Feb 02 2013

Walk 58 – Leeds Country Way – Part 1 – Gildersome to Fulneck

Leeds Country Way 1

route: gildersome to fulneck
Date: 2nd february 2013
distance: 5.3 miles
ascent: 506 feet
time: 2 hrs 50 mins
walkers: abigail, darren, dave, leanne, lewis, lisa, sandra & simon

It had been two months since our last outing but a lot had happened in between our trip to South Nab and the present day. Santa Claus had been to visit and a new year had begun, more importantly, in the middle of those two events the Rambling Badgers had welcomed a new addition to the clan as Wu Tang gave birth to Abigail a.k.a. Snail. So with January set aside as a quiet month, we thought we would ease ourselves back into the swing of things by tackling the Leeds Country Way, a 62 mile circular route that we would split into much smaller sections. The plan being, it would allow Wu Tang to join us and we could also bring our new recruit along, plus we had the added bonus of it being on our doorstep which reduced travelling etc. With the plan in place, the route planner at Badger Towers (me) decided we would start in Gildersome (we could start from Beaky & Sandra’s which was nice and convenient) and stop around five miles later at the Bankhouse pub (it is always nice to finish at a pub) near Fulneck.


The pre walk prep took a little longer than usual as we had to wrap up Snail, get her nice and comfortable and get her settled in the harness. By 10am we were ready to ramble and after the obligatory team pic, our 2013 rambling exploits were finally under way. The first half a mile or so was through the streets as we looked to join the actual route just below the Post Office on Street Lane. Sure enough the sign post directed us on our way and the urban feel was almost immediately replaced by one of countryside and remoteness. In fact it was quite surprising just how quickly this change occurred but it was certainly a welcome change.



We picked up the first way marker and we pointed out to Lewis that the yellow arrow with the owl logo beside it was what we needed to keep an eye out for. Less than 50 yards later we either missed one, or more than likely it wasn’t there. A route such as this can’t possibly have every twist and turn signposted so we should have checked the OS map Ramblo was carrying or my GPS but we didn’t. In fact it was only a few hundred yards further on when I looked and realised we had gone wrong. I remember planning the route and the rough direction it took, so I had checked my GPS. Lewis ran back up to the gate to see if he could spot a sign, but as he couldn’t and we had already picked up another footpath, we decided we would add a little more distance to our walk. It did mean that less than 300 yards into the actual route and we had gone wrong, but we don’t let little things like that worry us.


The sun was shining and the day was a crisp one, if a little cold as we made a slight descent before a gradual ascent back up towards Drighlington. At the very bottom of this dip was a small stretch of boggy ground but certainly nothing to concern us after our previous experiences in the National Parks of Northern England. I may well have used this analogy in a previous walk report, but the stretch up towards Drighlington reminded me of a scene from the 1970 war film Kelly’s Heroes. They get stranded in a mine field and have to follow one guy out, with the route becoming compact as more and more men walk over it. Either side of this was a ploughed field, but even though I was pretty sure we were in no danger, I stuck to the path as did everyone else.


The civilisation of Drighlington was soon reached via a path that brought us out alongside an off license, which was tempting for some, even at half ten in the morning. Over the road was the Seven Eleven Chinese, but we turned right immediately to join a footpath and head back towards the official route. So far Leanne was coping very well with Snail, who hadn’t even realised she had left home, and had been asleep all the way.58thwalk6

The dogs from Pitty Close Farm were heard barking at us before we saw them, but even then it was at such a distance baby Badger remained asleep as we skirted a small group of trees and passed a large tyre. Should anyone follow in our footsteps then this is perfect cover should you need a quick pit stop, as Leanne proved as I stood guard.  It wasn’t long after this that we reached Nethertown and the finger post for the Leeds Country Way, we were now back on track!



The route took us along the edge of a small field before bringing us out onto the A58 or Whitehall Road. Walking next to busy roads isn’t fun but this did have two plus points compared to some we have followed. Firstly, there was a path which meant we could stay away from the cars that were flying (not literally) past. The second positive, was that we only followed this for 150 yards tops, before we took Dale Road down the side of the Valley Inn and once again we had the countryside feel.



Dale Farm certainly seemed to be a hive of activity on the animal front, as we strolled by dozens of geese waddling round some fields to our right. At the front door of the farm house was a peacock which simply glanced at us as if to say “what are you looking at”. To our left was a few goats, one of which seemed as if it was stuck in the hay it was eating which made me chuckle, although I didn’t see it move for a good few minutes so I hope it hadn’t suffocated in there.



Shortly after the farm we joined Tong Beck and would follow that for the next 35 minutes or so. Under normal circumstances it would only have been 20 but more of that shortly. We soon came across a finger post pointing us through a kissing gate which came complete with low overhanging tree branches. This wasn’t a problem for some, but I had to sneak in, duck, twist, then straighten up before I could carry on.



This section was probably the most beautiful in my eyes as we followed the beck as it twisted and turned. The trees were bare but somehow I think that made it better as we could see through them to whatever was beyond. The only slight downside were the underfoot conditions that were a little muddy due to the recent snow and rain we have had. As with the small boggy patch earlier we have seen much worse than this so it wasn’t really a concern, but I did keep an extra close eye on Wu Tang and her precious cargo.



The cars going up Tong Lane could clearly be heard which suggested we were nearly ready to cross the road and join Pudsey Beck, but the cars weren’t the only noise that could be heard. Baby Badger had finally woken up and was ready for a feed. We quickly found a suitable spot to perch and began the feeding process. It was all a bit new for us and no doubt the rest of the Badgers as they huddled together twenty yards further up the track.


After 15 minutes and both myself and Wu Tang taking turns at feeding and winding, we were ready to move on. As far as things like this go, I think it went pretty well but I had a feeling that we were holding the others back. Sure on normal walks we constantly wait for others, but usually there is some degree of difficulty and people are happy to rest up from time to time. With this walk being so easy, I did feel we were stopping people just for the sake of it, but they did refuse our offer to go on and let us catch them. Good job really as we wouldn’t have seen them again until the pub…


After crossing the road and walking a short distance down Roker Lane we once again found ourselves in green surroundings. It was amazing how quickly things could change and how just yards from roads I have driven down all my life you could find peace and quiet. Not long after we encountered a gate with a fence that only joined on one side which kind of rendered the gate pointless, but I think most people still went through it. Weird how the mind works sometimes…



We now encountered a stretch of nice flat open green fields and even managed to spot a way marker to confirm we were still on track. To be honest, after our earlier error, I had been checking my GPS when necessary, although due to the route it would have been fairly difficult to get lost again. I didn’t want to tempt fate though so kept my thoughts to myself and joined in the general chit chat which by now was turning to the pub lunch we would soon be ordering.



No sooner had we become used to the nice green grass than we reached the section of our route which was the wettest by some way, and we spent a little time squelching through a little standing water and in some instances trying to walk around it with varying degrees of success. Darren even looked like he was going to lose a shoe at one point but all dangers were averted and we found ourselves reaching the edge of the Fulneck golf course.



The signs warned us to be aware of low flying golf balls and it crossed my mind that it was silly to run a footpath along a golf course. At this time of year the course would be quiet compared to summer so we should benefit in that respect, but even so I made sure I had my sixth sense switched on. After five minutes we cut across one fairway to climb up through the trees and out to another path which seemed to be a continuation of the one we were on, I was wrong!


It actually led us out to a track that obviously was part of the golf course as I was shouted at by a grumpy bloke telling me to “get off the course, the path is over there, use it”. I muttered a reply I won’t repeat here and we descended down to the path before turning right and heading up the track that would take us all the way to the pub. The rest of the route was all up hill, but as with the rest of the walk we plodded on at a leisurely pace and everyone got there in their own time.



Eventually the pub came into view, which was a welcome sight. It wasn’t that I hadn’t enjoyed it, far from it. The walk had been fantastic, if a  little easy, but at least we were out and about again. From a personal perspective it was nice to have Wu Tang back with us as barring one walk (when she fell leaving work the day before a walk) she had attended them all until she was six months pregnant. The reason I was looking forward to the pub was to sit down and discuss what we liked about the walk, for the team to guess the distance and all the other post walk topics of conversation we usually have. In the two months since the last walk my life had changed forever but still I intend to spend my time walking whenever possible. Sure, the routes may have to be a bit smaller or at least they will initially, but I don’t want the arrival of Snail to prevent us from going walking, instead I hope it means the three of us (and the rest of the Badgers) go as often as we can. I didn’t really see the attraction of fell walking until my mid-thirties, but I hope the Badgers newest recruit will discover how wonderful it is much sooner than that, and if you follow a good walk with a pub lunch I see no reason why she won’t.

Sir Edmund




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