference, but the sad truth to me seems to be that I cannot coordinate a visit to my Sister and her family with an incidence of good weather. This has been a pretty decent year so far, no particularly rough weekends for weather, and mid May should manage to look decently clear, but the first rotten weekend of the year comes down to scupper my plan for a trip to Pendle Hill, and I'm already getting the feeling that this particular destination is going to prove somewhat difficult to obtain. Still, circumstances for my visit play against me, with my nieces having weekend morning activities which take them out of circulation, and they do enjoy their cycling and swimming trips, and my Sis and I aren't doing ourselves any favours when both mornings are needed to sleep off the drinks from the previous night, so the excursions plan for the weekend has to be scaled back, to fit in a stretch between the rain showers.

Upper Rivington & Anglezarke Reservoirs  7.5 miles

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A Trail of Two Castles: Sandal & Pontefract 05/05/14

To make best use of the May Day bank holiday, I burned a day of annual leave to give me a four day weekend, thus giving me scope to make best use of the Monday, offering a much larger window of time and distance, so that i might get a nicely long walk in without having to return to work on sore calves and ankles. It's also about time that I started delving deep into Wakefield district as I've been keeping close to the upper right corner for the opening stretch of the season, and  I need to head somhere that is local and yet largely unknown, and also put E278 to use as it's still looking far too pristine for its age. Additionally, we'll be travelling back in time to long before the days of railways and industry for today's theme, and a promisingly warm day has me daring to head out with only my gilet for cover, and after Saturday's 7 hour debacle, it's a point of pride that I get this one down in 5 hours, so against the clock we go for 900+ years of history.

Sandal to Pontefract, via Walton, Crofton, Nostell Priory & Featherstone  13.7 miles

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Morley to Halifax 03/05/14

The month of May is finally here, my favourite month of the year, and even though I am not currently in the best of conditions right now (feeling far too many niggles and non-walking related pains), I'm hopeful for a good month and if all goes to plan I could get 9 (count 'em) walking excursions down over the coming 4 weeks. Long weekends and jollies will give me plenty of time to get busy with what I enjoy going most, and let's burn a day of annual leave to give me a 4 day break for May Day weekend, allowing me to have a couple of decently long excursions plus necessary rest and relaxation times between. My progress for the year is also going well, at a similar mileage rate to last year and also making good progress down my list of walking targets too, so I'm pleased that I'm on the edge of completing the first of major plans of the year, namely blazing a trail to the administrative centres of West Yorkshire, and I'd saved Halifax for last on the assumption that this trail would probably require a decently long day, as well as good weather if this is to be my only visit to Calderdale for the entire year.

Morley to Halifax, via Birstall, Gomersall, Cleckheaton & Brighouse  15.3 miles

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Tingley Viaduct & Ardsley Reservoir 27/04/14

Taking the whole department out for drinks could have been an expensive business if all 26 staff had turned out, but thanks to shifts patterns, absences and unavailability, a wholly more manageable 8 folk turned out which ensured that a drinks order could be made without recourse to writing things down, but I'm still baffled as to how many people thought they were celebrating my 40th birthday already. Maybe my choice of words on the e-mail invite, notably 'in a spirit of egalitarianism in my 40th year', was a bit confusing, but no matter because a seven pint session went on with a whole lot of nonsense talked and laughter echoed around, plus a couple of old faces rejoining the crew and everyone getting off for their last ride home. So predictably, Saturday is scrubbed with a hangover and no real awareness of what the day is doing until late afternoon, but even with it being a notional weekend off, I could use the stretch to work off the beer, and to make some space for the epic post-hangover bacon sandwich, so Sunday morning demands a supposedly short stroll to find a couple of the hidden highlights of the borough.

Tingley Viaduct & Ardsley Reservoir  8.6 miles

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Woodlesford to Cross Gates 21/04/14

I know that a Bank Holiday cannot be wasted on R'n'R when the weather promises to be good, but I have learned that it is wise to not throw yourself into a major excursion when you have to work the following day, because your legs are not gong to thank you when you need to do the things that keep you in bread, which my colleague who went up Ingleborough found out to her cost. So I need something of less than 7 miles to keep me interested and not exhausted, and the missing miles from the original route of my day from Stanley Ferry to Rothwell looks to fit that particular bill, because why shouldn't I spend my Easter Monday like so many other citizens of Leeds, by taking a walk in Temple Newsam Park?

Woodlesford to Cross Gates via Temple Newsam Park  5.8 miles

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Morley to Huddersfield 19/04/14

The walking year so far has not really had me exerting myself in my choice of trails, starting off at a steady pace of short walks for the colder part of the season and having largely avoided treks that would be all-day ventures. Nearly 100 miles into the 2014 season and I still haven't topped 12 miles in a single day, so it's time to make a break from such modest excursions, and as we've a long weekend of Easter break afoot, I can allow myself an extra day of relaxation before hitting the trail on Saturday. So, to the heart of Kirklees we look, finally cutting a path from home to the Calder valley and the south west (having failed to do so in my first 1,000 miles), to see if Huddersfield is a long way away or not, for I dwell under the idea that it isn't that far away at all, only 30 minutes distant by train, but we all know that travel time is deceptive as almost everywhere else in West Yorkshire is around an hour distant, and that line on the map is what tells the true story.

Morley to Huddersfield, via Batley, Dewsbury, Thornhill Lees, Whitley & Kirkheaton 
   16.1 miles

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Castleford to Knottingley 12/04/14

With the 1,000 miles before I'm 40 target achieved, and three more 1,000 mile targets set, this is not the time to rest on my laurels, as there are new paths to be traced, and this journey through my mind has me thinking of a view from my childhood that I have never forgotten, and I want to go see if it's still there, and still the awesome sight that my 7-10 year old brain thought it was. It will also allow me to complete an error from my 2012 season, having bragged about walking from one side of West Yorkshire to the other, when in reality I had actually come up a few miles short, plus it's in a corner of the county that hasn't been visited yet, and it allows me to get in another stretch of Canal Walking after being forgotten during 2012's exercise, as well as earning a Better Late then Never tag, as you might have noticed that the power stations down the Aire valley have kept popping up in my commentaries, but have remained at a studied distance.

Castleford to Knottingley, via Fairburn Ings and the Aire & Calder Navigation.  10 miles

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Rumination: 1,000 Miles Achieved!

Self, at Temple Mill, Holbeck, & at 1,000 miles
 763 days after starting out and by way of 97 separate walking excursions, my 1,000 mile target has been attained, with 7 whole months to spare before my 40th birthday. It seemed like a lot of miles when first planned in 2012, but now in 2014, it can stand as my proudest achievement since graduating from University, after I have blazed trails across the North country (and the Midlands), seeing this land in all its varied aspects and having taken an unexpected journey into my own psyche as I have gone on my way. I have taken paths through geology, geography and history, and now it's time to celebrate my achievement before the trail recalls me.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The 1,000th Mile: Morley to Leeds 05/04/14

The final straight awaits, and I feel like it was only a few weeks ago that I embarked on this walking scheme, and I can't believe the target is within sight at the end of only the shortest of ambles, and I've already stated my case for avoiding a dynamic finish, as I feel that my achievement needs to be engaged socially, but I also think that there is a good case for doing something really mundane. That thought needs some explanation, as travelling from home in Morley to Leeds City Centre is a route that has been engaged thousands of times but has only been walked twice, and I have never walked Chrurwell Hill in either direction, so going along the main road, shadowing the route of the #51 bus, will give me an opportunity to pay close attention to a landscape that I have passed so many times. There's a fascination in the everyday surroundings that many people will never notice, but it is something to get me excited and intrigued, a journey through the present to the past and to a goal that I would never have thought was so easily attainable, so it might not be the nicest day of the Spring, but it is the first weekend of the season when glumness does not bring the feeling that winter is still lingering.

The 1,000 Mile: Morley to Leeds, via Churwell and Holbeck  5.8 miles

Monday, 31 March 2014

Stanley Ferry to Rothwell 28/03/14

Back to the North Country and it's hard to believe that I'm on the final corner already, only 15 miles left to go until I reach 1,000, a target that seemed so improbably large when conceived in June 2012, but now within reach without me really having had to strive for it all that hard, and it could have been gotten down within 2 years if I had really put the hammer down, and would be attainable today if I so wished. The finale needs to be attempted in some place sociable though, and not on glum Friday afternoon where no one could possibly acknowledge it, whilst everyone I know is still at work. So let's get my third and final West Yorkshire railway walk out of the way, and it seems right that a heavily overcast sky should come down to cover the day when I finally set out to take a look at West Yorkshire's coal mining heritage.

Stanley Ferry to Rothwell, via the Nagger Lines and the E&WYUR line  10.3 miles

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

High Leicestershire: Billesdon to Great Dalby 24/03/14

Spring has sprung in the way it should, not bringing the blast of late winter like it did last year, but me being not the most ambitious of souls ensured that I had no serious plans afoot when the last week of holiday for the financial year came around. A shame, because this would be the sort of day to embark on a long distance trail, setting out your plans for the blooming Spring. Instead, I'm down country, visiting my parents whilst I'm NIW for the week, and realising that I have to temper my walking ambitions as I'm only a marathon's distance away from reaching my 1,000 mile target and it would not be the done thing for an odyssey that has been made of so many miles in the North Country to be completed in the Midlands. So, onto the summer list goes my 16 mile walk along the canal, and I look back to East Leicestershire for inspiration, and it might not be the highest portion of the county, a title claimed by the Charnwood Forest, it's a distinct (relative) upland that is broadly known as 'High Leicestershire' by the locals, our own slice of Alpine country (or Pyrenean if we want to be pedantic).

Billesdon to Great Dalby, via Tilton on the Hill, Marefield & Burrough on the Hill  11.5 miles

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Outwood to Castleford 15/03/14

I am not a scholar of railway history, but am an enthusiastic student, being good with dates, companies and infrastructure, but still having difficulty comprehending the process of development and the minds of those who invested. It's all a tale of 19th century capitalism running rampant and unrestrained, with individual companies seeking to dominate their markets and reap the profits, with governments happy to sit back and let free trade have its day, without a view to building a national infrastructure. The tale of today's trail, the so-called Methley Joint line, is such a case in point, as back in the 1860s, the Midland Railway lines dominated traffic to the south-east of Leeds, and rather than paying for access rights, the Great Northern, the Lancashire & Yorkshire and the North Eastern railways decided it would be cheaper to club together and construct their own line to link metals between Castleford and Outwood, and to tap the blooming colliery traffic in the area. Operating from 1865 to 1957 as a going concern, and remaining to serve the coal industry until as late as 1981, it is now a remnant to an age when there was hope that traffic and industry could justify the expenditure and construction of a new line, one which to contemporary eyes seems to have had no real reason for ever having been there in the first place.

Outwood to Castleford via the Methley Joint & the Methley-Cutsyke (L&Y) lines  9 miles

Monday, 10 March 2014

Emley Moor & the Dewsbury Arm 08/03/14

Once I started thinking about places that I have regularly regarded whilst on my travels but never visited, the list started to rapidly expand as tracks and high points started to be recalled and added to my list. So onto my plans go Almscliffe Crags (the first visible high point of Lower Wharfedale) and the pair of Great Whernside and Buckden Pike (seen from afar on so many times on my trails about the Wharfe and Aire), and then you start considering the routes you had plotted and then never gotten to, like the Barnsley Canal and the long odyssey between Towton and Marston Moor battlefields, and they have to be added on too. Plus small fragments and un-used deviations start to appear as you plot, and future routes start to get shaped to somehow add them into the schedule, so that a route might start to look somewhat eccentric, but adds in a mile or so that you wouldn't have been able to factor in otherwise. That is why the Dewsbury Arm of the Calder & Hebble Navigation got onto today's route, with the Emley Moor transmitter being the primary goal, because of all the features of Yorkshire, this really is the one that is the standard candle, the landmark that can be seen for, quite literally, many miles around.

Shepley to Dewsbury, via Shelley, Emley Moor, Flockton, Thornhill and the Dewsbury Arm 
      11.4 miles

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Castleford to Aberford 01/03/14

So, first 40th birthday bash of the year on 21st February went down well, despite being on a Friday evening and me enduring an odyssey of almost 2 hours to get from Morley to the Leeds Irish Centre, where I had oddly never previously been in my 20+ years up country. LT got a pretty good showing, with a healthy turnout from work occupying one corner of the hall, and a good time was had by all (cliched, but true), for there was chatter and food, dancing and silliness, tears and laughter, and booze, lots and lots of booze. Plus an amount of flexibility to the 1am late license that allowed for a much later finish than was expected, and even then a couple of us ended up going back to my supervisor's house to not stop drinking until 4am, and after that we mostly failed to sleep on the sofa before Saturday morning rolled around and we snuck off early once public transport got going again. Stumbling my way through Garforth on a bright and chill morning had me saddened that such a good day was going to be wasted, but I'm much more cheered by a heavy dose of the random element being dropped into my day, so return home knowing that the whole weekend is going to be lost as I try to get my hangover shifted and my sleeping pattern back in order.

And then, one week on, as March means serious business, Railway Walking...

Castleford to Aberford, via the NER branch and the Fly Line  11.1 miles

Monday, 17 February 2014

Castle Hill 16/02/14

Honestly, February is not bringing the joys of Spring with it as the Dark Season continues to recede, far too much rain and days of utter changeability, and the work situation isn't leaving me with much in the enthusiasm reserves, so combine rum weather and a complete lack of gusto to greet the weekend and it looks like February's adventuring might come to an end rather early. However, recall what #hibernot means, and don't think that you have to be out all day every Saturday, if you only have short window of Sunshine due on a Sunday, go out and make the most of it, hurry out to the nearest viewpoint for an exhilarating dash and know that your entire round trip could take less than 4 total hours. So a Sunday dash it it then, to the nearest available high point in Kirklees, with a window of only 2 and a quarter hours to use, and a wholly new panorama to absorb, plus a start on checking off those places regularly observed from afar and never otherwise visited.

Honley to Huddersfield, via Castle Hill  4 miles

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rivington Park 08/02/14 & Entwistle Reservoir 09/02/14

I am not one to be sold by advertising, as most of it washes past me in a 'Don't need it / Never wanted it' way, but every so often something will capture your attention, as it taps in to your interests in an almost specific way, as if it were directed to you personally, and that is exactly what Land Rover's #hibernot campaign has done for me. I'm not sure if this is a campaign to sell more off-road vehicles to the suburban middle classes, or if it is a genuine attempt to promote outdoor activity in winter, but the ad perfectly captures what the many tangents of being outdoors in the least clement of seasons can be like, and the associated website does seem to be doing its best sell the idea of enjoying this 'grey and pleasant land', despite being pretty horrible to navigate (we don't all use tablets, you know). So whilst February fails to offer long days and clear passages of pleasing weather, the idea of #hibernot seems like a good way to enjoy the season before Spring finally makes its breakthrough, and as an excess of rain has knocked Pendle Hill from the immediate target list, some low key expeditioning will be handy as I end my week of NIW by staying with My Sis and family on the fringe of the West Pennine Moors.

Rivington Park 3.6 miles, & Entwistle Reservoir 2.6 miles

Monday, 10 February 2014

Morley to Wakefield 06/02/14

The odd caprices of February weather continue as Wednesday brings heavy cloud and lots of rain, an ideal day for a ride up country to Carlisle on a bargain ticket and to return having spent the difference on books and CDs at my favourite secondhand outlet. Then we get more clear skies and much milder temperature for the Thursday, so quickly get myself set for another stretch, filling in another blank spot on the map by heading south to Wakefield, but I'm a bit of a dawdler when all is done and I don't get set quite as fast as I'd have liked. Still that's not the worst thing in the world as the low sun of late winter may illuminate the world in an attractive fashion, but walking with it sitting squarely in your eye line through the middle of the day would not be the most comfortable, so greet the milky skies with relief, as I will not be blinding myself on today's amble.

Morley to Wakefield, via Tingley, West Ardsley & Alverthorpe. 9.2 miles

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Morley to Bradford 04/02/14

So a week of being NIW, and having started it with a colleague's birthday bash, featuring me getting blasted and dominating the karaoke (not that I can actually sing, but can give an impression of knowing what I'm meant to be doing), and following that by staying up to watch the worst Superbowl in at least a dozen seasons, the need for some walking is in order once the hangovers have dissipated. Of course, this is already turning into one of the most inconsistently weathered Februarys in recent times after the consistently grey January, so the weather eye has to be keen to spot the open windows, and time shouldn't be wasted with excess travelling, so let's start out from home. The Dales Way and the High Moors absorbed so much of last year, and after the first pair of trips in February, no more trips were made in the locality of Morley, so I may have made the North Country feel small, but I should now start making the less remote parts of West Yorkshire seem a bit closer together. So onward to spend more time on the local paths, starting by walking to the one notable place in West Yorkshire that I have avoided on all my trails so far...

Morley to Bradford, via Gildersome, Drighlington, Birkenshaw and East Bierley. 9.4 miles

Monday, 3 February 2014

Rumination: Another Dark Season Survived

This last couple of months has not had Winter come down hard on it, there haven't been any exceptional bursts of intense cold and there's been only the slightest flurries of snow, instead it has been a lot of moderate temperatures and rain, not quite on Somerset levels, but the North Country has been kept moist throughout January. So why has this last five weeks or so been so singularly awful, as the arrival of February has been marked by several friends and acquaintances, cursing the previous month and condemning it to history as 'one of the worst ever'?