Long Lover Lane: High Sides and a Dark Corner

Some of us Barlick folk walk to chapel from time to time. It’s a pleasant trek of an hour and a quarter (some people have begun to thrash this timing), but there’s a particularly steep hill towards the end which combines with a narrow, shaded, blind corner, just as Long Lover Lane approaches the chapel. In a car, one drives up, hoping nothing comes the other way. By foot, it’s worse, as it’s more than a broken bumper you’re likely to receive.

Despite the unpleasantness of its nature, this particular stretch of the walk is rather interesting. The surrounding fields and landscape are over eight feet above the lane, rising at steep banks on either side of the road. The only way this can be accounted for is the age of the road. For millennia, this has been a trackway over which humans have travelled. It’s almost certainly the old Roman road between Ilkley and Ribchester and is less than mile from the old iron age fort at Middop, which predates the Romans. The more cart wheels, horses’ hooves and booted feet tramped this road, the more compressed was the earth below it. As deciduous trees shed leaves over thousands of years, this becomes compost and then soil, raising the height of the land.

This stretch of road is dark, eerily hemmed in by the surrounding fields. Yet it is comforting to know that we go where others have for so long trodden. This world is increasingly hostile to the gospel; the Christian’s path is far from easy and not without danger. Yet we follow in many ancient footsteps including Abraham, Elijah, Daniel and Paul.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

Jer 6:16