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