Adel is situated near the site of a Roman fort/settlement, the ancient road from Tadcaster to Ilkley passing nearby. (The footpath by the side of Long Causeway was said to be made from the original Roman stones, until they were removed by the council in the 1960s because they were unsafe. Some of the footpath has been replaced, starting at the junction between Long Causeway and Stairfoot Lane, and continuing up to the entrance of Bedquilts playing fields.) Several inscribed stones from the Romano-British period were discovered in Adel, also a number of Anglo-Saxon stones were discovered in the church foundations during restoration work in 1864. Some of these items are on display in the Leeds City Museum, Cookridge Street.
In 1152, the nearby Cistercian abbey at Kirkstall was founded. At the same time, the church of St John the Baptist was built in Adel to replace the older Saxon building. Although the present church is Norman, it looks quite similar to the late 7th century Anglo-Saxon church. The Roman name for the area was Burgodunum. It is probable that a Saxon village sprang up around the fort and that a church was built in the village. Adel is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as Adele. Another spelling used until 1816 is Addle.
Most recent authorities derive the name from the Old English adela ‘dirty, muddy place’, but arguments have also been made for a personal name Ada (or similar Anglo-Saxon names such as Eadda, Eada or Ædda) + Old English lēah ‘open ground, lea’ (compare the terminus spelling of nearby Headingley DB: Hedingelei & hedingeleia). The parish of Adel stretched to the River Wharfe in the north and included Adel, Arthington, Breary, Cookridge and Eccup church in Ledsham village, “the oldest church (and the oldest building) standing in West Yorkshire”.
Due to the atrocious weather over the winter period, it had being too long since I’d had the opportunity to don my walking boots and outdoor equipment, I’d missed it. I don’t subscribe to the Alpha male, Bear Grylls wannabes or the Rambo minded. The weather dictates my decisions, and, as I write this, 2 climbers from Bradford are lost on the summit of Ben Nevis, 6 days after they were reported missing, my thoughts are with them, although, I’m a realist, the conditions they are in, and, with the avalanches, I fear deeply for their safe return, if they have being avalanched into one of the deep ravines up there, well, it could be a considerable length of time before they are recovered, but, like everybody else, we can but hope for their safe rescue, and, for the safety of the Mountain Rescue people, risking their own lives searching for them.
The East Moor Secure Children’s Home sounds like something from a Dickens novel, it’s hardly the case, it is home to some of the countries most dangerous and notorious juvenile criminals and murderers, who, are as dangerous inside the secure unit as they were prior to being there, information I’ve being informed of after talking to staff members. The modern building stands adjacent to it’s Victorian predecessor which was, basically, a borstal and stands now as an allegedly haunted and derelict reminder of yesteryear. It amuses me to think of how many people move into the quiet, leafy suburb of Adel completely oblivious to the presence of the juvenile prison as it sits quietly, tucked away in woodland at the end of a seemingly average cul-de-sac.
Starting from the car park in Adel Woods, on the amazing alpine feel of Stairfoot Lane, I enthusiastically followed the clearly marked Dales Way footpath towards King Lane where you take the path over King Lane between King Lane Farm and Golf Farm, two wonderful old farm buildings which are now private residences. The Roman settlement slightly to the east, has to my knowledge, never being fully excavated, although the farmer once ejected me from the land for metal detecting it.
It’s being suggested that the Roman settlement in the area was chosen because of the fresh water supply so abundant from Eccup reservoir, which, was so close by and the first noticeable feature of the walk. Not the most noticeable feature of the day, that was the mud under my feet, although the day was sunny and cold, perfect walking weather, this was the first day in a month where it hadn’t rained at some point, the ground was horrendous, and, it wasn’t about to improve, slipping, sliding, sinking with each step, every stride was twice the effort as it should have being, already, very strenuous going.
As I splodged, splashed and stumbled down the footpath towards the reservoir, standing out like a carbuncle on your forehead are 7 concrete pillars simply standing there, they didn’t seem to be doing much, they didn’t seem to serve a real purpose, but, they hadn’t placed themselves there, so, I guess it’s an eccentric farmer with pagan beliefs and a desire to contact Odin through human sacrifice during the winter solstice, what else could they be for?
Descending the open fields towards the woods surrounding the reservoir, I’d have been better using a sledge, the sodden mud I could only compare to that of the battlefields of the Somme and Passiondale, not that I was familiar with the battlefields, but, on closing in on the woodland, I encountered my first obstacle, fences with no entry signs attached to them, these aren’t marked on the maps, Yorkshire Water have decided that this water is their water and you and I can’t access it, far too wet for the likes of the great unwashed.
Eccup is just north of Adel and east of Bramhope and Golden Acre Park. It is home to Eccup reservoir, the New Inn Pub, and the village set of the soap Emmerdale. Although the majority of the filming is done in the specially built village, Brookland Farm, a working farm to the south of the New Inn, is used for the external shots of Butlers Farm in the soap, and Creskeld Hall, in nearby Arthington, is used for Home Farm.
The place-name is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Echope. It is thought to derive from an Old English personal name Ecca + hōp ‘enclosed land amid unpromising land; a small, enclosed valley’. It would therefore mean something like ‘Ecca’s patch of good land’.
Due to the inaccessibility of the footpath around the edge of the reservoir I cut through the adjoining fields to Eccup, and rejoined the route on Eccup Lane, just south of the New Inn, an excellent traditional pub, which, stands on it’s solitary location like a desert island in the Pacific, it’s marvellous to see an old fashioned pub standing the test of time.
Rejoining the footpath just south of The New Inn at Brookland Farm, sharing the footpath with the Leeds Country Way, I continued through more drenched fields to my next destination at Bank Side where it becomes Bank Top Lane (bridleway/footpath). So far, the walk hadn’t been the most exciting of excursions, all walks have their low and high points, so far, this had basically, being a trudge through wet and boggy fields, Bank Top Lane brought it into a new dimension. It gave me the feel of being, at last, in the Dales, or at least a gateway to the Dales.
Having encountered a herd of curious cows whilst crossing the fields of The Bowshaws, nervous sheep around the lower footpath of Bank Top Lane, I paused at a point in the footpath where part of the dry stone wall had collapsed, the view across the valley was outstanding, Lower Wharfedale and the Wharfedale Viaduct, the perfect location for a break.
This view made my rather wet and difficult journey worthwhile, here lay the reward for the difficult terrain I’d covered, and, to cap it all, I wasn’t far from home, say what you like about Yorkshire cities, locations such as this, you simply can’t buy. It’s hardly surprising this part of the journey is part of 2 long distance routes, the Dales Way and the Ebor Way, the prime Adventure in a Yorkshire Landscape.
The top of Bank Top Lane delivered me to some renovated farm buildings, some residential, some business and from what I could see, some still being used as a farm, then, out from the complex onto the quiet Arthington Road, where, once again, the footpath to Bramhope, over the sodden ground, leads the way.
The earliest known settlement in the area was a British camp established off Moor Road. The Romans built a road through the area from Adel to Ilkley, traces of which remain in a field near Leeds Bradford Airport.
The place-name Bramhope appears first in the Domesday Book as “Bra(m)hop”, with later medieval spellings including Bramhop(a) and Bramhop(p)e. The name seems to derive from Old English brōm ‘broom‘ + hōp ‘a small valley, side-valley off a larger valley’, here referring to a small valley off Wharfedale.
In 1086, Bramhope was the manor of an Anglo-Saxon thegn, Uchill. In 1095 the manor passed to Percy family, and in 1165 was sold to Ralph de Bramhope. In the 13th century the monasteries owned much of the land and had granges where sheep were grazed. The monks used tracks, such as Scotland Lane and Staircase Lane, as they travelled from their outlying granges to Kirkstall Abbey.
The village had a small population until the 20th century. The Black Death of 1348-09 reduced the number of adults to 34, but this gradually increased to about 400 in 1900. Now it is approximately 3,400. Water was drawn from private wells or the town well at the foot of Northgate (now Church Hill). The town well was restored in 1991 by the Bramhope History Group, and is located opposite St Giles Church. The plaque says that the well was exposed in 1991, so perhaps it had been lost for some time.
My favourite parts of Bramhope are the pub and the village fish and chip shop, not necessarily in that order, but, both, are, in my opinion, wonderful. So, not to waste any time, I delighted in a portion of fish and chips and sat on one of the pubs outside benches to sample my dinner, a perfect spot for a lunchtime, besides, the effort required to arrive there made them more than appreciated, this terrain was really testing these weary old legs. At this point, feeling over confident with the route I should follow from the pub, I took a map reading, which, much to my surprise, proved me wrong, my mind was in the driving route and not the Dales Way one and the northerly point I’d imagined, and, the route I should have taken, were almost opposite to the correct one, it just shows, even when you think you’re confident of your location, check it, trust your map and compass, and not your imagination.
Following Old Road, west, for about 200 yards took me back onto the DW footpath, and, the route to Otley Chevin via Caley Deer Park into the Chevin Forest Park where, a multitude of footpaths can cause the most confusion of the entire route.
The Chevin is largely covered in attractive old woodland and heathland. It is a part of the Carboniferous Millstone Grit group. A Roman road ran along the top of the Chevin, part of the road that linked Eboracum (York), Calcaria (Tadcaster) and Olicana (Ilkley), perhaps on the same route as the modern road, Yorkgate, or perhaps about 800m to the south.
The highest point of the Chevin, Surprise View, reaches 282 metres (925 ft) at grid reference . This point offers extensive views of Otley and Wharfedale, and has an adjacent car park. It is the site of a beacon, and a cross has been erected every Easter since 1969.
The name comes from the Brythonic cefyn, cefn or cefu meaning a “ridge”, or “ridge of high land”. The root name informs other hills, such as Cefn Cribwr and Cefn Bryn in Glamorgan amongst many others in Wales, and also, it has been argued, The Cheviot in Northumberland, and the Cévennes in France.
For these weary old legs of mine, the effort to reach the Chevin had proved sufficient for one day, it wasn’t as much the distance as the endless mud and bog I’d encountered, it really did, at least, double the effort for the relevant distance, and, for the relatively short distance, it had battered me, my legs and backside ached more than I can ever remember, then again, I wasn’t racing anybody or watching the time, so, what did it matter, it mattered zilch, what mattered was being there, being in the moors, mountains, fields, woodland, doing it, to me, that matters!