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" The Wharf and Hetchell Woods "

Date & start time:       2nd / 3rd November 2023. 

Location of Start :      Harewood Mews, Cumbria, Uk. ( SE 321 453).

Places visited :          Collingham's Beck Woods and Bardsey's Hetchell Woods.

Walk details :              Local walks in both places.

Highest point :           Meeting the ferrets and the deer.

Walked with :              Loes, my brothers and their wives, plus the dogs Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                     Damp, especially underfoot.



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Whilst Loes and I are at her house in Yorkshire we arranged to meet up with my brothers.

The day before we met we tried two different locations close to Collingham to find somewhere suitable to take them for a walk,

both failed but for different reasons . . .

Beck Wood Collingham, is a small "Pocket Park" owned and maintained by the Parish Council.

It's only a small area of land but it gives access to the River Wharf and what has been known in the past as a nice place to swim.

The park has been developed on the site of the old Leeds to Harrogate railway line

and this wider section was the site of the  Collingham Bridge railway station.

The railway and the associated bridge were closed in 1964 and the infrastructure removed soon after.

We walked the short distance down to the River Wharf and found ourselves looking at the main road bridge.

The river was slightly high due to recent rain . . . but on closer inspection it didn't look particularly clear or nice !

The opaque brown colour hinted at what a notice in the nearby tree confirmed . . . the river was not in prime condition.

I have heard that the river is regarded as one of the dirtiest in the country due to the amount of effluent that can sometimes enter it.

Today's view only served to reinforce that belief.

The local council was obviously aware too, so I think the notices were as much a public statement as a warning to the public.

It would appear that this local swimming spot was now out-of-bounds, like the river higher up at Ilkely that made the news recently.

We walked around the small woods and soon found ourselves returning to the old station site

along a path next to Collingham Beck . . . that too looked equally brown.

- - - o o o - - -



As we walked up the beck we noticed

something white in the stream.


From a distance it looked like litter,

or had it been closer to home

an unfortunate sheep drowned in the floods,

but it was in fact foam.



Collingham Beck was polluted just like the adjacent River Wharf.

What a state to find a river !

There can't be much surviving in that

except bacteria.


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -



After such a short and disappointing walk

we decided to have a look at nearby Hetchell Woods

as a possible alternative place to walk with

my brothers tomorrow.



The woods are a few miles away

adjacent to a tributary of Collingham Beck called Brandon Drain.


The woods are altogether bigger than at Collingham

and further upstream, so hopefully further away from

the immediate cause of the local pollution.



- - - o o o - - -

The path through Hetchell Woods sets off through the beech trees.
It soon entered an area that had been a stone quarry in times past.

Looking down a near vertical bank, into the old quarry. 

Dougal had already scaled the steep slope down but returned back up with equal enthusiasm once called.

The top track through the woods skirted the farmland, where there was  a small herd of belted Galloways grazing the scrub.

As a result of the wet weather the path was very muddy . . .
. . . to the point of being almost impassable, even in boots.
There were nice interludes such as this bright Holly tree full of berries.
Our circular 'slide' was bringing us down to the river at the red dot.

The site was apparently noteable due to its diverse range of plants, caused by the presence of two different underlying rocks.

The top quarry was limestone with alkaline soils and this lower escarpment of Hetchell Crags was based on more acidic Millstone Grit.

Either way, the damp conditions of the mature woodland gave rise to extensive fallen and rotting undergrowth

and within them these beautiful common gilled mushrooms seemed to be thriving.

We join what turns out to be an old Roman Road through the woods.

The autumn colours are developing nicely and just need a bit more sun to bring them to full colour.

What's this . . . a lady out walking her pets . . . but the dogs had never seen pets like this !

They were two ferrets, whom she took for local walk on their leads.

With the unknown nature of my dogs, she preferred to hold them close rather than risk a meeting at ground level.

A wise choice as I don't think Dylan and Dougal knew the dangers either.

Well . . . what do you make of ferrets you two ?

They look confused as if to say . . . what were they ?

- - - o o o - - -

Oh, and as for the water quality . . . the Brandon Beck wasn't brilliant, but it looked a lot less polluted than the stream in Collingham woods.

It wouldn't be the best place for a walk tomorrow either, due to the extensive mud !

- - - o o o - - -

The following day the sun was shining and my elder brother Peter and his wife Mary,

my younger brother Stephen and his good lady Elaine, all drove over to Collingham for a lunchtime meal at Picolinos.

Afterwards, as the two other walks were not really suitable, we ended up taking them

for a walk locally in the Harewood estate where the wild deer appeared on queue, adding a interest to the walk on the day.

- - - o o o - - -


Hi Roger

Your report was of particular interest to me as I lived in Collingham until 1958. It was a very different place then. I was appalled to see the state of the river as I learnt to swim near to the point shown in one of your photos. Also we used to mess around in the beck, but a point upstream from where the beck joins the river.

The railway station was named Collingham Bridge to avoid confusion with Collingham station in Nottinghamshire. I used to travel between Collingham and Tadcaster on the school train up until we left Collingham. Although it was an early closure under the Beeching Plan, I believe the railway lasted as long as it did only because it was used by freight trains and some Liverpool to Newcastle express services. The line's fate was sealed when the East Coast mainline was quadrupled; thus allowing services to be switched away from the Harrogate - Wetherby - Leeds route.

Cheers, Chris H.


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Technical note: Pictures taken with my iPhone 11pro mobile phone camera. 

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder. 

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Previous walk - 1st Nov 2023 - Jenna and Family

A previous time up here - 2nd June 2023 - Castles and Birthdays

Next walk - 5th Nov 2023 - Mockerkin Mob King's How


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