Woodlesford. March 7th, 2017

It’s been a while since we’ve had a days walking, and the suggestion of a decent forecast encouraged us to dig out the rucksack and the maps and get started.  Woodlesford is a village on the edge of Leeds, which I guess wouldn’t want to see itself as a suburb, but in many ways is.  Pleasant area, about 5/6 miles to the east of the city, it has some very posh looking houses near the canal, and doubtless some much more ordinary houses closer to its centre.  The canal has a lock, something of a car park and a line of tethered canal boats, some lovingly tended, others in dire need of TLC.  It also now has some surprising animal residents which were well worth a chuckle and a photograph, though I’m not clear just what is the connection between Woodlesford and the Gruffalo!

We headed towards the city along a towpath which ranged in quality from a good road surface to genuine Yorkshire mud, puddled by the recent rain and ploughed by “mountain bike” tyres.  The path is part of the “Trans Pennine Trail” which pretty much does what the name suggests.  In fact we discovered at what we decided was lunch time that from about Thwaite Mills on it was closed for some works related to the city’s flood defences – a good enough excuse to turn round and head back!  Incidentally – Thwaite Mills was closed as well, except to pre arranged school visits.  I guess that’s not so surprising; the economics of keeping such an enterprise open for passing trade must be difficult – shame though.  Check out the web site before visiting.

It’s always an interesting experience, I find, approaching a city either along or alongside a canal.  There’s a gradual change in scenery and in sound and smell as the very rural gives way to the industrial and eventually the civic.  It’s something of a reminder of the heritage of the canal system of course; only recently has it become about leisure and recreation.  Its initial purpose was very much to do with industry and commerce, the vital supply route.  We learned a while back that there are moves towards a resurgence of that original purpose in the transport of aggregates and such like into the city on barges, which probably makes all kinds of sense.  The canal itself is quite wide, although the locks aren’t, but no doubt they’ve thought of that!

Anyway, it was a good beginning to our walking season.  We live in hopes for much more as the year develops.  A few pictures follow …… which include the Gruffalo!

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Leeds and Liverpool Canal: Saltaire to Bingley  28.2.12

Unseasonably mild it was, but still grey and overcast with a frustratingly flat light. Complaints made though, it was a good day for a walk, on a well made and firm towpath and the clear objective of the “Bingley Five Rise Locks” to look forward to.

Most of the images can speak for themselves. It was interesting making our way through Bingley itself, and emerging from the peace of the early stretch of the walk into the noise and bustle generated by the major road through the town, which runs very close to the canal – as of course does the railway, with the River Aire never all that distant; the classic valley combination of industrial West Yorkshire. Just the 4 images included here, from the Tower Blocks through to the Damart chimney – lots of verticals here it occurs to me, and all in portrait format!

The “5-rise” itself is quite a sight, rising in stately fashion from the stillness of the canal water – it’ll be rather different during the season of course with boats working their way up or down. Four of the five locks have just had new gates fitted, and it made an usual sight to see the fresh, new timber, untreated (as yet?) instead of the more usual selection of blackened and slowly rotting wood of many of the other locks we’ve seen on these walks. There are no boats on the move just yet, but plenty moored alongside, and I thought that the heavily craned working boat was an interesting contrast to the finely decorated “No 1”.

There’s many a cyclist on the towpath, and although we didn’t always hear their bells, relationships remained generally cordial. It was though great to see the little group of children, who seemed to be with a teacher from one of the Saltaire Schools riding out together. They were particularly polite as they passed us, and constituted a small but significant good omen for the future.

I do enjoy the architecture of these industrial towns and the two towers of the Pace Building and the United Reformed Church duly welcomed us back.