It is the first purpose built national route for walkers and cyclists and it runs coast to coast between the ports of Hull and Liverpool. These cities, in turn linking with the seaside resorts of Hornsea and Southport, the whole route amounting to some 350 miles.
The trail at Methley is a section of the spur from South Yorkshire to Leeds and plots a route mostly along the Aire and Calder Navigation, more recently called the Leeds Country Way. In addition Leeds City Leisure have identified links into other trails in the Leeds area.
Perhaps least recognised is the result of restoration schemes that have taken place, turning former colliery sites into attractive landscaped wetlands and woodlands. An older generation can certainly appreciate this.
Well, it certainly works, there is always someone walking or cycling along the river section from Pit Lane. Three bridges offer choice of bank (can’t wait for St Aidan’s opencast mining to finish), there is always some river traffic to wave to. They and you can pull into the marina at Lemonroyd locks for a sit down, a picnic, a look at the cruisers and narrow boats or watch the locks in operation. The walk extends to a bird viewing hide, but you will see lots of birds on the walk, and these days lots of twitchers with their high powered scopes and GPS locators. Increasing numbers of mute swans with mallards, coots and the avaricious cormorant are visible, the latter being the first to indicate the return of fish to this former industrial river. Not to be seen nowadays are the abundant flocks of starlings gathering and swooping before migration south in autumn, they are still around but don’t gather riverside since the telephone poles and cables have been taken down.
The southern leg of the walk takes advantage of the old Newmarket Colliery mineral railway line and connects via the Calder to Wakefield. It then has a choice of routes, either to Oulton taking in the ancient parting of the manor walk and now the new shortened walk through Methley Woods to Woodrow. Shouldn’t worry about dehydration there are plenty of pubs and clubs in Methley to satisfy the thirsty walker. (Well, there used to be)
I don’t know how much the Methley leg cost but the whole scheme was awarded a £5.8m grant in 1995 from the Millenium Commission.
As a result it is well signposted with some attractive gates and sculptures, it is also well served with motor prevention structures.
Any variation of the Methley sections should be described as ambles rather than hikes.