Beyond the Treeline

Crow Nest branches and sky 1

A late April Sunday walk began with a climb up to Crow Nest wood.  We took the most direct route straight to the top treeline.

Crow Nest early bluebellThe previous seasons’ detritus crunched underfoot, broken in places by fresh spring growth.  A few early bluebells pushed up through the brown.   Above us, branches framed a fresh blue sky.  We crossed the glade at the top of the quarry, passing a clump of silver birch and noting fresh green shoots on oak and chestnuts along the tiny path.

 

We navigated the tree roots serving as steps down near Wood Top Farm.  Taking a diagonal path in front of us, we walked along the paved lane for a time, before taking a shortcut through a field into Stubb Clough.

Stubb Clough 1The brook tinkled below as we crossed the bridge and ascended the stone steps.  Emerging onto Wood Hey Lane, we continued to Park Lane.  We rested on the verge with green fields behind stone walls either side, to watch new lambs gambolling and bleating.

From there we carried on until it became Nest Lane and into Mytholmroyd.  We took the quicker way back along the canal, laughing at angry geese and wondering at iron fixtures.

 

 

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New lambs

 

Jumble Hole (eventually)

Sloping stream 2

 

Long Causeway 3The day after our trip up to Midgeley Moor also started sunny.  We packed a picnic and caught the bus up to Blackshaw Head.  Alighting at the last stop on the Long Causeway, we walked up the road to Harley Wood Gate Farm in search of a path leading to the top end of Jumble Hole Clough.  Passing scruffy sheep and ramshackle ruins, we found a public footpath sign pointing to the farmhousei.

 

 

As we approached, a man gardening intercepted us.  I said we were looking for the marked public right of way.  He directed us round the house and through a bog!  We picked our way through tussocks and more bog, following the path first West then South.  Because it was not always clear, we made sure of the next stage of the route before continuing over each field.  Eventually we were thwarted by a fence that had been put up in front of a stile, beyond which even worse quagmires lurked.

Thwarted 1Retracing our steps, Phil managed to step into a swampy hole, soaking his sandaled feet (making me glad to have persisted in wearing sensible boots).  On the way back, I took photos as evidence of the obviously deliberate ploy to put walkers off.  I refused to cross the bog in front of the farmhouse and walked on the path through the garden.  There was no sign of the man.

We returned back down the causeway to Davey Lane.  This led easily to the clough, via Bullion Farm (Phil insisted on calling it ‘Bull Lion’ farm), the familiar stone trough, the friendly alpacas and the attractive field above the clough.

Here, we noticed some deliberately-placed stones for the first time; as if someone had started building a bridge but gave it up as a hard job.  We made use of the flat rock for our picnic.

White anemones 3It had become rather windy.  We took the steps down, bedecked with yellow flowers, and crossed the sloping stream into the sheltered clough.  At Staups Mill, two couples stood around chatting, hampering our photography.

Further down the clough the tree line opposite resembled clouds as they sprouted new growth.  We took a path down on the left to the small clapper bridge, pausing to admire wood anemones.

 

Ruined hovel with bluebellsWe then climbed up to the ruined hovels and imagined the grim lives of those who once dwelt there.  With careful footing, we found our first bluebells of the year and an excellent crop of wild garlic to pick.

As we rested on a nearby wall, mist appeared across the valley.  The air became decidedly chillier as if a storm was a-coming.

 

Keen to return to civilisation, we carried on climbing to the higher path, then South along the ridge.  When the PBW ii became steep, we veered off to the left along a smaller path edged with flowers and hawthorn blossom.  Emerging at Wood View we noted the ‘danger balsam’ sign indicating poisoning had taken place in the futile battle against the plant.  We crossed the road and metal steps onto the canal towpath, walking home fast as the air had become even more chilly.

i The next day, Marisa said she knew the dodgy path we had attempted and told us that a better route to the top of the clough could be found further up the Long Causeway.

ii   Pennine Bridleway

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Explorations on Lower Midgely Moor

Heights Road 1

A week into April, we deemed it dry enough to venture up to the lower part of Midgely Moor in search of archaeology we had not seen on our visit last summer.  The warm Saturday sunshine had brought hordes of people into the town centre.  Not tempted to join them, we passed by the busy pubs on our way to the bus stop on Commercial street.  As the bus to Old Town turned the corner onto Heights Road, I realised we had reached the golf club.  We pressed the buzzer and the driver let us off a bit further down the road (a tad grumpily).

Midgley Moor quarry 1We took in the views and hedgerow features before walking the few metres back to the club entrance.  At the corner, we tried to avoid making ‘selfies’ while taking shots of the mirror on a pole and watched the antics of chickens.  We walked up the drive and cut across the pleasant golf course to the gate onto the footpath.

 

Reaching the top, we checked the map and determined that the enclosure we searched should be behind the nearby quarry.   On entering, we sat awhile to enjoy the sun and debated our next move.  Phil thought he had a found a route.  We started climbing and spotted a likely mound.  But the way proved tricky, not being an actual path.  Scrambling back down, we turned left to continue on the proper path.  Just before the next gate, we noticed another path leading up sharply on the left.

Midgley Moor earthworks 1This took us to the top of the quarry where we observed grouse screeching as they flew away from us between a series of mounds.

I wondered if the whole area had been a burial site.  We kept going on small paths in the direction of Lane Ends.

They led us down through moorland vegetation and onto a track churned with mud by cattle and tractors.  We kept along the edge of a stone wall to avoid the mud but had to crouch beneath low-hanging thorn trees.  Eventually, we found a safe course back onto better paths once more and soon found ourselves back on Heights Road.   At the Hare and Hounds, we commandeered a table on the patio.  We enjoyed the sun while eating, drinking and chatting for over 2 hours.

Mill with flowers in foreground 2Deciding to walk back down to Hebden in the ‘golden hour’ proved an excellent choice: the moon rose over the moor; spring flowers adorned the hedgerows.  We stayed ‘up tops’ as long as possible, taking Raglands Lane to Dod Naze then down into Common Bank Woods to witness gilded trees in the glowing light.

I stumbled on a tree branch and landed on my bad knee.  I sat in the dirt for a while recovering but no damage had been done and I said it would have hurt more if I hadn’t had 2 pints!

Back in town, we considered another drink.  However, the sight of people who had been drinking all afternoon put us off so we headed home.

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Trees at golden hour 2

Colden to Heptonstall

Hebble Hole bridge 1

The last Sunday in March started sunny but partly cloudy, perfect for walking.  We took the quick way up through Mytholm and along the track into Colden Clough.

Lumb mill twin trees 1.jpgWe noted the newly constructed managed weir on the river just before Lumb Mill.  Stopping for a short rest, I realised I had not yet taken photos of the ‘twin trees’ with my new camera.  Halfway up the clough, we dallied in the garlic fields to pick a few early season leaves.  At Hebble Hole we crossed the clapper bridge, and took the small steps up to Hudson Mill Lane.

We continued along the road, turning left towards Colden Village and onto May’s.  I entered the farm shop to buy pies.

 

Wagtail 2I did not pick my moment well: several people arrived at the same time, including a woman in slippers and a dressing gown.  As we sat on the bench outside eating the warmed pies, we watched a pied wagtail delicately searching between the cobbles for morsels, and chatted.

 

 

Phil suggested the shop had created a culture of dependency within a 500 metre radius.  I reckoned the catchment area was somewhat wider as many people drove there.  Feeling tired, I checked the bus times but it would be almost an hour until the next one.

We walked down Edge Lane, observing our first field of new lambs, through Popples Common towards Heptonstall.  On the edge of the village, I again considered waiting for the bus.  Instead, Phil suggested visiting the Cross Inn.  We sat in the beer garden supping pints.  It started to get cooler with the waning sun.  We finally agreed to catch the bus home.  A cat followed us to the bus stop.  As we waited, I collected rather nice cedar cones form the small park on Hepton Drive.

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Sheep and lambs 2

Willow Gate

Boulder field 1

 

Riverside stumpMarisa and I set out on a sunny late March afternoon.  We walked along the riverside where I noted the decaying tree stump (half the size as the last time I had seen it) and several new waterfalls.  Climbing the recently-repaired steps to Midgehole Road we continued to Hardcastle Crags gate and through the upper car park to find the Willow Gate path.

 

Stone markings 1We stopped briefly in a lovely field scattered with interesting rocks and boulders, admiring the views.  Continuing up along ancient causey stones,  we noted letters carved into them.

I spotted remains of mysterious wall and imagined the buildings that once stood here.  Impressive rocks on our right resembled squares and pillars.  We then came to the famed ‘Slurring Rock’.  Marisa told me that people used to skate down it in their clogs.

 

Sheep dyed red 2We carried on through Foul Scout Wood, across a makeshift bridge and a field containing ancient gateposts.  At the hamlet of Shackleton, old barns held testament to a long history.  Sheep alarmingly dyed red shared grazing space with pheasants.

We proceeded downhill to the edge of Crimsworth Dean.  From here we took the quicker way back, turning right onto the NT track, using new-looking steps to skirt the car parks and crossed the bridge to Midgehole.

 

River with bouldersPassing The Blue Pig we waved to an acquaintance but decided to head straight to town.  We took the lower riverside path and felt the chill off the water.  Lower down, we took the left-hand side path, spotting young garlic and yellow flowers across the ‘swamp’.  Emerging onto Windsor View we walked into town,

 

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Slurring rock 1again taking the river path when possible.

Shaking off atrophy

Park blossom close up 2

We’d had an enjoyable week’s holiday but unfortunately our flight home was delayed by several hours.  We finally got home at 3.45 a.m. Monday morning. I had been up for 21 hours.  Exhausted, I went straight to bed. I really struggled to get back to normal that week.  To add to the frustration, we had no heating or hot water.  I spent the next two days fighting depression and trying to carry out essential activities while waiting in for the gas man.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with painful cramp in my leg.  Phil was working at home and after lunch, he suggested getting out of the house.  As it was the second sunny day in a row and I had been unable to leave the house the day before, I agreed to accompany him for a short walk and fresh air.

Narcissus 2We left the house and remarked on the warmth of the sun and the appearance of flowers in the garden during our absence.  We walked along the canal towpath and into the park.  He stopped for ages to take pictures of the rookery – an annual occurrence.  As I waited, I did my best to ignore the noisy kids in the playground and admired tree blossom.  Taking the longest route round the park, we spotted more blossom, narcissus, and red cherry tree bark.  It really did feel like spring was coming!

Park nobbly tree 2Wanting to sit and enjoy the sun, we looked in vain for a vacant bench.  Instead, we sat on a bit of wall near the canal and were amused by native geese chasing Canada geese.  I noticed lots of nobbles in a nearby tree trunk.  We had a go at the outdoor gym and decided it was hard work when you’re not used it.

 

Riverside jackdaw amongst the pigeonsFollowing a few errands in town, we wanted to stay out and settled on the White Swan for a pint.  They were very enthusiastic and welcoming.  The beer garden was not open but we could take drinks out front.  We perched near the wavy steps and observed the riverside wildlife.

The lone Muscovy duck (since the sad demise of its partner last month) stood on a rectangular stone in the middle of the river; mallards squabbled; jackdaws swooped to steal bread from the pigeons.

The air became chillier as we took our empty glasses back inside the pub and used the facilities.  I noticed the back wall still sported peeling paint – evidence that the pub had still not been renovated fully following the flood damage.  We received cheery ‘goodbyes’ from the landlady and staff.  I felt much better that evening – my leg cramp had become a dull ache and my depression had lessened.

Riverside forlorn Muscovy 2

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Blackshaw Head and Rawtenstall

blackshaw-head-snowy-gate

 

Mid-January snowfall rendered the landscape picture-perfect.  While the snow looked scrappy down in the valley, we guessed it would still be sparkling ‘up tops’.  We took advantage of a sunny Saturday to plan an outing with Marisa.  Armed with coffee and cake, we caught the bus upwards and chatted to an old friend as it made its way up Heptonstall Road.  As she alighted, Marisa got on.  We continued upwards, admiring the snowy scenes in the lovely sunshine.  At Blackshaw Head we paused to look at a black and white sheep in front of a barn.  They stared back at us until they got bored.  Next to their field, we noted a beautiful old gate and tracks in the snow.

blackshaw-head-marsh-lane-4We entered the chapel grounds opposite, enjoying the feel of ‘proper snow’ under our feet before emerging onto Badger Lane.  Continuing on the now-familiar route down Marsh Lane and Winter Lane, we took in views of scudding clouds and Stoodley Pike while avoiding icy patches.

We continued along the Pennine Bridleway towards Lower Rawtenstall as far as the ‘stone doorway’, to sit on a bench overlooking the valley.

Phil commented that is was a gorgeous view of the sewage works!

 

rawtenstall-manor-2We ate our supplies before going back up to the corner where we turned right onto Dark Lane.  The way proved dodgy in places with ice, snow and mud meaning I lagged behind the others.

En route, Marisa pointed out what was once Rawtenstall Manor.

 

 

 

At the second farm along, we dropped south again onto a lovely grassy path edged by hawthorns (thus obviously pretty old).  It wended down, skirting Knott Wood, to Turret Hall Road.  I looked back to note that the shrubs created a picturesque arch over the path.  From there, we took Oakville Road down to the main road into town.  A rise in temperature meant that ice on the main routes was no longer slippy making for a speedy last leg of our journey.

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rawtenstall-path-with-arch-1