Feb 23 2013

Walk 59 – Leeds Country Way – Part 2 – Fulneck to Apperley Bridge

Leeds Country Way 2

route: fulneck to apperley bridge
Date: 23rd february 2013
distance: 6.3 miles
ascent: 721 feet
time: 2 hrs 40 mins
walkers: darren, dave, lewis, sandra & simon

It was a cold, crisp day as we arrived at the Bankhouse to continue on our Leeds Country Way journey. As usual, the fact I was in my shorts raised a comment or two, but I was more concerned about the fact Wu Tang had removed my gloves from my rucksack and my hands were cold. I wasn’t going to let that spoil my day though, and once the team pics were done I placed my camera in the pocket in my shorts and we headed off for Apperley Bridge.

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We headed down Scholebrook Lane to re-join the official route which we left in order to finish at a pub after the first section. We would in fact join the real route a quarter of a mile or so further on than where we actually left it, but we had covered more than that distance up to and back down from the Bankhouse so it wasn’t as if we were cheating, not that we were answerable to anybody anyway. We were doing this for enjoyment and following the exact route every single yard of the way was less enjoyable than a slight detour to finish at a pub. That is just common sense, surely! It is certainly in the Rambling Badgers rule book, or at least it would be if we had one.  

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After a slight descent the track levelled off and it looked like we would be in for a nice day walking, I was only hoping that the snow that was threatening would hold off for an hour or two. Up away to our left we could see Tong Hall which I believe was built in 1702 to replace the original house (built in 1343) after it was destroyed by fire.

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We joined the actual route and followed it along the beck that runs in the valley for a short while. The snow was still falling but so fine you could only just see it, and if it didn’t continue to get any heavier it wouldn’t really alter anything. After 10 or maybe 15 minutes the path began to rise and we followed it up to the Fox & Grapes. I had considered ending the first section of the walk here as it seems a natural place to end it, but opted for the Bankhouse as it made the walk shorter to ease us in to 2013.

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After reaching the pub, we had a few yards along the road before the route began to head downhill once again, taking us away from the built up area of Pudsey and back towards the countryside that is a stones throw away, yet hidden from every-day life. We reached a fork in the path and decided to stay on the high path. The lower one seemed to suggest it was going in the wrong direction and after a quick check of the map the path we wanted curved round to the right. Ten minutes later I looked at my GPS to find the path we needed away to our left and it became apparent that we should have followed the other path.

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Luckily the other path simply reached the bottom of the hill and turned right too, so in effect we were heading in the same direction, we were just higher up. This was confirmed when a guy out walking his dog saw us reading the map and told us “if you want the Leeds Country Way, it’s down there”. Ahead of us we could see where to cut down so there wasn’t any harm done really. In fact the detour allowed us spot a cat sat in a tree without a care in the world.

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As we turned down to join the other path, the cat just sat there, letting the world go by and I have to say it seemed a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. I don’t mean I would enjoy being perched up in a tree, but it was comfy, content and relaxed and didn’t have a any reason to be stressed, what’s not to like about that?!

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We reached the route once again as it passed a little farm or something. Whatever it was there were a few donkeys stood around not looking too impressed or bothered by our presence. The finger post confirmed we were back with the official route and we chuckled to ourselves as we followed the path uphill slightly.

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The gradient wasn’t exactly tough but it did mean that we split up a little. I paused to take a couple of pictures and Beaky and Daz had gone. I followed them, not losing ground but not exactly gaining ground either. Behind me Ramblo was walking with Lewis who still seemed to be enjoying himself and his surroundings. I stopped for another quick picture and lost a little more ground but not too much further on the leading pair stopped to allow us all to re-group and I soon joined them. A few minutes later Ramblo and Lewis caught us up and we had a couple of minutes rest. Lewis picked a bit of grass and fed the horses that had come to have a nosey at what was going on, then we were off again…

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The combination of our little rest and the terrain levelling out meant we walked as a group until we reached the Duckett’s Crossing. As we approached the barriers the lights changed and we were held up for a couple of minutes as we waited for the train to come past, which it soon did, although it was only a small local one with a couple of carriages.

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With the train gone, we made sure to close the gate behind us to avoid the £1000 fine and continued on our way. The next section wasn’t exactly exciting, as we walked through a housing estate then out to the A647, which is one of the main roads linking Leeds to Bradford, and therefore is a busy one. We nipped into the Co-op and while some bought a sandwich and a bottle of pop, I opted for some batteries for my GPS as they were just about done.

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With the walk being so local I don’t seem to go through my usual routine of preparation, which would have highlighted the fact I needed some more batteries. Fortunately we reached a shop at the right time, although if we hadn’t we would have been able to navigate the rest of the route using the map only. I don’t like total reliance on technology as you become too dependent on it and sods law dictates that it will usually pack up when you most need it, so I always like us to be able to function without it.  That opinion was soon proved correct after we crossed the road, as it was only Beaky’s map reading that kept us on course. We would otherwise have become too complacent and continued on our way instead of looking at alternative paths. One of these led us across an open expanse of slightly slippery grass past some horses that were stood motionless under a tree. They were no doubt sheltering from the light snow that was still trying to become heavier.

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I felt a little sorry for the horses just having to stand there in the cold without anything else to do, but I suppose that they wouldn’t be doing much else anyway so the fact that it was cold made no difference really. We soon saw plenty of people who had a choice to stay out of the cold but declined, as we crossed Woodhall Hills golf course. I kept one eye for golf balls and ear out for the cry of four, but fortunately we soon passed without trouble.

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On the other side of the golf course we were guided round an old quarry and were warned of steep drops and ordered to take care, but I never actually saw a quarry at all. Maybe that was the point of the signs but I got the impression that the only people who would ever come to any harm would be people who were up to no good in the first place. Stick to the paths and you will be fine. It may be a simplistic view and I am sure that honest people will very occasionally stray of course, but it reminded me of a sign I saw when walking along the Leeds/Liverpool Canal on our 30 mile walk last year. There was a roof with barbed wire along the edge but the wall next to the tow path would allow someone (with great difficulty) to climb the wall and maybe get on to the roof. The sign suggested that the roof isn’t strong and came across as a safety warning, but who would? In my opinion, only people who were up to no good. But back to the walk…

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We checked the map and decided to utilise a path that cut about 100 yards off the official route. The reason was the track that was really muddy, and with the ground being wet it was quite difficult to walk on without slipping. It was nice that the path soon levelled out and it wasn’t quite so difficult to keep your balance. The snow was coming down a little heavier now but we were making good progress and everybdoy was enjoying themselves. I had a text from Wu Tang saying here and Snail would meet us at the pub and I told her we were probably about half an hour away so she could get ready to set off and meet us. It was only a last minute decision for them not to come but I am glad they didn’t simply because of the weather.

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The path led us towards Greengates and we exited the woods near Carr Hills and took a quick break. Wu Tang had informed me she was already in the Stansfield Arms so I began to text through a drinks order as Ramblo took a couple of minutes to make sure Lewis had his gators on correctly.

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 The path led us towards Greengates and we exited the woods near Carr Hills and took a quick break. Wu Tang had informed me she was already in the Stansfield Arms so I began to text through a drinks order as Ramblo took a couple of minutes to make sure Lewis had his gators on correctly. Once everything was in order we followed a narrow path downhill slightly and encountered a little ford that gave us chance to wash off our boots. A good idea but I chose not to join in as I thought we would no doubt encounter more mud the other side of the main road.

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 The other side of the road saw is follow Carr Beck for a while which was muddy but certainly not as bad as we had previously encountered. We were rattling along at a good pace now, probably to get to the drinks Wu Tang had already lined up for us. Before we knew it we were confronted by a sign saying the bridge across the canal was closed. Thing is, we wanted to be on the other side of the canal.

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With the beers already waiting and us being almost close enough to smell them we chose to ignore the sign and headed over the bridge. It wasn’t as if we are total rebels,  the bridge wasn’t totally closed, and only seconds after we cheered once we safely reached the other side a car drove over it. In any case, the diversion it mentioned was fine, if there was an arrow telling you where that diversion is.

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Once over the bridge we were literally 100 yards from the pub and it soon came into view. We joined Wu Tang and continued the post Leeds Country Way ramble tradition and had some pub lunch. All in all today was a nice day but not one I would say was the best ever. I don’t think I am ever going to feel that on the LCW though, Yes it is nice and it is certainly great to think that you can feel miles away from suburbia when you are only yards away, but there is something lacking. Maybe the actual thing that is lacking will become apparent as we get further round, maybe it wouldn’t but we would be continuing regardless. Next up would be from our finish point this time (Apperley Bridge) all the way to Golden Acre Park just over 8 miles away. Let’s see if I can put my finger on exactly how I feel about the LCw after that. Only three weeks to find out…

Sir Edmund


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