At the end of 2015, Wakefield & District Group discussed how best to promote the profile of the Ramblers in their area, and looked to the “Wakefield Way” book written by Douglas Cossar in liaison with Trevor Hiles, the Group’s footpath officer at that time. The book was published in 2004 and described a 75 mile walk beside the entire boundary of the Wakefield Metropolitan Borough. An added feature of the book was that it created 21 circular walks and 3 linear walks which enabled the whole Wakefield Way to be completed as part of a number of attractive local walks easily undertaken in a leisurely day’s timetable. One downside of the exercise was the reluctance of Wakefield Council to adopt the route largely on the grounds that parts of the proposed route could not be identified as rights of way. However, since that time the book has proved to be the backbone of the Group’s walks programme every year, and it has also been the case that the local landscape has changed quite dramatically with the establishment of country parks in many parts of the district.

It seemed the right time to approach the Rights of Way staff at Wakefield Council to discuss how we might be able to secure their recognition of a Wakefield Way boundary walk, having regard to the successful creation of the Barnsley Boundary Walk, the Kirklees Way, and the Leeds Country Way in adjacent local authorities. To this end, we attended a meeting with the Wakefield rights of Way staff in March 2016 and the authority were broadly supportive of the project. They indicated that our Group would need to carry out the necessary work on the ground to meet their criterion of an entirely rights of way route, but also stated that it would not be an obstacle where the route crossed a country park for which the council had a responsibility. In the light of this, the Wakefield Group decided to re-survey the route, keeping as far as possible to Douglas Cossar’s original route, but using only public rights of way. The Wakefield Group undertook this by walking over the summer this year all the walks in the original book, modifying them where necessary.   To spice up the walking it was decided to monitor the attendance on the walks and give prizes to the three people who walked the furthest over the summer.

The first walk took place from the Anglers Country Park at Wintersett on Saturday 7th May 2016, and was covered by the local paper, the Wakefield Express. 27 people took part. Keith Wadd and  Wakefield PROW Manager, Virginia Moulton, also kindly attended and joined us on the walk. The walks were generally well attended with over 30 people on two of the walks. 16 people, including Virginia, took part in the final walk on 29th October. On the completion of the walk we enjoyed a Wakefield Way cake and refreshments in the cafe at Anglers Country Park. Thanks to Squires Cafe for letting us set up the cake together with a display of leaflets. The prize winners were Marylin Monahan who walked 91 miles, Joyce Ainsworth 71 miles and Joyce Voakes 69 miles.

We attended a meeting with Virginia and her team in October where we agreed the route, and Virginia has agreed to put the route forward to Ordnance Survey to have the Wakefield Way marked on the OS map. In all, we have had three meetings with Virginia and her team, and we would like to thank them for their support and cooperation.

Wakefield Group is in the process of inputting the walks on to the Ramblers website and hopes to print a new book of walks based on the revised route of the Wakefield Way. West Riding Area has agreed to  support the book and to make funding available, and it is expected it will be published in early 2018.
The revisions to the route of the Wakefield Way which have been agreed with Wakefield Council are at (in a clockwise direction): Notton Park (GR SE 345 130), Woolley (SE322 130), Emroyd Common ( SE 262 175), Carr Gate near JCT 41 of M1 (SE 240 305), Methley Bridge Farm (SE 405 255), Pontefract Racecourse (SE 445 223), Thorpe Audlin (SE 480 155), South Elmsall (SE 490 120) (SE 475105), Howell Wood (GR 437 095), South Hiendley (SE 400 123)

Derek Lowery Wakefield Group