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.

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.