The English countryside is one of the most beautiful and picturesque sceneries your eyes can ever capture and store in the hard drive of your memory. The countryside can be enjoyed by a combination of road trips, cycling or by walk. A lot of the walking paths are made in such a way that they criss cross through small towns, cities and villages. They give you a sneak peek into the myriad of beautiful landscapes, houses, Pubs, churches, small ponds, waterways, waterfalls and lush greenery.
Most famous of such trails are the Trans Pennine Trails (TPT). TPT is an exciting route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders linking the North and Irish seas, passing through the Pennines, alongside rivers and canals and through some of the most historic towns and cities in the North of England.The Trail from coast-to-coast between Southport and Hornsea is 215 miles (346Km) long. A north-south route connects Leeds and Chesterfield and a spur to York means there are approximately 350 miles (560 km) of Trans Pennine Trail available to explore. You can walk, jog or cycle along this entire route!
The Trans Pennine Trail is mapped and signed all the way, mainly traffic free and is surprisingly level considering the dramatic scenery along the way. Easy gradients and surfaced paths make many sections suitable for families, gentle exercise and people using wheelchairs and pushchairs. So whether on foot, horse or cycle; for a day or longer; alone with friends and family - the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) can offer something for everyone.
One evening while walking along my apartment complex near the Royal Armouries I accidentally discovered the TPT criss-crossing Leeds – right outside our doorstep! My inquisitiveness and subsequent research on the internet revealed that this was the Trans Pennine Trail - TPT Central part connecting Leeds and Chesterfield. The Central section starts by the royal armouries in the centre of Leeds and travels alongside the Aire & Calder Navigation before skirting Wakefield and continuing south to cross the east-west route at Barnsley. There are a number of route choices through Sheffield and Rotherham before the Trail heads to its southern-most point at Chesterfield.
|River Aire by Royal Armouries|
I wasn’t dressed in a gear suitable for a long walk/ jog – but decided to give the adventurer in me a little more push as I started packing my walk. I started the walk from the rear of the Royal Armouries, following the course of the River Aire and inched my may forward with a feeling of adventure and enjoying the beauty of nature. Luckily it was summer and the weather was kind – in the mid 20’s.
Two ducks on the path seemed to be trying to impress each other and get into a relationship, unfazed by the public gaze of my eyes and camera. TPT is a special place for even wild species!
As I walked further, with no hint of a sweat on my brow or any hint of discomfort (since I was into active outdoors in a small way after a long time), my eyes tried to capture as much as they could. Be it churches, apartments or even trees lining the walls of the river Aire flowing through the canals, I captured it all – thirsty for more of natural beauty and serenity.
I decided to look back after walking non-stop for about 20 minutes, waving past other fellow walkers and cyclists and couldn’t be better rewarded than a tinge of blue skies, run down mills dotting the skyline with their brick red colour, the greenery of the bushes and the water trying to pull all colours onto it.
Some nice wooden bridges over the River Aire make it more memorable. Especially the sight of seeing this narrow boat slip quietly under the bridge piercing through the stillness of the water like "a preacher on a mission with his mesmerising sermons" was breath taking. I exchanged smiles and waves with the folks enjoying their narrow boat trip.
As I got down the bridge and started walking further down, slightly panting and gasping for breath, couldn’t be more delighted to see the river, greenery blending in harmony and underlined by the wild yellow flowers underlining this magical moment.
If the above wasn’t enough – waiting further ahead was this nice and compact waterfall – looking ferocious, but still calm. The sound of water flowing down filled the air around and could easily set any avid nature lover into a trance.
If you walk five minutes from this point, further on you will hit the “Thwaite Mills Museum” – one of the famous working water powered mills (powered by River Aire) in Leeds. It was 40 minutes since I had started this adventure and I thought I should resist visiting the Mills and keep it for some other day!
I walked back – enjoying the same experience – almost like a cassette tape on “rewind” mode and headed back to Royal Armouries in under 40 minutes. What a discovery it was! I managed to excitedly go back and share all this with my wife and enough enthusiasm was built up for atleast 3-4 four such walks together this summer.
With the river Aire on one side and houses and scenic greenery, old mills, churches on the other side, walking through the calf path laced with stones, mud and grass was indeed a dream come true and an adventurist’s delight!
A must see for anyone who likes to go “off the beaten path” to enjoy the simple joy’s of nature around you.