Categories
20th Century Footpaths Geography History

The Fleet Lane Walk – 1950/56

It was always a dirt track, the only vehicles to use it were the farm tractors and carts, and the rubbish disposal trucks.   In earlier times it would be carts carrying corn and bringing back flour from the  Fleet Mill.
This walk started past the oak plantation on the left at the top of Fleet Lane.  Halfway down, the track widened for access to the fields on the left and a track to the right to a bridge (always  under water) at the rail embankment below the Methley North signal box.  The Fleet track under the railway bridge was likewise always under water but passable, usually after a break to climb the arches and struts under the bridge.

Immediately under was the iron stream (spring) ever a source of refreshment, and if necessary a place to take a wash.   On the right a very steep access to Primrose Valley and the arc rope swing over the valley from the old oak on the ridge.  We have hit the deck a few times here. (Ernest Hollings, Mike Shillito, Pete Masterman, Barry Ingham, Gordon Jackson) We ignore this however and proceed over the Fleet Beck and head for the canal, with the old tip site on our right and the Rothwell UDC tip on the left. (All since transformed to become the new Marina following re-routing of the canal).  Its amazing what you can find on a tip in addition to the rat population, we always did well with the school jam jar collections, but didn’t say where they had come from despite washing them in the iron stream.WAire Upstream to Petrol Terminals

The walk continued along the canal and then over the Fleet canal bridge, down past the petrol storage tanks and on to the derelict Fleet Mill and its weir.  We now cross the connecting lock gates (again disused) from river to canal and if lucky we will see the greyhound or  whippet owners training their charges round a track using a lure pulled by cord on a tyreless inverted bike.   You can watch this for only so long and then we need  to forge ahead along the river bank with the aerial flight from Water Haigh pit tipping on to the pit hills next in view.  Another place for youngsters to dally and fish or  catch an illegal and dangerous lift on one of the full skips, many claimed to have done it, but don’t you believe ’em – it was difficult and extremely dangerous.

The walk continues despite the many attractions and reaches the Leeds University boat house. Once again we can stop and cheer on the undergraduates (Volga boating song works  well) especially the girls who pull harder with a few wolf whistles.

We now move on to the road to Woodlesford, past Bentleys Brewery (BYB) and turn left  into Eshald lane and head for the disused stone quarry, now full of water and aptly named ‘Tarzan Waters’.   Perfect diving stations here but always cold water.

The journey takes us now along the metalled Fleet Lane and a right turn over the fields brings us to the meadow and beautiful footbridge over the beck.  Keeping left on the Methley side the small  valley is liberally populated with descending field hedgerows, willow copse and trees that provide each way beck crossing.  Should you be interested in bird spotting or nesting, then this was the  place to be
(I won’t list the many types of standard and more rare birds that could be seen).

We are now in the big valley passing the swimming ‘lido’ area and heading for the railway embankment for the final furlong up Fleet Lane and back into Woodrow.