Tuesday, 9 April 2013

I'm back! On the Leeds Country Way Hiking Trail

Leeds Country Way

The forecast wasn't great but with my physiotherapy in my head and the Oxfam Trailtrekker in the forefront of my mind I decided to give the Leeds Country Way another shot. I was going to walk from home, through Temple Newsam Park and wind up in a pub somewhere, likely Barwick in Elmet and set myself up in a boozer with a fine mead and call a lift. Which isn't quite how it ended up working out... I figured I'd set out to do about 16 miles but would feel my way through it as it had been a while since I'd been on a walk that far.

So I left home and if was spitting, albeit not too heavy. I walked through Temple Newsam Park and headed in the direction of Swillington. Temple Newsam Park itself is really pleasant. The Leeds Country Way is nowhere to be seen at this point and I'd probably covered 2 - 3 miles before I hit it close to the outskirts of Woodlesford. It started off more pleasant than my previous experience. It winds along footpaths and bridle ways through the outer suburbs of Leeds but passing through the likes of Great Preston (where I think I went wrong) and Kippax do detract from what you expect to be a Country Way as these are not the most pleasant of places. I was trying not to refer to the map too much either as it was throwing it down by the time I got to these places which in itself suggested that I should consult the map more as I should never have been in Kippax itself.

Once out of Kippax though the route takes you down a disused railway where I only came across a couple of cyclists and a couple of dog walkers which was nice, although I'm sure if it wasn't heaving down there would probably have been more traffic.

I then wound up walking into Garforth. Again the route takes you straight through the middle of the town, the surroundings of which you don't expect on a route called the Leeds Country Way. It was whilst walking through Garforth that a thoughtful and observant driver roared through a puddle and soaked me to the bone from the waist down which was far from ideal. Suppose that now meant that I wouldn't be finishing me day in the pub. Not amused!

Once out of Garforth the route heads back into the countryside, accompanied by snow now - which only lasted about 15 minutes in fairness. The route here takes you over the railway and then the M1 heading through a farm and off towards Scholes. The route continues to be marked with the picture of an owl and the letters LCW (Leeds Country Way) which you will see above and is really easy to follow.

Approaching Scholes I still felt pretty ok so I decided to add some miles on and make the yomp back home. It was here that I left the Leeds Country Way and I walked back passed John Smeaton Leisure centre. Through the industrial estate I turned left and when the opportunity arose I turned right and crossed the unmanned crossing of the railway. I then followed a hiking trail in the direction of Thorpe Park Industrial estate. Instead of trudging through suburbia I opted to walk back through Temple Newsam Park to home. I was aching when I landed back, 20.5 miles was the distance according to the iphone walkmeter. Encouraging but still a long way to go.

Again not overly enamoured with the Leeds Country Way but I think the further north I go the nicer it will be. We'll see...


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