Category Archives: walking

Hollins to Midgehole

Lee Wood Road 6

After an unseasonably cold and wet start, mid-June brought some improvement.  I suggested a wander up Tinker Bank, but ended up walking rather further than planned.

Crossing Hebden Water at Foster Mill Bridge, we paused for fellow walkers coming the opposite way.  Below us, laden branches all but obscured the stream, hanging heavy above the silvery torrent.

Dog rose 4On the steps to Hollins, the majestic sycamore presided over an enchanting scene.  Geometric foxgloves had survived a battering from the previous night’s thunderstorm.  Bees buzzed round dog roses.  One disappeared inside a flower.  As I waited patiently for it to re-emerge, a second one landed.  After some fumbling that too vanished.  Turning right on the small path, we past the gloomy hamlet and proceeded up through the wood, mildly reeking of dankness.

 

Just Passing 4Here, bees focused on bramble blossom, so pretty I initially mistook them for another kind of rose.  Reaching Lee Wood Road, we followed signs to ‘Hebden Hey/Hardcastle Crags’.  Picturesque twisty trees and well-curated rocks soon made it apparent this was yet another Victorian construction.  Amazed at still discovering new parts of the vast National Trust estate, I wondered why we had never taken this route before.  I then recalled a foray in our early walking days, and thought maybe we had, albeit from the other direction and not quite as far.

We became hungry and weary.  Reluctant to end up in the middle of the crags, we back-tracked to a stony footpath.  As predicted, we arrived at The Blue Pig.  The outside seating area was packed!  At first, we wondered if it was illegally open.  But as the doors looked firmly shut, we concluded the regulars congregated out of habit.  I refused to sit anywhere near the flouters.  Instead, we took the snicket at the side of the small bridge into the lower reaches of the crags.  The first bench occupied by a family, I stopped in the verge.  Phil marched on.  “Where are you going!” I called after him.  He indicated a further bench that I hadn’t seen due to the tall grass.

Vergeside 1Breathless and sweaty, we collapsed with cold drinks, wishing we’d brought lunch with us.  We mustered the strength to walk back via the flattest route.  On Midgehole Road, the deep purple foxgloves contrasted with golden poppies against grey drystone walls.

Descending to the riverside, kids played on the makeshift beach. We took the less populous left-hand Foster Mill Dam path.  ‘The swamp’ exuded a strong smell of wild garlic, severely past it at this time of year.

Further on, we traced the remains of the old mill ponds and dam wall, envisioning the location of the erstwhile mill buildings.

Towards Windsor View, a dog blocked the path.  I hailed a woman gardening close by, asking her to call her mutt away so we could pass unimpeded.  Back on tarmac, I felt uncomfortably hot.  As I stripped off a layer of clothing, I heard my camera hit the pavement.  Thankfully, with firm hold of the strap, it survived unscathed.   Towards town, we returned to the riverside path.  We held our breath hurrying past a bunch of itinerant drinkers.  Phil said hello as one recognised us but I refused to open my gob until well clear.  Aware they would never change their behaviour, I really wished they wouldn’t move round so much- they were much easier to avoid in the park!  In search of instant fodder, we perused the shops to little avail.  I exited One Stop pretty sharpish as people crowded round the ice cream freezer and a massive queue for the till snaked round the aisles.  Back home, we were absolutely desperate for food and rest. I hastily assembled cheese and crackers and slumped on the sofa.

Ye olde dam wall 1

Bar Cliff to Crow Nest

Looking around

At the end of May, sinusitis returned rendering me bedridden on the hottest and most dazzling of days so far. Sunday, I felt much better and up for a short walk to stretch my unused legs.  The blazing sun and heat was tempered by a bit of a breeze and cloudy spells.  This made the walk up ‘Bar Cliff’ more bearable.

Curly Ferns 4A resplendent rhododendron marked the start of the path.  Curly ferns provided highlights of yellow against green verges.  Small groups of children clutched picnic blankets on their way up to grassy fields.  We followed the curves of New Road towards Old Chamber, laughing at local signs telling motorists to ‘turn back’ – very local!  At the bridge, we stopped to take in the pastoral scenes.  Lambs quickly scarpered across a small field, spooked by a family obviously not used to walking, yelping as they picked their way down the stony path below.  “Something tells me that’s a new hobby for them.”  I commented.  Phil sniggered but I reminded him “there was a time when you considered going to the pub on the canal ‘a walk’.  We all have to start somewhere!”  At the far end of the field, a brave lamb stared at me curiously over the wall.

Munching goats 3At Old Chamber, more lambs were penned into a small triangle.  Were they in quarantine?  Nearby, a mountain of hardcore was dumped in front of a ruined farm building.  On the other side of the valley, a bright yellow air ambulance flew above Midgeley Moor.  The honesty box remained open with signs instructing users to enter one at a time.  We peered in to see only eggs for sale; sensible to not offer cups of tea right now, I guess.

Continuing to Spencer Lane, house martins flitted between eaves and a pair of kestrels took turns surveying the landscape from treetops before swooping down to unseen prey.  Larger fields contained larger flocks of sheep and goats too, with offspring.  Close up, I noticed the small kids had tiny horns like little demons!

Underneath are starsWe skirted Wood Top Farm and turned left onto the beautiful grassy lane to the old quarry.  Glade-like in the arid conditions, a variety of implements suggested recent gardening activity.  Entering Crow Nest Wood, dappled lighting created a restful ambience.  We rested on the almost-dry waterfall where barely a trickle flowed in the brook.  Miniscule flowers of white and yellow bloomed beneath fading bluebells.  We marvelled anew at the trees simultaneously dead and alive.  Probably the case in all woodland, it always struck us particularly in this one; maybe because we knew it so well.  Mouldy mushrooms inhabited the rotten lower trunks while new oak leaves sprouted from higher branches. One such tree resembled a wraith performing a dance macabre in the wispy air.

Taking the short way home, we waited for a small family to ascend the dry path, made tricky by a thick layer of last years’ tinder-dry beech nuts.  On palace House Road, we noted new traffic lights, explaining the roadworks a few weeks back.  The updated controls enabled us to safely navigate the single-file bridge.  Phil larked about, insisting we had to pointlessly cross the road.  Back home, I headed straight for the bathroom.   The dusty dry paths had turned my sandal-clad feet black.   We had been saving small pies in the fridge for a longer outing,  but justified eating them after the walk – an indoor picnic!

Restful 3

The First Picnic (Oakville circular)

Roadside poppies 8

A week after lockdown easing allowed picnics, we took sandwiches on a slightly longer walk.  Initially making our way to the canal again, we walked on the towpath to Stubbings only to find the route blocked.  Quickly coming up with Plan B, we crossed the main drag and took the second left turning.  Heady scents of pine assailed us.  Phil said it smelt of holidays!   Oakville Road resembled a poppy field.  Dazzling golds and oranges crowded the hedgerows, dancing in the stark sunlight.  Arriving at a junction, we continued upwards on Turret Hall Road, becoming  hot on the steep switchbacks.  We stopped by a patch of bluebells to rest and drink water.  Phil looked as though he needed it more than me which was unusual and I rued not bringing more.

Wood Farm 1Cooler in Rawtenstall Wood, we noted ‘Wood Farm’ seemed to have grown.  Just off the track, a dappled clearing housed palettes and rickety lean-tos with tarpaulin draped atop indeterminate piles.  I joked the farm actually made wood like in the old PC video game ‘Transport Tycoon’!

We detoured onto a magical-looking small path, scented by more bluebells with smaller flowers studded between the rough hardcore.  Reaching what I deduced was Dark Lane, we perched on a wall opposite the pike to eat the packed lunch, enjoying a light breeze and the beautiful scenes.

Roadside garlicComing down Marsh Lane, the views ahead of us omitted the road hidden deep in the valley, suggesting a clear run to the pike.  Twisty trees and barbed wire decorated the descent.  As  signs indicated the Pennine Way, the path became uncomfortably stony underfoot, reminding me that several years ago I’d arrived at the bottom footsore and vowed never to come this way again!  The towpath also blocked at Callis, I suggested it was nothing to do with flood repairs but to contain the hippies!

Not quite remembering the best way back to Oakville Road, we eventually found it behind Stoney Bridge.  Away from the dusty main road, the scent of wild garlic replaced that of traffic.  Crossing back to Stubbing’s we returned to the towpath and rested briefly on lock number 10.  To quench the still burning thirst, we popped in the co-op for ice cream.  Normally immune to advertising, I had to admit the new magnum ruby red lollies were rather yummy.

 

Stoodley view 2

Confined walks 4 – Canalside Medley

Bridge view

Early May, we struggled to leave the house before later afternoon.  Thus we did not get further than the canal.

At the start of the week, Phil cast about for an excuse to go out.  With no shop requirements, he suggested going to look for goslings, snapped by a fellow photographer on the marina.  Hoping they’d still be there we set off late Wednesday afternoon. We waited for a neighbour coming up the steps.  “It’s so strange walking round (town) now, she remarked, “but I quite like it.  Apart from missing the charity shops. I’ve got no summer clothes.” I sympathised as I also missed them.  As she reached the top step, a slipper-wearing man with a mini dog rudely overtook us.  The usual hippies milled about on the main road.

Chapel AquilegiaWe paused at the chapel where cultivated purple aquilegia competed for space with yellow wild poppies and dandelions in the untended garden.  At the marina, we spotted geese, pigeons, a wagtail, a pile of pallets and a small family squatting on the cobbles, but no goslings.  Walking back to the park entrance, a man sat on the cinema steps.  Still talking into his phone, he abruptly stood and strode in our direction necessitating a sudden dodge.

In the memorial gardens, displaced pub-goers socialised on benches while in the park, children weaved about on bikes.  The ‘wild flower’ patch was a riot of dandelions.  On the less-trod playing field, they sprouted alongside daisies, heedless of dogs chasing balls.

Towpath SignExiting onto the towpath, signs redolent of Royston Vasey proclaimed ‘local use only’.  Fish swam beneath bright ripples in the canal, but still no sign of goslings. Turning towards Mayroyd, we climbed onto the lock, avoiding another small family.  A layer of scum and fallen blossom coated the water, blocking any view of wild life.  The way ahead seemed rather busy.  We retreated and stayed on the left side hoping to avoid busier stretches, taking the steps up to Palace House Road.  Peeking over the wall  down onto the canal at Hebble End, there were still no pesky goslings!

Friday (VE Day), jolly laughter, bursts of terrible music and milling about implied people on the street below were actually having a party. On our street, neighbours of the adjacent terrace socialised in their own self-created ‘bubble’.  Mr. Fast n Furious raced up and parked in the middle of the thoroughfare for no apparent reason, stood there a few minutes with engine idling, then reversed out with equal speed.

Bunting 1We gave all a wide berth and walked through clouds of floating dandelion seeds and upon the fading chalk art, to the end of the street, giggling at pathetic bunting in ‘Brexit Close’.  We took The Buttress down to the Packhorse Bridge, and into the square where a solitary figured occupied a bench.  I discovered later that an anti-lockdown demo, consisting of 8 sociopathic hippies had taken place.  Getting a few errands, we popped in the fancy wine shop to smirk at the exorbitant prices and dance to Sister Sledge and purchased the fabled goat meat from the very local butchers.

We wandered towards Holme Street where more half-hearted bunting adorned the school.  The smoky wood smell of the people’s pizza van was a big draw, but competed with the stink of draw towards the aqueduct.

DippingWe crossed to the other side of the lock again, evading the idiotic bank holiday smokers and drinkers, and enjoying a quiet patch of sunlight until the coast cleared.  Continuing past Hebble End, the angry white geese noisily defended their territory against half-breed ducks.  One, a mix of mallard and runner duck, swam in an ungainly fashion, struggling to keep its long neck up .  At the next exit point, we walked down a dirt track housing half-demolished vans, to the river and spotted a wagtail hopping from rock to rock.

Around the corner, we hailed a couple of friends in their garden, chatting safely from the other side of the wall.  He had been furloughed and she’d sensibly given up work as a self-employed painter for the duration, enjoying the rest.  That made at least two other people liking the slower pace of life! By coincidence, she had painted the red windows reflected in the canal waters that I had shot a couple of days before (and subject of the next Monday Morning Haiga).

Towpath reflections 1

On Spring Bank holiday Monday, we set off slightly earlier hoping to find lunch in town.  Heaving with day-trippers, carparks and bins overflowed, people queued for café take-a-ways, and benches outside the pub were fully occupied (although still not offering take-outs themselves).  It appeared as if the square had become a makeshift food court.  In search of pies, we found the bakers shut.  The local convenience stores supplied meagre pickings.  We waited ages while a family who looked like they’d already eaten all the pies, hovered round the instant food section.  The staff complained about the tourists “There are at least 300 people in the square”, one of them exaggerated.  Navigating the busy street, almost mowed down by a motorbike, we crossed over to the park to find a suitable patch of grass amidst the small groups populating the green spaces, in front of the shut café.  I said they could at least be selling ice cream.

Calder Holmes Park 2We enjoyed a long overdue picnic lunch in the warm sunshine, realising it was the first time since early March we had bought ‘lunch out’.  Discussing the recent Cummings farrago, we agreed the cat was out of the bag now.  Although physical distancing was not being totally ignored, friendship groups had definitely formed.  I learnt the art beloved of Daily Mail photographers, misleading the viewer into thinking small clumps of people were actually one seething mass.  An infamous local character staggered from one group to another, wearing a mask round his chin.  Phil suggested his keyworker probably put a stack in his house to protect the rest of us!

After eating, we walked along the canal to Mytholmroyd.  Delicate white flowers and common orchids resembling bottle brushes swayed gently at the water’s edge, dwarfed by Margarites.

Canal Whites 1At the boundary, more Margarites grew in hard gravel also home to a smattering of clover and trefoil.  We crossed the main road to the ancient hamlet of Hawksclough and walked home  via the Sustrans cycle path.  As the habitat changed, so did the flora.   Bright kingcups dazzled beside grey granite while fading wild garlic and miniscule blooms stretched upwards in the shade of riverside trees.

I popped in the co-op while Phil waited outside.  The halfwit serving me spoke into his headset: “we appear to have a stalker at the window.“  I turned round to see Phil doing funny faces behind my back!

Field of dreams

Confined Walks 3 – Riverside

Islands in the stream 2

By Easter, I became quite anxious as idiots (including neighbours who appeared to have friends round and flit from one house to another) seemed heedless of ‘social distancing’.  But a fine Easter Sunday convinced me I should get out of the house.  We ventured down the Cuckoo Steps onto the all but deserted main road.  As we waited for cyclists at the corner taking photos of the eeriness, we chatted about how rammed town would be normally during a Bank Holiday weekend.

Blossom of pink 2On Oldgate, Canada Geese sat unflustered by the river.  On Hangingroyd Road a mother and child cycled round an empty carpark fringed with white and orange tree blossom.  Continuing to Victoria Road, rainbows decorated windows and chalk Easter eggs adorned pavements.  People chatted, straddling the road as a mad cat lady took her cats for a jog.

We discussed the loveliness of the pink cherry blooms with a woman on the balcony above until, coast clear, we could proceed.

Horse chestnut 1From Foster Mill Bridge, we saw several people occupying the riverside path.  A woman with a dog came towards us necessitating a hasty move.  The grassy riverbank was resplendent with daffodils.  Horse chestnuts started to sprout, heedless of parasitic moss hijacking their drier branches.  Hebden Water resembled silvery ribbons flowing downstream.

As the path narrowed, we turned, re-crossed the bridge, and quickened our pace to keep clear of a walking group following close behind.  On Valley Road, we side-stepped back alongside the river.  A man sat on the wall.  Unsure if he waited for us, he seemed oblivious.  We hurried past to see him stuff 3 chocolate bars in his gob; essential eating, judging by the size of him!  In the town centre, even the square was deserted.

Pixie pool 2

Ten days later, following a bout of sinusitis, we visited Nutclough.  Walking via The Buttress onto Hangingroyd Lane, we encountered very few people on quiet mid-week streets.  At the Little Park, we cautiously took narrow steps between houses to Foster Lane, tricky to navigate with all the parked cars.  Crossing at the lights, workmen occupied the entrance path to the clough.  We hung back for a small group coming the other way then ran through, holding our breath.

Green and yellow 1Gasping for air amidst the spring foliage, flowers shone in the brilliant sunlight, including impossibly yellow celandine and soft-toned early bluebells.  We jumped over the wall to the top of the swamp.  Our shadows lay atop the stagnant water of the old mill ponds and glinting fish swam just below the surface.

Returning via Birchcliffe, boxes dotted on street corners contained random items including child’s toys, rucksacks, kitchen gadgets and bric-a-brac.  Normally, I would have derided the practice as ‘middle class dumping’ but with charity shops shut, it seemed acceptable.  I availed myself of a couple of free books.

Blue shadows 2

Confined walks 2 – Slater Ings

 

Dark shadows 1With the return of bright sunshine on Sunday, we ventured a little further to walk up the Cuckoo Steps, across Heptonstall Road to the path leading to our favourite ridge. On the climb, black shadows of twisty thin trees criss-crossed the dusty pink shingle. Two women with dogs stopped for us, but although they stood aside, the dogs still blocked the path.  As I hesitated they assured us that their fur harboured no germs as they had been in isolation for 2 weeks.  Passing cautiously, Phil noted they were nice friendly dogs.  I agreed, but told the women I was wary as this is not always the case.  They sympathised saying “We’ll put the leads on if we run into us again”.  “That’s kind but it’s fine.”  Next, it was our turn to wait for a small family crouched on the verge.  We side-stepped into the old quarry until they had finished doing selfies.

Hell Hole 1As we rounded the corner, we saw unsightly scribbles on Hell Hole Rocks.  At first glance it appeared to be made with chalk, but on closer inspection turned out to be painted graffiti, thus likely permanent and a real shame.  We checked the coast was clear and climbed the small steps up to ‘photographer’s corner’.

Wavering about whether to clamber onto the ‘viewing platform’, quite a few people approached form the opposite direction, making the decision for us.  We gazed down at a more pleasing aspect of the big rock, without scrawls, and across the valley until it was clear to continue.

Heading for Slater Ings, an ageing hippie couple sat on a large flat rock right near it.  They could easily have moved further away, but as they didn’t, we side-stepped as far as possible to the other side.  The man greeted us to which I responded “that’s not 6 feet”.  He said “Don’t worry about it.”  “I do, it’s because of morons like you that the stupid lockdown will last forever.”  As we hurried on past, he shouted  “Stay indoors then… You’re out walking!” “Yes, but when I want a rest, I don’t just plonk down; I move away from the path!”  “Do you remember the Nazis?” to which Phil retorted “No, I’m not old enough.  Are you?”  Tempted to go back and clatter him, I said it wasn’t worth it and anyway, it couldn’t be done at a safe distance!

Slater Ings stony detour 3Luckily, the wood was less populous.  We soon spotted a patch of wild garlic and climbed down a slippery dry slope where deadwood crackled beneath our shoes – the feeble brook having dried to a trickle in the warm April weather.

A few people past on the path above as we gathered the pungent leaves.  Taking a while to come back up, we spotted several pieces of broken pottery, indicating this was once a popular picnic spot.

Hitherto considering Slater Ings the wilder part of  the woodlands, now I looked properly, it became obvious it had also been part of the Victorian ‘job creation scheme’.  Why else would the large rocks be so picturesquely placed along the walking path?

Making our way between said rocks, bluebells and primroses lined the grassy edges.  A woman with several kids in tow kindly took a detour for us and a second pair of women with dogs waited for us at a gap in the wall leading out to the lane.

Wayside primroses 3Chancing a return via Heptonstall, we saw more people in one place than in the last 3 weeks.  Locals stood chatting in small groups in their gardens while visitors lounged in fields and on benches, and walked, cycled, and drove along the road in both directions.  The small community had rallied round with the post office offering a distribution service for local businesses and the pub doing ‘order and collect’ Sunday lunch.

Managing to keep at a safe distance we rested  very briefly in Weaver’s Square and re-enacted a scene from the Pace Egg – sadly cancelled this year along with everything else during lockdown.

We continued on Heptonstall Road, down the steps to Lee Wood Road and onto The Buttress, where we made further waits a  for slower elderly people coming up the punishingly steep cobbles.

Slater Ings path 2

Confined Walks 1 – Crow Nest and Environs

Post with wood

Breaking the confines of the town centre, we took two small walks on successive sunny Wednesdays, in and around Crow Nest.  On the first of these, we set off quite a bit later than planned, due to mislaid keys.  Ambling down quiet streets to the main road, we waited to cross at the zebra.  An impatient driver beeped us; obviously frustrated at having to slow down from 100 mph on the clear stretch!

Dandelion clocks

On reaching the canal, we turned left.  Some waiting and weaving was required to avoid loiterers and cyclists.  In the almost-empty park, Japanese cherry trees blossomed pink beneath a blue sky.  Towards the station, dandelion clocks dominated the verge. Men loitered around roadworks on the access road and clambered noisily on the roof as refurbishment continued.  We had to wait again for people coming the other way, detouring onto undergrowth as a man dithered with his phone on the Sustrans path.

Finally, he shifted leaving us free to examine mysterious signs on posts, small white and yellow flowers, and sandy stretches near the water from which stunted garlic grew.

Surrounded by greenery, we continued at a leisurely pace to the end of the path, noting long shadows cast by tall trees on the tarmac and further ruination of the shipping containers.

Rusty container 5Moss continued its relentless quest to obliterate the graffiti, with artistic effect.  Just before the site of the old Walkleys Mill (Still odd to see flattened), we turned sharp right up to the green railway bridge and followed the path skirting the bottom of Crow Nest wood.

At the station again, large dislodged stones had scattered on the flood-damaged road.  Past the stoneyard, the towpath looked clear when a pair of joggers almost ran into us under the next bridge.  I was annoyed they hadn’t stopped for us.  The next stretch housed several moored barges.  We waited for a woman strolling with a pram on other side of the gate so we could re-enter the park.  We made for the central pitch to avoid weed smokers huddled on benches, not adhering to ‘social distancing’.  At Blackpit Lock, we ran past more loiterers, deciding it might be less hazardous to return home via Holme Street.

 

Going up

The following Wednesday, lattice-like clouds scattered across a deep blue sky in the bright afternoon light.  I had become anxious about socialising between different households on the street below, with children running interminably hither and thither.  To avoid them, we took the larger steps down to the road, greeting a neighbour at the end of the terrace over her garden wall.  On the other side of the main road, we climbed straight to the top of Crow Nest wood.  On the way up, we stood aside a couple of times, first for a couple then for a straggling family group.  As we passed the noxious dead tree, on the steep climb, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my bad ankle, making me keen to reach the flat.

 

New sheepAt the top, sheep with lambs so brand new they shone white, grazed in a meadow, fenced with barbed wire. Further on, last year’s beech nut husks clung onto spindly twigs.  Bluebells had started to emerge while the brook had almost totally dried up.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  A pair of women waited for us and I thanked them heartily; it made a change for us not to be the ones who paused.

A rather steep end section of path led down onto the wider track.  As we turned right to Wood Top farm, we heard bleating and hoped to see more lambs.  Instead, we came across a field of goats with offspring – no kidding!

No kidding 1On Wood Top Road, we again had  to stand on the verge a couple of times for other walkers, using the opportunity to take pleasure in a squirrel jumping between high branches and resplendent native white cherry blossom.

After the episode of the previous week, we deemed the park safer than the towpath.  However, the plethora of non-essential activity made me wonder if we’d chosen wisely.  Several people sat around on benches and grass; kids skateboarded and cycled with gay abandon; teenage girls made videos for tick-tock.  Near the lock, a dog rushed canal-side making the geese scatter and squawk with fear.  It made me jump too!

Hanging on

 

Colden Forage

Marble water

At the start of spring, a variety of factors mitigated against walking for several weeks, including stringent ‘social distancing’ measures imposed due to the Coronavirus crisis.  I had planned to go garlic-picking with a friend a few days before the lockdown, but as I felt unwell, I went into self-isolation for a week.  Thankfully, it was the usual sinusitis, not Covid-19.ii

Bridleway rock artPhil and I eventually managed a foraging trip to Colden Clough on a gloriously sunny first Sunday of April.  Approaching the Fox and Goose, we danced in the street, revelling in the novelty of hardly any traffic.  We walked directly up Church Lane to the bridleway to avoid the playpark.  From the higher vantage point, I could see that kids were using the swings although they were meant to be cordoned off.  Now devoid of puddles, arid dust whirled beneath our feet as moss clung to saplings overhanging the edge.  We encountered very few others enjoying their allotted outdoor exercise.  A kind family stood back so we could overtake them.  A couple waited patiently while we took photos of the rock art, now augmented to resemble a cairn.

Clough flowerNear Lumb Mill, vibrant yellow flowers glinted in the sunlight.  The low level of Colden Water enabled Phil to clamber down to the sands for risky shots under the bridge – such a contrast to our visit only a month ago.

Checking the coast was clear, we scooted along the large paving stones and continued upwards onto rugged paths, stopping only briefly to admire clumps of white anemones, knobbly tree roots and the marble-effect tumbling waters below us.

On reaching the ‘garlic fields’, the unmistakeable smell of ransoms mingled with the ridiculously fresh air.  Keeping well away from the path while picking, we soon filled two carrier bags with fresh green leaves.  When two more foragers arrived, I took extra care to remain at a very safe distance.  Alone again, we perched on rocks for a short rest as dry branches alarmingly crackled and thumped to the ground from the beech trees overhead.

Signpost 1We climbed the dry slope up to the top causeway, devoid of humans and animals apart from crows and curlews with their distinctive calls.  Looking back, I spotted them swooping low in adjoining fields.  At the familiar three-way junction, we rounded the ‘public garden’ and came to a lovely path, lined with twisty trees.

A picturesque wooden signpost confirmed the route down to Lumb Bank.  Returning to the site of the mill, we found it slightly more populous, with some people harder to dodge than others.  One family in particular obviously didn’t know what 2 metres looked like as they strolled along the path, oblivious to our attempts at avoidance; turning our backs and not breathing might have been a clue!

On Bridge Lanes, Phil nipped to the shop while I sped up the Cuckoo Steps.  I managed a preliminary sort of the pungent garlic leaves and a hasty snack before totally flagging.  While glad of the walk in proper fresh air further than the shop for the first time in weeks, it left me exhausted and achy for the rest of the day.  Later that evening, the health minister threatened to ban outdoor exercise if people didn’t behave – I’d like to see how that pans out!

Reference:

  1. My Journal of the Coronavirus: https://corvusdiaries.wordpress.com/

Variant path 1

Puddling in Colden Clough

Bridle way puddle 3

A bright but breezy start to March prompted us to re-visit another familiar haunt.  Getting ready seemed to take ages, making me quite impatient.  Finally, we left the house and walked westwards up the main road.   Several cars parked on the pavement at Bridge Lanes made me wonder if they had different laws in those parts.  Seeing a woman come out of one, I was about to have a go when she said hello.  It was an ex-neighbour, laden with groceries, poised to cross the road. On enquiring about the pavement parking, she suggested it was for unloading purposes.

Chimney from the back 1Past the Fox and Goose, the cold wind blew straight in our faces.  Feeling buffeted, we wondered how long we would be out.  But it eased off as we turned into Church Lane.  We took the easy way up to Eaves, via the play park and steps to the bridle track.  Already, my legs began to tire.  Hearing me sigh, Phil said “don’t start getting grumpy.”  To which I retorted, “what do you mean start? I already am grumpy! I haven’t even taken any photos yet!”  He chuckled and challenged my claim that I had not yet seen anything inspiring.  Then, I noticed reflections in the puddles occupying every pothole.  In small watery worlds of black and blue, branches and sky appeared trapped, framed by displaced hardcore.

Cheered somewhat, we continued to Lumb Mill and explored the ceaseless torrents, almost full-to-bursting streams and derelict ponds. Underground gurgling indicated yet more water beneath our feet.  We started to climb up to the higher path.  Pausing at the top of the small arch, I  spotted a smaller path behind the chimney.  Having tried it from the top end in autumn, I wondered if we may have more luck from this end.  I stepped in the stream without thinking, making the bottom of my jeans sopping wet.  The path came to an abrupt end just beyond the chimney where a chunk of earth had fallen.  Thwarted, we at least gained a different perspective.  Tall thin trees stretching up to the sun way overhead created ebony shadows on the yellow stone.

Red and green 2We returned to the standard route which  proved hard going.  Large rough stones were replaced further up by the remains of dead trees and deep patches of sticky mud, requiring several small detours off the path.  above the glade, we climbed a strange mound which Phil comedically named ‘the ‘escarpment’, for a higher vantage point.  Square stones,  that had tumbled from the raggedy cliffs opposite, so long ago that they were now adorned with thick green moss, lay stranded amidst a permanent carpet of scrunched copper beech leaves and discarded nut husks.

Proceeding, we descended the steep wooden steps to land in the worst patch of mud so far.  Carefully picking our way through the earth and debris, we stopped on the flat rock to fend off dogs while we ate the wraps we’d brought with us.

As it had taken almost ninety minutes to get that far,  I guessed we only had an hour of daylight left.  We called it a day to get home before dark.  It was only then that I noticed that as well as being soaked through, the bottom of my jeans also had gravel caught up in them!

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Cascade force 3

 

Nutclough in Flood

Branch and foam 1

Storms and floods wreaked havoc last month.  We had hardly ventured out, not least because the situation raised my depression and anxiety levels.  However, on the last Sunday of February, we walked to Nutclough to witness the effects on one of our favourite locations.  As predicted,  we found a very watery scene.  Foamy torrents teemed from the weir.  The firepit had been inundated.  The stepping-stones had been swept away.

But strangely, the deluge actually made some areas more accessible.  I bravely followed Phil up the muddy slope that I had refused to scale on our last visit, grasping at flimsy branches to prevent slipping.  I clambered onto the fallen tree serving as a bridge at the higher end of the old mil ponds.  Initially I tried to slide across without standing.

Streaming 4However, this proved impractical.  Taking a deep breath, I stood upright and almost ran across the horizontal trunk.  I had almost made it when I was startled by loud whooping ( the sound of children on the top path), triggering panic.  Phil had stopped near the far end of the trunk to take photos.  I pleaded with him to move so I could get back on firmer ground.  It struck me that he had not commented on my courage in undertaking the crossing in the first place.

Below the waterfall, we discovered that due to scouring from the swelled waters, we could venture quite a bit further up than usual.  This is  normally only possible during a extended dry spells.  Small copper beech, the leaves long-dried since autumn, reached towards the glinting water.

Orange fungi 3

We precariously picked our way across a jumble of sticks and branches, adorned with unappetising fungi of ochre and black. The sunken bench was all but marooned on the flooded path.  Phil daringly leapt over the swollen stream to a patch of shingle, practically the only part of the ‘islands’ that were not submerged.  This was a step too far for me.  I pottered on the water’s edge to examine pot fragments.

We took the path up to Birchcliffe, and walked down, pausing to admire tiny flowering moss atop stone walls.  In the town centre, we found the streets and marketplace weirdly depopulated for a Sunday.  Making our way homeward, we bumped into a friend and chatted as we walked.  Her house being canal side, I was relieved to hear that she had escaped largely unscathed during the recent terrible weather.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9sw2im4qloAhpqL9g?e=ujqbz3

Tiny moss 2