Stage 6: Railway bridge near Jt 39 of the M1 to Lake Lock
Setting off from the railway bridge near the Nagivation Pub, Friday 17th September
Bob is supposed to be writing about art and culture but for this stage I'm taking over his task. It was not my best day. It was a long journey to get to the start and then quite an uninspiring walk on a flood defence bank with the river always just out of sight. Then after a lunch break at the Hepworth Gallery we walked along what felt like a particularly unloved stretch. The development of the riverside in Wakefield, of which the Hepworth is a key part, didn't seem to extend very far, and yet, an attractive riverside walk would probably have a much wider appeal than the gallery.
I've been thinking about the photos which I have been posting. It is not difficult to get a great picture of the river - it always looks beautiful, and yet the setting is often quite edgy, with rubbish, graffiti, derelict buildings. And these surroundings put people off walking along a beautiful river which is a wonderful resource and can contribute to the health and wellbeing of the whole community.
But it doesn't take much to change the atmosphere. As we passed a sign for the Ashfield Circular walk, we saw a tiny crocheted heart hanging from a tree, then another one, then one tied to a bench and suddenly this unfriendly and unloved space became a place full of human connection. I'm not generally a fan of knitted interventions but this was so charming, so subtle and modest that it really captured my heart. It felt like a sincere act of kindness, a tiny message of love to anyone who took the time to look around. We dedicate today's walk to the anonymous crocheter who transformed our experience.
The day ended with what we hoped would be a riverside walk through a nature reserve, but it turned out that vast opencast workings including what looked like a landfill site were between us and the water. We struggled to find a place next to the river to take our final photo, a farm track didn't get us close enough, and then yet another sewage works blocked our way. We were getting tired and were more than ready to stop. But we finally made it, and as a bonus, met a lovely man clearing the undergrowth from the river path at the end of his garden. We forgot to ask his name, but he is a guest in our closing photo.
Ending the sixth stage near Lake Lock, A642.
We are now well beyond our local trainline, and in a different kind of valley which isn't at the centre of the transport links. It is becoming more difficult and time consuming to get to the start and end of the walk and we need to think how to organise the next phase of our walk which will be towards the end of October.
Finally, here are a selection of photo's from today's walk.