“High as You Can Go” (Walking from Darton to South Leeds)
Sometimes these things have just got be done. Today was one of those days. High as you go – still transfixed by the Chameleons’ Under The Script Bridge.
Walk out of the Barnsley area, through Staincross down to Woolley, seemingly stalked by two young men in a car, driving around beeping at me. Game playing. I’m sport, basically, for their boredom. But there’s nothing you can say or do. I’m in a cloud of enough unlocatable guilt and paranoia making me sheepish enough, without dealing with those you can’t deal with. I hate the phrase ‘you can’t educate pork’ spouted from the ‘enlightened’ ones in any given town. I hate having to take the position of seeing folk as irredeemable tossers. But I’m not the one making it hard, I’m happy to get a long with any one if they agree not to give me grief. It doesn’t seem like such a hard deal to make. Most days you can brush it off, but there’s always that day when you don’t stand so tall, and then it hits you hard. My only response is to keep walking and walking indefinitely.
As a male and female duo jog up and down a lane that stares down at the Vale of York, I come to the conclusion that all there is save total burn out, is stability, a rock in my life, of sorts. Think about my age. Yeah time’s have changed, but I remember how my grandparents got together at the ages of 14 and 16 respectively. Tomorrow when the shame of another heavy night wears off, I know I’ll be back in strenuously independent mentality. It’s no good though, always burn out. Maybe hastening the burn out by walking as far as I can is a good plan right now.
Long road into Wakefield, things feel on top of me. It’s make or break.
Despite the world feeling so cold, and ‘the good life’ seeming unimaginable, there’s still an interest I give to areas that have a nice shape to them. Sandal, with its mix of old houses, and tree lined avenues has the look of a place a me, a different me, of futures and pasts, would like to be a ‘proper’ adult in.
Decide to carry on past Sandal Agbrigg station, and try to walk on towards Outwood station. I may as well.
The footpath vanishes alongside the trunk road that connects Wakefield and Bradford. I realise I’m in one of those types of zone that could only exist in the country in its current sad and bitter mould; a place made for people only if they are inside a car to begin with. For this reason I try to find a cut through to Outwood station via an ‘enterprise zone’. Why do my thoughts become occupied with the notions of what it is to be mean-spirited when the roads all lead to dead ends monitored by cameras meaning I have to cut through a blackthorn bush in order to get back to the road I originally tried to leave behind? Our country has been structured around meanness. Common humanity helps us break through it, but in times like this at one side there’s a sense of being the weakling, the visible tradegy straggling at the side of the road, and a potential criminal looking up to no good on the other.
“Get down sucker”
I’m that tired, and spaced-out by the motions of walking, I almost stumble into a passing car. As I approach the junction 41 industrial park I realise this too is not a place built for human scale route -finding; these distribution centres hold possibly nearly everything I eat and drink, and more. Yet they are also deserts, vast areas of emptiness with no signs of how to get out. I have no idea to exit, so have to take the long road, as i walk past the heaps of rubbish, likely thrown into the bushes from the thousands of lorries that pass through here, I decide it isn’t worth going backwards to Outwood station. I’ll head to south Leeds, and catch a bus from there. My legs never ache these days, they are numb.
Not many roads are made for walking down. Not in the winter. My tired legs are finding it hard to climb onto the verges as the coming dark night makes it hard for drivers to see you. After crossing the M62, and a small road’s walk, it is literally a single field that separates the sprawl of Leeds from here. There is something disturbing about the lifelessness of the housing estate I enter, regardless of the cold of winter. It feels like a stage set from the near-dystopia drama Black Mirror, precisely because things feel that grim at the moment. ‘Britain is a country in the verge of nervous breakdown” – so said the narrator of the Sleaford Mods orientated documentary Invisible Britain, which I saw recently. These words have since narrated my walks through Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds over the past 2 days. I wonder why…
I finally make the bus as I arrive in Belle Isle.