Sunday, 26 February 2017

Billing Hill, Rawdon & Plane Tree Hill

Open Space Web-Map builder Code

Route: Cold Harbour Farm, Billing Hill, Rawdon, Leeds Country Way, Scotland, Moor Grange Farm, Horsforth Golf Club, Leeds, Bradford International Airport, Plane Tree Hill

Date: 26/02/2017
From: Yeadon

Parking: Moorlands Avenue
Start Point: Cold Harbour Farm
Region: Yorkshire

Route length: 5.7 miles (9.2 km)
Time taken : 01:55
Average speed: 2.9 mph
Ascent: 173m
Descent: 156m

Billing Hill (231m), Plane Tree Hill (225m)

Other points of interest: Leeds Airport

Billing Hill is a notable feature of north west Leeds. Though modest in height it stands relatively isolated and commands extensive views across the city - the perfect point to located an OS trig pillar. I noticed it while scanning a map of the local area and decided it was worthy enough for a short morning excursion.

Billing Hill is located close to Leeds Airport and the suburbs of Rawdon and Yeadon - both villages that were swallowed up as Leeds expanded westwards so plenty of interest, despite its inner city setting.

I parked on the street close to Plane Tree Hill before setting out along the A658 to find the footpath at Cold Harbour Farm. The path crosses open fields up the gentle slopes of Billing Hill.
Freedom from the city
Billing Hill
Open fields below Billing Hill
Billing Hill (also known as Rawdon Billing) is a notable landmark in West Leeds and, despite its small stature, has a couple of interesting features. The remains of a quarry can be found near the top, stone from which was used in the base of the former bank on Albion Street in Leeds. In addition, foundations for a World War II searchlight are located on the western slopes. The trig pillar marks the best of the extensive views across the city stretching to Emley Moor, with its distinctive transmitter tower, in the south and Wharfedale to the north-west.
Heading towards the top
The view towards Wharfedale
A trig pillar marks the top
A jet approaches Leeds Airport
A distant Emley Moor
The view across Leeds
Entering the woods on the top of the hill
The wooded top of Billing Hill
The searchlight foundations
An owl - symbol of Leeds
Some interesting woodland
Billing Hill slopes southwards into Rawdon, where I joined Town Street. Heading east along Town Street passes St. Peter's Church and Layton Hall Cottages to reach Leeds Trinity University and the Leeds Country Way, a circular long-distance footpath of 62 miles around Leeds which never strays more than 7 miles from Leeds city centre.
St. Peter's Church
Layton Hall Cottages
The Leeds Country way makes its way through some woodland to Moss House and an area known as Scotland - I promise you this is true. It passes beneath the flight path for Leeds airport, winding through the landing lights at the end of the runway. It would make a good place to watch planes coming and going, my arrival was timed perfectly with a departing EasyJet flight. A path follows the perimeter of the airport but can only be accessed by walking a little out of your way.
Marker for the Leeds Country Way
Woodland leading to Scotland
The landing lights of Leeds Airport
Landing lights

 From Scotland, you have to meet Scotland Lane to travel a short distance north to Dean Grange Farm. Here, a path leads back to the airport and the perimeter path, which is sandwiched between two fences and offers no place to hide from mud, bogs or prickly bushes.
The contrained path around the airport perimeter
A flight shortly after arrival
Leeds Bradford International Airport began life as Yeadon Aerodrome in 1931 though civilian flights were halted at the outbreak of the war. Avro built a new factory, to produce military aircraft, just to the north of the aerodrome, hence the searchlight foundations on Billing Hill.
Leeds Airport
Around 5,515 aircraft were produced and delivered from Yeadon, including nearly 700 Lancaster bombers. The Avro factory was camouflaged and had dummy cows placed on top of the factory so that from the air it would look just like fields with cattle. Genius.
A photo of the Avro factory
Once I had escaped from the confines of the fenced path I had reached Plane Tree Hill, a small area of open ground which is clearly frequented by 4x4 enthusiasts. Atop the hill is an artificial reservoir and a trig pillar, hidden in the wall. I almost missed it.
Plane Tree Hill's trig pillar
Pond close to the airport
A photogenic Robin
The small area of Access Land
 A small area of Access Land leads back to the main road and the cul-de-sac where I had left the car a few hours earlier. In summary, this was a pleasant walk with interest sprinkled throughout. Billing Hill is an ideal place to while away a bit of time and I'm sure it gets impressive sunsets. It's great that such places exist a stone's throw from the front door.

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