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