The last weekend of summer, Phil suffered severe back pain which thankfully eased off enough to allow for a Sunday walk. That morning, cop cars screeched along the main road and helicopters circled overhead. A Facebook post suggested they were scouring the valley for a parachutist or hang-glider had fallen in the woods and couldn’t be found. Surely there’d be signs of the canopy?
We ascended the cuckoo steps onto Heptonstall Road where a pair of new houses had sprung up. A planning notice opposite, only posted a few days before, announced a 3 week timescale to object – how did that work when they were almost built?
Crossing into Eaves Wood, dappled shadowed adorned the path, strewn with felled branches. Speckled wood butterflies grazed on browning bracken. Slender trees reached for the sky as thick layers of moss obscured their silvery bark.
At Hell Hole Rocks, we spotted something brightly coloured and joked it had fallen off the parachutist. In fact it was a bag containing chalk, left by a climber.
We waited for a couple to climb the worn steps and clambered onto the overhanging rocks for a brief rest at ‘photographer’s corner.
Proceeding along the top path, horses fretted within the confines of a very small area, cruelly hemmed in by electric fencing. Through the gate, small white flowers danced prettily in the gentle breeze while willow herbs thrived in the newly-planted forest. Southfield displayed a wealth of life. Crows roosted in treetops, above varied hedges where bees sapped on flowers resembling yellow pom-poms, and papery honesty paraded a rainbow of hues. We scoured the brambles for a few late blackberries.
In the churchyard, history buffs scoured gravestones for famous names. We indicated the resting place of David Hartley to a bemused couple. Resting under the yew tree, the ground beneath was strewn with attractive cones. A pigeon stood statue-like on the eaves of the ruined church, where deep magenta flowers bestowed a splash of colour to monochrome stone troughs.
With both village pubs open, Phil suggested a pint. I’d drunk enough for the weekend and would have preferred a cuppa. Alas, the tearoom was shut. We returned quickly via the road, dodged a cyclist careering recklessly down The Buttress and a lump of people at the top of the street, to pick a few more berries: the pathetic crop only sufficient to supplant a fruit salad.