After a week of grey, miserable, British weather, the sun has finally returned and it just so happens to be when I am not at work, and that means I get to spend at least one day hiking.
Today I chose the a hike from Bradford to Ilkley along the Dalesway Link trail, ending at the start of the Dalesway itself – a 90 mile trek through the Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District that I would one day like to tackle.
I set off from Bradford city centre and found some pathways and trails that I never knew existed. Apparently, there is a nature reserve!
The walk starts through the outskirts of the city before turning off the streets into wooded areas you would never realise were there. The first of these is Boars Well nature reserve, a peaceful copse running inbetween the busy Shipley Airedale Road and Bolton Road until it comes out alongside the equally busy Kings Road/Queens Road junction.
Taking my life into my hands I crossed the junction to soon find myself along a path in Brow Wood heading towards what the guide called the “disused Poplar Park Road”. Ha. Disused no more, there is a now a new, half-built housing estate, using the “fully operational” road and blocking off access to the trail I was supposed to be following.
After playing a little with google maps and then just plain setting off walking, I found another trail that appeared to lead to roughly the place I was meant to be heading towards. Or so I thought. The whole of this area appears to be building site after building site and my way appeared to be stopped at every turn. I finally made it (a little muddier than I had started) to the road I needed to be on, to find that someone really didn’t want anyone coming that way. I have, however, been working out with superhero trainers, so I know how to vault over obstacles now.
Back on track I found myself walking along a dodgy looking back street to find myself once again off the beaten track and heading towards Shipley town centre and the Leeds/Liverpool canal. I headed along the canal to Saltaire where I took a well earned rest stop and admired the goslings.
Moving on, I left the canal at Hirst Wood, crossing the River Aire and taking a track into the woods of Shipley Glen, slowly making my way up through the woods and boulders to the glen itself. One of my favourite places in the world.
Reaching the top, I rested on a bench for a moment before continuing along the Glen, through some more woods to follow Glovershaw Beck onto Glovershaw Lane, across the road (who put that damn holly bush there), up through some fields (so many lambs!) and finally, once more taking my life into my hands by the Dick Hudsons pub on Otley Road, I was at last on my beloved moor. Oh it has been a while, and I have missed those moors.
Climbing Bingley Moor, I then crossed into Burley Moor where I eventually came to the 12 Apostles Stone Circle where I panned to have lunch. Having not seen a soul since hitting the moors, suddenly, there appeared a couple from the opposite direction who wanted to share by Stone Circle time. We waited it out, both willing the other to leave. They caved first! Sitting in the middle of the stones I took in the views across the moor as I devoured some water and snacks and got ready to carry on my way.
The last leg of my journey took me down away from Airedale and towards Wharfedale and Ilkley Moor. A few weeks ago when we had our last spell of warm weather, some idiots decided it would be fun to set fire to Ilkley Moor. As I approached Ilkley Craggs looking down on to Rocky Valley, the scorch marks of the fire were very much apparent, leaving an strange, alien-like landscape of blackened ground and rocks.
I carefully descended the stairs along the crags to come to White Wells Cottage, which promises refreshments whenever the flag is flying. I have never seen it flying. Sad times. Ilkley Centre and the end of the walk was only another steep descent away.
For more pictures check out the Gallery