Overcoming an obstruction12th November 2018
Currently, an ongoing train conductor’s strike at Arriva Rail North, otherwise known as Northern Rail, has meant that local train services in the north of England are much reduced on Saturdays and that is set to continue until the end of the year. In fact, I would be surprised if it did not continue through 2019 given the ongoing stand-off.
Saturday usually was when I went out on walking trips so the reduction in train services has given me pause for thought since I do not have a car. Some feel trapped by what is happening but I have begun to think about alternative options offer by bus travel. The bus network may be beleaguered after years of spending cuts but I reckon that it still offers some travel possibilities.
One of these is the Witch Way service between Manchester and Skipton. Perhaps surprisingly, journey times are not so much longer than going by train because of layover times between different services. The fact that you are rather doubling back on yourself when travelling from Manchester to Skipton is another factor.
Last Saturday saw me try out that bus route to gain a few hours around Skipton after an absence of too many years. The town was busy because it was market day and there was a display at the visitor centre pertaining to World War I, a relevant subject given Armistice Day was near. The crowds were left too as I wandered into Skipton Castle Wood, pottered along the Leeds to Liverpool Canal and passed through Aireville Park. Occasional sunshine was overtaken by spells of rain but it did not matter for this was a break from a Saturday spent at home. That was enough for me.
There is another bus route that I like to sample and it is part of the Mainline bus network. The service goes between Burnley and Keighley and passes through countryside that I perhaps have not visited since a bunch of Pennine Way wanderings in 2007 and I fancy pottering along a missed section of the trail between Ickornshaw and Cowling, an oversight that has lain unaddressed for longer than is desirable.
Maybe there might be a chance to fill in that gap as part of a repeat visit to countryside where I found waymarking was not what it should have been. Recent years of reduced public spending cannot have helped so a GPS receiver or the OS mobile phone map could have its uses in keeping me from going astray and annoying the locals in the process. There was some of that on a walk along the Pennine Way between Gargrave and Cowling when the tapping of a finger on a window deterred me from erroneously going further into someone’s back yard. Embarrassment kept me from checking the mood of whoever was at that window and it might have been a better course to take.
There was a time a time when I was a regular visitor to Yorkshire with many a day trip featuring parts of Wharfedale with some overnight stays too. Basing myself in either Keighley or Skipton could allow some repeat visits after many years and both Malham Cove and Malham Tarn could be among them. Though very different in aspect, Brontë country is another possibility since there is many a right of way to found around there and bus services are decent too.
As I think of them, numerous possibilities come to mind to follow what I have done already. Thoughts take me around by Settle and Nidderdale in a continuing mix of millstone grit and limestone scars. Capturing some of the sights using digital photography is a bonus since I mainly used film on those earlier incursions. Also, it feels as if I need to take some notes and act upon them. After all, the reduced mobility by train could make North and West Yorkshire all the more useful and a bit of quiet strolling never did any harm.