Fewston Reservoir

Well, I’m back in Yorkshire (phew) after a few days in deepest Essex and glad to be back!

A couple of critics, namely my own family, have said they’re not sure of the walk information at the beginning of the blog, so I’m missing it out and waiting for the outcry!

Spring has decided to stay – these last couple of days have been warm and sunny. So wanting to stretch my legs after too many cuppas and too many hours on relative’s sofas, The Dog and I headed to Fewston Reservoir.

The gorse is out which is great to see!

It’s right next to Swinsty Reservoir that I walked around a few weeks back, with just a road atop of the dam splitting the two. I think it’s slightly longer and there’s too many places for The Dog to swim after sticks, so I lose track of time!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fewston_Reservoir

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/wood/10036/fewston-reservoirs/

We came across the dry stone wall partially collapsed onto the path. Hopefully it will be repaired before any more damage is done. These walls can stand for centuries and without any cement to hold them together. Many years ago I had a go at building one (well, all two foot of it – it takes hours). Very interesting. Basically it’s an A shape, so thickest at the bottom and build up both sides and infill the gap with smaller stones. Then at the top, just cap it with stones. The structure is self supporting and it lets wind blow through the gaps, so it doesn’t get blown over! Just a brilliant design.

A bit of useful information! Shows you the route The Dog and I did today. We park in the Swinsty car park which is marked with a P in bottom right hand corner which serves both reservoirs. Toilets are available and the ice cream van was parked there today as well.

The Dog with stick in mouth running along the path. It’s very flat and accessible to everyone, though in parts there were some big puddles to negotiate. The Dog was in heaven as I was chucking said stick in the reservoir and she was happily swimming. By now it had got a little overcast, but still pleasant.

At the far end of the reservoir where you turn around and make the journey back, on the other side, is this little church poking its nose up over the hill. It’s St Andrews at Blubberhouses (isn’t that just a great name for a village?). Really pretty and can be seen from the busy A59 Harrogate to Skipton Road.

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/analysis/village-focus-blubberhouses-north-yorkshire-1-8539808

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blubberhouses

Saw these trees and the trunk and bark were of a lovely brown and greens that really caught my eye. But the photo was a real disappointment and despite fiddling with the colour (sorry been photoshopping) I just can’t replicate what I saw.

This is a nice gentle walk of about 2 hours though I do dilly dally, play with The Dog and get distracted with all sorts, so don’t go by me. But about 2/2.5 hours should do it. Take a picnic as there are a few places to stop and eat and take in the view. Enjoy!

Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, Essex Wildlife Park

Today, we decided to check out the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, which is part of the Essex Wildlife Trust. It is located on the north bank of the River Thames, south of the town of Stanford Le Hope.

http://www.essexwt.org.uk/reserves/thurrock-thameside

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurrock_Thameside_Nature_Park

This area, sandwiched between Tilbury and its docks and Corringham and a huge deep sea wharf, is a little gem of nature, surrounded by industry. It is mainly marshland, ideal for ground nesting birds and it’s being developed to stretch along the Thames estuary. I believe it could be an old landfill site.

We parked up in the generous car park, after following country lanes and our noses. It was a beautiful spring day and the first day of significant warmth. I was itching to investigate the whole area, but was scuppered by an elderly relative, so we kept around the visitor centre.

We soon discovered that apart from having a cafe, you can walk up to the roof by walking around the sloping walkway that encircles the outside of the building. From here, there are 360 degrees views across the Thames to Kent, the vast and dominating cranes of the deep sea wharf, views upstream towards Tilbury and beyond and looking north, the swathe of marshland and the town of Stanhope and other communities.

The morning was quite hazy until the sun won, but here you can see the huge deep sea wharf cranes. Originally it was known as Shell Haven and was a huge oil refinery. I remember seeing the huge chimney with flames from the top of it, as the they burned off the waste from the refining. Now it’s all changed and massive development is afoot.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_Haven

http://investessex.co.uk/studies/place-studies/london-gateway-port/

Looking towards Kent across the Thames. Here little boats lie on their side, waiting for the tide. The river bed is very muddy and full of channels. Ideal for wading birds – apparently every square metre of mud is the equivalent to calorific amount of a Mars Bar in bird terms.

The more I looked, the more I realised how much history and interest this area is. I grew up around here, and for years just thought it was an industrialised wasteland. But returning as a visitor, it dawned on me how amazing this place is, that industrialisation on a massive scale can live next door to nature and I could be, in fact, in the middle of nowhere. Industry has always been part of this area for many many years and will never go away, but I was pleased that this little pocket would be too.

Looking inland.

The tide was out, exposing the mudflats of the Thames. However, it was on its way in and surreptitiously crept in within an hour.

We wandered down to the bird hide near the rivers edge and watched a few birds on the feeders and the lorries heading into the deep sea wharf. The sun had come out and it was very pleasant. A very interesting place.

I have a Wildlife Conservationist in my family and the day before she had spotted a peregrine falcon at Tilbury Fort. So we went back to check that out.

Tilbury Fort is steeped in history and overlooks Gravesend on the Kent side. Again, it is surrounded by industry and towns. It abuts Tilbury Docks, which has seen a massive transformation over the years. A busy and major port in the early 20th Century with a cruise liner terminal, it seemed to decline. But now, huge warehouses like Amazon are popping up, the roads are full of articulated lorries and cruise liners still dock at the terminal. New roads have been built to service the warehouses and new homes are being built.

The entrance to Tilbury Fort. It’s part of English Heritage so there’s an entrance fee. We didn’t have time to investigate further unfortunately, so just snitched a few photos.

It has several examples of cannons from its earlier history inside the grounds, but on the banking outside there are several gun turrets which were part of the defences in World War 2, together with Coalhouse Fort further down the river.

It’s certainly got a chequered history.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/tilbury-fort/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilbury_Fort

And then crazily, right next to it, is a huge Power Station and mankind’s massive mucky handprint. The Power Station has been decommissioned and in the process of demolition, but we think that the peregrine falcon could be making it his home, which would stop any work. The large crane on the ship has been docked there for months apparently and I couldn’t find out what it is for.

There is a river side path, that runs along the rivers edge which we followed for a little way and I think you can get much closer to the power station, but we had to consider our elderly relative. But iagain felt there was so much more here, once you dig beneath the surface and looked beyond the ugliness.

Looking west towards Tilbury Docks. The jetty in the foreground is for the ferry service to Gravesend which has chugged across the river for many years. The two little boats that ply the service aren’t in the best condition, but saves you driving all the way up to the Dartford Crossing and £5 toll. Beyond that is the top of the cruise terminal – many a time I’ve watched huge cruise liners docked there and wondered which exotic destination they were heading.

https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/ferry-services/tilbury-to-gravesend-ferry-service

I just love those beautiful wind turbines. I find them graceful and elegant. They are a bit like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. I love Marmite too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Tilbury

https://www.cruiseandmaritime.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=282%3Alondon-tilbury-port-information&catid=32%3Aports&Itemid=160

I have only scratched the surface of this area. First impressions are not good, either way you come in. Busy, littered, noisy, not the most beautiful and scenic place in Essex and not really inviting you to linger. But do linger and investigate – walk along the banks, look at the docks, cross the marshlands and look at the history of it all. It’s all there, just needs finding. A fascinating place. Enjoy.

Long Melford Church, Suffolk

Walk: A gentle stroll around this stunning church.

Parking: on street.

After our lunch, we drove the short way up to the church. This part of Long Melford is equally charming and full of English chocolate box houses. A gentle incline takes you up to the church entrance.

Be warned – I went a bit beserk with my camera and took lots of photos. I love churches and the beautiful architecture inside.

The imposing Long Melford church. The family have members buried here and unbelievably in unmarked graves. We went to look and was impossible to find. There were headstones with definite burial mounds and then just grass with a small bump, so you were horrified whether or not you were actually standing on a grave. We retreated to the path rather quickly.

The impressive aisle leading up to the alter. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

Just love the beautiful wood carvings in this pew and there were quite a few of them. How intricate. There’s a church in North Yorkshire where the carver carved out mice into the wood and they’re hidden all over the place. Fun to try and find them.

I can stare at stained glass windows all day. How they create such detailed pictures like this is beyond me.

Inlaid into the floor and an obvious burial within the church itself.

And if you were really somebody of note, you got this!

This church was absolutely stuffed with carvings and other art work. This was created without the benefit of today’s technology and laser printers etc. There were certainly some very talented master craftsmen.

Now this guy got half a book stuck on the wall detailing his family tree. How much writing and information is on this!!!

It just got better. This is amazing too and very elaborate. I don’t think I will get this treatment when I go – probably I’ll get put out with the weekly rubbish for the dustmen to collect!

I think there were brass plaques in the floor and they have been taken away, leaving these indentations all along the aisle………

Looking back towards the entrance from where the choir would stand and sing.

The organ and its pipes. It was enclosed so I was unable to see the organ in all its glory. The church wouldn’t want any riff raff touching it and belting out a tune, but it’s still looks magnificent.

There was this little side room at the back of the church which was a little chapel if people wanted to be more quiet. It was elaborately decorated and the walls had faded painting and writings, almost like ghost signs. It was very intricate.

We came out of the church and wandered down to the footpath, across the fields towards Kentwell Hall. There is an avenue of trees leading from the main road to the front of the house. The blobs in the branches are not crows nests, but mistletoe growing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentwell_Hall

http://www.kentwell.co.uk/

Looking back towards Long Melford Church.

And a lovely picture of the typical thatched roofed cottage of the area, with the painted lime plaster frontage. North Essex and Suffolk are full of this type of buildings and many local towns are like travelling back in time. Haven’t changed in centuries except now they have lorries and cars thundering past.

I hadn’t visited this area for many years and it was lovely to see it again. There seems to be a lot of new housing going up and that I find a great shame. It is very pretty here, but will it be spoilt by over development? I hope not. Let’s enjoy it while we can.

Long Melford, Suffolk

Walk: A stroll around the delightful village of Long Melford.

Parking: On High Street. Free and unlimited.

We decided to cross the border today and dip a toe into Suffolk. We drove through pretty rolling countryside, but it was still quite drab and misty. We went through the pretty little towns of Halstead and Sudbury, before arriving in Long Melford and parked on the High Street.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Melford

We wandered the Main Street with its mixture of different houses which are very typical of this area. It’s very quaint and very picturesque.

Just love this. They are raising funds to fight a proposed housing development. They’ve left a load of books out with an honesty box. How British is that?

Just couldn’t resist a photo of this fantastic building. Railway Passengers Assurance! All carved in stone. It’s so ornate. Today they can’t even be bothered to put chimneys on buildings!

Robin Row Ltd is the current insurance broker, but see the links below for the Railway Passenger Assurance and National Provident Institution.

https://heritage.aviva.com/our-history/companies/r/railway-passengers-assurance-company-ltd/

https://www.londonremembers.com/subjects/national-provident-institution

The old granary/mill. Bags of grain would be hauled up to the little wooden structure and then milled inside with the grain/flour falling between the floors and the milling machines.

This was outside the Manse, the home of the local clergy. There were two balloons on either side of the front door as well as other decorations. It was so unusual and very quirky which us Brits can do very well.

We stopped for lunch in one of the many cafes, but this one had the waitresses dressed in black dresses, white pinafores and frilly white hats like something from the 1920’s. It was certainly very different, but the food was lovely.

We left the High Street and drove up the road to Long Melford Church and Kentwell House.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentwell_Hall

http://www.kentwell.co.uk/

Enjoy Long Melford, while I go and write another blog on Long Melford Church……..

Heybridge, Essex.

Walk: Walk along the River Blackwater

Difficulty: Easy, but can be muddy.

Accessibility: Flat footpath running alongside the River.

Parking: Heybridge Basin. Grid reference 870069.

Okay, I can hear you cry. This is not North West England! And you’re right – it’s South East England, in the county of Essex. I did warn you that I would go further afield occasionally and this week I’m visiting relatives.

I am based in the county town of Braintree today and headed out to Heybridge, an estuary town on the River Blackwater for a wander.

http://www.itsaboutmaldon.co.uk/basin/

http://www.visitmaldon.co.uk/heybridge-basin/

It was a dreadfully murky day, with a big grey blanket of cloud hanging over us and gloomy too. So taking photos was a bit of a challenge. We parked up and as it was lunchtime, had a pleasant lunch at the Jolly Sailor pub. (What a brilliant name). Afterwards, we got onto the sea wall and followed the path – we went one way first, but quickly turned back as it looked quite unexciting. We followed the path with the Blackwater to our left and the marshes on our right.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Blackwater,_Essex

The weather was so dull, misty and damp that any long distance photos would be, well dull and boring and very grey. This part of Essex is quite flat and a lot of it is reclaimed from the sea. There’s miles of marshes and the River Blackwater, when the tide is out, reveals its muddy bottom and sticky gloop. Deep navigation channels cut deep through the mud and less fortunate craft lie forlornly on their sides, slowly dying and rusting away, never to return to the sea again. It’s one of those places that at first glance, looks very uninteresting, but dig only slightly under its surface and there’s a wealth of history, nature and hidden treasures to found. A truly fascinating place to discover.

The raised path giving us views across the mud flats (tide was out) and the reeds and marshes on the other side.

At the beginning of the walk, we came across this little lock and canal area.

And it’s little information board.

There seemed to be a lot of abandoned boats sliding into disrepair and demanding more than a little TLC.

And this is my kind of boat…………

The marshlands around this area are full of all sorts of birds – waders, gulls, geese and many more. The weather was very overcast and dull, but springtime in the bird’s world was in full swing as they did their crazy courting dances, wooing their prospective partners with a cacophony of chirping and calling. The seagulls had gathered on a reed infested island and squawking very loudly with each other, the noise quite piercing.

We followed the path in a loop and on the opposite bank was the town of Maldon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maldon,_Essex

Initially we thought it might a be a linear walk – there and back, but my walking buddy thought it might be a circular walk. Thank God for Google Maps on phones as we ascertained that there was indeed a loop. We veered off the path through a modern housing estate (and I could practise my second favourite hobby of staring into people’s houses) and we came across a bridge that linked us to another path. Think this is the canal that leads to the lock in the photo above.

A whole line of boats moored along the edge – barges, narrow boats, little cruisers, smart boats, knackered boats. A real eclectic mix.

My parents and parents in law always managed to hire the most knackered holiday rental going – be it a caravan, cottage or boat. I’m sure I’ve holidayed on this type of sagging vessel in previous trips……

Interesting read. This area of Essex is steeped in history. There are stories of the heavy salt industry in this area, where salt was farmed from the sea water by a laborious method of boiling the sea water and scooping the salt off the surface. People were paid in salt and that’s where the word salary comes from – the Latin word for salt. Full of useless information, me.

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/salary

We returned back to where we had parked the car and celebrated by enjoying a hot warm cuppa and a toasted teacake in a little cafe overlooking the river. This photo took my fancy.

The cafe turned out to be associated with the Tiptree company who seem to dominate the world with their little glass jars of jams and preserves. The waitress asked if I wanted jam with my teacake and then preceded to list a staggering choice of preserves that she had to pause to gather breath. I was exhausted and with my mental capacity stretched, I feebly ordered apricot, thinking it’s like being in America with too many choices. I only wanted a snack. Usually you just get the teacake, a little wrapped blob of butter and a mini jar of strawberry jam regardless. Its standard. No questions asked. That’s what you’re getting. Period. I was quite bamboozled.

And here’s the offending little glass jar of apricot jam……

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilkin_%26_Sons

A couple of pictures of our walk we abandoned – this building caught my eye as it looked like a refurnished oast house, though I don’t think it is. Can’t find any history on it, but maybe something to do with the salt industry. Answers on a postcard please.

These buildings on the other side of the tidal estuary, built out into the river on stilts. Not sure if they’re homes or holidays lets, but been there for a while. Love to know why they were built and their purpose. Possibly fisherman huts?

So, full of toasted teacake, we wandered back to the car and drove back to Braintree. Despite the weather and our intention of doing a little stroll, it turned out to be very interesting and unusual. My first visit of this area and very enjoyable, which would be even better with a bit of warm sunshine. Enjoy.

Another bit of the Lancaster Canal

Walk: Towpath walk from Carpernway to Carnforth.

Difficulty: Easy

Accessibility: a short gravel path soon turns into a grassy track which in turn, will turn muddy in bad weather.

Parking: outside the New England Caravan Park, on the road. Grid reference 529529.

It was quite cold this morning with a cool wind blowing hard, but as the day progressed, the sun fought its way out behind heavy cloud and the day warmed and brightened.

I was struggling to think where to take The Dog on her daily walk, not really wanting to go far, but not wanting to trudge through mud and adorn wellies. I found this spot a couple of months ago, tripping over it when I was diverted by roadworks. That time I walked from where I parked, up to Tewitfield and Longlands Hotel. This time I went in the opposite direction towards Carnforth.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, a few farmhouses and a couple of caravan parks across the fields. There’s a tea shop here, but I’ve yet to try it out – firstly it was at the beginning of a walk and straight after lunch. Pah!

It’s not a particularly spectacular walk, but it stretches your legs and blows the cobwebs away. The Dog was dredging sticks again and was happy. We walked towards Carnforth with the railway on the right. Soon we came across the busy M6 motorway and we walked parallel with it. So weird to have fields on one side and then lorries thundering past and concrete tunnels.

We spotted these flowers in the sun – a lovely splash of colour!

Isn’t that so British to have a railway signal in your front garden? I just love people who collect old memorabilia like the red telephone boxes and railway signs and hang them up in their gardens. Just fantastic.

We soon reach the outskirts of Carnforth. We are walking past houses and their gardens which butt up to the towpath, but all I can hear is the noise from the motorway. It’s quite invasive considering it’s behind a hill and probably half a mile away. I peer into the gardens to see garden furniture and wonder how you can sit out with that racket. But perhaps they just don’t hear it anymore. I use to live very near to an airport and yet barely heard the planes landing and taking off, unless someone pointed it out. Weird.

This caught my eye and I wondered what the 10 stood for? 10 miles to the nearest pub? Or was it a point of interest and this was number 10? I don’t know what it was, but it was very elaborate and someone had spent time carving it.

We walked to the marina in Carnforth and looked into a canal side pub to check out if they did afternoon teas. Alas, starters, mains, desserts and a selection of sandwiches. Didn’t float my boat, but time it right for lunch and it could work. The Dog and I lurked a bit, I chatted to the local dog walkers and The Dog sniffed their four legged friends. Then we wandered back to the car and home for a well earned cuppa.

Lancaster Canal

Walk: Canalside walk. Various starting points. Today: Hest Bank to River Lune, Lancaster.

Difficulty: Easy

Accessibility: Good tarmac/gravel towpath.

Car park: on street. Grid ref 474665. On Ashworth Drive, off Hatlex Lane, Hest Bank.

Today, The Dog and I drove towards the coast and decided to walk along the Lancaster Canal. It is within spitting distance of Hest Bank, where we parked last week to walk along Morecambe Bay. Here, you can walk north towards Carnforth or south towards Lancaster. We have a tendency to walk to Carnforth so we made a change today. The path leads out into fields and country between Hest Bank and Lancaster whereas the north route tends be more suburbia, lined with houses with their gardens backing onto the canal path. I don’t mind as I can have a good nose into people’s houses and gardens. It’s amazing I haven’t got a cricked neck. My friend would say I was inquisitive, curious and wanting more knowledge where my hubby would say I was just bloody nosey. I fear the latter is true.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancaster_Canal

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/lancaster-canal

A glorious spring day and I mean it. Yesterday was rubbish – rain all day, wet and soggy. This is the trouble with our little island nation – it has a lot of difficulty what weather it wants. Yesterday was cold, damp and wet weather clothes, today warm, sunny and the braver types in shorts and t-shirts! Yes, people were either wrapped up like it was the Arctic and others as if they were strolling along the beach front in Benidorm. It’s so extreme and topsy turvy our weather and I regretted my extra layer (after a lot of umming and arring on what to wear).

It was wonderful – the birds were singing their little hearts out, little yellow anemones were blooming, Hawthorne bushes have started to show their vivid green leaves and it felt that finally spring had won and overcoming winter – things were greener and brighter. Lovely.

This little bird fascinated me. He caught my eye when he dived under the water and I waited for him to bob up again. He didn’t and I was thinking what an amazing bird for holding his breath for so long, when he reappeared some 50 foot further up the canal. Almost immediately he dived again and I ran to where I thought he might appear to get a photo. I was badly out in my calculations. He was so quick and the distance he travelled under water was incredible. The Dog and I followed him along the canal, watching him bob up, take a breath and dive and reappear further along. I just managed to catch him here though I was still out of position and he was quick.

And gone again!

The Dog enjoyed herself immensely as it was the first time she was able to swim. It’s been just far too cold. She happily swims after sticks and also dredges a few out of the canal itself. She did drop one of her sticks back into the canal by accident and then preceded to bark at me to retrieve it for her. And stupidly I did.

There’s not a lot to tell on a canal really, but a couple of years ago, this road wasn’t here. It was just green fields, but groundwork’s had just started and my heart sank. Another bit of our green and pleasant land nibbled away. It’s the new Heysham/M6 link road that bypasses Lancaster which on one level is good as Lancaster is awful to get through, but look what we have lost…….

To make us all feel better, the construction company has planted thousands of plants (landscaping I think they call it) and encased them in green protective tubes so the saplings don’t get savage by rabbits and other ravenous creatures, so in years to come, it will be all wooded and you would never know a raging bypass was there. Do they ever work? For years afterwards, there’s still stubby little green tubes, now falling apart and depositing plastic everywhere and the plants have failed to flourish. There never seems to be anyone looking after these plants. Almost a tick box exercise……

Then I saw this and thought – you might have a point there, mate.

The Dog and I walked for over an hour one way, finally turning around when we reached the Lune Aquaduct, where the canal goes over the River Lune. Another thoughtful information board.

The River Lune looking west towards Lancaster, Morecambe and the Irish Sea. It’s all very industrial on one side of the bank. You can see a factory spewing out smoke on the left.

And east, in the far distance you can see Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks, poking its head above the hills and the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

They don’t make bridges like this anymore. True Victorian workmanship. Today, you would get non descriptive concrete blocks and girders. (See the Heysham/M6 link road above). Absolutely beautiful.

The Dog and I were tempted to get on if they were running. A canal bus – how brilliant!

By now, The Dog and I were well on our way back to Hest Bank. In the background are the Lake District fells. Stunning.

Cows enjoying the good weather while it lasts. Feel so sorry for all the sheep and cows outdoors in this appalling weather. I did shout at these guys to stand up as apparently it’s a sign of bad weather if they are lying down……..

This is coming back into Hest Bank with all the canal boats moored up. I’ve always had this dream to live on a canal boat and be a bit nomadic, just cruising around and stopping wherever. Sounds so romantic. In reality, it probably isn’t and you’d end strangling your partner because you’re on top of one another. Maybe a week’s holiday to test it.

And a colour picture, because I can.

And if you look closely, at the bottom of the road, is the level crossing for Hest Bank, when we did our beach walk last week!

A lovely stroll with no hills, with great views across Morecambe Bay and the towns of Lancaster and Morecambe coming into view. Even better in perfect spring weather. Enjoy.

Golden Acre Park, Leeds

Walk: Park walk – a mixture of formal gardens and woodland.

Difficulty: Paved area around the Lake – easy walking.

Accessibility: Easy, but woodland paths are uneven.

Parking: Golden Acre Park off A660 Grid ref: 269416 or King Lane Car Park Grid ref: 272416.

The Dog and I decided to walk around Golden Acre today, but timed it badly. Got caught in a heavy rain shower in the wrong type of coat and desperate for an aboreal umbrella! Then suddenly the sun came out and it was a glorious spring afternoon.

Golden Acre is across the road from Breary Marsh that we visited last week. It is large park featuring a lake, ornamental gardens, woodland, heather gardens. It has a fascinating history dating back to the 1930’s when a local entrepreneur designed and built an amusement park there. It was amazing, but sadly lasted only 6 years.

Above is an aerial photo of the original Golden Acre Amusement Park. Today hardly anything remains of this Park. Read more on the links below.

Click to access Golden%20Acre%20Park-%20download.pdf

Golden Acre - The lost amusement park of Leeds.

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/15475036.A_fascinating_glimpse_of_a_lost_amusement_park/

The entrance from the car park from A660. In the background is the footbridge that takes you to Breary Marsh. The underpass saves you crossing the very busy A660.

Walking through the wooded area, I was delighted to see the numerous rhododendrons starting to blossom along the paths. It is a beautiful sight when they’re in full bloom.

Signs of life are just starting to show at the beginning of April – at long last. At the weekend, another cold blast hit our little island and this was all covered in snow. The poor plants don’t know which way to turn. The daffodils are very half hearted – some are very brave and have bloomed while others have barely budded. It’s going to be a extended daffodil season, which I’m not complaining about!

One badly taken photograph, but more evidence that spring is finally beating this extra long winter. I drove past the River Wharfe this morning and it’s threatening to break its banks, the water level is so high. We are a very soggy country at the moment!

This is the remnants of the miniature railway which went around the lake way back in 1932, this small section of track. It’s great that it’s been preserved.

This is the wall of the outdoor lido. As you can see, trees have replaced the water and the wall is the only reminder of this project.

One end of the lake, where most people gather to feed the ducks and the other birds that gather here. It hosts a great variety of birds here – swans, geese, coots and ducks plus much more.

Looking across, back to that little hut on the other side of the lake. It’s a beautiful sunny day with some fantastic clouds. Love days like this!

One of the paths that leads to the lake and creates a lovely circular walk around the lake and finishes back to the cafe. That’s my kind of walk!

This is the cafe which has outdoor seating too. Think it was part of the original buildings from the amusement park. It used to have murals and pictures inside showing the old amusement park buildings and attractions. Haven’t been inside lately as I usually have The Dog in tow and therefore banished to the outdoor seating area to sup my tea and nibble a teacake. It has had a major extension and refurbishment a couple of years ago and look quite nice.

Trying to be artistic with the reflection, but failed miserably.

The Meanwood Beck runs through Golden Acre and this is one of the little bridges that crosses it. The beck starts from around here at Paul’s Pond (though the source is on the Otley Chevin) and runs through North Leeds and the city centre and finally into the River Aire. As you can see, it’s quite muddy here, but if you’ve got wellies, it’s great to investigate.

This is at the back of the Lake and the beck continues its journey to Leeds. This runs into the Adel Nature Reserve which is another story and another blog.

Another rubbish photograph, basically because I couldn’t be bothered to walk down to the entrance. This is where you get into the Nature Reserve and have a walk around. There are bird hides here and you can spend some time bird watching amongst other things!

Some of the information boards dotted around the park. There is lots more to Golden Acre that I missed altogether today. I took a long phone call and basically ran out of time. Oops. However, I can do another blog on it!

This area is called the Heather Garden and in the summer, is quite delightful. Unfortunately my photo doesn’t do it credit.

As I said, I have missed out a chunk of Golden Acre that I will return to in a later post, but in the meantime, enjoy this little taster/snippet. Worth a visit, though on lovely sunny days, it can be very very busy! Enjoy.

Coastal walk at Hest Bank, Lancashire

Walk: Coastal walk from Hest Bank Level crossing to Bayview.

Difficulty: Depends where you walk. Beach is very stony, but there are paths.

Accessibility: can be difficult terrain. Sturdy boots recommended and if going onto the Bay itself – wellies!

Parking: Hest Bank Level Crossing Grid ref: 468665

Hest Bank is a great walk for dogs and humans, offering a fantastic view of the south Lake District (you can see the Old Man of Coniston), of Morecambe Bay and Arnside Knott.

I park anywhere in the above picture. It’s free and right next door to a great little cafe that serves a wide range of food (their afternoon teas are good) and biscuits for your four legged friend. (they are allowed in, so no sitting outside in the cold!)

You can follow the road, keep to the grass verge or drop down onto the stony beach. I usually walk on the stony beach and follow my nose. There’s a great view of the Lakes especially on a beautiful summers day. When the tide is out (it always seems to be out when I go) there are many different wading birds feeding on the creatures left behind. (I know a Wildlife conservationist who could tell me what they were exactly!)

A rather dull day with heavy cloud cover, but a bit of a taster of the view. There were a few RAF jets screaming through the clouds, practising their runs through the Lake District valleys.

Looking back towards Morecambe which is just down the road. I read that Morecambe was suppose to be the Blackpool of the area, but somehow didn’t make it. It’s got a splendid promenade and the delightful Art Deco Midland Hotel on the front, but I will save that for later blog. Just love the rain showers in the distance.

Silly picture time. The Dog loves sticks, branches and logs to carry, but I think this one is beyond her. So she gave it a chew instead.

About halfway, there is cliff which you can walk either over or keep to the beach path, though the stones are like mini boulders and careful negotiation is required. It looks like it’s getting badly eroded and the red soil is seeping onto the stones. I prefer to drop onto the mud flats and avoid that area.

You come across this area when you walk beyond the cliff and come across the The Archers Cafe (a good half way tea stop, if that way inclined). It’s a massive grassland that stretches to the sea and hosts ground laying birds. It is riddled with this trenches and channels of water which The Dog loves. Some are quite deep and wide.

Here’s some more. They are full of water and mud, so don’t fall in!

The Dog found a more sensible stick to run around with.

This reminded me of the terrible cockling tragedy that hit Morecambe Bay in 2004 when 21 Chinese cockle pickers died when they got stranded out in the Bay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Morecambe_Bay_cockling_disaster

The Bay is notorious for quicksands and fast flowing tides and has caught out many people. It is strongly advised to find a local guide to help you cross it, but some days I see people way out. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morecambe_Bay

Sheep usually graze up this end. At this point, there is a green warehouse looking building which is the Bayview Garden Centre. It’s a short walk up the lane for a cuppa and a bun.

When I get to this point I usually walk back along the mud beach though there is a large wide channel to negotiate. Just makes a change. There are several different routes to follow.

Just fancied doing a moody atmospheric photo here. The mud flats stretch for miles out to sea here. There is a row of houses who have a fantastic view overlooking the Bay and the south Lakes and I have envied them. And not too far to take the dog for a walk!

I love the way the sand and mud create fantastic patterns, and the little channels making rivets deep into the mud. It’s really a creative person’s paradise.

The remnants of the old Wharf here at Hest Bank.

http://www.slyne-with-hest.org.uk/local%20history/wharf.htm

Looking back towards the wharf. The mud was very gloopy and I got smothered.

Not the greatest picture, but an information board giving you some background to the Wharf.

This is the entrance to the Hest Bank car park. You have to cross the level crossing, but be prepared to for a while sometimes. It’s part of the West Coast line, so it serves the Virgin intercity trains, the local sprinters and lumbering freight trains. They seem to bring the barriers down ages before a train appears and often will wait for two to go through before lifting them again. It’s amazing how much traffic is on this line as the barriers are forever up and down.

A good walk if you need fresh air and spaces. It’s a big sky place and regardless of the weather, there’s always something to see. Enjoy.

Breary Marsh, Leeds

Walk: Small urban woodland walk in North Leeds

Difficulty: Easy

Accessibility: Available to everyone. Good paths. There are side paths that can be muddy and uneven with tree roots.

Parking: Golden Acre Park. Bus stops nearby on A660. Grid reference: 269417.

Breary Marsh and Golden Acre Park are adjacent to each other. Golden Acre is a ornamental parkland and back in the 1930’s an ambitious amusement park, but that’s another story, while Breary Marsh is a woodland.

I park the car in the main car park off the A660 road and walk down the steps. Here the path splits. To the left, you go under the underpass to Golden Acre and across the bridge to Breary Marsh.

A great information board by Leeds City Council. The woods are full of birds and animals. Once The Dog took off when she was younger and to my horror, she was chasing a deer. Thinking both would disappear into the distance, never to be seen again, the deer elegantly jumped a fence while The Dog failed to calculate and slithered to a halt as the deer legged it across open fields. Phew.

The path from the car park, heads down the middle of the wood and takes you to the other end where it opens up and you arrive at Paul’s Pond. It was part of Cookridge Hall, a former stately home which still stands beyond the pond and is now part of Cookridge Golf Club which butts Breary Marsh. The pond was used by the owners for boating and in the winter supplied the house with ice which was broken up and taken to an ice house which is hidden on the golf club somewhere.

http://www.leodis.net/searchResults.aspx?LOCID=9999&DECADE=0&YEAR=&KEYWORDS=Cookridge%20Hall&KEYWORDS2=&KEYWORDS3=&ANDOR2=&ANDOR3=&RECSPAGE=5&VIEW=1&CURRPAGE=1

https://www.leeds.gov.uk/leisure/parks-and-countryside/nature-reserves/breary-marsh

http://www.leodis.net/display.aspx?resourceIdentifier=20031024_62463015

The pond is usually full of ducks, swans, colts and other fowl as well as fishing platforms.

This tree is just great. It looks like a gang of woodpeckers used it for target practice as it’s riddled with holes. It’s probably a great place for insects and fungi and all manner of creatures. Long may it stand.

One of the main paths running through Breary Marsh wood.

Earlier in the afternoon it was raining and hailing, not conducive to walking, but then the sun came out, the skies cleared and there was beautiful light. Breary Marsh is on the Leeds Country Way as well as the end of the Meanwood Valley Trail. It is well signposted.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leeds_Country_Way

The Meanwood Beck runs through here from its source on the Otley Chevin. Here’s the beck running under the bridge and where The Dog gets to wash off the mud. It continues into Golden Acre Park and onto Adel Woods and ultimately into the River Aire in central Leeds.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meanwood_Beck

Breary Marsh is only small and I do several circuits to wear The Dog out. There is a path that leads to the suburb of Cookridge called Pinfold Lane which is another way in, and involves street parking. Another footpath comes in across the Golf Club (if you don’t mind dodging golf balls), so there is variety. I can usually get an hour out of it, and it’s beautiful in May with the bluebells. Paul’s Pond was surrounded by overgrown and unruly rhododendrons, but the City Council did tackle them and got them under control, but they added colour to the woodland too.

As I said, it is adjacent to Golden Acre but that’s for another time and blog. Meanwhile enjoy.