Autumn is around the corner for sure, and while it's getting cooler in the UK we have still been lucky enough to get a reasonable amount of sun and hot weather. And of course being in the UK - any opportunity to enjoy the sunshine is not to be missed, we are heading into a good six months of dull, overcast, cold, rainy weather October to March - that's what makes us Brits SAD
So with a little sun out, we headed out for another lake visit - but I was asked to find a new one to got magnet fishing to. After 15 odd years in this area, I have heard rumour of a lake in walking distance of our house, but having never seen it while driving about we never found it. So I looked online and sure enough, found Horton Bank Country Park the irony being my morning commute to work takes me directly opposite it - and I never knew it was there!
Part of why I passed it by is the entrance is hidden off the road, and you can no longer access the car park - the entrance gates are chained shut - although leaving just enough gap for people to fit through the gap. It felt a little like breaking in, but he sign clearly says it is open to the public just closed to vehicles.
Why I never realised it was here became obvious as soon as we entered, the road curves steeply down to the left, dropping at least 30ft before you get to the now disused large gravel car park. Literally from the road above where I drive daily, this is a sudden drop - you would never see it because basically the road edge is a cliff!
From the now closed car park you look down on the lake and across to Bradford - it's a scenic view and on warm summer evenings would be magical - although it's what happened after dark that ended up closing the car park - being quite isolated there is numerous online articles about why in 2018 they had to close off the car park - to keep drug abusers and sex workers out. You can still park on the road above to visit, but they also removed most of the signs to make this the most stealthy country park - so you really have to know it is here to visit.
Looking down on the lake it appears to be in a giant dug out bowl, and looking on the history you quickly realise why - this used to be an open cast stone quarry - many of the buidings in Bradford and surrounding areas would have been built from the stone dug out of this area. Rather then leave the stone quarry an empty hole, it was redeveloped into a country park, with the base lake fed from a spring running down from Queensbury and having an overflow feed down to Clayton below - it opened in 1997 and is maintained today as a public park.
The lake is lovely, it's edges filled with bull reeds, small islands encroach the edges and it is packed with wildlife, ducks, geese and wrens mostly.
The walk ways are well maintained, kept clear of overgrowth and have the most amazing stone blocks marking key points to remind you this was indeed once a stone quarry.
This is the lake overflow channel, it cuts through the surrounding banks by around fifty foot to drain off the excess to Clayton below.
One big bonus of a dug out bowl like this is you avoid any chilly winds, it's a real sun trap.
Twenty minutes wall from my house, a hidden oasis I missed for more then fifteen years - criminal really.
This is interesting, a line of stone blocks going straight up one of the sides of the bowl, and they have roman numerals etched into them.
The horses were before the park.
Walking up the far side of the bowl gives great views of Bradford
The stone blocks from the top, really interesting feature this.
Many of the steep paths have been prepped with wooden steps to make going down easier, the whole park is so well maintained and provides such a varied walk full of wildlife and wildflowers - but over the two afternoons this weekend we visited only a handful of people were there. I think it is deliberately not advertised because of the past issues of abuse.
Of course bonus for me, I now know if I want to chill out in peace and tranquility it's just up the road from my house!
So you can walk around the lake, but you can also walk around the entire rim of the stone quarry top - it's bordered with these stunning stone walls.
On the road side you can slip the fence and walk the edge of the cliff where they stopped the quarry - and clearly see the quality of stone they were mining.
In the UK we are heavily urbanised just because we are on such a tiny island in the first place, so finding a tranquil green space like this so close to home is just magical.
The far side of the lake these walkways take you to Clayton, or you can loop back and get from one end to the other.
The back paths have these stone seats to again remind you of the history of the site.
These view points are dotted around the top edge of the bowl, it's amazing how much effort has been put into making this old quarry into an enjoyable country park.
In the UK we are really lucky to have so many green open spaces to enjoy, for families needing to entertain children on a weekend it nearly always involves expensive commercial trips, paying for the travelling and the food and entertainment. We walked twenty minutes from home to this hidden country park, and while magnet fishing pulled out 15 pence in 1p, 2p and even a 5p coin - so not only was it free we left with more money then we arrived with!
So that was my weekend, how was yours?
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