What a foul day.
High winds, lashing rain and a pretty miserable start to the day. Yuk.
The Dog, Youngest Daughter and me had some errands to run and squeezed a dog walk up in Hunger Hills woods in north Leeds during a break in the stormy weather. The Dog chased the odd squirrel that was doing some late foraging as we followed the paths, the clouds ominous above us, the wind bending the tree branches and making the fallen leaves chase each other. As we crossed a field, the weather closed in, the rain horizontal, coming in waves. We scuttled back into the woods and sheltered behind holly bushes and tree trunks. The wind picked up and we lost sight of trees across the way. We looked at each other with the same question – let’s abandon this walk and head back for a warm cuppa.
Of course, as always happens, we had several seasons in a matter of hours. The dark clouds, with their drenching rain gave way to clear blue skies, the sun shone and the wind dropped. Youngest Daughter needed to be somewhere a couple of miles away. The Dog and I jumped into the car with her with the intention of walking back.
We parked up in a street of terrace housing and I found the footpath at the end of the road. The Dog and I strolled up over a cobble path, into a back road surrounded by trees. One of those many hidden paths that criss cross Leeds that needs to be followed and checked out. We followed the tarmacked path up, discovering a large house with high fencing and imposing gates. It took us by surprise – just an odd place to build a lovely house. We twisted and turned slightly and followed a path on the edge of a small housing estate, their gardens backing onto the path so I enjoyed my favourite hobby of having a good look. It was a real hotch potch of gardens, pockets of land and people’s extensions to their properties. Soon the path bent and we found ourselves on the outer Leeds ring road.
We crossed it with ease and cut through more suburbia before dropping down towards Clayton Woods. We followed the lane down to the dog kennels and into the wood proper. Well defined paths took us south, past the horse pastures and under the railway bridge. A little sprinter train rattled above us, getting The Dog excited. She has a thing about trains. At railway stations, as they approach, she starts barking at trains as if they’re going to run away from her, startling fellow passengers. I smile wanly as I can’t stop her and people are hoping we’re not going to board. But once on, she sits next to me, not exactly happy, but tolerating it, watching in silence. At Hest Bank, she chases the trains that hurtle through the junction there and today her ears pricked up, she looked up with excitement and ran around trying to catch a glimpse of it.
In the centre of Clayton Woods is a huge disused quarry, surrounded by woodland. Apparently sandstone was extracted from here from about the 1930’s, it’s peak between the 1950’s and 1980’s when it was abandoned for no apparent reason. The quarry became very overgrown and was happily being reclaimed by nature, when a development company bought the land in the mid 2000’s with big plans for residential and commercial use and the development of a brand new railway station and parking. There was initial stripping back of the overgrowth in preparation for building, but for the last 13 years nothing has happened. The flowers, plants, trees and creatures are gradually, once again taking it back and now it’s becoming an important site for newts, interesting flora and fauna and archaeological interest. The link below gives a fascinating insight to the area.
We wandered past the two big ponds, apparently very deep at 18 feet deep and stocked with mainly with carp. There’s usually a fisherman or two there. They were also part of the quarry work too.
The Dog and I clambered up the steep path, the trees devoid of their leaves – silver birch and beeches are dominant here. We walked to the edge of the quarry and peered down. It is still quite bare from the stripping back revealing old collapsed buildings and foundations. It’s used by bikers and dog walkers mainly and is quite desolate, an alien landscape though as I said, nature is steadily stealing it back.
It would be great if it was left to nature and become a nature reserve. Travelling from the west, the quarry is a big ugly scar in the middle of the woodland. It sounds like that it could be developed at any time, though there are several factors against that happening. There were plans to build a new railway station with parking as the original station, just half a mile up the road is inadequate. The station itself is perfectly fine, but with it just being in the metropolitan area, the rail fares into Leeds are considerably cheaper. Therefore commuters drive their cars from outside the area, park up and continue their journey into the city. But there’s only a little station car park, so all the local residential roads end up being clogged with parked cars all day and it’s causes mayhem. Even the pub next door has had to fit car parking machines charging £10 to park to put off workers from dumping their vehicles there all day, taking up car spaces for the pub’s patrons. The quarry would be a perfect solution, but to what detriment. It’s a difficult one and one that Leeds City Council still contemplates.
With the sun sitting low in the sky, we continue our wandering around the periphery of the quarry, peeking occasionally over its edge. It’s been a glorious afternoon, the wind has dropped and there’s a little warmth. A vast contrast from this morning’s dismal weather. We walk through the woodland where the trees are more spaced out, the floor carpeted with their leaf debris, The Dog on alert for the scampering squirrel, so much easier to spot here. The sun is setting, the downside of winter. Dark gloomy mornings, a beautiful brief respite before being lost to the encroaching twilight at 4 o’clock. The days are so short now, no time for leisurely strolls, of investigating and studying or watching. Soon The Dog and I are back, as the dark creeps in, curtains are closed, fires lit, the heating cranked up and we curl up for the evening………..