Tag Archives: Blackshaw Head

Rainy Birthday

Calder View 3

Changeable weather threatened plans for a day out on Phil’s birthday.  We prevaricated but eventually decided to go for a walk anyway.  Donning suitable gear, we set off mid-afternoon towards the bus stop, chatting to a acquaintances en route.

On the journey upward from Heptonstall, the skies seemed to clear so we stayed on the bus to Blackshaw Head.  We stood at the corner for obligatory views before going down the side road with the chapel on our right to Badger Lane then immediately over the stile onto the Calderdale Way.

Calder Way 1The wind blew on our backs as we traversed the sheep fields.  I wished had on a warmer layer under my anorak.  Yellow arrows on each gate or stile indicated the way until we came onto the track forming part of the Pennine Way and stopped again to enjoy the vista.  Phil pointed out the small valley up to the left of Colden village in front of us.

I recognised Strines Bridge thus realising the vale became Colden Clough further down, which later reminded me of an ill-fated quest for the source of the Calder!  Behind us, graduating stone steps and a granite post punctuated the surface.  Normally easy-going, mud made the hard-core surface rather tricky.  What first looked like red clay, turned out to fine sand feeling squelchy underfoot.

Lichen and Pixie Cups 1Further down, we came across a wall covered with a variety of moss and lichen.  Zooming in, I spotted a miniscule raindrop hanging from a pixie cup and a tiny fly sporting whitish grey wings and dots.  Not for the first time, I marvelled at the microscopic worlds that we are usually unaware of.

Approaching the corner, boisterous dogs could be heard.  I hung back until they came into view.  Said dog bounded up towards us but soon scarpered when the owner called it back, leaving us unmolested.

Pussy Willow and Raindrops 9At Hudson Mill Lane, we turned right.  Pussy willows bloomed in profusion.   Raindrops hung like jewels from the silky surface.

Tiny buds started to emerge heralding spring.  We took the small steps down to Hebble Hole where Colden Water resembled a torrent and made a racket to match!

It seemed incredible that the tiny stream became such a force at this point; a result of numerous springs and underground tributaries flowing down to this point.  The drizzle returned as we admired the colours.  Vibrant green moss carpeted boulders. Pale ochre catkins almost touched the water’s surface, churning brown, white and grey.

Heptonstall Approach 6We crossed the restored clapper bridge, and took the upward route along the old causeway.  The rain became more insistent as we climbed up towards Heptonstall.  Thankful for our waterproofs, we continued doggedly, managing to locate all the right turnings to the village outskirts.  I remarked it was the first time we had walked all the way from Colden to Heptonstall on small paths alone.

We entered the White Lion pub for beer. The room with the coiners’ display was being prepped for a function so we sat on the other side and looked at photos of Dawson City.  As we did so, the man at the bar related interesting facts.  Drinks finished, we walked down the road.  At the corner of Lee Wood Road, we double-backed to the Buttress and descended the wet and slippy cobbles with care.

Over the Packhorse Bridge, we made our way round to the new Indian restaurant.  Someone shouted “happy birthday!”- a group of friends stood outside the club across the street.  The food was delicious.  We couldn’t understand the mixed reviews – five stars in my book!  We waddled home feeling extremely full but found room for coffee and cake.

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Colden Water 3

 

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Stones and Rocks – Bridestones to Great Rock

Causeway Vista

Late February 2019 brought unseasonably warm weather and an early spring (hard to believe this time last year we were ravaged by the Beast from the East!).  During half term, we enjoyed a rare Friday outing – further afield than usual to Bridestones Moor.

We began the journey by bus, calling at the bakers for pasties before crossing over to the stop.  The service to Blackshaw Head seemed very late and I almost gave up but it eventually arrived.  Typically, we were the only passengers left after Heptonstall.  We alighted at Blackshaw Head chapel and sat in the sun to eat our pasty lunch before trekking up The Long Causeway.

Causeway KestrelFrom the OS map, I knew it would be 2 or 3 miles so maintained a steady pace.  After the village, the straight road rose gently between fields of sheep.  Many looked fit to burst they were so fat.  Others appeared incredibly scruffy with straggly wool hanging off them.  Overhead wires provided lookouts for crows and a kestrel which considerately stayed still for several minutes.

Possible shortcuts took the form of dodgy-looking paths across ill-kempt farmland scattered with ramshackle buildings.

We kept to tarmac until we reached the corner of Eastwood Road, marked by a milepost. On re-checking the map, we plumped for the more well-trodden route up to the stones.  Down Eastwood Road we found a ridiculously narrow gate (what M&M would call an obesity check!)  On the other side a lovely track headed up across moorland to the rocks with sponge-like moss keeping the bog at bay.  A smattering of fellow visitors populated the site, most of whom had driven judging by the cars parked in the lay by opposite.

Bridestones Trig Point 1The wind picked up as we climbed up to the trig point where I risked being blown off.  We examined stark groove lines on the stones where weathering over millennia had resulted in amazing features, and marvelled at the power of wind and water.

We then rested in the lee of the rocks before walking further behind to survey the alternative paths we could have used.  The ground became boggier as we approached a steep drop – I was glad we had opted for the easier route.

Bridestones Main Event 5Curving round to the front of the stones, smooth erosion left triangular holes between rocks and chair-like hollows in grey boulders.  A stretch of sturdy brown rock resembled a castle wall.  Cubed stones tumbling down the slope evoked memories of archaeological sites.  We felt as if we were on holiday!

Approaching the Bridestones themselves, we waited for families with dogs to move out of shot.  Majestic pillars of solid granite stood curiously grouped as though surveying the landscape. The base of one had been so worn away that it appeared precariously balanced.

No wonder they have inspired legends and folk tales!  We were astonished at how it had taken us so long to visit (and later discovered we had only seen the half of it.  I vowed it would not be another twenty years before returning).

The Great Rock 2We returned to the daft gate and turned right, continuing down Eastwood Road to Great Rock.  It didn’t look so great now!  I had hoped to easily find a straight way down to Eastwood but it eluded me.  Again, we eschewed uncertain paths heading towards Jumble Hole.  We checked the map once more and decided to stay on the road back up to Blackshaw Head.

Overcome with fatigue and with less than an hour of daylight remaining, we rested briefly at Hippins Bridge (a road bridge not a footbridge as I used to think) to look up bus times on google.  With one due in half an hour, we made the final climb back up to The Long Causeway.  As we waited, dusk fell.  A menagerie serenaded us; I could only identify a couple of the several species of bird amongst the cacophony of the twilight chorus.  Inevitably late again, it was almost dark when the bus finally made it up the hill, turned and picked us up.  During the descent, a man from Bolton amused us with his tales of drinking around Calderdale.  The driver stopped right opposite the Fox and Goose for him!

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Bridestones Frontage 2

Detours in Jumble Hole Clough

A last-minute change of plan on the last Sunday of August entailed a rush to catch the bus up to Blackshaw Head for one of our regular walks into Jumble Hole Clough.  The driver failed to stop at the usual place and we alighted at the corner of The Long Causeway and walked back onto Badger Lane.  Taking our usual route down to the clough via the path signed ‘Calderdale Way’, we paused at Apple Tree Farmi to watch the alpacas frolicking with a friendly dog and gaze at attractive clouds scudding above Stoodley Pike.

At the meadow, we rested on the flat rock and it was only after several minutes that I noticed a crane fly right next to me – its grey colouring was perfect camouflage against the granite.

We crossed the bridge and walked down to Staups Mill where we lingered awhile.  Climbing the stony path up, we veered down to the left, following a sign.

 

This led us through a mini forest, past small disused quarries and picturesque boulders creating a gateway to a junction we recognised.  Turning left again we arrived at the clapper bridge.  Hungry by this point, we stopped here for a small picnic then continued climbing up to the ruined hovels.

Another sign pointed up steps atop the ruins.  Curious, we took a detour to find attractive stiles and trees.  Emerging in a field, I wondered if we’d stayed ‘up top’ we could have reached this point from the first field we entered.

We came back down to continue homeward.  At the mini moor, we needed another rest to recover from our climb.  I clambered the rock festooned with heather, reflecting that it had become much more overgrown since our early visits.  We continued down to Mount Olive chapel and onto the Pennine Bridleway.  On the descent, we spotted quite a few ripe blackberries t pick.  As the bridleway became cobbled, we said hello to a man working on his porch and paused again on the nearby broken bench.  Continuing down, we turned left onto a smaller path and followed it to ‘Wood view bridge’.  We crossed the road and onto the canal for a quick return home.

Note

i  http://www.appletreefarmalpacas.com/

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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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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

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

Downhill from Blackshaw Head

Moored boat

On the first of February scraps of snow lingered in the valley from the previous month. Despite the cold, the sun compelled us to venture out.

We took a picturesque bus ride to Blackshaw Head. The amount of snow still up on the tops made us feel as if we had gone into the mountains.  Yet we were only two miles from home. On arrival, we spotted a barn with a couple of fat sheep standing in front of it. That, and a boat in a nearby field, made for a very Nordic scene!

Grave shadows 2We cut through the churchyard where the blazing sun created long shadows of the gravestones. The bench here makes it possible to rest and maybe even have a small picnic if you are so inclined.

We walked along Badger Lane then down Marsh lane. The snow crunched underfoot as we made our way to the next junction.

Ignore your sat navWe paused to savour the views and laughed at the handmade ‘no sat nav’ sign.

We turned left onto Winter’s Lane which becomes the aptly named Dark Lane.

The going was hard due to the frozen snow where the sun never shone. However, parts that are often very boggy were easily navigated with care.

We proceeded into Rawtenstall woods and speculated about the strangely titled ‘cat steps’. They are indeed tiny enough to only be of use to small mammals.

We also noticed that we could see the main road down below, obscured at other times of year, through the leafless trees.

Cat steps 1After passing through Mytholm Steeps, we stopped at the Fox & Goose for a pint. Lots of people and dogs milled about round the bar area.

We retired to a side room and remarked on the improvements since the pub became a worker’s co-op – much cleaner and drier.

As an alternative, a pleasant walk into town can be found by crossing the main road and walking down Adelaide Street and along the river.

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