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