Tag Archives: beech

Birchcliffe to Nutclough

Nutclough descent 3

A Heritage open day offered the rare opportunity of gaining access to parts of the Birchcliffe Centre normally out-of-bounds.  On the cusp of autumn but still summery, we avoided a steep climb in the heat by walking via Hangingroyd, Foster Lane and Eiffel Street.  On reaching Birchcliffe, we first investigated Chapel Avenue. Lines of washing extended across the small cul-de-sac.  A wall plaque on the side wall of the centre commemorated transfer of school activities to the chapel building in the 19th century.  A stone gateway at the end of the street led to a dark path. I wondered if it would descend to Nutclough.

Chapel Avenue 1Entering the building via the impressive front entrance complete with granite pillars, the walls of the reception area displayed newly printed photos by Alice Longstaff.  A fellow photographer responsible for the collection  explained the context of the never-before seen images and related stories of some of the people shown.  It felt a real privilege and I was fascinated to note the differences between Alice’s commercial work and shots taken for personal reasons or just for the hell of it.

On the corridor running the length of the centre a young woman accosted me, asking if I would like to join a pilates class.  “No thanks.  Tried it once. Hated it”.  I said, politely.  Right at the back, the old Baptists pool was specially uncovered for the open day.  A guide approached from the opposite direction with a family group.  We stopped to listen as she explained how it was used.  In the boardroom we took part in a consultation on the future of the centre (ran by a neighbour of ours as it turned out).  From the ground plans we learnt that the path at the back did indeed lead to Nutclough and the centre actually owned that section of the clough.

RestingIntrigued by the discovery of yet another path in the tiny but endlessly fascinating Nutclough, we had to explore. We returned to the end of Chapel Avenue.  Through the gateway, spindly silver birch strove for light. their trunks casting shadows like palimpsests criss-crossing the path.

Further down, leaf detritus blocked the weir.  Speckled wood butterfly flitted about on the islands while dayflies danced like fairies.  Mainly shady now in the late afternoon sun, we stepped over the shallow stream to the firepit, bathed in a patch of sunlight. Birch replaced by beech, nuts and shells littered the ground.  I had fun arranging them artily on the hewn benches.

We walked back in full sun down Keighley Road, in search of lunch.  The town centre was absolutely rammed as people spilled out of the pub on the square; a last gasp on the last proper end-of-summer day. We scanned cafes on Bridge Gate and at the other end of the square but all were full or about to shut.  We spotted a couple of friends and stopped to say hello.  They both had sorry tales of redundancy to tell and conversations went on quite a long time .  By then, Phil  appeared about to fall over for want of food.  I suggested we go home to eat.  He did not sound keen.  We started homeward past more populous pubs, until discovering  that Tibetan Kitchen was an oasis of calm.  Friendly staff guided us through the choice of mouth-watering dishes and served us chai while we waited for our food.  I heard a guy say the food was better than the Manchester branch.  I made a mental note to take a friend who knows the original place well so she can compare.

 

Salad 2 crop

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Freaky Nutclough

Bright trees 1

Following a week in bed with sinusitis, we managed one more walk before the end of October.  As it was the day the clocks reverted to GMT and as usual, we did not leave the house until mid-afternoon, we agreed on a short jaunt to Nutclough.  We used the shortcut to the buttress and down towards town.  Discordant music could be heard, prompting speculation as to what event might be occurring but concluded it might just be a busker.  We walked the familiar route via Hangingroyd road, up the steps opposite the Little Park onto Foster Lane, turned right and crossed Keighley Road into Nutclough Wood.  Beautiful colours greeted us immediately; many trees still sported green leaves while browns and oranges littered the path.

Evil pixie 2Finding the large iron gate padlocked, we entered via side gate.  It squeaked ominously as I lifted the latch and went through.  I joked about recording the sound to scare young children on Halloween!  The freaky theme continued as Phil cavorted like an evil pixie – obviously influenced by the film we’d watched the night before featuring fantastically crap demons.i

We continued up leaf-strewn steps and through the gap onto the edge of ‘the swamp’.  Braving snagging brambles and biting insects, I ventured further towards the edge than ever before.

Colourful reflections 6The colours reflected in the water were stunning!  A cyan sky provided a backdrop for dark horizontal shadows of tree trunks.  Bright green ferns were reflected beneath curled-up leaves floating gently on the surface.  Ripples produced surreal effects with undulations of red and yellow.  On returning to the gap in the wall I spotted a small swarm of flies glinting in the sunlight; they gave the impression of fairies dancing in a magical woodland.

Continuing down towards the stream, a couple with two small boys strolled around ‘the island’.  The man chatted to us about the local environment and good weather, making comparisons with his home county of Kent.  The elder of the two boys asked Phil if he could use his camera.  Phil understandably said no and I added that he probably wouldn’t even be able to lift it.  In spite of the shallow water, I cautiously used the stepping stones to cross.

Flourish of fungiAt the top end of the island, we clambered over the felled branches.  More cutting had occurred – evidenced by sawdust on the ground – and sadly obliterated the black mushrooms.    However, a flourish of pale pink fungi grew in its stead.  Due to the low water level, the waterfall had become a tinkling trickle.  Above us, the sun glinted on the uppermost leaves of tall beeches, quietly rustling in the softest of breezes.

We rested briefly on the now even more sunken bench, somewhat bemused by the elder boy bashing everything in sight with a stick.  I remarked that he obviously didn’t get out in the countryside much (urban kids being well known for a fear of the great outdoors!)

Proceeding to the other end of the swamp, my attempts to capture a group of paddling ducks on camera were distinctly blurry.  We turned sharp left to climb the steep path up to the treetops looking down on the kaleidoscope of colours.  Behind the terrace of houses, we nosed around and discovered another path leading back down to the clough.   Phil considered it but I felt it would be too much for me.  After my latest illness, I had just wanted an hour or two of sun and exercise which I had achieved.  Instead, we carried on up to Sandy Gate and down to Birchcliffe.

Picturesque chair 1Taking the steep buttress-like ginnel, tall houses framed a narrow slither of sky in front of us was.  Halfway down, a picturesque chair had been left outside a garden gate, while at the bottom., lichen and small ferns created textured wallpaper against grey stone.  On reaching School Street, we proceeded onto Bridge Gate, noting that Calan’s did not seem popular.

Along Market street, we found amusement in a horrifying display of pumpkins accompanied by a terrible painting of Frida Kahlo – which someone obviously considered an appropriate homage to the late artist – probably the freakiest thing we had seen all day!

Pumpkin helli The excellent Basque film, ‘Errementari’ (the Blacksmith and the Devil)

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Horsehold to Callis

Butterflies and buddleias 3The last Sunday of September 2017, we repeated a typical walk for this time of year.  As we crossed the bridge at Hebble End, butterflies devoured blossom from a buddleia tree overhanging into the river.

We ascended HorsEarly autumn colours 3ehold Road very slowly making frequent stops to catch our breath and for photos of early autumn colours and tiny worlds of moss.  It had been a long time since I had made that steep climb.  At the gate on the right, we took the path to where the cross is placed at Easter.

Sitting on the bench enjoying the views trees on the other side of the valley looked like models made of sponge.  As we continued, we had to dodge quite a few muddy patches and impromptu streams.  We emerged in the land of green and red aka Horsehold Wood.

Continuing down to the waterfall, more streams, mud and slippy stones made crossing tricky and rendered me exhausted.  It was too damp to sit in our favourite spot.  Further up, I perched on a rock at the side of the path and Phil almost sat on a clump of mushrooms. We ate a small picnic before continuing.

The avenue 1Round the bend, a field with beech trees lining the path gave the impression of an avenue.

At the bottom, the ruined house was even more of a ruin.  The once-new stream now seemed permanent; stones had been taken from the ruin to try to contain the flow.

 

 

Descending to lock number 12, we crossed the canal and briefly turned left to look for blackberries where we had found a bumper crop last year.  Alas, we were out of luck.  We returned home via the towpath and backstreets.

Red and green 7

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Autumnal Cusp in Nutclough

View from the field 1

A mid-September walk with Marisa began up Valley road to reach Nutclough via the small steps.

Leaves and reflectionsAs we pootled about, we unearthed pot fragments, interesting stones, nibbled pink mushrooms and strange black fungi.  The latter were located on the far side of a felled tree but it proved worth clambering over for the unusual sight.

I later discovered they were ‘black bulgar’, common to Europe and North Americai.

We continued up and turned left along the cobbled path to ‘Stoodley View’.

Dodgy path

Marisa spotted a different path which I suspected would lead up to the field.  It turned out to be a hard, steep climb as the narrow path was littered with loose stones.

On reaching the top of ‘the field, we chose a good spot on the wall and admired the views.  Marisa then wanted to continue westwards but the path was blocked and marked ‘strictly private’.

After some further exploration, we chose the more familiar path down into Joan Wood.  This time, beech nuts made it tricky underfoot.

Emerging back on Keighley Road, we zig-zagged to Unity Street and she told me about the creation of ‘Tabernacle Row’ on the site of the old ‘tin chapel’ii.  We took a snicket to a back terrace bringing us onto the old ginnel.  Returning to town, we considered options for an early dinner.  The square was already in shadow and we went further down Bridge Gate and settled on Rendezvous Bistro.  Initially, we took seats outside.  The waiter brought us menus and regaled us with tales of his rare allergies. Having ordered ‘early birds‘ and a bottle to share, the air became chilly.  We retired inside to be warm and cosy, enjoy delicious food and linger over our wine.

A month later, I repeated this walk with Phil, albeit with some variation.  As we walked up Oldgate, we noted the changes displayed in the riverside trees and admired nasturtiums, some home to snails, on Hangingroyd Lane.

Autumnal soup 2

 

At the start of Nutclough, we noticed for the first time that it was possible to go through a gap in the wall and stand at the end of ‘the swamp’ providing a different perspective to the autumnal scene.  Over the stepping stones, a small dog yapped loudly as it retrieved a large stone from the water.

Black mushrooms 2I climbed over the felled trunk to show Phil the strange black mushrooms.  My efforts at capturing them on camera were better than last month, and I also managed to get a decent photo of the waterfall at closer quarters.  Crossing back, we continued up and paused at the stone bridge.

Phil decided to chance a slippy path down for close-ups of the other waterfall before we continued up the cobbles to Hurst Road.  We took the first path on the left thinking this would be the easiest option into the pleasant field.

But somehow we missed the detour and found ourselves climbing up the side of a muddy cow field.

Returning, we found the stile we had missed going up to reach the diagonal path to the wall.  Exhausted and dehydrated from the climb, I sat down to rest.

DragonflyI successfully fended off two over-excitable dogs when we heard hostile mooing behind us.  Unsure if the cow could jump down, we scarpered, taking the straightest route down.

Before going into Joan wood, we stopped at the verge and noticed more snails, this time clinging onto brown plants.

On Keighley road, a dragonfly lay on the pavement.  We tried to rescue it but it hopped and fluttered pathetically – I guess it had run out of power.

Notes

i.  For more information on ‘black bulgar’ see: http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/bulgaria-inquinans.php

ii. For more information on the ‘tin tabernacle’ see http://www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/news/news04/56.html

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Stream and waterfall

Slow Autumn in Crow Nest

valley-view-1

Early October brought slow changes to the woods.  On a changeable Sunday, we headed up to Palace House Road and took the first path into Crow Nest woods.  As we climbed, we picked a few remaining blackberries and popped balsam pods.  We paused to admire the gradually altering autumnal colours across the valley before coming to a fork in the path.

tree-with-balletic-armsThis time we chose to go westwards, a path we had not walked for some years.  The path was ill-maintained and tricky in places, littered with sticks and stones.  We zig-zagged to the top of the wood and figured it must be an ancient route-way as cliff-like sides and exposed tree roots suggested it had sunk a few feet over time.

 

tree-like-an-elephant-2We remarked on how different the wood looked to our last visit in May.  Patches of straw-like grass stood in the place of the earlier bluebells; multi-coloured beech leaves littered the route; half-eaten mushrooms poked out from the ground.

We carried on eastwards along the top path as it became made for elves and noticed a tree that looked like Groot (or an elephant depending on the angle).

 

mushrooms-on-a-dead-tree-2

 

On reaching the apex, we crossed the small stream and continued down into the quarry.  Greeted by the remains of a fire, more balsam, (although dying off some still clung on), and fallen trees riddled with fungi.  I said that if it was cleaned up a bit it could be Malham Cove.

Doubling back, we came onto a narrow path behind the road.  Turning eastwards once more, we found ourselves on another old road, this time paved with cobbles, becoming slippery concrete further down.

As we emerged just north of the train station, we saw evidence of work being undertaken in the stone yard.   We picked our way through piles of stones and interesting junk to investigate. It appeared that the old watermill was being made to work again (very heartening).  From there, we walked onto Station road, across the main road and up Commercial Street.  We reached the Sunday market just in time to catch Craggs Cakes for a tasty treat.

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waterfall-down-the-cliffside-1

A Detour to Pecket Well

Pecket Well Clough packhorse trail 7

Despite the development (yet again) of symptoms that often presaged the onset of sinusitis, I was determined to not give in.   It was the first day of spring and a gorgeous sunny one at that. I looked forward to Marisa coming round for coffee followed by an afternoon outing. She was also suffering. With a frozen shoulder, and we spent some time comparing health notes over coffee and biscuits.

Approaching Hollings 3The three of us then set off via the local bakers, for Foster Mill Bridge. I mentioned an article I read in a recent issue of Valley Life about a walk via the path upwards and as we chatted, I realised it led to the hamlet of Hollins on the way to Hareshaw wood. Marisa suggested we walk up that way and although we had only done so three weeks ago, we agreed.

 

We ascended the broad, cobbled steps at a leisurely pace before taking a similar route through the hamlet and the woods.  Descending near ‘little Switzerland’, we  crossed Hebden Water and took the flight of steps up to Midgehole Road and along to the public WCs.

Pecket Well Clough tree roots 2From there, we headed behind the toilet block and instead of going straight into Crimsworth Dean, took a path to the right and descended upwards into Pecket Well Clough. Like Crimsworth Dean, this forms part of the National Trust Hardcastle Crags estate, but feels a world away. The old packhorse trail leads steadily upwards, through beech woods.

At this time of year, the trees displayed a stark beauty. Brown and grey dominated, occasionally broken up with patches of green.  The mostly bare ground allowed impressive tree roots to show through along the route.

Pecket Well Clough packhorse bridge 1At the top of the clough, we came across a lovely stone bridge where two streams conjoined. We picked our way across a mulchy flat bank to find a suitable rock for our picnic. Marisa made several archaeological finds including what looked like melted glass and broken pots. We posited that the area had been used by people going back hundreds of years.

 

Pecket Well monument 2Food and explorations over, we climbed another flight of steps to reach the WWI monument. I commented on the tete-a-tetes, which provided a splash of colour as we approached. We rested on the benches and surveyed the vistas. from there, we followed paths along the side of fields, passing newly planted trees, cute horses, and a rather fine old gate.

Pecket Well field with horses 3Marisa had recently discovered interesting facts about the history of gates and I told her she should start a blog about them!

Looking back, the monument stood in the foreground of a landscape with Heptonstall church and Stoodley Pike behind. We proceeded through Higher Crimsworth Farm and eventually onto Keighley Road. Walking passed the Wesleyan church and school house straddling the main road, we availed ourselves of ale and facilities at The Robin Hood Inn before taking the bus down into town.

More photos at: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=2DF4BDD5DCD70A39!111038&authkey=!AL7UCa6R91JVs00&ithint=folder%2cPecket Well attractive gate with three sticks in background

Colden to Draper Lane

Colourful trees 5

The first Sunday in November felt more like summer. It later turned out to be officially the hottest November day ever recorded. I wore sandals which could be unprecedented for this late in the year.

We walked the small paths up to Colden Clough. The bright sunlight and autumn leaves resulted in a profusion of stunning colours throughout the woodland.  We trod paths strewn with copper beech leaves, framed by greens and golds clinging still to trees, beneath a flawless blue sky.

Path with fallen leaves 2Just before Lumb Bank, Phil had to stop to rest his back. Perched on a rock, we watched leaves falling and tiny birds flitting through the trees.

As we set off again, we saw a friend coming towards us with a companion. We chatted about the glorious scene and taking photos inside Lumb bank sometime.

We said goodbye and carried on climbing up. We stayed on the upper path and continued climbing to the causeway at the very top along the wall.

 

 

Upper Causeway 1We continued to ‘Hebble Hole’ and sat on another rock for coffee and parkin.

I calculated we had about an hour and a quarter of daylight left. I did not feel confident walking back down through the clough in case we didn’t make it before dark.

Instead, we climbed up the small steep steps to Hudson Mill Lane to walk along the road towards Heptonstall. On the tops, the sun created beautiful orange glows across the valley. We saw a field of pheasants being stalked by a cat which amused us.

Twilight across the valley 4At Draper’s corner we turned down Draper Lane. We descended in the gloaming, catching the last light on the trees.  Even as we stopped to take yet more photos, we hoped we would make it down before full dark.

Coming onto Heptonstall Road and down onto the Cuckoo Steps (thankfully lit) we reached home with mere seconds of the dusk remaining.

Back home, we ate a very fat dinner of about 1000 calories, which we justified by reminding ourselves that we had no lunch and had walked for over 3 hours – a lot for us with all our ailments.

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Draper Lane