Early May, signs of spring finally emerged. We took a fast route upwards through Eaves Wood in the bright sunlight, barely stopping to admire tiny flowers and catkins along the dry path. At Hell Hole Rock, we saw a group of campers around the embers of a dying fire. One of them waved to us. Phil laughed at them having a festival. I remarked it wasn’t a festival but they had probably been there all weekend.
When we reached photographer’s corner, I braved the ‘desire path’ to the overhanging crag in pursuit of good shots across the valley. However, my efforts were thwarted by haze.
I felt very hot and tired from climbing up the steep steps. I decided that my original plan to reach Hardcastle Crags via an untried route was too much in the heat.
We sat awhile on one of the flat rocks, sipping coffee and enjoying the scenery. We then proceeded into the neglected part of the wood (Slater Ing Wood according to Phil’s phone app). It looked less dank than on our previous visits with lush green vegetation, bluebells and other woodland flowers amongst the dead trees.
We ventured off the main path to find a suitable rock for a picnic. Two dogs rushed by and we kept our food hidden until they had gone.
Whilst eating, we examined the features around us including tiny detritus from the nearby trees and the patterns in the rock we were sat on. Lighter stripes could be seen where fallen sticks had been dislodged, exposing fresher greenery underneath.
We then continued on the usual route to Heptonstall and noticed a posh new sign proclaiming the entrance to the village. In The Cross Inn beer garden, all the sunny spots had been taken. The main attraction was eating burgers off the grill, although kids playing in a toy taxi provided amusement.
We walked out the side gate and down the path at the side of the octagonal chapel onto Tinker Bank Lane. Guinea fowl on the path scattered as we approached. I spotted a fallen tree branch forming a low arch (which I had not noticed last time). At the end of the lane, more bluebells were found.
We crossed Lee Mill Road into Tinker Bank Wood to admire yet more bluebells and a strange branch on the ground with apparently seven trees growing from it. We proceeded through Hollins, down onto Foster Mill Bridge and into town.
It was still too nice to go home so we stopped at Oldgate for a second pint. As I went to the bar, Phil sat at the end of the wall opposite by the riverside. We enjoyed the evening sun soon to disappear behind the rooftops. I was just polishing off my beer when I heard a splash and Phil exclaimed ‘oh bugger!’ He had dropped his phone in the river!
After some consideration, he decided he had to get it. He walked to the packhorse bridge, over to the other side, down into the water and waded across to retrieve it. He looked very calm and relaxed about it. I gestured to him to indicate the location of the dropped phone and suggested he took a shorter route back. Miraculously, the phone still worked! A fine recommendation for the British Wiley Fox company. We laughed about it all the way home.