Stage 8: Castleford to Ferrybridge
Setting off from Castleford, Thursday 21st October
Annie: We started at the impressive millennium bridge which snakes it's way over the weir. It is beautifully designed with seating so you can take in the river vista. Our tour guide yesterday told us it was controversial when it was built because of the cost. People said it was not needed because of the road bridge a few meters away. But, he said, you never look at it without seeing one or two people crossing and it was busy when we went over.
Unlike yesterday, today we followed the river almost the whole day, walking east and south into the bright sun. The Aire is broad and still used for transportation as well as leisure. We saw a huge barge speeding downstream and in comparison, what seemed to be a tiny narrowboat chugging upstream. After a beautiful walk, we finished the day in Ferrybridge.
Trudged round neighbouring Knottingley in need of a cup of tea, we saw one café with the shutters coming down and another where they were already cleaning the floor. It was still lunchtime in our minds but maybe in Knottingley they eat early.
Bob: Today's walk took us through Fairburn Ings Nature Reserve which is situated on what used to be the tips and excavations left over from the coal mining industry. It’s quite beautifully done, and the paths along the Aire are scenic and well maintained. We made quick progress, passing dozens of walking pensioners, all very sociable. There was a lovely 'Last of the Summer Wine' moment when we chanced upon two Nature Reserve volunteers sat in the morning sun on the magnificent railway bridge over the wide River Aire, with their bird watching binoculars, gossiping idly. We joined them for a natter. After a few minutes one looked at his watch and sighed ‘Ooh better get back, it’ll lunch time soon’. Nice work if you can get it.
We started to get views of Ferrybridge Power Station in the distance where we were heading. There are three power stations situated over the next 15 miles or so, a legacy of the coal mining which used to fuel them. Ferrybridge , Eggborough and the scary sounding Drax. The incredibly long Drax train passes our house, 25 miles away upstream, each day on its way to and from the Drax power station. Underneath the M62 I found an interesting stencil art commemorating the local Knottingley miners.
We checked in early at the motel at Ferrybridge Motorway Services, Junction 33 of the M62. We must have been the only people to have ever walked there, climbing through a hole in the steel fence to get onto the site. We were keen to make the most of the heterotopic experience. Watching the trucks roll in and out, strolling unhurriedly around the M&S and Costa Coffee, listening the warm drone of the motorway. In our motel room I practised my Edward Hopper lost expression whenever I looked out of the window at the car headlights. I relished going to WH Smiths for the morning papers in the dark, checking out the suited business men waiting for lifts, taxis, briefcase exchanges. I gazed for a while at the well-trimmed hedges along the perimeter fence- heteratopiary!
We dedicate today's walk to the rhizome network that produced these wonderful fly agaric mushrooms.
Ending the seventh stage in Ferrybridge
And finally some photos of the river from today's walk: