On a bright and warm August Bank holiday Monday, we armed ourselves with pies and pop and set off to meet our friends M&M. We spotted them outside the pub, enjoying a pre-walk tipple. I shouted ‘oi!’.
A bit early for us to start drinking, we walked through the thronging town centre in the glorious sun, and awaited them at the bus stop. Marisa appeared first, having dashed round charity shops looking for a cardigan. Mike arrived soon after and stood smoking under a tree like the enigmatic poet. As the bus climbed up Birchcliffe, we talked about the routes we planned to take and the archaeology we hoped to see. Mike filled our heads with stories of people on acid discovering stone circles and Robin Hood being a giant.
At Lane Ends, Phil and I said goodbye and alighted. M&M were taking a longer route across the moor than us, starting at Crimsworth Dean: we planned to meet back at the pub early evening.
We walked up Popples Lane. An old farmer who looked a 100 years old greeted us as he emerged from a barn (I later discovered he was a proper local character who lived in the barn and spent his days carrying out ancient farming tasks; likely been there his entire life!)
As we turned a bend the lane became Latham Lane. The sign for ‘Dick Ing’ created mirth. The lane wound and climbed in a picturesque fashion up to another farm.
A sizeable track led upwards to the Calderdale Way. We went through the gate onto Midgley Moor. Admiring the vistas, we followed the path along the moor edge and onwards to the middle.
Finding ourselves on smaller paths, we were unsure of our next move but at such a high vantage point, confident of our location in relation to local settlements. I caught glimpses of a path at right angles in the distance. We made our way towards this wider path, stopping to examine small huts (working out eventually they were grouse hides) and to gaze at square stone structures in the distance (vent shafts for the aqueducts carrying water under the moor).
Eventually turning right, we progressed through fading purple heather and navigated the odd boggy spot. A few yards off the path to our left, we noticed a moor pond and a standing stone some way behind.
We picked our way with caution through the heather to reach ‘Greenwood Stone’ ii. This seemed a suitable juncture for lunch.
Working out that Miller’s Grave iii was nearby, we headed towards it. Along the slightly bigger paths amongst the heather, we came across a large boulder (the fabled Robin Hood’s Pennystone iii). From there, we could see a pile of stones further on and knew we had located the next object of our quest – Miler’s Grave iv. On reaching the monument I circumnavigated; ill-advised perhaps as some of the outer stones proved unstable.
We expected that retracing our steps back to the larger path would be straightforward as we just had to head for the large boulder then the standing stone.
Alas, the latter had disappeared from view! However, we were fairly certain of our direction and continued.
Phil decided to take a cleared part which looked easier but dry, dying heather hampered our progress. Eventually, we espied the Greenwood Stone again and made towards it.
En route, we noticed a ‘white stick of archaeology’ next to a sunken boulder and took another diversion to investigate. We found what was obviously a stone circle (the one discovered on acid maybe?) We also spotted other boulders a way off. I wondered if they formed part of a larger stone circle, but Phil thought that unlikely. Eventually finding our way back via the standing stone and the mill pond onto the main path, we walked southwards, again fairly sure of where it would lead. After a short distance, we spotted the top of another standing stone and guessed that was our destination.
Sure enough as we approached, we recognised Churn Milk Joan v. We stopped to see if anyone had left any money on top.
I texted Marisa to learn that they were already near the pub. They must have walked at a fair lick! I also texted another friend who aimed to meet us for a drink.
We turned Westwards along the ridge, back onto the Calderdale way, pausing occasionally to take in the views down towards the valley and across to strange white sheeting that looked like a ski slope on Scout Rock (ongoing post-flood work). A grouse emerged squawking from the brush, making me jump. We went through an attractive exit gate and started our descent towards civilisation.
At the Mount Skip Golf Club, we considered continuing on the path and finding a trackway down to Old Town. Mud and horned sheep made us reconsider this option.
Instead we descended a bank and over a stile onto the fairway. We noted patches of long grass and grazing birds, and laughed at a warning sign on hole 12.
Going onto the driveway we picked our way across a cattle grid and down onto Heights Road.
We looked at old ruins and the ‘only sauce and horses’ trailer in a dilapidated farmyard, whilst bemoaning the lack of a short cut to the Hare and Hounds.
At the pub, we went round the back to find M&M in the beer garden, sitting at a table adorned with blue eggs. We enjoyed the early evening sun and compared notes on our respective walks. I showed Mike my photos and he confirmed the archaeological landmarks we had found. Feeling hungry, we asked about food at the bar. A harassed landlord told us they had a limited menu due to heavy traffic, and the kitchen was shutting at 7.30. We hastily ordered burgers.
Our other friend arrived and we all chatted amiably until M&M departed to walk back to town. As the sun set it became chilly. We retreated indoors until it was time for the next bus. The bus route took us up to Crimsworth Dean before going down again. We gazed out at the late summer evening sky, resplendent with reds and blues, whizzing past the windows.
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiMBDZud5pUyX0kJ6CA
- http://midgleywebpages.com/midgleywest.html – general info on Midgely Moor pre-history
- https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/greenwood-stone/ – Greenwood Stone
- https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1018236 – Miller’s Grave
- https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/churn-milk-joan/ – Churn Milk Joan