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20th Century Footpaths Geography History

Swillington Walk 1950s

This route commenced at the Commercial (pub) and led  down Pit Lane with the Ings and wildlife on both sides.  The field on the right was always spoiled with the disused concrete and brick building sticking out like a sore thumb  (as it still does today).  What was it?   Was it an air raid shelter?   Was it a pig sty?  It was the Home Guard ammunition store (thanks Les Davies 26.01.2002).   Time  it was knocked down and shifted.  **Now demolished**

Its too early in the walk to sit on the canal bank and watch Mr Lister swing open the halfpenny bridge with the use of the wharf capstan, and we scamper across before the bridge hits the stoppers. 

On now over a small wooden bridge crossing a ditch, past a small cottage which  was once the Caroline Pub (mostly used by bargees and colliers in days gone by) and head off on a track that makes a U turn round to the cut and disused staithe for the  old Lowther and Bowers Row pits.

The magnificent 12 inch section timbers which was once the wharf now front the largest site of blackberry brambles in the area.

The track leads to the old river course and the iron bridge dated 1831 and later reconstructed in 1876 which carried trains of coal to the staithe.   The bridge seems a bit  rickety and we walk carefully over on the track sleepers.

The route is now old pit hills with sections still burning  caused by spontaneous combustion.  Its burning mostly dross which stinks of sulphur,  not unlike the issue from a volcanic area.   Its also dangerous, put your foot in a recently burned  section of white ash and it is possibly to sink down a foot into red hot cinders.  It wasn’t pleasant but it was unusual, we now leave this behind and proceed to intersect the Astley road  and head for Swillington.

A sharp left along a farm track proves to be a short cut in preference to the long haul to St Mary’s Church and left down Aberford Road.

Progress is made now past Bullerthorpe Lane on the right  and turn on to the river bank at the Leeds University boathouse.

We continue down the river bank past the pit hills  affectionately known to the lads in Woodrow as the ‘Balloon’  and then past the  whippet and greyhound training ground and it’s Heath Robinson apparatus before the disused Fleet mills and petrol tanks to Lemonroyd Locks and the canal side path back to Fleet Lane and Woodrow.