Tag Archives: brambles

Scouring in Eaves Wood and Heptonstall

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.

Confined Walks 6 – Common Bank to Old Town

Lane view 2

On a hot Tuesday amidst the early August heatwave, we considered ideas for a shady walk.  The picturesque Buttress route led us down and round to the top of town and up the unnamed old cobbles towards Birchcliffe.  School Street, leading to Osborne Street, rose steeply beneath the blistering sun.  On entering Common Bank, we immediately felt cool in the dark wood.  Unlike other nearby woodlands, it appeared to change little with the seasons.

Common Bank 4Evergreen holly, their prickly brown leaves spiking our feet, twisted branches, and rotting stumps providing fodder for clumps of multi-coloured fungi, gave the impression of eternal winter.  At the small stream, a new walkway of fresh yellow wood kept our feet dry.  On the path between the meadows, ladybirds rested on purple seed-heads.  Disinterested goats eyed us lazily to our left while on the right, a decrepit piece of farm machinery faded from red to pink.

Dod Naze machinery 1Thinking it dumped, Phil said the fact it still had wheels attested to current use.  A shiny new gate led out to Wadsworth Lane where brambles competed for space with wild geranium on crumbling stone walls.  Sweaty after the climb, we rested briefly on a bench at the corner before taking the small steps to Rowland Lane.   Ramshackle gates framed hazy views of Old Town and Heptonstall.  Brown cows grazed calmly in the field, undeterred by flighty jackdaws.  Garden fugitives interloped in the wild undergrowth.

On reaching Lane Ends, we dithered before cautiously approaching The Hare and Hounds.  As we espied a couple of punters, glasses in hand, Phil suggested a pint.  Hesitantly, I agreed to our first pub pint since lockdown!  The front entrance extolled social-distancing and the application of hand-gel.  Inside, more signage bade us wait to be seated.  A young man directed us through the occupied beer garden to tables in the carpark.  During a short wait for the table to be cleared and beer brought, an old pub-goer of years gone by shouted over from the beer garden.  We laughed as she mistook Phil for a significantly older regular at our old local.  She then asked “is he (the old regular) still alive?”  None of us had any idea!  Predictably, Phil wanted food after one drink.  The lad went to fetch menus then told us they were fully booked for dinner; obviously drawn by the mid-week Dishi Rishi meal deal.

Wayside berries 2The temperature dropped slightly as a gust of wind blew grey clouds upwards from the misty valley.  The landlady arrived in her car and grimaced at the humidity.  She agreed with me that a storm might come “I like the proper ones.” She informed us.

We walked briskly down to Sandy Gate, hedges laden with ripening berries, veering off into the lower end of Nutclough for the coolness of trees once more.

Skirting the town centre, we considered eating at the Italian but unfortunately, pre-booking was essential.  Dinner out scuppered, we sought quick tea inspiration in the co-op.  The return of hot sun after a speedy walk made me rather fraught.  But a cooling ice lolly and reviving coffee soon restored equilibrium.

Hollins to Midgehole

Lee Wood Road 6

After an unseasonably cold and wet start, mid-June brought some improvement.  I suggested a wander up Tinker Bank, but ended up walking rather further than planned.

Crossing Hebden Water at Foster Mill Bridge, we paused for fellow walkers coming the opposite way.  Below us, laden branches all but obscured the stream, hanging heavy above the silvery torrent.

Dog rose 4On the steps to Hollins, the majestic sycamore presided over an enchanting scene.  Geometric foxgloves had survived a battering from the previous night’s thunderstorm.  Bees buzzed round dog roses.  One disappeared inside a flower.  As I waited patiently for it to re-emerge, a second one landed.  After some fumbling that too vanished.  Turning right on the small path, we past the gloomy hamlet and proceeded up through the wood, mildly reeking of dankness.

 

Just Passing 4Here, bees focused on bramble blossom, so pretty I initially mistook them for another kind of rose.  Reaching Lee Wood Road, we followed signs to ‘Hebden Hey/Hardcastle Crags’.  Picturesque twisty trees and well-curated rocks soon made it apparent this was yet another Victorian construction.  Amazed at still discovering new parts of the vast National Trust estate, I wondered why we had never taken this route before.  I then recalled a foray in our early walking days, and thought maybe we had, albeit from the other direction and not quite as far.

We became hungry and weary.  Reluctant to end up in the middle of the crags, we back-tracked to a stony footpath.  As predicted, we arrived at The Blue Pig.  The outside seating area was packed!  At first, we wondered if it was illegally open.  But as the doors looked firmly shut, we concluded the regulars congregated out of habit.  I refused to sit anywhere near the flouters.  Instead, we took the snicket at the side of the small bridge into the lower reaches of the crags.  The first bench occupied by a family, I stopped in the verge.  Phil marched on.  “Where are you going!” I called after him.  He indicated a further bench that I hadn’t seen due to the tall grass.

Vergeside 1Breathless and sweaty, we collapsed with cold drinks, wishing we’d brought lunch with us.  We mustered the strength to walk back via the flattest route.  On Midgehole Road, the deep purple foxgloves contrasted with golden poppies against grey drystone walls.

Descending to the riverside, kids played on the makeshift beach. We took the less populous left-hand Foster Mill Dam path.  ‘The swamp’ exuded a strong smell of wild garlic, severely past it at this time of year.

Further on, we traced the remains of the old mill ponds and dam wall, envisioning the location of the erstwhile mill buildings.

Towards Windsor View, a dog blocked the path.  I hailed a woman gardening close by, asking her to call her mutt away so we could pass unimpeded.  Back on tarmac, I felt uncomfortably hot.  As I stripped off a layer of clothing, I heard my camera hit the pavement.  Thankfully, with firm hold of the strap, it survived unscathed.   Towards town, we returned to the riverside path.  We held our breath hurrying past a bunch of itinerant drinkers.  Phil said hello as one recognised us but I refused to open my gob until well clear.  Aware they would never change their behaviour, I really wished they wouldn’t move round so much- they were much easier to avoid in the park!  In search of instant fodder, we perused the shops to little avail.  I exited One Stop pretty sharpish as people crowded round the ice cream freezer and a massive queue for the till snaked round the aisles.  Back home, we were absolutely desperate for food and rest. I hastily assembled cheese and crackers and slumped on the sofa.

Ye olde dam wall 1

50 Shades of Green (Horsehold Wood)

Horsehold view Panorama

 

During a mainly sunny mid-September, I had been struggling with computer issues all morning which gave me a headache and put me in a bad mood.  We planned on a mid-week walk but unfortunately picked a day when the sun remained hidden in the South Pennines.  Reluctantly, I submitted to Phil’s badgering to at least leave the house but disinclined to go far, suggested going to Horsehold Wood.  A decidedly chilly wind blew as we climbed the steep road.   I cursed grumpily at the elusive sun.

Brambles 4Through the small gate onto the path edging the valley, we stood to gaze across the valley.  A plethora of greens and yellows signalling autumn was on the way.  At our feet, fading heather and rotting blackberries added contrasting splashes of red to the natural palette.

Descending into woodland,  pale beige mushrooms and bright green ferns poked up from dark earth covered with rotten leaves.  Stunted trees struggled for dear life on the north-facing slope.  Rotting trunks resembled tree spirits.  Phil suddenly stopped in an awkward spot, dealing with a camera malfunction.  I became impatient.  I told him the walk was not doing its job of improving my mood and I just wanted to get on with it.  He giggled, and I had to admit it did sound rather ridiculous when I was meant to be having fun!

Red wood 4Deeper into the wood, we marvelled anew at the red earth with optimistically green grass sprouting in clumps, and at how on earth some of the rocks had landed in such strange configurations.  We had noticed earlier how many beech nuts and acorns there were this year.  This had prompted a new obsession with collecting items and turning them into art.  On the road, we had gathered nut casings and helicopter-like seeds.  Here, we added shinier specimens untouched since they hit the ground.

A new bridge had been constructed over the stream making crossing easier although I still found the stepping-stones tricky.  On the other side we perched on a rock to watch the fast tumbling water.  I decided I did now feel a bit better for being immersed in nature; we had not yet seen a single other person.  It was worth the initial effort, however difficult.

Upper path 2Large stones serving as steps led up.  We turned right and followed the path round where it became a tiny grassy line between spindly trees.  At the ruined house we spotted lettering on a stone among the wreckage but were unable to decipher it.  We followed the path down to the canal and walked on the towpath.  I spotted a deer across the way.  Typical, I thought, having seen none when we were in the wood!

At Stubbing’s, we left the canal to walk alongside the river where we considered the final demise of the once enormous Calder Mill (we had noticed from Horsehold Road that the roof slates had disappeared).  Back home  I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee.  Although my headache had abated and my mood lifted somewhat, I was very tired. My ankle ached too as I had forgotten to wear a bandage.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti88A2h6gtEDU9B8_SQ?e=q824MX

 

Cragg Vale Tales 2

Mill Ponds 8

Amidst a changeable and frequently wet August, we took advantage of a more promising day to re-visit Elphin Brook.  A cloudy sky prompted me to take a pac-a-mac but at the bus stop, it suddenly became hot and I wished I’d taken a sunhat instead.  Riding up to Cragg Vale, the air cooled.  We pressed the buzzer  when we spotted the sign pointing down to the village.  On alighting, we noted tiny steep steps between the tightly packed terrace housing the old co-op building.

Church LaneWe descended Church Bank Lane, where leafy trees partially obscured church features .  In the junk yard, we played a game of ‘spot the difference’ .  Phil joked the tea mug was not resting on the rusty van last time.  I observed that there would not have been flowers in the pot in winter.  Behind, ramshackle buildings looked deserted although I was half-expecting dangerous lifeforms to emerge.

Beyond the gate, summer growth in unbelievably vivid greens surrounded the brookside path.

Friendly SignFurther down, we  laughed at the un/friendly warning sign as we picked our way down to the weir.  Large ferns almost touched the foamy water.  Eddies played tricks on the eyes, with water flowing in all directions.

A narrow path led between old water courses.  Dazzlingly green algae lay atop mill ponds.  Ubiquitous pink balsam surrounded the edge. Elongated houses reflected deep in the water. Approaching the old paper mill, we failed to see a way to get nearer and continued on the ‘permissive path’.  The small steps were almost completely obliterated by brambles necessitating care to avoid a mishap.  At the top, a sign suggested the path was maintained but not for some time I’d wager, given their unkempt condition.

StalkingBack on Cragg Road, we wondered if it was possible to get back down to the brook at some point but gates and signs suggested private land only.  We continued on tarmac and were surprised to see a heron standing in a field.  At the entrance to Broadhead Clough the brook disappeared beneath the road.  We took a refreshment break on a convenient bench. Nearer Mytholmroyd, we spotted a footpath sign and crossed to the ice cream factory.

A concrete bridge led into a shadowy yard, beyond which a path led into a decidedly eerie thicket.  I was not keen to investigate.  Instead, we opted to return home via Nest Lane and Park Lane.

Two spots of rain fell.  Ah!  I thought, just as well I brought my mac!  Then it promptly stopped again.  It was not until later that the weather really turned and I reflected that we had timed the outing perfectly.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti757QKQ-UuzZ3g1jvA?e=OYA95N

 

Evergreen 2

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)

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5M9vQfFZIzbqPZvHg

 

 

Through the Woods and down the Corpse Road

Heptonstall ascending loop path 1

The last week in June brought a series of travails and despite the gorgeous sunny weather, life felt hard.  On the Thursday afternoon, we thought that one of our favourite wood walks might cheer us up and cool us down.  At the top of the cuckoo steps, I needed to catch my breath before crossing the road and taking the path into Eaves Wood.  A felled tree obstructed us.  Momentarily thwarted, we managed to navigate through the jumble of branches.  As we climbed the ridge, the sun beat down. “It’s like being on holiday in the Med” I commented.  Phil casually mentioned that he’d always said it was the hottest spot in Hebden – now he tells me!

Eaves Wood stone seatWe noted that the views down into the valley were obscured by profuse growth.  I needed to rest and drink water but the lack of shade and prolific bracken meant my usual spot was not an option.  I slogged on until we reached the trees.

After resting awhile on the path edge, we continued and I realised that if I’d waited a little longer I could have sat on the seat-like stone a short way up.

At Hell Hole rocks we explored the disused quarry.  Normally dank, twigs and leaves on the parched earth crunched beneath my sandals.  Today deserted apart from crows high in the treetops, we had fun guessing the pastimes of recent visitors from the evidence they had left behind including a tent peg and sweet wrappers.

Eaves Wood fern shadow 2Past the rocks, we decided to stay down in the woodland rather than climbing straight up to Heptonstall.  Descending a flight of twee steps, we noted almost impossible greenery.  Small dapples of sunlight and fern shadows fell artily on the stone treads.  The landscape became like pixie land as the myriad paths from the Victorian job creation scheme led in all directions.  Small birds flitted through trees and a squirrel scampered into the undergrowth.

Finding it hard to choose the best route, we kept to the middle route until we reached a more significant-looking fork, thinking we would soon reach the top wall and thus the lane up to the village.  However, we ended up in what we realised was the lower end of Slater Ings.  The path became indiscernible in places.  Large square boulders lay higgledy piggledy (most likely a result of quarry dumping).   We had a tricky climb through huge ferns, stopping often to locate the best way through.  Even so, Phil banged his head on a tree branch.

Slater Ings square rocksEventually, I spotted what I assumed was the top wall above us but could not see an obvious access point.  Then Phil noticed that it was not the wall I’d thought it was.  Nevertheless, we had to go upwards to reach civilisation.  I saw a gap in the wall and clambered over large stones towards it.  On reaching the top, we realised there had once been a proper path and crossing point – apparently eroded since our last trek through this neglected lower part of the wood.

We came onto the lovely rocky path that we knew quite well at the top of Slater Ings, albeit not as far along as expected.  But it was easy enough from there to reach the lane up to Heptonstall.  On the corner of Green Lane, I noticed a styal into fields which I knew would cut a corner out.  This turned out to be part of the Hebden Loopi. We crossed a beautiful meadow with attractive paving underfoot, heading for a picturesque treeline to emerge onto the road.  In the village, we entered The first pub for refreshments.

At the bar, we exchanged a few words with an acquaintance, ordered pints, grabbed menus and headed for the beer garden.  Whilst enjoying the indirect sunlight, we prevaricated about ordering food as we were not super hungry.  And then we saw the chips and that settled it!  After eating, we realised the football was underway and considered going to the other pub to watch it.  I nipped in to check the score and noted their TV was smaller than the one at home.

Taking the Corpse Road wooden gateOpting for the Corpse Road back, we initially had trouble finding the entrance.  On finding it a little way down the road, a footpath sign indicated two different routes.  We mistakenly took the upward path and arrived at the edge of Southfield.  Returning to the sign, the other path started out as gravel path as it led past houses.  It then became narrow and overgrown.  We were repeatedly stung by nettles and brambles snagged at our clothes.

The vegetation thinned alongside a low stone wall.  Just after a rickety shed, we were led downwards.  I remembered continuing in a straight line last time a rope barred our way.  Forced to turn left and then right onto Heptonstall Road, the final stretch home was very quick.  As I settled down with a coffee to watch the end of the football match, I felt boiling hot and had in urgent need of a cold shower.

Note:

  1. The Hebden Bridge Loop: http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/pennine-way-loop/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4EJ_MuwABD_5kPtPQ

Valley view