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Mar 16 2013

Walk 60 – Leeds Country Way Part 3 – Apperley Bridge to Golden Acre Park

Leeds Country Way 3

route: apperley bridge to golden acre park
Date: 16th march 2013
distance: 7.9 miles
ascent: 808 feet
time: 5 hrs 10 mins
walkers: dave, leanne, sandra & simon

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Section three of the Leeds Country Way would be a little longer than the previous two, but with the team being made up of four “seasoned” ramblers, we didn’t expect it to take us too long, how wrong we were! Weather wise, the sky was a little grey but it was forecast to clear up so we were happy with the conditions above, it would be the underfoot conditions that would slow us down massively. We didn’t know that as we changed our footwear and posed for the team shot, before crossing the main road and beginning our journey. After crossing the road we immediately entered the grounds of Woodhouse Grove school and were confronted with numerous sports pitches, and a sign saying pitch number one was for use by Bradford City AFC only. My first thoughts were that they should have a proper purpose built training ground, but there was nothing wrong with the pitch and I suppose it makes sense to utilise other facilities to keep cost down. We wandered alongside the pitch to the far end before turning right and heading towards the river.

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As soon as we turned left to walk adjacent to the river we were walking through horrible mud. Sometimes a bit of give underfoot is nice, but this was thick mud and no matter how good the grip on your boots are, they couldn’t deal with this. We spent the next 15 minutes sliding from side to side trying to get forward momentum and whilst we were moving, it was going to be a long old way if the remain 7.5 miles were like this. At the far end of the school ground we saw the Bradford City juniors training on some artificial surface but our focus remained firmly on the ground. We soon went under a railway bridge and once under it the path seemed to miraculously improve. It enabled us to make half decent progress for a while before we stopped at a junction of paths to check the map and make sure we didn’t need to leave the river and head upwards.
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For now we still needed to follow the river and we did so until our guide for the day (Ramblo) instructed us to head left up a little road. We spotted a house for sale that Wu Tang seemed to like, but I struggled to see the positives to it, not that it was horrible, it just wasn’t to my taste, in look, or location. As the route continued upwards we discussed our up and coming appearance on the Eggheads and what we thought about it. Ramblo & Beaky told us how they had been at a charity fundraising quiz the previous week, and the quizmaster had announced that one team contained challengers to the Eggheads, so they were relieved when they won. The general topics of conversation were light and we were laughing a lot which meant the climb up towards Rawdon, didn’t actually seem that strenuous. In truth it probably wasn’t, but the company and light hearted nature of the day certainly helped.
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We reached New York Lane and followed it out to the main road once L’Autobus had safely negotiated the speed bump. As we did we discussed Darren and Helen who live nearby and how we could have called in for a tea, coffee or maybe something stronger, had they not been on holiday, but I am sure they were happy sunning themselves somewhere. Personally I was happy to walking around Leeds, not really being a sun worshipper. We crossed the main road and turned right towards the city centre, but soon found the footpath off to the left. We dropped down some stone steps and almost immediately it felt like we were out in the country once again as we crossed an open field and reached some purpose built steps up the embankment.
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Wu Tang made use of the nice bench that had been built half way up. It wasn’t because she was tired but more because I told her to for the photo opportunity. We were now on the outskirts of Horsforth and we reached another housing estate via a little ginnel that took us past a fantastic looking tree house and we paused for a minute or two to gaze up at it.

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It was about here where the mood in the camp changed slightly, and not for the better. I don’t want anyone to think that we were shouting and screaming at other because that was not the case, but the next half an hour was slightly tense as our map reader had a different idea on the correct way to go than some of the other members of the team. It started when we first came to the edge of the housing estate and the girls agreed on which way to go but the boys thought differently. We set off in one of those directions (I am trying to be as diplomatic as possible by not mentioning which option we went with) and half the group was proved to be correct (another reason for not mentioning who chose. You can decide whether I am not saying to hide the fact I was wrong or to save the blushes of L’Autobus). Shortly after we cut up the side of a school and began to walk through the trees that lead to Hunger Hills (http://www.hungerhillswoods.org/about-the-woods-and-their-history/the-origins-of-the-woods/) Again we had a difference of opinion and after a few words we continued on with two claiming they were correct and the other two suggestion it was wrong.

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Soon enough we came out at a cross roads of footpaths and still we couldn’t agree. It did seem that those who had been saying we were going the correct way had been correct, and those who were protesting strongly were about to have a nice large slice of humble pie. The finger post had a LCW logo on and the post pointed the way ahead, but still the map was being checked thoroughly. I won’t say too much more about it, as we soon all kissed and made up, but just to avoid any confusion it was myself and Beaky that was correct all along. Let’s leave that there though…
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Wu Tang kept telling me to drop the topic as we covered the next half a mile as I can’t sometimes help being a little sarcastic, but I always do it in a light hearted way. Soon enough somebody mentioned something that made us all laugh and the general feel good factor was back. We reached Leeds Trinity University and made our way through the grounds and down a very marrow hedge lined route until we came out at Brownberrie Lane, which we crossed and continued straight into the woodland. A guy coming the other way told us it was extremely wet and muddy but it wasn’t any worse than what we had already experienced earlier in the day. We exited the plantation and made our way diagonally across a field over a stile that had the electric fence pulled beneath it and stretched over a large tin bath that was collecting water (probably for the sheep). Health and safety would no doubt not like it but it made us laugh as we crossed and carried on, now heading towards the airport.

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As we approached the airport, Beaky was especially happy to see a Jet2 taking off to a destination unknown, and we stood there listening to the roar of the engines. In fact we slowly wandered beneath the take-off path and Beaky checked his phone to see when the next departure would be.

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Unfortunately, the next few planes were coming in to land and from the other end of the runway so we moved on. Well, we moved on after trying and failing numerous times, to feed an apple to one of the horses that had come to have a nosey at us. In the end we left the apple in the mud and trudged off.

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We soon came face to face with three more horses, and Beaky, being the gent he is, went off to keep them occupied while the rest of us tried to sneak past. Problem was, Wu Tang was stuck and couldn’t get her foot out of the deep mud. After a minute or two of desperately trying to pull one leg out while at the same time not fall over. It made me chuckle and she was there so long it gave me chance to get the camera out and video it.

Once out of what seemed like the world’s muddiest field we walked down a lane and crossed a road, before following another lane for a while. Eventually, this led us into a small farm, complete with more horses. These weren’t bothered by us, but the field was churned up and horrible to walk across.
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Once out of what seemed like the world’s muddiest field we walked down a lane and crossed a road, before following another lane for a while. Eventually, this led us into a small farm, complete with more horses. These weren’t bothered by us, but the field was churned up and horrible to walk across. It seemed to take us an age to cross a couple of hundred yards as we slipped about trying desperately to stay upright. By now my feet were soaked as the mud was that deep in places my feet were going in and any water was pouring in over the top. It was a relief when we reached a track and turned to follow it over the railway lines, where we paused for a quick map check, this time as a group.

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After the map check (more to see how far we had left than if we were on the right course), we headed up the path stopping only to turn due to the noise of another take off. It wasn’t the biggest plane, but it still made a fair bit of noise and we watched it take off as we had a drink and took on any bits of food and water we fancied. A short distance further up the path we had gained enough height to get a better view of the airport and most of the ascending for the day was done.
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From here we had the simple task of walking past the ground Cookridge used to/still play cricket at, through some houses, past Old Modernians sports club and on towards Golden Acre Park. It had been over four hours walking already and I had anticipated we would be sat with a drink by now, but we weren’t complaining, or at least we weren’t complaining seriously. The sun was shining and it was quite a nice day so we were in no rush to finish, especially as the muddy slop of earlier was long gone.

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We had been joking that each of us had taken short cuts along the route so we couldn’t claim to complete the Leeds Country Way when we indeed finished it. Today though, Ramblo had followed ever yard of the route whereas the rest of us must have saved yards by going the wrong side of a fence post of something not really important. With this in mind she was determined to complete the full route and even went over the stile regardless of the fact that the gate was open.

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By now we only had to walk through the Breary Marsh nature reserve and we would be done and we all had an extra spring in our step knowing a cheeky beer wasn’t far away. I had been here for a walk round on a weekend before but today we didn’t stop to observe anything, we simply kept our pace up, pausing only when confronted with a little stream which the others used to wash their boots off. I declined for no other reason than I kind of liked them covered in mud. It adds character them and shows others we had been somewhere a little more off the beaten track.

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The rest of the walk was simply a case of dodging the oncoming walkers out walking dogs and generally taking in the fresh air. Minutes later we reached Otley Road and crossed to complete our walk. Today had, as always, been enjoyable but the underfoot conditions did spoil it a little. We had commented as we went round that had we done this section in the height of summer then it would be a totally different experience. Having said that, I wouldn’t change anything. We were another 8 miles along our route and we had enjoyed 5 hours of fresh air so what’s not to like. I still couldn’t put my finger on the missing element I was seeking after part two. I decided to stop trying to find what it is that doesn’t quite tick the box and just enjoy it. After all, if I couldn’t put my finger on it, maybe there was no reason. With Easter only two weeks away we would leave section 4 for a while, but I would be looking forward to continuing along our journey.

Sir Edmund

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