Walking around Coxley: John Readman
Walking around the Coxley Valley by John Readman
Living in the Sitlington Area means we are very fortunate to be close to the best walking area in Wakefield and so handy that most of us can walk into the Coxley Valley without using the car. The woods and farmland around us is criss-crossed with paths laid down when walking was the main means of getting about.
Paths radiate from the village centres like Middlestown, Overton, Netherton, Midgely, and Thornhill. These not only linked the Churches and Chapels but also the Coal Mines at Caphouse, Hartley Bank, Prince of Wales ( now Earnshaws Fencing Centre) and Thornhill. Some of these paths are stone paved to resist erosion by miners boots as they trudged home after a hard days labour underground. A good example of this paving still exist on Briggs lane on a path between Thornhill and Caphouse where the stones are hollowed out with the passing of so many feet. A copy of the O.S. 25000 scale map yields other named footpaths such as Hayne Lane, Chapel Hill Lane ,Carr Lane and Coxley lane.
The Distant views of Wakefield are best obtained from the Smithy Lane path, just past the Denby Grange Cricket field in Overton. From here next to the new telephone masts you can see Drax power station some30 miles away, and on a really clear day the Howardian hills beyond York, whilst closer at hand the towers and spires of Wakefield and Horbury. Sandal Castle and Pugneys are in the middle distance with the constant stream of traffic on the Ml in the foreground.
if you prefer to walk on the level then the Calder canal has a very pleasant aspect nearby, extending from Thornhill to Calder Grove well away from noisy traffic apart from the gentle phut-phut of leisure barges in the season.
If the weather is hot then the cooling shade of the Coxley valley woods may suit you better. Access to these woods is open to all and the numerous paths mean you can vary your route each time you go, whether it is from Overton Midgley Netherton or Middlestown.
If you prefer to walk with others, then there is, a regular Monday walking group from the Star Pub in Netherton meeting at 10a.m.
When Blind Jack of Knaresborough laid out the New Road as a Turnpike, Sir John Lister Lister Kaye, in order to avoid paying heavy tolls to transport his coal from Caphouse to the canal, decided to build his own railway to Calder Grove. Evidence of the railways route is still apparent as you walk down New Hall Approach .Further signs of its route are evident at Stocks moor and the coal staithes at Calder Grove.
But for me, on a summers evening particularly after a good meal my favourite walk is to walk up the hill from St Luke's to Smithy Lane, past the Cricket Field to Chapel Hill then past Chapel Close to Carr lane. At this level the coal seam was close enough to the surface to be worked using Bell pits. The coal was mined from a central shaft and dug out in a bell shape until it collapsed or was too dangerous to work. There are many heaps of stone and shale marking the location of this activity. Turning back on Carr Lane towards Middlestown, you pass The Carrs, once the site of a thriving Golf Club, then on to Toad Hole, a group of cottages and pheasantries. Leaving Toad Hole and turning left into Chapel Hill lane, you walk along a lane where wild raspberries grow in the hedgerow. A spring issues from the hillside which is marked on the map as Chapel Hill well, suggesting that this could have been the water supply for the 'Irish Houses' nearby, of which only the odd brick remains. This is quite a stiff climb and someone has provided a very welcome plank to sit upon and admire the view of Coxley Valley.
At the top of the hill you can retrace your steps along Smithy Lane or follow the field path into Highfield Crescent. A nice gentle stroll of two and a quarter miles which should take about an hour. Similar walks can be taken using Netherton as a base, either into the Coxley valley or along Blacker Lane towards Calder Grove.
The more ambitious could extend their walk to include Bretton, Emley Woodhouse, Flockton, Briestfield or Thornhill Edge.
Whichever way you wander in this beautiful area, enjoy your walking!
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