Children walk, cycle and scoot their school journeys as part of Sustrans’ Big Pedal

Children in schools across Yorkshire are taking part in the Big Pedal, from 19-30 April, to get active during their school journey. Held each year across the UK by Sustrans, the national charity that helps more people walk and cycle, this year’s challenge will see more than half a million children and young people walk, cycle, scoot and wheel to and from school.

This year’s Big Pedal is supported by Dame Sarah Storey, active travel commissioner for Sheffield City Region. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Sustrans for the Big Pedal, almost three fifths (57%) of pupils described the environment around their school as having too many cars. The survey also found that 40% of pupils thought more people  walking, cycling or scooting to school was the best way to bring down levels of air pollution near their school. Over a third (38%) thought that walking and cycling more for local journeys was the most important thing adults should be doing to tackle climate change overall.

The research showed that children are keen to get more active on their regular journeys. Seven times as many children want to cycle to school and five times as many want to scoot to school more than they currently do. 

The National Cycle Network and other traffic-free paths through parks and green spaces are critical to help more families walk, cycle or scoot their journeys to school. With over 1000 miles of the network in Yorkshire alone, many people live within just a few minutes’ walk of their local section. Yorkshire has some of the most beautiful routes in the UK, including part of the 170-mile Way of the Roses, which passes through many urban areas and villages. There are also local paths, such as the Spen Valley Greenway between Dewsbury and Bradford, and York’s Solar System Way.

Dame Sarah Storey said, “I am delighted to be at the launch of Big Pedal 2021, it is fantastic the event is running this year and I know it will have huge benefits to all who take part. It isn’t just beneficial to our physical health that we use short journeys as an opportunity to be active, but it supports our mental wellbeing too.”

Find out more about Sustrans’ Big Pedal and check out more routes near you on the National Cycle Network

hardraw force

Hardraw Force, Wensleydale

In the heart of Wensleydale, behind the beautiful village of Hardraw near Hawes, is a magnificent waterfall by the name of Hardraw Force.

A formidable sight, set on the grounds of the historic Green Dragon Inn, this 100 ft drop waterfall creates an awe inspiring view to look at.

Created over thousands of years, this remarkable waterfall setting has inspired scenes from movies as well as becoming one of the most popular attractions in the area.

You can find out about this short walk and unique location on BaldHiker

Useful links

www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

www.richmondshire.gov.uk

The big swim – Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs walk 

The joy of a ball in a reservoir – no chasing it with the current!

Coming into the Swinsty Reservoir car park, you’re immediately into this glorious view – a sandy beach area and the start of the circular walk. We usually go all the way around this reservoir but work is going on at the moment, so we did half of it and then continued all the way around Fewston.

These walks are the woods and water family heaven type. They feature loads of den building opportunities, logs to walk along, tree stumps to leap off and bridges to cross. There are lots of benches dotted along the route and plenty of dog swimming opportunities – for Merlin that is!

Picnic spots are plentiful and the blue sky and tall trees reflecting in the water make for an amazing backdrop.

Daddy i wanna get on!!

The large bridge crossing Swinsty gives you a great view of the scale of the reservoir.

You can see the walk mapped out below- it’s also really well signposted and easy to follow. Dogs can be off lead almost all of the walk, with just an occasional road to cross.

You can put Swinsty Reservoir HG3 1SU in the sat nav and park in the main car park.

The treat at the end of the walk was a glorious ice cream from the Dales Van – sat by the side of the reservoir obviously!

For more of Merlin’s adventures, follow him on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/merlinthechocolatewizard/

Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve – Brighouse

Once a quarry, landfill site and ash tip for the old Elland power station, Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve is now home to a mix of woodland, wetland and grassland and is rich in plants and wildlife.

Sandwiched between the West Yorkshire towns of Brighouse and Elland, Cromwell Bottom offers a great place to explore with birds, squirrels, insects and wild flowers all calling it their home.

The reserve is accessible from either the small gravel car park off Elland Road or directly from the canal which runs alongside several of Brighouse town centre’s car parks (a 25-minute walk).

From the car park, there are several routes you can take to enter the reserve but the main entrance is across the bridge towards the portakabin café.

The view from the canal bridge just before the entrance to the nature reserve

Once across the bridge, there is a map of the area that shows you the available routes as well as areas that are accessible for prams and wheelchairs.

This map gives you clear guidance on where it is safe and accessible to walk

We followed a long loop around the edge of the river, up to the weir and around to the pond dipping platform, before looping back round to the bird watching area and following the path round to the lagoon. From there, we re-joined the canal to meander our way back to the car park.

This route was just short of 3km and lasted for around 40 minutes. Stops at the pond, bird watching area and lagoon added on a further 50 minutes.

This is the view from the footbridge looking towards the weir

Note: This walk will also make a great segue into the Brighouse to Halifax canal walk, which could be linked at the end.

ribblehead viaduct

Walks Around Ribblehead Viaduct

In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales are the infamous Yorkshire 3 Peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Right in the middle of them, in the bottom of the dale is the spectacular Ribblehead Viaduct.

An ancient monument that was built between 1870 and 1874 and is an icon of the Yorkshire Dales. To take a spectacular walk in this area does not just have to involve climbing up high.

You can walk circular and linear walks in all directions around the viaduct and along the lower slopes of the big peaks. No matter the weather the views are expansive and wonderful.

viaduct from distance

Limestone paving, pastures green, historic structures, rivers and becks.

For one such example to show you what I mean, take a look at this article on Baldhiker. Walking beneath a snowcapped Ingleborough and Whernside and through the viaduct itself.

langsett reservoir

Langsett Reservoir And Pike Lowe

Where South Yorkshire meets the Peak District, not too far from Barnsley is the beautiful setting of Langsett Reservoir.

Combine a walk through the glorious woodland here with a climb up to Pike Lowe on the open moorland and you will have a great 9 mile day out in the fresh air and one full of rich variety.

The starting point: Langsett Reservoir Car Park. On the A616 near to where that road meets the A628 roundabout. This car park is more of an overspill normally for the much busier Langsett Barn car park.

langsett wood

There is a full GPX of this route on the walkshire.com website.

Here is a taster and overview.

From the car park you cross the main road carefully and straight into the conifers and woodland around Langsett Reservoir. Turning left when you reach the water you get a great warm up and start to the walk.

Through the green of the trees, along the shores of the water blue and very flat. This section is very accessible. Eventually you reach the end of the reservoir and turn right to walk along the impressive dam.

langsett dam

After the dam you follow the road just a couple of hundred metres then turn right and back onto the track and pathways.

dogs walking

Away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of the reservoir the paths get much quieter now.

pike lowe

Now. Rather than carry on with a full walk around the reservoir, this walk will take you on a left turn and up into the open access land and the moors. You will see the summit of Pike Lowe up on the tops and a pathway that takes you there.

However: Yes this pathway is clear and open. But you will find this.

no dogs

Not just this sign but others too all in a row basically saying the landowner has said ‘no dogs’.

If you see this sign and the path is a public right of way (I use OS maps as a rule) then as long as you stick to the path strictly with a short lead then you are OK. But on this occasion the path up to Pike Lowe is visible and allowed but not shown on OS as a public right of way.

So unfortunately, from my walks here, I have never been able to complete it fully since I have been with Malc and co unfortunately. I love the walk, the memories of it, and know you will love it. But if you with dogs alas you can’t sorry, grouse hunting is more important to some.

malc at langsett

When you get to the top of Pike Lowe you get expansive views all over the open moorland and South Yorkshire. Fresh air, breeze on the face. Invigorating and worth every step.

From the summit you take the path west and walk back down to Langsett Reservoir via Mickleden Edge. More top views of the Reservoir and the Beck.

Once down it i straight on back to the car park you started at.

brimham main

Exploring Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire

Situated only 11 miles from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, are Brimham Rocks. It’s a place like no other.

A place full of unique and interesting rocks that have been formed over centuries by the weather and changing climates.

malc and rock

It’s a perfect place to walk around with families or even for budding rock climbers and boulderers to practice their rock climbing skills.

Pathways lead in so many directions throughout the rocks and onto Brimham Moor itself. You can reach simply stunning views over Nidderdale, the Vale of York and beyond.

dancing bear

A magical and mystical area and landscape you’ll never forget.

For more information and photos, take a look at BaldHiker.

respecting the countryside code

Respecting The Great Outdoors of Yorkshire – Walkers and Landowners

I live for the outdoors and I love to get out hiking as much as possible. In the wild, within nature and pastures green.

Yorkshire is, of course, one of the best walking areas in the UK. Hills and dales, moors and coast.

It has everything a walker would want. Miles of open countryside and pathways to enjoy whilst creating wonderful memories. 

With the great increase in people enjoying walking, the extra footfall does have an impact on the local areas with walkers and landowners both having a responsibility to make our great walking areas safe and enjoyable for all.

A small minority of walkers being disrespectful to the land and livestock can create problems for the local people and workers. On the other side there are a small minority of landowners and farmers that create problems for the walkers and thus themselves too.

If you look on a designated map used by the government and highways agencies or even the Ordnance Survey maps, you will see that public rights of way are everywhere.

These paths cross many farms and land owned by people but they are still a right of way. It is important for both sides to work together within the rules to live in harmony and make the countryside more enjoyable for all.

If you own land that you think is affected by a right of way then you should ensure it is clear where the path is and that it is not hindered or blocked. If you walk on the path, you should respect the land around the path and stay on it, following signage.

The Countryside Code

Let us start with the countryside code, a basic but necessary list of guidelines that people should follow when in rural areas.

  • Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people

Let us look at these in more detail from both sides:

Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs

Walkers – 

Being safe with good planning will enhance your walk immensely. Check the weather and take appropriate clothing (there is a reason Yorkshire is so wonderfully green).

Maps and routes: Plan your route in advance and check that the path has public access. Plus take a map. This will help you to avoid getting lost and to avoid walking where you shouldn’t be.

Signs and footpaths: Most good landowners will have erected signage and stiles to help you navigate and keep you on your right direction, avoiding straying on crops and worrying livestock unnecessarily.

public footpath sign

Where there is a footpath in a field, you should keep to it even if it is really muddy. That path may be keeping you from trampling crops that are someone’s livelihood.

If there is no clear footpath where there should be then the local highways authority will need to be informed.

Landowners –

A landowner has many responsibilities too regarding public rights of way passing through their fields etc.

They are responsible for signage. If a definitive right of way map says there is a path, there is a right of way.

If they grow crops in a field with a right of way, they have to keep 1.5 metres clear for a footpath around the edge or through the middle, say diagonally. They should not cultivate right to the edge of a field in this case.

Here is an example I came across that is done really well. Clear for all.

clear path through crops

All stiles need to be adequately maintained and clear.

It is actually illegal to put a sign up saying things like ‘bull in field’, just to deter walkers, when in fact there isn’t a bull in the field.

In the same vein, they are not allowed to erect fences or barriers where a public right of way should go.

The highways authority can remove illegal signage or fences that hinder a right of way.

I have seen many instances where farmers have put up signs and fences (or even taken down signs) to make it look like there isn’t a right of way.

I have also seen instances where walkers have taken another route away from the path and ruined crops etc. Just a little thought to the rules from both sides will enable the countryside to be safe and pleasurable for all.

Leave gates and property as you find them

Walkers –

This guideline really is about respect and a social responsibility to think of others as we do in all walks of life.

Please always close gates behind you if you come across them closed. There could, for example, be people’s livelihood in the field like sheep and we wouldn’t want them escaping.

You may not see the sheep on entering but there is always a reason to keep it closed.

Also bear in mind that a farmer may also want a gate left wide open, if you found it that way.

Let us turn to paths. Please stay on the designated footpath that the landowner has made visible for you. Going off the path may cause issues you may not see in that season.

Please use designated stiles to climb walls and fences etc. Simply climbing old stone walls can cause damage and in turn allow livestock to escape as well as create expense.

Landowners –

To help walkers and their right to pass through, landowners should make sure the signage is adequate and all stiles and gates are well maintained and clear.

Clear pathways help to guide walkers around fields away from areas you may not want them straying into.

Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home

Walkers –

One of the big reasons we love to get outdoors is to be amongst nature and wildlife. Please do not tamper with it though by removing rocks and wildflowers.

If you are in a field of livestock, do not go towards them unnecessarily or scare them.

Dropping litter is illegal and it should really be good social etiquette to take all litter home. Leave no trace of your presence except the footprints on the footpaths.

Litter is not just an visible environmental mess but it can also be eaten by wildlife and livestock, causing all sorts of issues.

cows in field

Landowners –

Where possible you should, where possible, avoid having livestock near public footpaths. I know this is not always possible, so helping the walkers navigate around them is always helpful.

Keep dogs under close control

Walkers –

Dog owners must keep their dogs under control at all times and especially so when around livestock. Sheep get worried when a dog is too loose and if they are pregnant this can be an even bigger issue.

If your dog is not under close control and is worrying livestock, the farmer is legally allowed to take matters into their own hands and, occasionally as a last resort, with deadly force.

It is true that on a right of way, the law states the dog must be under close control but there is no mention of leads as some signs might say. But just because you can control your dog without a lead does not mean you should. It is best to play safe.

Open access land has extra rules that are worth reading up on if you are a dog owner. 

dog owners

Landowners –

Landowners have responsibilities for the upkeep of stiles but it is not a legal requirement to make them dog friendly. However, you do see dog gates and latches, where responsible landowners have thought about people accessing and exiting their land without a problem.

Consider other people

Walkers –

We escape to the outdoors to perhaps get away from our busy lives in the towns and cities. It should also be remembered though that here too is a place people live and work in.

We should respect the land as we would expect others to if people had the right to walk through our front gardens at home.

Don’t block gates with cars. Respect farmers moving their sheep and cattle. 

Contribute to the local area as you take your walk over their land. Many local shops sell local produce, grown where you have walked.

Landowners –

It is a fact that many countryside landowners and farmers have public rights of way passing through their land. The law states they must help to guide them through and not hinder or block them.

When I have been on walks, the more signage and obvious pathways and stiles I’ve found, the easier and quicker I have passed through enjoyably.

Again, if you see anything purposely hindering a walkers’ right of way, you can contact the local Highways Agency.

Summary

The countryside is a wonderful place. And more and more people are getting out into it for health, enjoyment and physical exercise. It is great for our mental wellbeing too. I can’t see any reason anybody would want to deny people their right to enjoy, responsibly, the great outdoors.

If we follow the guidelines of the code on both sides and respect people, the animals, livelihoods and hobbies, there would never be any problems.

Alas, there will always be a small minority on both sides of the arguments that spoil it for all sometimes. Walkers not shutting gates, leaving dog faeces behind etc. Landowners hiding or blocking pathways or making you feel unwelcome.

These are a small minority and there are rights on both sides. It is a matter of respect and education rather than dividing lines.

Signs of spring

Credit: Blue tit, Bob Coyle

Enjoying the many positives of spring is a welcome relief after months of colder temperatures and gloomy days in isolation. Seeing bright yellow daffodils in full bloom, new delicate leaves bursting through and hearing the melodic tones of birds in the early mornings is just a very small snapshot of the incredible transformation that nature undergoes during the springtime.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Inspiring People Officer, Steph Turner, shares some seasonal highlights that will put a ‘spring’ in your step:

https://www.ywt.org.uk/blog/steph-turner/signs-spring

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is the only charity entirely dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places.

Ogden Water

If you’re looking for a lovely spring walk where you can take in the beautiful scenery and enjoy what nature has to offer, this walk is perfect.

Ogden Water is nestled between Keighley and Halifax and this walk involves a circular 1.3-mile route around the reservoir.

Perfect for families, those with prams or anyone who just wants to get out in the fresh air for a leisurely stroll.

Full details are here