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Roman earthworks at Pompocali near Bardsey
Roman earthworks at Pompocali near Bardsey

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Route No. 402 - Saturday 2 April 2011
Bardsey, Pompocali, Thorner circuit - 11km
Leeds,
West Yorkshire . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 289 Leeds at 1:25000


The road past Bardsey church at the start of the walk
The road past Bardsey church at the start of the walk

Bingley Arms pub in Bardsey
Bingley Arms pub in Bardsey

Bardsey church
Bardsey church

After my little walk I retired to the Bingley Arms for a very nice lunch to wait for the group to return. The group set off from the pub car park to walk down the road past the church to the A58. At the main road, map ref. SE369432, they turned right to walk along the road for about 200m to a footpath off to the left of the road. (There is a dog walkers' path in the woods to the East of the road if you want to avoid the 200m along the main road)

It's the first Saturday in the month so time to meet up with a group of friends for our regular monthly walk. This time we all met in the car park of the Bingley Arms in Bardsey at map ref. SE364430, about 500m West of the A58 Wetherby to Leeds road. I still have a long recovery period ahead after my knee replacement operation so I just did a little 4km circuit of my own.

Bardsey church
Bardsey church

Path from the A58 on the old railway bed
Path from the A58 on the old railway bed

Walking along the A58 to the start of the path on the old railway bed
Walking along the A58 to the start of the path on the old railway bed

Wood anemonies by the path
Wood anemones by the path

The path approaching Hetchell Wood
The path approaching Hetchell Wood

The group turned off the main road to follow the public footpath initially on the bed of a disused railway and then along the edge of some woodland and fields to the edge of Hetchell Wood at map ref. SE375427. Hetchell Wood is a nature reserve managed by the 'Yorkshire Wildlife Trust'.

Entering Hetchell Wood
Entering Hetchell Wood

Violet by the footpath
Violet by the footpath

Wild garlic in the woods
Wild garlic in the woods

Nesting box in Hetchell wood
Nesting box in Hetchell wood

The group followed the public footpath through the nature reserve. There was already a carpet of wild flowers in the wood including wood anemones, cellandines and violets in flower and the leaves of wild garlic and bluebells well advanced.

There is a particularly rich variety of plants, insects, and birds because the wood straddles the boundary of gritstone and limestone outcrops.

Hetchell woods
Hetchell woods

The path through Hetchell woods
The path through Hetchell woods

Hetchell craggs in the woods
Hetchell craggs in the woods

More violets in the woods
More violets in the woods

Roman earthworks at Pompocali
Roman earthworks at Pompocali

Path leaving Hetchell wood
Path leaving Hetchell wood

An interesting theory about the origins of the Pompocali earthworks is set out on a Pompocali web site at http://pompocaliandhetchell.co.uk/

At the Southern edge of the wood they came to Pompocali. This is a large area of high earthworks built by the Romans at the side of the Roman road going from York via Bramham and Adel to Ilkley.

Path following the Roman road course
Path following the course of the Roman road

Heading for Stubbing Moor Plantation
Heading for Stubbing Moor Plantation

More woodland flowers
More woodland flowers

Path through Norwood Bottoms
Path through Norwood Bottoms

Parish Centre in Thorner
Thorner Parish Centre - a community hall

They walked along Kennels Lane for about 1.5km to map ref. SE382417. Here they turned left off the lane to follow a footpath across Norwood Bottoms and Milner Beck to the road at map ref. SE379409. At the road they turned left to walk down the road into the centre of Thorner.

From Pompocali the group followed the public footpath up through the woods to cross a minor road at map ref. SE379422 and then along the Roman road for a few hundred metres before bearing right and following the path through Stubbing Moor Plantation to a track at map ref. SE392426. They turned right to walk along the track and then make a large arc on the footpath through Ragdale Plantation to the start of Kennels Lane at map ref. SE393421.

Blackthorn flowers around the signpost
Blackthorn flowers around the signpost

The church in Thorner
Approaching the church in Thorner

Thorner Victory Hall - a community centre
Thorner Victory Hall - a community centre

The Leeds Country Way leaving Thorner
The Leeds Country Way leaving Thorner

New lambs are everywhere now
New lambs are everywhere now

Fungi are hard to identify but these could be Tawny Grisette
Hard to identify but these could be Tawny Grisette

Beyond the church they followed the road round to the right and after another 150m they turned right opposite the Mexborough Arms. Here they had joined the route of the 'Leeds Country Way' and after about 200m where the road turned left the Leeds Country way kept straight on across the fields. The group followed the Leeds Country Way route for a little over 3km.

Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey
Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey

Bardsey seen from the leeds Country Way
Bardsey seen from the Leeds Country Way

They followed the Leeds Country Way through Scarcroft Hill across the A58 and back to the church in Bardsey to complete the circuit to the Bingley Arms car park.

Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey
Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey

Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey
Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey

Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey
Leeds Country Way heading back to Bardsey

Stand of trees - a la Hockney?
Stand of trees - a la Hockney?(His huge painting of trees was in York Art Gallery when we did this walk)

Leeds Country Way approaching Bardsey
Leeds Country Way approaching Bardsey

Sundial at Bardsey church
Sundial at Bardsey church

They arrived there a bit sooner than I expected and I was still enjoying my pub lunch when they arrived, much to their amusement as I have a reputation for enjoying my food rather too much.

Leeds Country Way approaching Bardsey church
Leeds Country Way approaching Bardsey church

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 11km, about 7 miles, from Bardsey between Wetherby and Leeds. As you drive through Bardsey on the A58 it seems to be just a rather well to do commuter village but there'e a lot more to Bardsey than that. It is steeped in history and was listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086. Our walk starts at the Bingley Arms pub. This is claimed to be the oldest pub in England, well it's certainly old dating from the early 900's. It was used as a safe house for catholic priests during the reformation after which it became known as 'The Priests Inn'. From the pub we walk down the road past the church to the main road. Here we cross the road and follow a pleasant wooded path to Hetchell Wood. This is a nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. It contains diverse habitats because it is sited across the boundary between an outcrop of millstone grit rocks which produce acid soils and an outcrop of limestone which produces alkaline soils, so the wood has a whole range of plants that like the differing conditions created by these two rock types. In the wood there is Hetchell Crag, a gritstone cliff that is popular with rock climbers. At the end of the wood we go straight on for a few metres and climb up a steep grassy bank. At the top there is an amazing sight. You are looking over the Roman earthworks called Pompocali. These are a series of large mounds arranged in two large arcs and no-one knows why they are here. There are quarries nearby that go back to Roman times and the mounds are constructed of the sandy material that would have been removed from the quarry site to expose the bedrock. But it's far too complex and carefully constructed to be just a spoil heap so what on earth could they have been? No-one seems to know. From Pompocali we follow a bridleway up the edge of the site roughly along the route of a Roman road. We continue to cross a pretty wooded valley called Norwood Bottoms and on to the village of Thorner which itself dates from pre-Norman times. One of Thorner's claims to fame is that it has no public street lights. From Thorner we join a route called the Leeds Country Way. This is a circular route of about 100km, a little over 60 miles, around the outskirts of Leeds and through some surprisingly attractive countryside. We follow part of this route for about 3km through Scarcroft Hill and back to Bardsey. We reach Bardsey through the churchyard of All Hallows church which was built in Saxon times before the Norman conquest. It has been much extended and altered since then but the base of the Saxon tower remains, although it's had some more added on top and part of the Saxon knave is still there too. We return to the Bingley arms pub car at the end of our walk and some refreshments there too if you wish before heading for home.

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