Bingley Five Rises Locks

Today the weather was awful, but I decided to go out anyway. I said I would take my father to the five rises locks in Bingley, but we didn’t know if it would be suitable for an electric buggy. So I decided to go alone first to check it out.

The locks are part of the Leeds Liverpool canal.

Built in 1774 the locks are wider, steeper and deeper than any other in the UK. They are a feat of engineering and are one of the seven wonders of the waterways. I have a feeling I might visit the other 6 at some point.

This day was rainy and very windy. Though cold, there was a plus…a constant rainbow.

The path was rough, but it would be accessible for a good buggy. It would be a bumpy ride, but doable. The worst part being the access path from Canal Road.

But it would be worth it. The area is a haven for wildlife. On the day I went I saw a kingfisher, a long-tailed tit, and deer.

But of course, the main attractions are the locks and the canal boats. There are 5 locks at the top and 3 further down the path.

But be careful, there are many dog walkers. Luckily most abide by the rules and all I saw were friendly.

And keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife to.

And finally, here is an aerial view I found online.

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Doncaster Town Trail

The weather has been quite mild recently considering the time of year, but that has been tempered by wind and clouds. Today I decided I wanted to do something, anything. But something easy. I knew my local train station had direct trains to Doncaster. It is not somewhere I have ever had the urge to visit so that was where I decided to go.

A quick look at the train times reminded me of the current Northern Rail situation, strikes every Saturday. So even if I could get there, I would not be able to get back. That left a 45-minute car drive, which was not a problem really. So off I popped, with no preconceived ideas or knowledge of Doncaster.

Upon arrival, I just wandered about. My first impressions were good. I saw some street art near the car park and then a pavement level trail of the town’s history.

And then I saw a tourist information office and shop. Really?? In Doncaster?? I had better look inside. Wow, what a lot of information and a town trail map for sale, only 50p! I bought one and grabbed a few other pamphlets and items from the office. There was a great free book on the history of Doncaster.

The town trail has a blurb about what the walk was trying to achieve. The walk takes you along a Roman road, down the main street, to the oldest building, the market area, showing the various aspects of the town’s development. At the end it says the town has a poor record of preserving its listed building, they seem to be trying to change that. What has also changed is the attitude toward new buildings. The pamphlet states that “post-war development added little to the townscape.” The market area and ongoing building work seem to be trying to rectify this.

The first place I visited on the trail was Saint George’s Church or Doncaster Minster.

I don’t have any photos of the inside as you had to pay £3 for the honour. Never mind, you can do a virtual tour of the church via their website. It captures more than I ever could.

Though I visited all the sites on the trail, I didn’t take photos of all of them. You can see all the stops through the links provided. Here are the rest of the photos I did take.

I really enjoyed the walk and think it would be lovely on a nicer day, maybe in spring or summer. Doncaster’s rejuvenation period is interesting to witness. The loss of the local high street is an issue for many places in the UK, but here the council and Civic Trust seem to be actively working to improve the area. I will definitely visit Doncaster again. I am interested to see how the markets will look after they are completed.

The Hepworth and Chantry Chapel

It’s not that I have forgotten this blog, it’s not that I have not been out an about…but it’s just life in general. Life sometimes gets in the way of life.

Plus, the weather has been complete shite here, as we say in Yorkshire.

But yesterday I decided, sod the weather, I am going “out”.  As it is coming up to the season to be jolly, there are lots of Xmas markets around. So off I trot to the one at The Hepworth Wakefield.

I put on my new winter coat and started walking, then after twenty minutes, I went back home. Ordered some waterproof spray, changed coats and set off on my cheapy bike. The stupid coat was supposed to be water resistant. My arse it was..gosh my language this post is atrocious. I blame it on the ridiculous coat. I could take it back and lighten my mood, but gosh..it was warm. I will try the waterproofing spray first. I am hoping resistance is not futile.

Anyway, The Hepworth was very bike friendly, welcoming even.

My cheap £30 bike, that I have used more than my much more expensive bike. No fear of it getting stolen.
See told ya, they welcome cyclists 🙂

The xmas fair (sorry not religious, just love xmas) was more like a good craft fair with a festive brass band and few xmassy items spread around. I enjoyed it for a few minutes…but then it got way to busy and I couldn’t move around or look at anything comfortably. I headed for the food tent and was jokingly insulted because I didn’t know what a ramekin was.

A stall was selling reuseable food covers and she explained the small ones were for ramekins. What are they I ask. The seller tilted her head in a pitying way and said, “oh love, they can also cover your tin of beans”. Charming!

So I went outside to the food vans and bought a Gin and Tonic.

The whole area is lovely and there is a free art gallery to boot!

Then I decided to trundle home, but when in that area I can never resist having a look at Wakefield Bridge and Chantry Chapel.

I might try to find the other three.

I used to work next to this building and have never seen the inside. I was even tempted to go to a service, just so I could see it. BUT, what was that??? Could I see the door open??? Holy Moly the door was opennnnnn!!!!

They were having their own xmas fair, bugger I spent all my money in the other one. Sorry, Chantry Chapel

Here are some photos of the inside and outside.

And now time to cycle home.

World’s comfiest seat.

Maybe time for some fish and chips too.

Frickley Country Park

An Instagram friend sparked my interest in visiting Frickley Colliery. Apparently, his grandfather worked at the pit and seeing as it was just 30 minutes from my house I thought I would go an take a look.

So, on a brisk and cloudy day off I set in my smashing car and went for a walk. I took a camera to test and my super little Olympus U-mini. This time remembering to use the settings for close-up 🙂 as I forgot last time. Seriously for stuff like this, a good old 5mp camera that fits in your pocket is perfect. And that is the last time I will mention it, honest.

The colliery began its life in 1903 with the first seam being the No.1 Barnsley which went to a depth of 608 meters. Next was the No.2 Dunsil seam and finally the No.3 Shafton seam. This seam was first based at another colliery close by, South Elmsall. The two collieries were combined in 1967, which is a simple history garnered from the link provided. That site has much more information so navigate to that if you are interested in coal mining. Or there is Wikipedia of course, which gives details of the closing of the colliery in 1993 and of the country park opening in 2005.

You can walk the virtual depth of these seams by taking the long path in the middle of the park. Here are my photos, I virtually used one roll of film.

The mounds you see represent stromatolites that were found in the area. Stromatolites are the prehistoric fossilised remains bacteria that grew in shallow seas. You can see living ones in this video…do you think the mounds are a good representation?

While I was walking around I saw cyclists, runners, dog walkers, and ramblers. Nearly all said hello or afternoon. One bloke’s dogs got very excited by the noise of a nearby ice-cream van. He said his wife always buys them an ice-cream so they start barking demanding a treat.

I think I might visit this park again as there are 7 miles of cycle and running paths.

Now, if you want to know what the area looked like when it was an actual colliery you can watch this amazing homemade video. It is a bit long, I didn’t watch it all in one go, but skimmed through. It is a brilliant and wonderful piece of history, which if the time stamp is true, was made in 1994 just after the colliery was closed.

I also found this more professional one from a bit earlier that features the local brass band. Though it does seem to stop working after 25 minutes so be warned.

I didn’t walk the full 7 miles, but I did have a lovely afternoon. If you really want to learn about mining then I recommend visiting the National Coal Mining Museum nearby.

Cycle to Wakefield and Thornes Park

It was a lovely day today. I did think about going for a drive and a walk in some woods about an hour away, but then I remembered Thornes Park. This park is made up of a few different parks, but most people refer to it as Thornes.

Considering I have lived in Wakefield since I was 9 years old, I really haven’t made the best use of this park. Though I have spent time there, playing rounders, feeding the quack quacks, taking photos, it isn’t somewhere I go regularly. Maybe that should change.

It was a short cycle from my house and I took a couple of film cameras to try out.

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I also took a small, older, digital camera. I read a few photography blogs and one I read regularly mentioned using older digital cameras. Then saw a camera I used to own on eBay for about a fiver. A fiver for a 5 megapixel camera.

I originally had a black version but sold it to a friend. I always regretted it as I loved the size and shape. Gosh, this is starting to sound like my other blog. Anyway, it fit into my trouser pocket perfectly so it was perfect for a cycle camera…ignore the bag on my back with 3 other cameras in it.

Wakefield is a lovely place during the day, it has a cathedral and many old buildings. Nearby are many museums and lots of beautiful countryside. And sitting near the M1 and M62, you can get to other parts of the country very easily.

I love the Queen Victoria statue. It has moved about a bit since I have lived in Wakefield. It used to be near Thornes Park, then in the bullring, now it sits near the civic buildings. This amazing video shows her when she was first installed and when she was moved to the park.

The building with the blue sign used to be the city museum. I often went in there growing up as there was a life-size Roman soldier that I was fascinated with….and it was free. So a great place, however…Wakefield is said to have one of the highest number of pubs per square mile of anywhere in the country, allegedly. Which was great for a night out when I was in my 20s, not so great if you don’t want your city to have a binge drinking issue of an evening. Though researching this blog, I couldn’t find any evidence of Wakefield even being in the top ten, and lots of evidence that the council is working on improving the issue.

Anyway, from the civic area I cycled the short distance to the park.

I love that tiled announcement. Somebody was seriously annoyed about Shaz and Matty if they went to the bother of actually making the tiles and putting them up in the shelter. Plus it is kind of funny that they have never been taken down. The black and white building is a bandstand and there are sometimes free concerts there.

The park was opened in 1891 and you can read more about the history here. I love that it was classed as a Grade II park because it survived! It is almost like someone said, “Good grief is that park still there? Ok, give it an award.”

The first place I visited was the duck pond, though I didn’t feed the quack quacks. However, it was a perfect place to test my film cameras. I will write about that on my other blog. These are from the Olympus u-mini.

At this point, I broke the kickstand on my bike, “someone” who reads this blog will like that as he has made a few comments about it before.

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The little camera seems good for general shots, but not for closeups unless you change the settings which I did not do. I will in the future now I know.

From there I headed to the conservatory and rose garden. Just to note, while I was in the park I didn’t cycle.

I came here with my mum a few times, she loved the roses and ducks.

From there, I wandered through the woods to the pet cemetery, yeap, Thornes has it all.

There are other things to see and activities throughout the woods including playing fields, exercise equipment and a scavenger hunt.

But the best might be hunting CONKERS! This is the perfect place to go conker hunting.

And…where there are conkers….there will be nut eaters around, and I saw quite a few squirrels 🙂

Now to be fair to the little camera, these were not taken using it. I knew there might be squirrels so took my other small digital, just in case. The Olympus would only have capture a squirrel if it had literally come up to me and asked me for a nut. Even then it would have been too close to be in focus without changing the settings.

After a bit of squirrel watching, I headed to the ‘kids’ side of the park. This is where the cricket ground is. Here you will also find a playground, a skateboarding park, and a miniature train track.

The trains run at the weekend during the summer. I have been on them a couple of times many moons ago, but not in the past 20 years. They were not running today but here is another video.

And done for the day. So I cycled home and had a Japanese beer, which my local off-licence kindly started stocking for me.

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As for the camera, if you are never going to print the photos then old digital cameras are perfect for blogs. Plus they are as cheap as fish and chips. Thank you Mr James for the idea.

Gummer’s How Hike with Bulls

A friend of mine has recently returned from Japan and agreed to come with me on a walk in the Lake district. It turned out to be a very interesting day.

As usual, before the walk, I downloaded the route to my Garmin GPS. I did this despite the route being described as “a fell walk in miniature,  attainable almost without effort” by Wainwright. It turned out to be a good job.

When we arrived at the car park I remembered that statement and we started to head up the obvious path…at the back of the car park..in the opposite direction that we needed to go. The scenery was not what I was expecting – lots of spruce, few rocks. I checked the GPS, looked behind and up, saw the cairn on top of the opposite hill and did an about-turn.

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The weather was drizzly, cloudy, windy, or rainy take your pick. But we could see the cairn in the distance.

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Eventually, we found the right path a little up from the carpark. We had only walked a few minutes along the path when we were faced with one of the biggest bulls I have ever seen. It was huge, it was off to the side of the path. It looked at us but didn’t move or make any signs that it was bothered by our presence. So we calmly carried on with just a slight nagging feeling the bull was following, but it was not.

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Just up the path, in the bracken were two cows and a calf too. They were happily eating and ignored us completely. So we carried on and enjoyed the views despite the weather.

See, rocky not sprucy. What a lovely day…and then we saw it…

Another bull. This time it was younger, and it immediately looked aggressive. It mooed and stamped its foot. We stood still, not quite knowing what to do. Should we go down to the other bull? Should we calmly walk passed this one? Should we climb straight up the rocks out of the way and call for help? Maybe the farmer can come or something??

My friend moved behind me and made it very clear she was not happy. I decided the best course of action was to remain calm and carry on. The young bull had other ideas..it charged. My “friend” gave me a push to start her run, I scrambled up some rocks, figuring bovines aren’t known for their climbing skills. The bull went down the path at a fair rate. In hindsight, I think that was its intended route to get away from us. The cows must use the paths to avoid the rocky landscape and we startled it. Either way, it was really scary to see more than a few pounds of beef and horns speeding towards you. We determined to carry on with the walk as our return route was now blocked by undercooked hamburgers.

Getting to the top was indeed fairly easy and we were still happy, due to not being trampled. We were slightly ticked off that there had been no warning about their presence. There is a sign about the walk at the beginning. Why not put a warning sign on that, especially when there is a calf involved?

Anyway, my friend said she did not want to return the way we came and I agreed. I hate cows.

Here is where all the money I paid for the GPS device and not just rely on my phone turned out to be very worth it. I checked it and there was another route, but we had to go off the main route a bit to get to it. The alternate route was a little steeper and a bit boggier. But with my handy walking stick, no worries. My friend didn’t have a stick, but she did push me in front of a charging bull, so sucked for her 😉

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But eventually, we got down to a nice little lake. My friend made a walking stick out of a broken branch.

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..and then she just got carried away making better walking sticks…

Oh look a road! Yes!! and best of all we had to climb a fence to get to this point. Fences and stiles = no cows. I love my gps. We got back to the car with no more issues. There was another car there by this point, a couple was there with their elderly mother. I asked if they were going up Gummer’s How and they said yes. I told them about the calf and bulls. They were already in two minds due to the weather, now they took their boots off and decided to go somewhere else.

And walk done, but not the drama. There were massive amounts of traffic on the way back. I noticed our reflection of headlights on the car in front and one of my headlights was broken. Goddamn it. So when we finally parked up in Manchester and I called the RAC. I know it was probably just a bulb, but both lights on that side were out and I would be driving on the motorway at night to get home. The RAC was great, but just as I was saying my reg number my phone cut out and said no more credit. Holy Moly could this day get better. I know I had just topped it up, I check the balance and it said 2000minutes!!! I was miffed but still happy. I put more credit on but in the meantime, the RAC dispatcher called back to check I was ok. Thank goodness. The RAC mechanic arrived in 20 mins and in 10 he had fixed it.

Awesome.

I am not sure my friend will be up for another walk, but it was an interesting day.

Lotherton Hall

I was supposed to go somewhere different today, but I woke up with a cold and it was a cloudy day. I didn’t really feel like going anywhere, but that would be a waste of a day. So I ended up going somewhere close that I have never been to before. Lotherton Hall.

As you can see it was a terrific day. I didn’t end up going into the house as I mainly went to see the gardens and birds. I did take a brief look in the chapel though.

Inside the chapel was a plaque saying that out of 700 soldiers who recuperated here during the first world war 42 died. I think that is an impressive statistic for the era.

I wasn’t really in the mood for the house so went straight to the wildlife area. One of the first things I noticed was this sign:

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Wow, capybara and tapir. I had just had a conversation with a friend about tapirs and said how much I liked them. She responded with capybaras are better. But here they were together. Missed my friend….I can see her in the capy face 😉

But where is the gorgeous tapir?

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It refused to come out. So I headed to look at the birds. Lotherton Hall has quite a good selection and fairly good enclosures.

There are other animals in the wildlife area too, but really it is about the birds.

There is also a deer hide on the grounds. When I was there you didn’t need to hide from the red deer though, as they were right in the open.

After that, and picking up some liquorice allsorts, I wandered the grounds.

There are nature walks and playgrounds, plus an orchard.

And what’s this?

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The tapier has escaped?

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Nah, I bought myself a little toy.

I did go out to test some cameras, but it was a little dull for the film I had loaded so I think I will go back another day, a brighter day.

…taking my time and enjoying the view