A pair of Mute Swans and a Kingfisher lend a regal air to the subsidence flash tucked between the railway and the M1 motorway. The Mallards, about twenty of them, predominately drakes, preferred a shallower marshy patch just a stone's throw away.
These days, this valley floor, with its sailing lake and broad green spaces by the River Calder looks good from the motorway. Although I'm a Yorkshireman, I have to say that I'm rather glad that the County Cricket team will not now be moving here, to a state of the art stadium, accompanied as it would be by an obligatory development of office blocks and hotels, wiping out the last few fields between motorway and city.
The present landscape was planned as window dressing. When the motorway from the capital reached this part of the West Riding in the 1960s it happened to pass right across a flooded sand quarry(even then used for sailing) which lay between twin rubbish tips. The West Riding County Council gave its restoration some priority. It has paid off.
Thousands of trees including a stand of Whitebeam were planted. As I cycled past, along the valley's cycleway, I had the impression that there was smoke rising amongst the them. I stopped to look closer. The twigs are covered with a smoky bloom.
Richard Bell's Nature Diary, Friday, 23rd October, 1998Next day
Wild West Yorkshire