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

St Mary in the Wood, Morley
To make a change from all my walks from Morley starting at the Town Hall, today I'll mix things up a bit by starting from the corner of Queen Street and Troy Road, a couple of hundred yards distant, just after 9am beneath overcast skies, the best weather of the day according to BBC weather. Here the immediate point of interest is the sadly derelict ruin of St Mary in the Wood, gutted by fire in 2010 and still forlornly awaiting redemption, as its shroud of trees starts to develop its spring growth to hide its shame for another year. A sad end to the oldest documented site in the town, with a religious history dating back to Saxon times, a rare parish church that never returned to the Church of England after the restoration of 1660 and one of the hotbeds of local Nonconformism through the 19th century, from when this building dated. Walking around it along Troy Road has me feeling an intense regret that such a site could have suffered such an ignominious end, but it's spire remains a landmark for the time being, visible for many a mile around, and that's going to have to do for now. Carry on along the hill edge and among the stone houses down to Albert Road, hanging high above the landscape cleft down to the station, where post 1980s development has gripped the high land, all the way down to the returning terraces opposite The Miners Arms, a pub that I have never visited in the past, and am unlikely to in the present as it has been closed, leaving the Miners Fisheries as the only active link to the coal industry which once operated on the hillside. The site of Morley Main Colliery is to the left here, operational from 1853 to 1909, now long gone beneath the sites of Mone Bros and the waste recycling plant, but you do wonder if the swallow holes that have opened up in the field adjacent might be in some way related? The route continues through the phases of 20th century housing down to the council estate at the eastern edge of town, where the semis appear to be very large indeed until you realise that there are actually four flats contained within them, and then its onto the footpath that cross countries its way along the field boundary towards Dewsbury Road. A dewy grass covering soaks the trews pretty quickly, but it's a track that offers a surprise trig pillar, at only 95m elevation definitely one of the lesser points of the 1935 resurvey, but when the hedges aren't obscuring it, there's a good view down the valley of Mill Shaw beck, which separates Morley from Middleton, towards White Rose Centre , Cottingley estate and the city beyond, whilst up the valley stands the watershed, with Topcliffe and Dunningley Hill farms standing prominently atop it.

Tingley Viaduct
Meet the A653, and pace its footpath southwards, past the Wide Lane roundabout and the Harvester 'restaurant', and the layby where Polish truckers are taking a well earned nap, and once I've dodged the early morning cyclists and joggers, its over the road for some proper ascending along the track that leads up the hillside to Dunningley Hill farm, which offers more views down the valley and over to Morley, as well as  opportunities to trainspot the traffic on the nearby main railway line to Doncaster. The farm track peters out half way up, and the footpath enters a deep ascending ditch for some very muddy going indeed, and if you wonder why archaeologists find so much broken pottery during their excavations, this track provides an answer as it seems to be discarded very casually by the farm folks. Sounder going once I meet the farm and then hit the field boundaries for another heavy dosing of dew, but my route demands it as I'm on course to find another relic of the GNR, on the 1890 Beeston Junction - Tingley spur to the Laisterdyke and Batley lines, the former cutting and embankment of which lie ahead. Of course it requires some trespassing to make my way along the embankment, heavily overgrown and still ballasted, to find the most hidden, but also most visible, disused viaduct in the county, Tingley Viaduct carrying the branch line high over the main line on five arches at a slight curve and skew, seen by all rail users on the tracks below but virtually invisible from all other angles. It's fenced off but easily accessible from both ends, offering views up and down the line below and into Ardsley Tunnel not so far away to the south, and in excellent condition too, which it has to be when the express service still run below it, and I'll cross over it and slither down the embankments to get pics from all angles, just as the sun starts to break through when it hadn't been expected to appear at all. I'm happy to get that checked off my list, leaving on Gildersome Tunnel left on the local relic list, but that might prove to be beyond my capacity for trespassing, and I'll retrace my steps to eventually find the right of way that leads over to Thorpe Lane, the A654, for another pavement tramp to find no evidence at all of the Ardsley - Tingley spur of the GNR triangle, and to pass over the M62 down to meet the A650 at the point that E289 calls Black Gates, which makes the entry to East Ardsley sound much more like the pathway into Mordor.

Ardsley Reservoir
Past the roadworks and the smell of fresh tarmac, and straight on down through the council estate along Thirlmere Drive, to give it a Lake District feel, where a local lad with a high powered motorcycle is ensuring the residents aren't getting much of a Sunday morning lie in, and once Westerton Road is met, the next target of the day is not too far distant, hidden away down the track behind the woods. This is Ardsley Reservoir, not one of the bigger ones in the scheme of things, and again largely invisible from anywhere in the surrounding area, but big enough to have a level circuit path of over a mile all the way around its perimeter, and its admirably busy at Sunday elevenses time as folks and dogs are out to get exercised. It would be an excellent path for a bit of winter #hibernot if it wasn't for that ever present cold breeze that blows across the surface of any reservoir, and it's also much further from home than I would have thought, more than 4 miles distant. I'll be pretty casual in my amble around it, taking in the surroundings, which means Holy Trinity, Ossett is once again prominent on the horizon, whilst the tower of St Michael's, East Ardsley rises much more modestly to the north. The embankment dam is pretty impressive, overlooking the cleft of the beck that runs down towards Alverthorpe and Wakefield, and I'm going to claim that I recognise the herd of cattle around Whinstone farm, previously seen when I traversed the Leeds Country Way, which runs below here and offered no indication of the presence of a dam and reservoir whilst I was down there. Also note that the reservoir's valves look like a trio of bells, at least I assume they are valves as I know little about the mechanics of water supply and have been able to find little information about this particular body of water, so I'll just be pleased at finding such a well used path, and depart my circuit at the three-quarter mark, adjacent to the only visible inlet to it. Up the path to Haigh Moor Road, to find my way through the various houses of West Ardsley / Tingley, uncertain at where the boundary between the settlements lie, but if students of GCSE Geography are still compelled to do village studies, this would be an excellent place to do one, tracing the development through rural days and the age of industry and on to suburban growth and urban sprawl. Every blank space on the map seems to have been absorbed by housing in recent years, so ti's immensely gratifyting to find that a green space has been deliberately left between Lonsdale Rise and Lowry Road to give the suburbia an organic lung that could have easily accomodated an extra dozen houses.

Tingley Hall Trig Point
A path then leads me back to the A650, just down from Tingley Common, and next to a tablet commemorating a 1944 aeroplane crash which claimed the lives of 7 airmen, and memorials to air accidents is another thing I have seemed to come across with disturbing regularity in my wanderings. Before we hit the big traffic island, I want to make a detour to the recent housing development at Tingley Hall, not because it is notable in itself, tucked away behind the older houses but because the 153m trig point that stood in its field has been landscaped into its garden, a nice way to preserve a relic of the age of triangulation and trigonometry, though it looks like it could use a lick of white paint. Then onwards down to the meeting of the A650, A653 and M62, pacing my way around another quarter of the largest roundabout in this corner of the city, and passing the still bafflingly derelict White Bear pub before continuing along the A650 on the return leg homeward. Over the M62 we go again, and I think I've now used all the crossing points in the local vicinity, and get a rare view to both Airedale and Calderdale as we rise along the ridge, it seems that secondhand car dealerships occupy most of the business units on Tingley Common, aside from Hermes Deliveries and the Village Hotel complex which advertises its health and fitness suites, as well as its all you can eat breakfasts and beer festival, schizophrenically. Carry on past the trio of mills that still endure in industrial use (though Saxon's Aquatic Centre has died, sadly) and it gratifies me hugely that they endure still, Beacon Works being the prettiest and Tingley Mills the most imposing, stone built and looming over the chip shop at Tingley Bar. Bridge Street leads me back into the heart of Urban Morley, past another former outpost of the Primitive Methodists and the local Mormon Temple, and the road is notably missing the bridge which once named it, lost when the railway across town was closed, but I do hope that there is a relic better than a tree shrouded embankment remaining in the town. I'm delighted to find that there is, the abutment of the bridge over High Street is still there, south of the site of Morley Top station, and probably the last relic of the old GNR line that I will be finding this year, so I'll shut up about it now, and so move on to South Queen Street, past the converted West Street Mills, St Paul's church (one of three in the Morley & Churwell parish) and the old New Pavilion theatre, which still has me racking my brains as to finding a reuse for it. Thence down Quees Street again, happy to see that the local cafes are doing good Sunday lunch trade, but'll not be stopping for grub or a pint in the Fountain or the Queen's, instead passing the Town Hall, seen bathed in warm sunshine for the first time in all my walking days, to conclude the day back at m start point at 12.35pm, slightly amazed that a brief local stroll turned out to be quite so long.

Next on the Slate: My only trip to Calderdale for the entire year?

1,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 1041.6 miles
   (2014 total: 128.4 miles)

   (Up Country Total: 962.2 miles)
   (Solo Total: 850.7 miles)
   (Declared Total: 833.4 miles)

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