Saturday, 2 January 2016


This blog was always supposed to be a record of walks in both the U.K. and abroad.  Sadly, I have not been as diligent as I should be in keeping it up to date and I am loathe to promise to do so in 2016. However, both Gill and I are determined that we will get out on more walks this year.

2016 has got off to a start with a 4.8 mile walk around our old home town of Guiseley.  Those of you in the U.K. will be aware that the last part of December was dominated by very wet weather.  So it was good that our friend Dave planned a walk that had little tramping through mud across the fields. In fact the muddiest part of the walk was across the playground area in Menston Village !!

Many thanks to Dave for planning and leading the walk.  Also, to Sally who (despite a broken toe) stayed at home to prepare a wonderful meal for our return.  Much appreciated by all of us.

Here's tp more walks during 2016 !!

Monday, 9 February 2015

A Good Start !

Miles this Week 24.9
Miles this Month 24.9
Miles this Year 72.7

January finished with snow and ice, February has begun and, whilst it is still cold and icy, the skies have been blue. During the first week of February we've managed to get out four times, including a stroll in Cardiff, which we were visiting for the opening 6 Nations Championship match of the season and which, thankfully, England managed to pull of an unexpected victory!!
Sadly, we have not matched England's unexpected victory and at only 72.7 miles to date we are, approximately 40 miles off-target for our 1000 mile challenge. However, the year is still in it's infancy and the weather has not been kind, plus, there is a small matter of the 6 Nations to contend with and, although we do try and get some walking in prior to the matches, it is not always possible.

Feb 2nd - Otley Chevin - 7.15 miles.

This picture probably sums it up !!  Very, very icy. After a reasonably fine weekend people had obviously been out and packed the snow down which had then frozen overnight. In fact there was one section down Mitton Lane which was almost impassable; in fact we met a couple who had just taken 1/2 hour to climb approximately 800 metres!!

Otley Chevin is familiar territory to us having lived close to it for 28 years. In fact we parked at "the end of the street" where we used to live. The first part of the walk was fairly easy going. The fields slope away to the South East and had seen plenty of bright sunshine which had melted the snow. It was not until we crested the Chevin and started on the North facing slopes that the problem of ice appeared.

The section through Danefield, shielded by trees was also fairly ice free but when we once again reached the section of the Chevin beyond Surprise View our problems began again and both of us experienced the effects of gravity on at least one occasion! Still, it is a truism that in this country if you let the weather put you off, you'll never get out of the house.

Feb 4th - Baildon to Ilkley - 8.4 miles

A linear walk making use of the local train service that runs from Ilkley to Bradford. Again, we were extremely lucky with the weather with bright blue skies throughout, although the temperature rarely got above freezing. Once again, ice was the problem once we got up onto Hawksworth Moor where established paths had seen footfall which had melted and subsequently frozen to solid ice. The other problem was that footpaths were slightly indistinct on the more snowy areas.

Having said that this was a magnificent walk, high above the Wharfe Valley with long range views available throughout and whilst the going was fairly slow (it took us nearly 4 hours against an anticipated 3 1/4) we were neither in a rush, nor unable to appreciate the views offered to us.

Arriving in Ilkley we managed a well earned cup of coffee and a sandwich before catching the train back home.

February 6th - Cardiff - 5.2 miles

The arrival of the 6 Nations Championship and an opportunity to walk "abroad". For the first time in it's history the game in Wales was held on a Friday evening which gave us the opportunity to walk from the centre of Cardiff down to Cardiff Bay.  Thanks to Millenium funding Cardiff Bay has been transformed with the magnificent Millenium Centre now dominating the waterfront and shops, bars and cafes replacing what were once wharves.

Again, we were incredibly lucky with the weather which remained cold but rewarded us with bright blue skies with hardly a cloud in sight.

The game ...... for the first time in a very long time England managed a win !! They dominated the second half denying the Welsh of both possession and territory.  Many thanks also to the members of the WRU Committee who's hospitality over two evenings was superb.

Feb 8th - Kettlewell - 4.1 miles

A short "sunday stroll" in Upper Wharfedale.  The most remarkable thing about the walk was the drive to get there. Coming past Keighley the skies suddenly clouded over and we found ourselves driving through thick, freezing fog.  In fact in the space of about 2 miles the temperature went from +3 to -2.5!!  Almost as quickly once we had got past Grassington the reverse happened and, as you can see from the photograph below we were, once again, greeted with cloudless skies.

This is a very straighforward route starting from the National Parks Car Park in Kettlewell and follows a well marked footpath which follows the River Wharfe as far as the footbridge over the river at Starbotton.

Once in the village another well marked footpath climbs out of Starbotton and then follows the side of the valley until it descends back into Kettlewell. A short but beautiful walk, with both of us discarding hats, gloves and outer layers as the temperature rose to 5 degrees !

If January was disappointing then we have had a good start to February, not least with the weather. However, once again it looks as though other commitments are going to get in the way of our walking for the next couple of weeks at least and, no doubt, we will find ourselves going into March having fallen further behind our schedule ! 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Ilkley & Grass Wood

Miles this Week 11.41
Miles this Month 37.2
Miles this Year 37.2

A bad week for walking as the weather closed in and ice and snow dominated the weekend, meaning we did not get out of the house on this particular Sunday.

Middleton & Denton - 6.52 miles

Thanks to Paul Hannon and his "Ilkley Moor" guide for this walk which is actually on the opposite side of the valley to Ilkley Moor.

The walk starts from the riverside in Ilkley where, on a damp Wednesday in January, there is plenty of parking. The first section of the walk goes through Riverside Gardens, past the rugby club, as far as the suspension bridge over the river Wharfe.
The next section can be slightly hairy as it requires moving along the busy road that runs alongside the river and which is an infamous "rat run" for those who know the area - beware speeding cars !!
Thankfully, this section is brief before cutting across fields and skirting the underside of West Park Wood, emerging onto Denton Lane and climbing to the hamlet.  This is the furthest point of the walk, which is (in reality) triangular in shape. A few more yards uphill takes you across the top side of West Park Wood and out along some very wet fields past the former Middleton Hospital and heads towards Middleton Moor, although before reaching this you turn to begin the descent through Middleton Woods and back to the rugby club before regaining the river bank for the last few metres.
A delightful walk which combined both the river, woodland and moorland, although it does have to be said that it was fairly tough going through the fields on the moor edge which were absolutely saturated.

Grass Wood - 4.89 miles

Grassington is one of those "special" places which has featured throughout my life - I first played rugby at "Upper Wharfedale" (as it was in those days) when I was in my teens and even when living in the South-East a return visit to Yorkshire would, inevitably, mean a visit to this Capital of Wharfedale.
The weather was particularly inclement for this walk. In fact had the photo opposite been taken some 5 minutes earlier it would have been completely white !! Such is the English weather that we started in a blizzard, enjoyed bright blue skies in the middle section of the walk and returned to grey and overcast weather before driving home in thick snow !!
This is a simple route following the river Wharfe upstream from Grassington - we parked in the National Parks Car Park which is not cheap but very convenient for many walks. The walk passes through Lower Grass Wood before hitting the road from Grassington to Coniston. A few yards of road walking (without the threat of speeding traffic [see above]) meets the far corner of the wood and a pleasant path leads upwards (quite steep in places) and across the woods, leading back to Grassington.

Our 1000 mile challenge is now well behind schedule - we should have walked approximately 50 miles by this point in the month. However, as previously stated we are confident that we will make up any defecit later in the year.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tadcaster & Bingley

Walks this week :  14.17 miles

Total this Month : 25.85 miles

Total for Year : 25.85 miles

Sadly, we're slightly behind schedule for both the month and year (we should be around 33 miles into our 1000 mile challenge), but given that we've started in January and the weather to date this year has not been conducive to walking, we're not too worried at the moment. Plus, we reckon we'll be doing some longer walks once the weather improves.  Anyway, we only managed to get out twice this week visiting Tadcaster and, on Sunday, Bingley and the St. Ives Estate.

07/01/15 - Tadcaster - 7.7 miles

A cold, grey day for this walk with rain in the air and very muddy under foot. In fact the route shown above is not the route that I found on, once we had reached Catterton we should have gone through the village and cut through fields to reach Healaugh. The fields around this area are mainly given over to arable farming and the mud was ankle deep and cloying, so instead of the planned route we stuck to the road to reach Healaugh.

 One of the joys of walking is discovering new places. Places that you would never dream of visiting if in a car. In fact I must have driven past these two villages on a number of occasions as I hurtled down the A64 towards York.  After trudging through ploughed fields we hit the village of Healaugh, and what a delight. Some very old cottages and the village church perched on what passes for a hill around the parts !

The return to Tadcaster was very straightforward following a series of hedged tracks flanked by fields just starting to show their crops for the current year.  This is, maybe, a route to be repeated later in the year when everything is growing.

By the way, as an added advantage to a yorkshireman, parking in Tadcaster is free !!

11/01/15 - Bingley and the St. Ives Estate - 6.4 miles

I suppose one of the things about a walk is that distance isn't everything. Whilst this walk was a good mile less that the previous one it was much more strenuous and the section from Marley up Marley Brow is a good (lung bursting, thigh burning) drag. However, as with all walks the reward comes at the top with tremendous views down the length of Airedale.

This walk came from AA book "50 Walks in the Yorkshire Dales". My sister bought me this as a Christmas present and, given the challenge we've accepted, we will be trying to complete all of them in the course of the year.  If I have one criticism of this particular walk it is that the printed directions are not always clear and there were a number of times when the obvious route (which we followed) led us away from the route prescribed in the book.

Anyhow, the route starts from the middle of Bingley (we parked close to the station and, again, it is free on a Sunday - although not during the week). It is surprising how just following the route of the river one escapes from the confines of the town suprisingly quickly and after only a mile or so you could kid yourself that you were miles from the nearest habitation.

As I mentioned the middle section climbs quite steeply and evetually leads out onto an outcrop called "Devil's Altar" which gives extensive views down and along Airedale.

The final section of the walk goes through the St. Ives estate visting Lady Blantyre's Rock which is surrounded by rhodedendron bushes. Again, this must be one to repeat when they are in flower as it will be spectacular then. There was a twist in the tail of this walk as we went badly wrong near the end, crossing what we thought was the packhorse bridge at Beckfoot, only to find we had not gone far enough along the beck.  We hope the gentleman in front who went striding across the golf course not realising his mistake, was able to retrace his steps !!

A very enjoyable walk, only three or four miles from home providing a real escape into the country.

Monday, 5 January 2015

One Small Step


Walks this week : 11.68 miles

Total this month : 11.68 miles

Total this Year : 11.68 miles

Well, we're on our way .......  only 988 miles to go to reach our target of 1000 miles in 2015. The stats at the top may look pathetic at the moment (the graph that I've drawn certainly does) but we've made a start. I have to say that both walks this week were absolutely stunning with bright blue skies on both occasions and reasonable temperatures given the time of year.

02/01/15 - South Stainley and Burton Leonard - 4.35 miles

Thanks go the the Walking Englishman (a superb site by the way) for this route.

The walk starts in South Stainley, just off the A61, not far from Ripon. Parking is available next to the village church where a honesty box operates. In fact when we finished the walk a gentleman appeared to empty the box and, whether it is a very popular spot, or whether it is not emptied regularly it certainly seems to be a money-spinner !!
From beside the church a well signposted footpath runs through fields eventually giving way to a track by more cultivated ground. Unfortunately, this is where we strayed from the published track ending up on Limekiln Lane, rather than going through Jackson's Wood as anticipated. However, we quickly consulted the map and ended up in Burton Leonard as expected.

The "return" journey is easily navigated as it follows roadways and tracks to return you to the starting point.

04/01/15 - Baildon - 7.33 miles.

Not the walk we had actually planned as the day was extremely frosty and driving would have been difficult. This walk, therefore, had the benefit of starting and finishing from home with the addition of bright blue, cloudless skies.

I have done this route before (albeit with a slightly different start/end point) and the best starting point is from the car park next to the Rugby Club. The route goes past the end of the pitches and then drops directly down the side of the valley until stepping stones are encountered crossing Hawksworth Spring. Thankfully, it had been frosty (!!) otherwise the footpath that runs alongside the spring would have been almost too muddy to navigate. Again, the route is faily easy to follow and eventually emerges on to the main road at Low Spring.


After a scary few yards (it is a very busy road) you escape up Sconce Lane and, once again the route is easy to follow along a series of tracks that skirt Baildon Moor before hitting the main road by a cattle grid.  Here, once again, it is straight forward  as the path follows Glen Lane until it ends at the top of Shipley Glen Tramway. 
Here our route took us along the pathway that eventually drops down to Baildon Green, but you could continue along the path, or cut through at various points on to West Lane which leads back to the centre of Baildon.