Cardboard Hill

I wrote recently about Woodhouse Ridge, my nearest little bit of wilderness. I learned more about the place through writing. Apparently there was a skirmish here, between Royalist and Parliamentarian forces, during the English Civil War. It is said that the “Beck ran red”, with the blood of the fallen, hence, the place name “Stainbeck”, just over the way.

Writing that piece also led to an interesting exchange with Nigel Lees, the secretary of of WRAG, the Woodhouse Ridge Action Group. The WRAG website links you to a great aerial photo of the Ridge, in case you’re wondering where exactly it is. In fact there’s a good stock of photos of the Ridge on the web where you get a sense of the Victorian and Edwardian history of the place – some of these sites and structures don’t exist any more.

WRAG have landed a grant from Caird Bardon Communities Fund and from Wade’s Charity and are applying for a further grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, for conservation works to the bandstand and to Batty’s Wood, which will kick off next year. If you’re interested to get involved their next action days are Sundays 30 September, 28 October, and 25 November. They meet at either the Delph Lane or Ridge Terrace entrance to the Ridge. Contact Nigel on 07929 998168 on the day.

Nigel sent me an interesting map of the Ridge which named a little piece of the wood Cardboard Hill. The name intrigued me. The same patch has also been called Long Rigg and Whinny Field, but what ancient custom or incident lost in the mists of history could possibly have given rise to such a name? All was revealed when Nigel sent sent me the following photos.

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Woodhouse Ridge

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I’ve grown to love the Ridge over the last few years. It’s a deceptively big place. On the face of it just a narrow strip of wood between the tightly packed terraces of Woodhouse and Meanwood Road in the valley bottom, it’s criss-crossed with paths, each of which has a slightly different character. I’ve seen a pair of jays here, an owl once, endless squirrels, and because of that maybe, it’s a foxes paradise. Lucy Newlyn’s poem Bandstand is here next to the remains of the old Victorian bandstand. At one end you’re almost at Sheepscar, easy distance to the town centre. At the other you can slip across Grove Lane in Headingley and stay on foot paths out to Golden Acre Park. I’ve walked dogs here in frosty Winter, dug Hannah’s allotment in Spring, recorded birds at dawn in Summer, walked back one dark night in a storm from Wheatfields hospice at Halloween. It’s always the same and it’s never the same. When I read The Wisdom of Wilderness, the book Quaker psychiatrist Gerald May wrote just before he died, I was convinced by his argument that we all need a bit of wilderness to keep us sane. This is the nearest I get to it in my daily life. Terry