Sunday, 20th February 2005
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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41 estateIt's not that sheds take up most of the landscape around Wrenthorpe to the west of Wakefield, it's just that those that have been sited here are given such dominant positions as the tops of ridges and the strips along the valley bottoms. These are just some of the sheds of the 41 Estate (left) of warehouses and industrial units and a pig farm (below, right) in the little valley of Balne Beck.

pig farmA landscape study of Wakefield by an academic from Lancashire (sorry, I don't know his name), identified the numerous valleys surrounding the city as a landscape that could be developed as a varied ecological corridor connecting everyone with the natural world and greatly improving our outlook. Ridges and watercourses would be the linking features of this attractively corrugated countryside.

There are plenty of green lanes, small copses and hedges to get the scheme started and, if you can ignore the motorway (which would be difficult, admittedly), there are views over rolling fields to the west with the smooth tops of the Pennines away in the distance. You only have to look around you to realise how easily this could become an attractive area in which to live. 'Even more attractive' is the phrase I should use, as this corner of the district has plenty to recommend it already.

It's the wider setting that is suffering: unfortunately Wakefield has been proud of its initiatives in green field development and we're now paying the price for that in the deteriorating quality of the landscape: sheds to the right of us, sheds to the left of us . . .

Lindale Hill

Lindale HillLindale Hill itself, which was once a rabbit warren at the edge of the lord of the manor of Wakefield's deer park, is looking good: there's been some pruning back of trees and bushes near the crest of the hill to keep the open character.

gaurd dogsThe old scrapyard alongside has been cleared and planning permission is being sought to build houses. This is going to leave the resident guard dogs - a heavily built Doberman type dog and its German Shepherd companion - without a job. I wonder what will happen to them: they've done this for years; barking ferociously at passers-by, the show of aggression somewhat spoilt by the fact that the Doberman wags his tail at us in the friendliest manner. Even so, he's a big fellow and I'm glad he's at the other side of the fence.


The Silkwood Sheds

blue shedLooking west from Lindale Hill you can see the crest of the Pennines including Holme Moss television mast and Black Hill then, moving on the north (to the right) there's the saddle-backed moor beyond Huddersfield which has millstone grit crags at either end: West Nab and Shooters Nab.

In the other direction you can see the cooling towers and chimneys of the power stations of Ferrybridge, Drax and Eggborough stretching away into the mistiness of the Vale of York.

Days HotelAgain the immediate view is dominated by recently built sheds. There's a huge blue shed on the Silkwood Estate at junction 40 of the M1, and equally uninspiring, though mercifully smaller and not as stridently coloured, is the Days Hotel which - ludicrously - has a token piece of public arts sculpture stuck next to it. As if that's going to improve the view!

The Singing Shed

shed skeletonAt last: a shed that is something of a work of art in itself, albeit unintentionally. As we walk back along Lindale Lane we pass the skeleton of the old animal rendering factory at Warren House. The north wind is playing the structure as if it was a giant framework for wind chimes - a ghostly aeolian gamalang.

The power lines suspended from the adjacent pylon seem to be trying to join in but they obviously don't know the words; they just hum along softly to themselves. Next Page

Richard Bell,

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