Tag Archives: BBC

Heritage, Tea and Cake in Sowerby

Valley view pano

Mid-September heritage open day events provided an opportunity to investigate something new.  We agreed that St. Peter’s Church in Sowerby looked interesting.  I checked public transport routes to discover it involved a bit of a walk from the nearest station.  We set off in the soft late summer sun, along the towpath and through the park.  The slightly-delayed train soon arrived at Sowerby Bridge where the subway stank strongly of cat pee.  We headed down Station Road and briefly perused interesting artefacts outside the junk shop.  At the bottom, we found a crazily busy junction where motorists tore past yellow stone edifices.  With no pedestrian crossing, getting to the other side of West Street proved hairy.

Terrace 1Sowerby Street led uphill.  An incongruent concrete block was fronted by a small parade of shops, most seemingly shut.  Upper floors housed maisonettes.  Ahead of us, a faded sign on the side of The Royal Oak made us wonder if the pub still served Whitaker’s ales and stout.

Across the street, we turned right onto Sowerby New Road and climbed ever higher.  On the left-hand side, industrial buildings and a dilapidated telephone exchange interspersed residential properties.  A whole row had been demolished leaving a pile of rubble reminiscent of a bomb site.  Stunted side streets proclaimed private land.  To the right, sloping terraces clung to the valley sides.  We remarked on the juxtaposition of the urban and rural in the Lower Calder Valley.

Further up, Phil asked if we were going the right way to which I replied there was no other (apart from crossing the valley near Luddenden Foot).  He seemed sceptical so I suggested he look it up before our return.

Sowerby village 2A bend eventually marked the start of Sowerby Village with the Church Stile Inn the first sign we had reached our destination.  The imposingly dark church stood proudly on the opposite corner.   A side gate led into the graveyard.  Going round to the unlocked front door, we entered to find St. Peter’s looking quite busy but soon surmised the occupants were all church people, with us the sole visitors who’d come on spec.  Undaunted, we explored the interior.  Sunbeams shone through amazing stained-glass windows.  Ornate plasterwork decorated the wall above the altar.  An intriguing balcony was unfortunately out of bounds. Display boards showed stills of film scenes from the BBC drama Gentleman Jack  – the church had stood in for St. Martin’s in the Field.

The lovely trendy vicar offered me a cuppa.  As I settled down with my drink, I fell into conversation with two other women munching cake, one of whom was also a writer.  She fetched me a copy of the church newsletter containing articles she’d written about the church and its historyi.  In turn, I told her about my column in Valley Life magazine.  When Phil  joined us, the vicar made him a coffee and I succumbed to the proffered cake.

Surprised at how long we had spent inside, we said we ought to make a move and bade goodbye.  Walking round the church exterior, our attempt to do a complete circuit was thwarted by tangled overgrowth at the back.

ParkingWe explored the immediate vicinity of St. Peter’s Square where the primary school had been turned into a church hall.   Phil checked google for a different way to Sowerby Bridge.  As I expected, there was none.  We returned the way we’d come.  Obviously quicker downhill, we occasionally  stopped to admire valley views, picking out landmarks and peculiarities.  Lone cats stalked about in long grass. Tall towers loomed in the distance.  A line of toy cars had been parked neatly beneath a garden swing. Upper Gaukroger sounded unusual; the name turned out to be idiosyncratically Yorkshirei i.

At the bottom of Sowerby New Road, we took a slight detour down Foundry Road and noted that some of the Victorian mills had been converted into apartments, rather over-furbished in places.

Town hallTowards  the town centre, a makeshift campsite had been constructed near the weir.   We wondered at the ostentatious architecture, particularly the odd shape of the town hall and the fake art deco defunct cinema.  We ducked into a wharfside pub to use facilities but were not tempted to stay.  Narrow alleys provided a shortcut to the station.  In the subway again, Phil this time noticed the stink and surmised there must be a station cat.

The next  due train was severely delayed.  The announcements helpfully informed us that it was late due to being late leaving the depot!  As we loitered in the car park,  one of the women from the church appeared, on her way  to Manchester where she now lived.

We chatted until our train eventually arrived, leaving her to catch the next one;  not far behind due to the huge delay.  Out of earshot, Phil said the woman reminded him of the ‘lovely Debbie McGee’.  I was glad he had not mentioned that earlier or I might have struggled to keep a straight face!

Notes

i.  https://st-peters.ryburnbenefice.org/

ii. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Gaukroger

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti85ShF7iT8-DfaEScg?e=zXgwoe

St Peters Church exterior 9

Cragg Vale Tales 1

 

cragg vale 2

Since we moved to this part of the world, we have only visited Cragg Vale three times.  In 2015, we met our friends M&M at the Hinchcliffe Arms for a birthday lunch.  With time to kill before they arrived, we explored the churchyard backlit by the watery yellow winter sun. Amongst the jumble of rusting vehicles in the adjacent junkyard, a collection of discarded Christmas paraphernalia added pathos to the scene.

cragg vale - merry christmasThe following year, I had a terrible summer involving the loss of a brother.  Over the August bank Holiday weekend, I struggled with deep depression but forced myself to get out of the house.  We heard of a food and drink festival in Cragg Vale, and rode the bus up.  A few stalls inhabited the pub car park.  It did not take long to exhaust their offerings, although we discovered the best sausages ever!

We parked ourselves outside the Hinchcliffe to eat them hot with a pint of beer.  We then noticed that the superbly named church of St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness was open to visitors.  Exploring the interior we noted that this gem, built in 1815 amongst the textile mills, is now badly in need of restoration.  Dedicated volunteers endeavour to keep it going.

On the 2nd of January this year, M&M planned a traditional birthday walk to Cragg Vale. Having just fought off yet another dose of sinusitis, I did not feel strong enough to accompany them and instead, we arranged to meet them there for lunch.  It took a lot of effort to be up and ready to leave the house on time to catch the bus at 12.38.  Travelling up the steep incline of Cragg Road, I hoped we would know where to alight, when I spotted the sign pointing down to the Hinchcliffe Arms.

lichen and moss 4A short upward walk took us to the junction of Church Bank Lane.  With time to spare, we dallied to look down on the compact village centre nestled in a dip – consisting mainly of a couple of farms, a church and a pub.  Cushiony greens adorned stone walls edging the lane all the way down to the brook. I had never seen so many different lichens and moss in one place.

Finding the church locked, we contented ourselves with circumnavigating the churchyard and the junkyard where the accumulated old tractors and vans still stood rusting.  The pile of Christmas decorations were sadly absent.  Arriving at the Hinchliffe Arms, a sign in the window informed declared ‘no food available’.

As we hung around near the door, staff emerged on a break and apologised for the kitchen closure (for a deep clean during which the chef was taking a break).  I mentioned that I had seen him featured on ‘Back in Time for Tea’ serving up Yorkshire Goujons, which led to reminiscing about eating tripe and offal as kids.  They invited us in for a cuppa by the fireside.  Preferring to await M&M outside, we perused planters at the car park entrance where melting ice left structural drops atop oval leaves.

When our friends appeared at the end of their walk over the tops, we entered the bar to spend an hour supping beer, chatting and exchanging amusing anecdotes.  We then walked past the junkyard, turned left, immediately right and through a gate onto a path alongside the brook.  Worn round cobbles marked the route as we past weirs and twisty trees.  Marisa spotted a dipper but as usual, it flitted about too fast to be caught on camera.

mill ponds 2We passed through a second gate and soon after, ascended steps amongst mill ponds.  Clumps of bright green algae dotted the surface.  Wintery black trees reflected into the depths.  As we climbed back up, we espied crumbling walls marking the site of an old paper mill, making a mental note to come back and explore in summer.

Ascending yet more steps we came to a gap in the wall and headed up to the road.  Just before we reached the top, I was amused by a sign consisting of an angry-looking black cat in a red triangle.  ‘Watch Out’ was written in large letters underneath.  We emerged onto Cragg Road opposite the Robin Hood Inn which was of course shut.  I had mentioned that according to google, there would not be a bus until after 4 o’clock.

The timetable at the nearby bus stop confirmed this. There was no option but to continue walking down to Mytholmroyd.

As we neared the end of the long road, we spotted a mutual friend coming towards us and stopped to exchange new year greetings.  One of the two children accompanying him jabbered onto me in an incomprehensible manner.  I nodded and smiled.  We entered the Shoulder of Mutton (now recently fully re-opened by a celebrity comic) but as predicted, they stopped serving food at 3 p.m.; we had missed it by 10 minutes!  Luckily, as we continued down to Burnley Road we spotted a bus and caught it just in time.  Back in Hebden, we went to The Oldgate and said hello to a group of friends.  Table and drinks secured, we were able to order food at last – three hours later than planned!  After eating, I started falling asleep so said goodbye and returned home before fatigue set in.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5gWWa2i7APXI4OXWw

weir 3