The Home Loop
Most of my runs start from my door, especially over the last year or so. Thankfully I love where I live so I might as well rave about my regular routes and the corners of the hood we call Menston. Right now all routes start around the Menston Arms, no chance for a refreshing pint at the end of the run, I just breath in the smell of stale beer and head off towards Bleach Mill Lane. This is the perfect start to any run as the village and tarmac turns into a hedgerow corridor along a characterful bumpy country lane. It’s a good place to lean forward, stretch the legs and take in the view up Wharfedale. The fields roll away to an abundant medley of trees harbouring hide and seek wildlife that on occasion leap out to cause a mid run jolt.
The climb up
At the bottom of Bleach Mill Lane the path narrows past the free rave chickens and free range cakes. In usual times this would be a good place to stop and give some cash to the absolute generosity of Sue and Simon and their tea room, all proceeds going to charity. In fact in normal times, that’s all you need, a run from the pub to the tea room and back. From here pass through the all new shiny turnstile and you get to a natural junction. You could take a right through the fields towards Burley or straight on past Hag Farm. My preferred route is left up the hill along Carr Beck, I love the patter of the water as the legs begin to burn a little from the steep and often muddy climb. Following the soft, mossy walls there’s an awkward stone stile that leans towards you after the first steep climb, a little athleticism leads into the field and onwards. It always feels like hard work up through the fields and sneaking past the houses, back onto tarmac with a final ramp up Myrtle Lane to Moor Road. Whoever lives in those houses have some of the best views in the land.
Onto the moor
Again, there’s a choice of routes spanning off Green Lane, if it’s Springtime my path is usually to cross the beck a little way up and head up the sun dappled tunnel of trees, hoping the mud has dried out. Another new kissing gate leads into the Highland Cow field and a steep climb up towards the moor. These are the only cows that don’t make me nervous and they have an effortless sense of style with their overgrown lockdown hair. This is where freedom starts to kick in, just sky above and long runs ahead in the direction of Baildon or Bingley or the well trodden path up to the Shooting Hut and Grub Stones; the ideal perch for a sunrise or sunset. It’s a good place to pause and take in the views. My most regular route is up to the shooting hut, it’s a 5 mile round with lots of options to vary the out and back. I’ll often go further on to Ilkley but the 5 mile circuit is a reassuring loop, a familiar path that gently changes with the seasons.
The descent from the Grub Stones down the Millennium Way to Burley Woodhead is a thrill, loose stones and a rollercoaster trail, which at one point in time passed the most aggressive grouse ever to stalk the moors. I haven’t seen it since lockdown kicked in but there are many runners who have been violently charged by the beast. I once tried to shout it down but it ducked its head and went for my shins. The view from this point opens out over to York with the dale widening ahead flanked by Almscliffe Crag and Otley Chevin. It’s a place to watch the weather move. Running to the road at Burley Woodhead is best done in May when there is an avenue of Foxgloves lining the slope. The personality of the moor is refashioned through the year with the Foxgloves, heather, cotton grass and bracken making star turns.
From here there is a slow plod back towards Beach Mill usually running by Hag Farm. There’s a low view looking over Otley which can often have a cloud inversion or silver light. The low fields are usually damp throughout the year and there’s a steady stream of ramblers, a friendly hubbub guides me back to home. We live in a beautiful part of the world for running.
Here’s the route: https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1487780
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