Meanwood Park and The Hollies, Leeds

Walk: Stroll around north Leeds park and woodland.

Difficulty: depends on the walk you choose – mainly easy.

Accessibility: paved paths in park, other pathways can be very muddy (after rain). There are some steep areas especially in The Hollies.

Parking: At The Hollies Grid ref: 276378 and Meanwood Park Car Park Grid ref: 282373. Cafe here as well.

I love Leeds and it’s parks. This one is on the edge of the Outer Ring Road, but you would never of guessed it – apart from the traffic noise. You could be in the middle of the country.

I usually park at The Hollies, but to confuse the The Dog I parked at Meanwood Park. Two areas merge into each other so you get woodland, parkland, streams, ornamental gardens and past industry all mixed into one! The Dog loves it – a woodland full of grey creatures with bushy tails to chase and water to having a cooling drink and a swim in.

There are many paths and different ways to walk around these two area, so I have a “follow your nose” policy and see what you discover. I usually spend a good couple of hours here.

The Meanwood Valley Trail passes through here. The trail starts further in the city at Woodhouse and meanders through the suburbs to Golden Acre Park in the North.

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

This is one of the main paths, but other parts can be quite muddy after rainy weather and wellies are the best footwear.

This is Meanwood Beck which runs from beyond Golden Acre right through the city centre and into the River Aire. Many years ago when I worked in a school, we did a year long project with kids and followed the Beck to the Centre (where it disappears underneath the city via tunnels and gullies!). Really fascinating and the kids loved it.

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

There are fascinating glimpses of an industrial era in the area. There were mills for flax, corn and paper and the Beck was used to great advantage. This is clearly a man made water course and probably used to power the mills.

There are several quarries dotted in the woodland around the Hollies too.

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

More evidence of Meanwood’s hidden past. It’s sort of pleasing that nature can take back what we take and it hasn’t taken long to do so.

How do these trees stay alive and remain standing!!!!

This was an absolute delight to see. Usually someone points out a kingfisher as it’s flying downstream and I’m lucky to see its back end. Today, this one was just sitting on a branch looking into the Beck for ages. I couldn’t believe my luck. I carefully took photos on my phone, but sadly couldn’t get closer. Oh for a proper camera!

This row of cottages are between The Hollies and Meanwood Park. They must of been workers cottages years ago as they are stuck on their own. If it wasn’t for the park and woodland, I think they would of been swallowed by suburbia. Housing is not far away and can be seen through the trees and across the park.

The start of the parkland, but with two stones protruding in the middle distance, Again, must of been part of a gateway or something.

A beautiful packhorse bridge spanning the Beck. It’s still in use.

Love this building with bottles used for windows. It is very fascinating. Looks like it’s been converted for a garage which kind of spoils it.

Very clever.

Then you get this monument tucked in a corner out of the way. I tried to get closer, but there was a quagmire of mud and I only had my trainers on. And there’s me telling you to wear wellies!!! Tried to get a photo of the plaque.

And failed.

And one final picture of the park itself. It’s a lovely combination of tended parkland, woodland one end and undisturbed woodland at the other end with its remnants of its industrial past. There seems to be an untidy ornamental garden with rhododendrons in the Hollies. They are beautiful when they flower in May. It’s a real mish mash of everything which is just wonderful. Enjoy.

Eccup Reservoir, Leeds

Walk: 4.5 mile circular walk around Eccup reservoir, Alwoodley, Leeds

Difficultly: Easy

Accessibility: 2 or 3 stiles and can be muddy in parts.

Parking: on road. Eccup Moor Road 287420 or Alwoodley Lane 297408

This is a nice little circular walk of about 1.5 – 2 hours. A mixture of walking on the perimeter of the reservoir and road walking. I usually park at Eccup village (2) and do it in reverse of the map. The Dog can be off lead entirely. So I walk down an arable field and cross a stile at the bottom which can be quite muddy after a lot of rain. Then up a short path to another stile where you enter a large field. Branch left here, keeping Goodrick Plantation on your left. There can be sheep and cows in this field, but usually in the distance. Keep your eyes peeled for Red Kites who usually hover and swoop around here. They are pretty common.

Through a gate and down a path between fences, you come across an old ornate house which I presume must of been the old manager’s houses many years ago when the reservoir was first built. It’s quite imposing when you walk down the lane from Alwoodley Lane.

Here The Dog and I walk through a gate and follow the path with the reservoir to my left and the golf course to my right. There’s a little drainage channel here and The Dog loves jumping in and dredging sticks. Further along she’s able to chase imaginary squirrels in between the trees. You are unable to get to the reservoirs edge as it’s been fenced off, but it’s a lovely flat walk with lovely view.

Another house appears at the end of this path and here you turn left to walk over the dam of Eccup Reservoir. Here The Dog tries to have a look by jumping up the dam wall, but not very successfully. At the end there is a lot of machinery and pipes, with water gushing and whooshing through the grilles, sometimes slopping up through the grating. There’s a lot of noise from the water too. It’s fascinating and I would love to know what’s happening there.

In the 1840s the Leeds Waterworks Company acquired land from the Earl of Harewood for Eccup Reservoir to provide the City of Leeds with clean drinking water. The reservoir was expanded in the 1850s and again in the 1890s. It now has a water treatment works.

Four brick shafts were constructed in Alwoodley to serve the tunnel which brought the water from Eccup Reservoir over the Seven Arches aqueduct in Adel Woods into Leeds.

There’s a slight incline and the road bends right where you can see a footpath sign. Take this path past houses that seem to be just dropped there. They are full of security cameras and grilles and really I wonder who would buy a house and live like that.

Finally you reach the Eccup Moor Road and turning left again, you follow this road back to the car. It’s very quiet except for the occasional car, bike or utilities vehicle heading to the water treatment works.

I love this tree. It’s been dead for years and is just a skeleton. I half expect a couple of vultures sitting there shrugging their shoulders wondering what to do next. It’s so gnarled and a piece of art in its own right.

The road is fairly straight and drops downwards on a slight gradual incline. Here you get great views across towards Cookridge and see planes coming into land at nearby Leeds Bradford airport. It’s a great evening walk and there are options to extend it too. Take a pair of binoculars for the Red Kites and geese will gather here too, making a huge cacophony of noise. Other birds can be seen too.

A pleasant stroll on the edge of Leeds with countryside stretching beyond. Enjoy.

River Lune Riverside Walk, Caton, Lancashire

Walk: Lune Riverside walk from Bull Beck picnic site, Caton to centre of Lancaster. Linear path, but there are circular walks too, off the path, through woodland and fields.

Difficulty: Easy

Accessibility: Flat tarmac throughout.

Parking: Free parking at Bull Beck, Caton Grid ref: 542649.

Good walk for dogs off lead, though beware of cyclists.

http://www.wayoftheroses.co.uk/fullpage.php?ad=309i

The River Lune Millennium Park stretches some 15km along the banks of the Lune from Salt Ayre in Lancaster to Bull Beck near Caton in the heart of the Lune Valley. With unusual artwork and interpretation, the park offers various walks and cycleways.

This is the walk I followed today rather than do the path to Lancaster. Bull Beck isn’t marked, but the picnic signs on the right shows where it is. You can carry on towards to Lancaster as far as you want and there are other circular routes. I tend to follow my nose and found two or three good walks.

I always park at Bull Beck and never done the full 15km to Lancaster, except on a bike many years ago. It’s a good dog walk if it’s wet and muddy and they can be off lead.

Bull Beck is located on the A683 Kirkby Lonsdale to Lancaster road, just east of Caton. It is sort of tarmacked with quarry bottom and a few large “potholes”have appeared, but can be navigated around. Parking is free and there’s a small cafe there that serves bacon butties and steaming mugs of hot tea plus a lot more. There are picnic tables too. Loos are available at 20p a pee and it can be a gathering for motorcyclists which can be a real sight.

This is the beginning of the walk. It is well signposted and there are information boards.

This is the path and as I said, flat, level and tarmacked and great for everyone. Can get busy with people, kids, dogs and bikes.

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The path is dotted with art work and signs and statues. I really like this one.

Then there’s these guys just lying around by the River Lune.

And this one, which I need to find out more about. If you know, answers on a postcard please!

The path is actually an old railway line – the old line from Wennington to Lancaster which was closed in 1966. There is a second line from Wennington that still runs to Lancaster via Carnforth. The fine Victorian bridges are well maintained and this is one of them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Little%22_North_Western_Railway

This part of the path is known as the Crook O’ Lune and a popular tourist area. The River here does a huge u-bend and within yards there are two bridges to cross it. If you look at the above OS map you can see where it almost doubles back on itself.

This is the road bridge across the River Lune which runs parallel to the Millennium Path. The river was flowing very fast today.

The day has been overcast all day with rain this morning. It’s still quite cold for the end of March, but I noticed that the trees and bushes are just starting to bud. Spring seems a long way off, though the clocks go forward this weekend – we lose an hour in bed but gain an hour of daylight in the evenings.

Below the Millennium Bridge and the beautiful wrought iron work. I’ve dropped off the path and starting to walk through the fields alongside the River Lune back to the car.

If you stick to the path, there is another watering hole called Woodies a little further on. Not the most glamorous places, but they serve a very good cuppa and anything that goes into a bun! Small nominal charge of £1 for parking and again toilets.

And not a bad spot to sit to eat your butty and sup your tea. This looks east towards the Yorkshire Dales and hidden in the distance in cloud, is Ingleborough, one of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire. It always seems to be shrouded in cloud and even on the most beautiful day, can have a little cap of cloud. Apparently JMW Turner, the artist visited here and painted.

Along this section, there’s seems to be a lot of waterworks and associated buildings. This is the flow management building apparently. It is such at odds with its surroundings and I love the way it’s on it’s own little pillar. It does flood here, believe me!

Just love this. Makes me wonder every time I walk past. All that metal work and signage to tell you to beware – danger, but a few feet along, you can happily fall into the drink and be in Lancaster before you can say ” oops, I’ve fallen in!”. In reality I think there’s a little weir or drop of some sort and I bet it’s to prevent idiots trying to negotiate their way across it thinking it’s stepping stones. But it’s still odd in the acres of space here.

Further along you come to a rather fancy bridge which essentially just carries water pipes across the River Lune, but in that grandiose Victorian style. Think this is a pump house, but look closer and it’s got a fancy stone plaque on the side. It’s in the middle of a huge sheep field and in the middle of nowhere. So elaborate.

Also on this isolated bridge, there are stone plaques marking the height and date of floods from the 1800’s and after the 2015 floods, thought “well, it’s always flooded badly, what are we get excited about?”…………………

The two newer stones at the top of the picture are the new 2015 flood levels……..

And to put it all in perspective, the 1800 one is my first photo. I think we do have something to get excited and worried about!

The bridge in all its glory! Just to carry water pipes. Maybe it wasn’t for that purpose, but there seems to be no roads and there’s a steep incline on the other side and it’s quite wide. A bit of a mystery. You can walk across the bridge as there’s a footpath on the other side to,take you back to the Crook of Lune. The Dog hates crossing it as it’s a metal mesh pathway and she’s scared of it. Got a funny little gait as she crosses which is hilarious.You can see the 2015 flood level so it must of been terrifying and covered swathes of land.

No idea what these are. There are three of them spaced out across the field close to the bridge. Must be for something and maybe hark back to the waterworks.

The fields are full of lambs and their mums and it’s a lovely sight. I just love lambs and how giddy they get when they get together. It’s my favourite time of year to see the newborns. I have felt for them this week as last weekend we had thick snow agin, albeit for just a day which is typically British, but fancy being born in such conditions. However, they were enjoying life today despite the low cloud and general drabness and brightened up my day.

A nice stretch of the legs and got some air. It’s a lovely little walk with different options depending on your mood. If you stick to the path to Lancaster, you come across the little village of Halton and the busy M6 motorway crosses over above, with huge concrete pillars and dripping water. A bit spooky, but fascinating. Beyond that, you enter the suburbs of Lancaster following the River Lune into Morecambe Bay. Enjoy.

Hunger Hills Wood, Horsforth, Leeds

Walk: A small suburban wood on the edge of north west Leeds.

Difficulty: medium

Accessibility: steep hills and very muddy at the moment.

Parking: street parking.

Links: https://www.hungerhillswoods.org/about-the-woods-and-their-history/the-origins-of-the-woods/ (also includes walks and other information).

http://west-leeds-country-park-and-green-gateways.webplus.net/a_guide_to_hunger_hills_woods.

It is a lovely spring day today. The sun is warm when out, but there’s a cool wind and pockets of snow are still lying about. Not quite t-shirt weather. The Dog and I walked to Hunger Hills Wood, a tiny woodland adjacent to a housing estate that affords some great view across Leeds.

Apparently today, days and nights are both 12 hours long and hark the beginning of spring. All I care about is summer is coming, with lighter evenings and the possibility of a barbecue if the British weather allows it. The squirrels in the wood certainly know, as there are an abundance of them scampering through the trees, much to The Dog’s delight. She spent a happy hour chasing them and wearing herself out. She has never caught one and never will as she gives them prior notice as she crashes through the undergrowth, but it keeps her occupied. The birds were all singing in the trees too which was lovely to hear – it gave you that feel good factor. I saw two or three Jays flying around too.

This is the view looking south west towards Shipley and the Pennines beyond. Considering there’s a housing estate some 100 yards away, this is literally the edge of Leeds but you could be in the middle of the countryside.

This is looking towards the city centre with the University, Bridgewater Place (the highest building in Leeds) and other landmarks clearly seen. On clearer days, you can see Drax Power Station (amongst others) beyond in the east.

The Friends of the Wood have created this great information board that pinpoints all the landmarks with a brief description of each. Very interesting and makes you really study the landscape.

Tried to be clever with my phone camera (one day I will use my proper camera) and did a panoramic shot in the same spot as the photos above. There’s is a fantastic 180 degree view from the countryside north of the city, across into the suburbs and the city centre and then out over the south side towards Farsley and Pudsey.

The green is not grass but hundreds and thousands of bluebells, starting to push their way up from the soil. In May time, this wood usually has a beautiful carpet of Bluebells throughout and is stunning.

Now this makes me vent.

Somebody has come up to the woods, carrying this piece of rubbish and dumped it. I scratch my head at this, as there is no vehicular access to the woods, so the person concerned as made a huge effort to cart it up the hill and drop it there, when there were easier options to dispose of it. The only other way for it to get there was by the wind catching it, but there’s surrounding fields and no other debris nearby, so I doubt it. It just drives me crazy at people’s careless actions and their mentality. End of rant.

There’s a footpath up from Westbrook Lane/Lee Lane East leading up towards Hunger Hills. Underneath all the earth are these stones, which I’m trying to find the history of. I’ve got a feeling that it was an old drovers road from years gone by, but can’t find out for sure. They have been there for quite a while!

Swinsty Reservoir

After a weekend of snow and icy wind, today felt a lot more like spring. The sun was out and warm in sheltered areas and I managed to go for a walk in trainers rather than wellies!

I’m cursing myself of not recording the last couple of days of snow, but my phone kept hibernating and needed CPR when I got home. Namely being plugged into the mains and being recharged even though it still had lots of battery life. Sometimes, technology just doesn’t make the grade.

Anyway The Dog and I headed to Swinsty Reservoir, north of Otley. It’s a lovely circular walk around the reservoir and through woodland.

It’s pretty flat and accessible to everyone. It’s one of my favourite walks as the drive to Swinsty is very pleasant too and The Dog can be off lead all the way round.

It was a glorious spring day, though snow can still be seen behind walls. Yesterday morning, snow blanketed the whole area, covering roads and paths. Twenty four hours later and it’s all different.

Spotted these icicles still clinging on down these stone steps.

The wind was quite strong here, blowing across the reservoir. Even the water has little waves with white caps. We didn’t linger here!

I think this is still in use and used by Yorkshire Water who manage the Reservoir. Inside there are tanks and pipe work, so I think it’s a pumping station of some sort. I just love the building – typical Victorian with its ornate windows. It looks like a little cottage!

Swinsty started construction in1871 and completed in 1878. It’s situated in the Washburn Valley, north of Otley and west of Harrogate. Click on the link below for more information.

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

Love how nature works. These trees are just amazing – they are barely attached to the ground and actually a couple of them have lurched sideways and leaning against their neighbours. It shows how intricate their root system is too, intertwining with each other.

This is the Washburn Valley Heritage Centre, where on certain days, volunteers serve home made cakes and tea. It is very nice and a half way stop, though to reach it from the reservoir edge, it’s a bit of a walk up a gravelly path. Makes you appreciate your scone and jam though! It’s attached to the beautiful church and the graveyard. I love reading the inscriptions on the ancient graves. One is particularly heart rendering as a family loses four daughters in their early twenties. How tragic is that?

http://www.washburnvalley.org/i

I love these information boards. Apart from a wall in the background, all there is of the old vicarage is a knot of ivy and brambles. A beautiful stately house like that lost to the reservoir because of subsidence. It’s bad enough that valleys are lost for reservoirs feeding the large northern cities with fresh water and that many families were displaced and their homes lost forever. Sometimes, when the levels get too low, the lost villages and houses make a brief reappearance. There was a lot of upheaval and I wonder how the villagers reacted to the news.

Love these two very British iconic structures, rarely seen together like this. Many of the traditional red telephone boxes like this one, were replaced by awful metal and glass boxes that someone in BT’s design department thought was a good idea. They look like they were thought up after a Friday afternoon liquid lunch on the back of an envelope. Luckily the red ones survive and are usually home to defibrillators for medical emergencies. Others are used as mini libraries and other uses which is just brilliant. Others find permanent homes in people’s back gardens.

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

Little Observations on Everyday Life

Is it just me it happens to or are other people out there who cannot fill their car up without going over to the penny?

Say you want £30 worth of fuel and you click off at say, £29.67 and spend the next few seconds of your life, gradually clicking a bit more petrol in the tank as it inches towards that nice round number. You get to £29.97, 98, 99. You’re concentrating so much that your tongue is sticking out. Just one more flick of the finger and bingo.

Except of going up in increments of one like the last few clicks, it suddenly leaps by two and you’re staring at £30.01. How did that happen? You pull a pained face and probably swear inadvertently loudly at the pump, alarming fellow motorists.

Now here’s the thing. Were you heavy fingered or are the pumps programmed to always show £30.01.

I’m convinced it’s the latter. I always ask the checkout staff and they smile and mutter about collecting points. Other drivers smile wryly. After all, if it’s happens to all the motorists filling up, that’s a lot of extra pennies being collected. It’s now becoming a challenge every time I fill up – can I avoid going over and giving the petroleum companies more profit? More often I fail miserably, pull a face and traipse across the forecourt cussing under my breath. Little things ………

Damp Around the Edges

It’s one of those dark, damp, miserable sort of days that Britain sort of specialises in.

It wasn’t good when we woke up with rain pouring down. Always the optimist, I declared it may brighten later. The Dog and I pottered around the house until a mate rang and asked if I wanted a walk? I asked her if she had actually looked out of the window? No, came the reply and a better deal of a coffee was struck.

On my return, The Dog was pacing, wanting a walk. The rain had eased off but mist was lurking. My weather prediction was sort of true – it had improved slightly as it wasn’t raining anymore! Where could we go without having to a) wear wellies b) slither in gooey squelchy mud and get blathered. I needed petrol first, so headed off racking the old brain cells where I could go and crossing off each one. ” Looking like we’re walking the streets” I yelled at Dog in the boot of the car, which thrilled both me and The Dog – not. It was when I was idly filling the car, that the perfect solution cropped up and pleased with myself, The Dog and I headed off.

We drove to Yeadon Tarn, a suburb in north west Leeds, squeezed between the High Street and the Leeds Bradford Airport’s runway. It is home to the sailing club and on summer days, there’s usually a range of sailing vessels bobbing on its surface. Numerous birds also gather here, scrounging food off visitors and at the end, there’s a sectioned off area for conservation. For me and The Dog, it has a paved path circling the Tarn, which ticked a huge box for us and we headed off into the deepening mist.

Told you. Not a good day for photography. Couldn’t tell if it was a mist or just very low cloud. I couldn’t even see the runway of the airport which is literally next door and could hear aeroplanes taking off, but nothing else. It was also drizzling slightly. The whole place is waterlogged too after last week’s snow melt and the rain. Puddles are everywhere and the grass boggy. (Thanks, Dog for going to the toilet about 10 foot from the path, in a particularly boggy area and I had my fashion boots on as I thought I would be on tarmac!!)

We did three circuits of the Tarn, before I was getting chilly. The Dog dredged a ridiculously long branch from the Tarn, (a habit of hers to find the biggest stick, branch, log she can find and drag it around with her, usually clipping the back of your leg as she passes), but thoughtfully dropped it on the grass out of the way.

We headed home. Not much of a report today with such dire weather, but at least we stretched our legs and got some fresh air. Roll on summer.