Tag Archives: anxiety

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

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!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9tvFGnnr5q8QZCxXw?e=Fsf6pZ

Cascade force 3

 

50 Shades of Green (Horsehold Wood)

Horsehold view Panorama

 

During a mainly sunny mid-September, I had been struggling with computer issues all morning which gave me a headache and put me in a bad mood.  We planned on a mid-week walk but unfortunately picked a day when the sun remained hidden in the South Pennines.  Reluctantly, I submitted to Phil’s badgering to at least leave the house but disinclined to go far, suggested going to Horsehold Wood.  A decidedly chilly wind blew as we climbed the steep road.   I cursed grumpily at the elusive sun.

Brambles 4Through the small gate onto the path edging the valley, we stood to gaze across the valley.  A plethora of greens and yellows signalling autumn was on the way.  At our feet, fading heather and rotting blackberries added contrasting splashes of red to the natural palette.

Descending into woodland,  pale beige mushrooms and bright green ferns poked up from dark earth covered with rotten leaves.  Stunted trees struggled for dear life on the north-facing slope.  Rotting trunks resembled tree spirits.  Phil suddenly stopped in an awkward spot, dealing with a camera malfunction.  I became impatient.  I told him the walk was not doing its job of improving my mood and I just wanted to get on with it.  He giggled, and I had to admit it did sound rather ridiculous when I was meant to be having fun!

Red wood 4Deeper into the wood, we marvelled anew at the red earth with optimistically green grass sprouting in clumps, and at how on earth some of the rocks had landed in such strange configurations.  We had noticed earlier how many beech nuts and acorns there were this year.  This had prompted a new obsession with collecting items and turning them into art.  On the road, we had gathered nut casings and helicopter-like seeds.  Here, we added shinier specimens untouched since they hit the ground.

A new bridge had been constructed over the stream making crossing easier although I still found the stepping-stones tricky.  On the other side we perched on a rock to watch the fast tumbling water.  I decided I did now feel a bit better for being immersed in nature; we had not yet seen a single other person.  It was worth the initial effort, however difficult.

Upper path 2Large stones serving as steps led up.  We turned right and followed the path round where it became a tiny grassy line between spindly trees.  At the ruined house we spotted lettering on a stone among the wreckage but were unable to decipher it.  We followed the path down to the canal and walked on the towpath.  I spotted a deer across the way.  Typical, I thought, having seen none when we were in the wood!

At Stubbing’s, we left the canal to walk alongside the river where we considered the final demise of the once enormous Calder Mill (we had noticed from Horsehold Road that the roof slates had disappeared).  Back home  I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee.  Although my headache had abated and my mood lifted somewhat, I was very tired. My ankle ached too as I had forgotten to wear a bandage.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti88A2h6gtEDU9B8_SQ?e=q824MX

 

Woodland Mist

Mistical 1

As the mild weather continued well into November, we enjoyed a mid-week stroll.  We planned to catch a bus up to Colden for lunch at May’s but missed one by minutes.  With a short window of afternoon sun, we bought pasties from the local bakers and strode rapidly towards town.  I remarked we were going at a fair lick considering we had no aim in mind.  I suggested going to Hareshaw Wood and we made our way up to Salem Fields.  After crossing Foster Mill Bridge, we climbed the large cobbled steps and paused by the majestic sycamore to contemplate the glorious sunny scene.

Majestic 2A friend descended the steps towards us and stopped for a chat.  She asked if we were going to Heptonstall.  I replied that we had no definite plans but “’All roads lead to Heptonstall’ (as it says in my book)”.

She laughed, and invited us to call in for a cuppa next time we ended a walk there.

We turned right at the top to pass through Hollins.  A rustling sound near my feet did not alarm me at first, assuming it was my boots treading fallen leaves. However, the noise did not match my pace.  I looked down to find a daft dog sniffing at my heels, threatening to jump onto me.  The owner seemed oblivious: strolling some paces back, busy gassing on her phone.  I shouted repeatedly at the mutt until the owner overheard and called the animal off.

Leaves with drops

We chose to go upwards through the wood which we rarely do.  Interesting colours strew the path, with lichens and fungi dotted amongst the autumn foliage, some sprinkled with perfectly round dewdrops.

At the top, we crossed Lee Wood Road and looked for the gap on the other side.  Having thought we had spotted it, we made our way up worn shallow steps barely discernible beneath a thick carpet of brown leaves, indicating an ancient route.  We crossed the road to continue, where more worn steps and a crumbling waymarker post gave further clues to its history.  Hesitating briefly as it was not Tinker Bank Lane as we had expected, we reasoned that it must be nearby.

Tiny mushroomsI found the last part of steep climb very hard work.  We caught our breath near the top where a fowl enclosure stood to our right.  Disgruntled geese flapped their wings, perturbed by our presence.  Tiny orange mushrooms grew in a clump from a hollow in a tree.  A wooden signpost gave directions to various locales from which I guessed we had somehow come up a parallel path to Tinker Bank Lane.  This assumption was confirmed as we made the last bit of the climb alongside the octagonal chapel.

Yellow sign

Now in Heptonstall (which, as I pointed out to our friend earlier, was inevitable), we continued along Northfield.

An almost blank yellow sign amused us with only the word ‘Please’ discernible, albeit faded.  We guessed it had once warned against parking before the letters had peeled off.

Over in the churchyard we sought a patch of sunlight to sit in and settled on the church steps facing south.  After eating my pasty, I foraged for interesting leaves that had collected round the Victorian gravestones.

With only an hour till dusk, we made a quick return via Eaves Wood.  At ‘photographer’s corner’, the Stoodley Pike monument and wind turbines rose from a blanket of grey, topped by artily-arranged lenticular clouds.  We joked about the ‘mistical valley’ (which became the subject for the next Monday Morning haigai.  Descending the steps at Hell Hole Rocks, a man waited at the bottom and asked us if he was on the right track for Heptonstall.  I confirmed that he was.  Further down, we watched squirrels scampering amidst the tree branches, gathering nuts.  My wildlife photography proved as pathetic as ever!  Back home, I felt pleased that we had got out for some fresh air and exercise, in spite of my extreme tiredness and achy legs necessitating a lie down.

Squirrel 2

Note:

i. https://mondaymorninghaiga.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/mistical-valley/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5UdBvKs2GfEYdikRA

 

Finding Ted and Sylvia (Lumb Bank to Heptonstall)

Bend and boughs

The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult.  Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process.  Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression.  The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.

Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks.  On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine.  After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m.  We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot.  They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely.  We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property.  At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.

Colourful trees revisitedWe turned right again and started the ascent into woodland.  It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath.   A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion.  I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake.  Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.

Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path.  A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork.  This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.

Lumb Bank garden 4

Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers.   As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.

I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet.  Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.

We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village.  We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next.  Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left.  We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.

Churchyard selfieAmongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.

A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost.  She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave.  Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it.  There are usually pens and stuff on it”.  Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath.  She looked the type”.  I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.

We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked.  He thought he might have left it at home.  I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark.  Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.

We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves.  We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked.   I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop.  On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it.  We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer.  When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!”  Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!

More pictures at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5MOEgjdfTeeeTetXg

Lumb Bank view 1

Nutclough in May

Clinging Bluebells 1

A glorious second week in May was marred somewhat with recurring bouts of sinusitis and an altercation with a neighbour, raising my anxiety and stress levels.  Following an exhausting Saturday afternoon hacking shrubs and clearing up outside, we were determined to have some R&R on Sunday. I suggested a short walk as I was still not strong enough to go far.  We walked to the very end of the street, noting lots of hedgerow flowers, then round and down to the buttress.

Bluebells and leavesAt the bottom, we took Hangingroyd Lane to climb the steps opposite the little park and along Unity Street into Nutclough.

The stream was very low, with additional crossing points to the islands.  I was able to get much closer to the small waterfall than usual and marvelled at how much difference a short dry spell could make.

We spent a considerable time surrounded by the beautiful colours. Trees displayed an array of greens; bluebells topped walls and ridges; smatterings of yellow punctuated the palette.

The water was so blue and the reflections of trees so still that it looked like the sky.  The area became busy we families as we relaxed on the bench.

Tree reflections 7We escaped up to the top path and walked along to the stone bridge, where we debated which route to take.  We opted for the second path on the left, up towards the meadows.

A dinky craggy path led between small trees and bushes which I deduced had been planted since we last came this way.  At the top, two guys with dogs sat next to a steep stone stile.

On crossing, one of the dogs started following and pestering us.  We started up the grass path bisecting the flower meadow, resplendent with dandelions as a precursor to summertime blooms.  Put off by wandering cows, we backed down and searched for another route avoiding the canines but failed. Clambering back over the stile, being pestered again, we started to follow the line of the wall.  It became very tussocky and the darn dog followed us!  Defeated, we made our way back to the proper path.   I picked up the pace as we descended.  Phil called me to wait for him (makes a change).

Top field 1

I hadn’t realised, but I must have taken a right-hand fork somewhere and emerged at the bottom of the cobbled lane leading up to Hurst Road.  We jumped down a bit of a drop where there might have been steps once.  A smaller, unexplored path opposite looked enticing and we decided to be adventurous and follow it, only to soon emerge onto the original top path!  Phil thought it was hilarious.

We headed towards the main entrance when I suggested that as it was a day for exploring new paths, we should try the small flight of stone steps leading further up.   We found ourselves in a small wooded area, carpeted with bluebells and garlic flowers.

Garlic flowers 1Continuing up to a gate, a passive/aggressive notice on the other side declared it part of a private garden – it’s aright for some!  We emerged onto a long driveway, curving round yet more bluebell woods.  At the bottom, the stone gatepost displayed the name ‘Arnsbrae’.  How many times had we passed that without noticing it? We walked down Keighley Road and into town.

In search of a refreshing pop, the cafes in the square were packed and the nearby shop shut.  We found spaces at Rendezvous on Bridge Gate.  Phil secured an outside table while I went in for drinks.  Then he decided he was hungry.  We were given both daytime and evening menus.  I settled on a wrap when we were informed that the daytime menu had just become unavailable.  We shared a hot meze off the evening menu – very tasty albeit rather more food than we had intended.

Bluebells and LadybirdExactly a year on, I could not resist the allure of Nutclough in May.  There is something almost magical about the place, with bluebells on top of the wall seemingly clinging to a cliff, the almost- surreal greenery and vibrant reflections in the water.  Copper butterflies flitted among the flowers while  ladybirds grazed on bramble leaves.

 

Yet more new steppingstones had been installed onto the island and a new stream had appeared, leading from the diminutive waterfalls.  We settled on the sunken bench for refreshments when a family headed our way.  As they had a dog, I thought better of exposing our sausages rolls (albeit veggie ones!) Instead, we walked towards the weir and up the ‘Crow steps’ into the treetops.

Fearney StileMy bad ankle gave me severe grief on the climb coupled with pain in my opposite leg but I soldiered on.  Reaching the row of houses at the top, we tried to find a different route back down to the clough and ended up in a posh garden.  A woman on the other side of a gate called to us, saying we could go through.  As we did so, she asked: “how are you?” I didn’t recognise her but later realised she was a former neighbour).  She was looking for a cat which I spotted a bit further down.  She thanked us and we walked alongside the white house, down to the stone bridge, always littered with beech leaves.  We crossed to head up the track to Hirst Road.  I remembered the first path up to Fearney Field being unpleasant, and continued to the next one, across the stile.

Having been spooked last year by cows, Phil went ahead to check the coast was clear.  Only a docile rabbit grazed.  We sat on the wall and took our time enjoying our snacks in the warm sunshine. Aeroplanes headed straight up in a blue sky, looking as if they were heading for the half moon.  Returning via Joan Wood, my Achilles heel pain flared up again on the brief but tricky descent.  Back in town, the place heaved making us disinclined to linger.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtivlkNDXZiRdvlHh4cg; https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti6h30Ta4d5lGdTcZVg

 

Moon and Rocket

Hot May Sunday

Bluebell field 3

Searching for bluebells in May has now become an annual event.  This year, we set off on a hot Sunday to walk up to Crow Nest.  On the way up, we stopped often to examine tree blossom.

Rugged path

We took the longer but less steep, windy path and noticed shale at the edges where the route dropped significantly below the line of tree roots, providing further proof of its age. At the top, we admired the greenery.

Although the bluebells were not quite in profusion, it still created a pretty scene.

 

The path was mainly dry but I managed to get my foot stuck in an unexpected patch of deep mud, causing a small panic attack.  I sat on a fallen trunk to recover and wipe mud off my best walking sandals.  A woman passed us with a cheery “hello”.  Soon after, Phil said he felt funny.  I suggested he was overheated and we stopped again by the small stream.

Bluebell close up 1We relaxed, sipping water, and listening to the tinkling brook as birds flitted amongst the treetops, with leaves rustling in a gentle breeze.

Mentally transported, I failed to notice the same woman appear behind us, until she made me jump by saying “I didn’t want to make you jump”.  She asked the way back to town and we offered to escort her.

 

We chose the lower path into the quarry, which she agreed was stunning, albeit devoid of water following the recent dry spell.  We returned to civilisation via Wood Top Road and past the stoneyard.

It turned out she had come on a weekend visit from Gloucestershire, planning to stay with a friend but had got the dates wrong and had booked into a B&B, determined to enjoy the area.  On reaching town, I advised her on which cafes would still be open so she could get a coffee before she collected her luggage and caught a train home.  We said goodbye and availed ourselves of a bag of chips followed by a few pints in the busy centre.

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Quarry 4

Horsehold to Cock Hill

Stoodley View 2

In July 2013, almost a year after my last day at work, in the midst of battling my employers I felt highly stressed.  To take our mind off things, we planned a summer visit to Stoodley Pike.

Horsehold 1We climbed up Horsehold Road to the hamlet of the same name.  It suddenly dawned on us that the collection of old farm buildings was once a village and could be used as a location for historical TV dramas.

Continuing to Pinnacle Lane, we headed upwards until a herd of huge cows blocked our way.

Due to my heightened adrenaline levels, and Phil convinced that all cows were intent on murder, I became panicky and refused to go any further.

Field grassWe turned back and took ‘Crag Lane’ until we emerged onto the pleasingly named Cock Hill Moor.  This proved tussocky but dry underfoot due to a good summer.

Round the corner, we could see Halifax to our right and the Upper end of the Calder valley to our left for fantastic panoramas.

 

Finding a spot where the tussocks thinned out somewhat, we sat to enjoy a picnic and picked out landmarks and other walking routes we knew.  On our descent, we were fairly confident on the way to Spencer Lane.  However, we were mistaken and had to double back down a steep slope.  I managed this okay but unfortunately Phil twisted his bad ankle.

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Clouds 2