Tag Archives: birch

Mud and Mushrooms (Autumn in Crow Nest)

Valley view 6

Early October, we both had flu.  On the second Saturday, sunlight glimpsed through leaden clouds after overnight rain.  We agreed a short walk in the fresh air would do us good.  After two weeks of inactivity I thought it judicious to put a bandage on my foot and wear proper walking boots before venturing  up to Crow Nest Wood.  Almost immediately on hitting the first steep part of the path, my bad foot gave way, with a sharp pain – not in my ankle but on the top part.  I hobbled on to reach a low wall where I could squat to tighten the bandage.  I was able to proceed, with care, but I rued the decision to wear the boots which I suspected had caused the problem.  A little further up, we found a gap in the large garden hedges allowing us to admire trees across the valley displaying autumnal splendour.

Fungi of black 1At the corner we took the left-hand path, remembering this was usually the quickest route to the top of the wood.  But the stony surface and wet leaves compounded by several days’ worth of overnight rain, made it arduous and extremely slippy at times.  Soon, our noses were assaulted by the stink of sulfur from rotten trees.  Disgusting-looking black fungi resembling tyres sprouted from one decayed trunk.  Phil slid dangerously off the path to investigate.   I had to laugh when he asked “How do I get back up now?”  “That’s your problem!”

Elsewhere, fungi appeared in more appealing shades of ochre and white.  Small caps topped slender stems sprouting among sodden leaves at the edge of the path.  An ivory puffball had become covered in green mould –  Fungi on fungi as it were.

Quarry 1

Among the twisty trees on the top path, green faded slowly from leaves to be replaced by a spectrum of yellows and russets.  We continued to the babbling brook and perched on a rock to listen to the gushing waterfall.  In search of more we continued towards the old quarry.  Here, large patches of deep, squelching mud at last made me glad I had my proper boots on.  As predicted,  a cascade plummeted down the cliff-face of the quarry creating new streams and yet more deep mud patches.  We zig-zagged up and down small paths to avoid them and return to the main route.

Mushrooms grew from a felled birch.  White flecked with black, they almost merged with the monochrome stripes of the tree trunk.  We mused on the weirdness of the woodland where things appeared dead and alive at the same time.  I wondered why it was not a popular spot for witches!

We continued to Wood Top, turned left down to the  station and into town for lunchtime pies.  I stopped to chat to an old schoolfriend on the way.  Back home, I had to immediately take off my muddy boots and jeans…

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Fungi of stripes 4

 

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

It seemed as though winter arrived early in November.  Often elusive, the sun appeared intermittently on a late Wednesday.  Although lifting the temperature slightly, it was still cold.  We discussed a few ideas involving a short walk to somewhere offering lunch.  I suggested Heptonstall, Mytholmroyd and Stubbings.  As we stepped out, a chilly wind made it feel even colder.  We decided to stay near town with a short trip to Nutclough.

Taking the picturesque route  via The Buttress and Hangingroyd Lane to Foster Lane, we remarked it had been a long time since we climbed the ginnel up to Unity Street.  Always evocative of the Victorian industrial heydays, parked cars hampered efforts to capture the mood on camera.  We scanned the rooftops of the town centre below, noticing for the first time how many turrets there are.

Far out 2At the end of the street,  we crossed the main road and headed into Nutclough. In spite of recent assaults by wind, rain and frost, autumnal colours still bedecked the trees.  Fallen leaves scattered the paths.  Jade-like lichen covered large grey boulders, resembling textured wallpaper.  Glistening moss swathed drystone walls.  Speckled brown oak leaves contrasted with the bright emerald.

On reaching the ‘islands’ I noticed some of the stepping-stones had been washed away by heavy downpours.  Phil strode over the shimmying stream regardless but I deemed it impassable.  I casted around for replacement stones and threw a promising square lump into the water.  It settled in the right place but was insufficient to breach the gap.  I had no luck finding the right shape and size to improve the situation. He tried to help by lobbing a stones from the other side but it was useless.  I gave up and backtracked to the steps near the weir.  At the top, different varieties of moss adorned rocks.  Delicate red stalks supported their tiny blooms.

Moss close up 2

Finding ourselves on the path belonging to the Birchcliffe Centre, copper beech, dark green in September, now lived up to their name.  We took the straight-forward route down into town.  This time, we had lunch options aplenty, with only a smattering of punters in the fading light of mid-afternoon.  Rendezvous supplied us with tasty, warming and filling meals.  I nipped outside for a smoke.  A juvenile jackdaw perched on the back of the adjacent chair to mine. He kept looking towards the café window as though waiting for something.  When I returned back inside, one of the staff told her colleague “Scruffy’s here.” Consequently, a young woman appeared with a crust of bread.  “Ah!  I wondered why he was hanging around.” “Yes,” she told me, “he comes every day to be fed.” Crafty!

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View back 1

 

Seasons in Common Bank Wood

Common Bank Wood 7

Red lichen on tree 1A short walk up to Birchcliffe takes us into Common Bank wood.

Interesting at various times of the year, I love witnessing the seasonal changes; from autumn when the beech and birch are resplendent with an array of colours, through winter when it becomes a dark, damp land of lichen, and into spring as the flora bursts into life once more.

 

 

On a visit last April, we traversed the small woods at a leisurely pace. At the stream, we considered a choice of routes including going uphill towards Dod Naze. We crossed the stream and walked along a small cliff edge.

Ooh a dearThis led us into a clearing and on into another woods. Markers pointed to a path uphill but we preferred to stay lower down and followed animal paths, which proved tricky in places.

After an hour of not getting very far over rough ground we stopped to rest on a tree stump. We spotted a deer. I could tell by its alert stance that it could hear us but as we were hidden behind the tree, it couldn’t see us. Hence we were able to capture wildlife photos for once!

 

We carried on walking until our way was blocked by barbed wire and we retraced our steps back to the clearing. This time on reaching the stream, we took a path downwards. A flight of stone steps brought us out on the main road just opposite the station.

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Wood Hey Circulars

Evening gambol 1One fine spring evening, we met at the train station for a short stroll. The walk took us up Wood Top Road towards ‘wood Hey’.

Evening round upAt the corner we watched the pastoral scene of a sheepdog and shepherd working and admired the views up Spencer Lane.

We turned up Wood Hey Lane and paused again to be entertained by adorable lambs gambolling in the field – they seemed to be watching us too!

Clough with birch treesWe continued to ‘Stubb Clough’. This cute clough is created by Calder Brook as it flows towards the River Calder, creating a tiny enclave of streams and glades amongst the farmland.

Taking a path through a field onto Carr Lane and crossing the railway line, we emerged near the old Walkey’s Clogs mill.

No unauthorisedWe then explored ‘Hawks Clough’ which is really a misnomer.

The diversion took us in a semi-circle over a hump to come out further down Caldene Avenue.

The walk became less picturesque as we encountered the industrial estate. I was outraged to see someone had slaughtered several pussy willow trees in their prime but amused by impromptu art in a tyre yard. We returned to town via the ‘cycle path’.

An assortment of leavesRecently, we began a late summer walk through Crow Nest woods admiring an assortment of leaves and mushrooms, some clinging like stone to tree trunks.  We took the middle path via the picturesque ex-quarry examining the changing colours.  We then proceeded up Wood Hey lane and beyond Shroggs Clough. We followed the lane down until it became Nest Lane.

This proved an easy and straightforward route to Mytholmroyd. Arriving in the village centre, we enjoyed a pint in the Dusty Miller.  A walk back along the canal and ‘cycle path’ provided amusement in the form of Guardianistas foraging for blackberries (although I did point out I had done the same the day before).

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Walks in Colden Clough

Tree stump with bluebells

We never tire of walking in Colden Clough. Due to the seasonal changes, it is impossible to have the same experience twice.

Spring walks are rewarded by a riot of bluebells and garlic, which we can smell before we see it (we pick young leaves away from the path for ace soups and pesto). Summer brings the trees out in full bloom – beech and birch, oak and rowan are the most common. This is also usually (but not always!) the time when the lower paths are driest allowing navigation of routes otherwise too muddy and wet.

Colden Clough April - Lumb Mill Archaeology - Mill Floor 4

Autumn brings out the true majesty of the trees in their golds, oranges, reds and browns. We may forage for beech nuts if the squirrels haven’t beaten us to it!

And in winter, the Clough becomes a wonderland, when blanketed with snow or hoar frost.

Despite the interest of organisations such as the AA i and the BBC ii, it is not unusual if you choose the less-trodden paths, to barely see another soul all day. Start by walking west out of town along the main road to the Fox and Goose pub. Then either turn right up the next path you come to or up Church Lane passed the parish church and keep going up.

Red path 5

From here, there are numerous paths to choose, some of which take you very quickly to Lumb Bank. Others will lead you on a series of adventures via woods, rocky outcrops, up and down steps, and numerous examples of industrial archaeology.

These latter two are Victorian creations: many of the small paths were built as a part of a job creation scheme in the early 1900’s.

If you keep to the route of the river, you will eventually come to Hebble Bridge. In good weather, the river and clearing on the other side is busy with people picnicking, children paddling and dogs optimistically waiting for someone to play with them.

Many of these may be staying at the campsite, just a little further up in the New Delight pub (known affectionately by locals as ‘The Newdy’).

Meaningless signs

This can be reached by climbing either of the steep sets of steps in front of you as you come over the bridge. Turn right at the top and go along the lane.

You then have choices to make: follow the packhorse trailii or the modern road to Heptonstall, go back into the Clough and keep heading down, or just get the bus back to town.

 

 

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References:

i http://www.theaa.com/walks/jumble-hole-and-colden-clough-421306

i i http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2008/04/09/colden_clough_walk_feature.shtml