Sunday, February 2, 2014

Brockadale; North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, and West Yorkshire

Visiting Norton, Kirk Smeaton, Wentbridge, Little Smeaton, and Askern

The railway line to Sheffield is closed for the next few Sundays and so I went on another local walk today. It was a local walk, only being a few miles from Doncaster; even though the route took me into both North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

I had intended to start the walk at Kirk Smeaton, the most southerly village in North Yorkshire, but the first bus on a Sunday only goes as far as Norton, the last village in South Yorkshire...about a couple of miles short.

I got off the bus as near to Kirk Smeaton as it went and then left Norton by a lane with a very unusual name.

I took a footpath which went at the back of the houses and then parallel to a hedge until I crossed over the River Went into North Yorkshire, using a very narrow footbridge; only as wide as a railway sleeper.

The next section of the walk was along the northern bank of the river, almost to Kirk Smeaton; it was quite muddy in places - but nowhere near as muddy as it was later on down in Brockadale. A few hundred yards before reaching Kirk Smeaton I crossed a road and then the footpath continued through a tunnel underneath a disused railway lin,e and across more muddy fields. Along this section I passed through a couple of 'chain gates' - I've certainly never seen anything like them before. They seem to be a good idea though because they're easy to open, and they close by themselves...even if you forget to put the latch on.

I had to walk along the road for a few minutes before reaching the church at Kirk Smeaton; there's a small village green right next to the church, where I sat on a bench and ate my sandwiches.

The path down to Brockadale was quite steep, but well maintained. The path then continued along the bottom of the valley, passing through riverside meadows and woodland. In the summer months these meadows [there are many more of them on the northern bank] are carpeted with wildflowers and buzzing with flying insects...I like butterflies, and have never been disappointed on previous visits. Of course there were no wildflowers or butterflies today...just a lot of mud; and a rocky escarpment on the other side of the valley.


Brockadale is associated with Robin Hood; he supposedly first met Little John when they both arrived at the bridge over the River Went at the same time and some sort of stand-off ensued.  There's a blue plaque on the bridge in the village explaining more about Robin Hood and his connections to Wentbridge.

I passed under Wenbridge Viaduct; at this point I'd entered West Yorkshire.

I briefly walked along the main road in Wentbridge and soon noticed the footpath sign on the other bank pointing back towards Kirk Smeaton. The path went uphill, past the church, all the way up to the top of the viaduct; a climb of about a hundred foot.

The last time I was here, over ten years ago, I had to cross the busy dual carriage way; and I was terrified. There's now a footpath consisting of over a hundred steps all the way down to the bottom of the valley, a short section of gravel path going underneath the arches of the viaduct, and then over a hundred steps to climb up the other side. 

There was no footpath sign on the other side of the dual carriageway, but I'd seen a cyclist take a particular track a few minutes earlier...and so followed him. I soon got lost though and ended up walking down a couple of farm tracks and then turning back until I located the correct track. I looked closely for his tire tracks...but the bloody surface was well-maintained; limestone chippings I think...certainly no mud to help me. When I want mud there isn't any!

The track sloped down through woodland to some lovely riverside meadows where it looked like there was a camping barn. The path continued through this meadowland for about half a mile, but then it became impassable because of deep, churned mud. I struggled up to the high level path, and enjoyed some lovely views looking back up the valley. The photograph was taken at one of my favourite spots; I've forgotten what the location is called, but on my last visit I'd never seen so many butterflies in one place.

I took the clifftop path to Little Smeaton, walked through the village and along the road back to Norton. I checked the times of the buses on the timetable posted in the bus shelter; it was nearly an hour for the next bus to Doncaster, so I continued walking across an area of land which I think used to be where the coking plant was situated; it wasn't very attractive though.

I arrived at Askern with enough spare time to get something to eat from the shop.