Plagued by tendonitis for a couple of months, I had been hesitant to embark on longer walks, despite the longer late spring days. Recent outings had been confined to familiar territory with minimal climbing. By mid-May I decided to be pre-active and embarked on a self-treatment programme involving special Achilles heel exercises, massage and the use of a bandage when necessary.
Suitably prepared, I agreed to a more adventurous jaunt to Lumb Falls in the mid-week sunshine. This started with a ride on the 595 bus. The few other passengers alighted at Dod Naze or Old Town leaving us alone on the rest of the journey onto Keighley Road. The driver stopped for us at the junction of Haworth old Road, with a cheery farewell.
We walked upon the patchy tarmac of the single track, almost silent apart from bleating sheep, a handful of birds flitting between telegraph wires, and the odd passing vehicle. Roadwork signs indicating that the road narrowed ahead made us chuckle; narrowed to what? Grassy verges lined the route, interspersed with bright flowers, rickety gates and defunct signposts.
A sole walker overtook us, striding purposefully and disappeared behind a wall. Guessing his destination, we then saw a helpful sign indicating ‘Lumb Falls’. We paused at the top of the path for a couple with a trio of panting dogs to come up and get straight in a car.
The steep path proved absolutely stunning! Square grey cobbles shone underfoot, rising into bridge-like structures over springs. Overgrown grasses, tall flowers and curly ferns made arty shadows on the ground. Leafy boughs formed shady arches, framing a bright blue sky. Across the dean, a grassy track rose steeply with a trio of sheep seemingly teetering on the slope.
Arriving at Lumb Falls, we discovered a variety of wonders. A tree trunk resembled an elephant’s head; tributaries tumbled picturesquely into Crimsworth Brook; sturdy stone gate posts stood amongst the debris of a long-gone wall. A smattering of people occupied the beauty spot including two men hogging the prime rock.
We explored the scene from all angles witnessing a yellow dipper swooping over the water as insects buzzed beneath the arched bridge. Picking a spot to rest, we ate a small packed lunch and gazed at the gushing falls, mesmerised by the babbling sounds and popping bubbles.
It became quite hot in the direct sun prompting us to eventually stir. Climbing up the opposite side of the dean, I was very glad of the bandage on my bad ankle! We soon spotted a sign pointing to Midgehole. I immediately recognised the path, from our only other visit to this particular stretch several years ago.
Along the ridge, dry pale brown bracken covered the slope to our left. Large stones littered the landscape, which may or may not have been from ancient buildings. A tree gripping onto a mound with exposed roots suggested dramatic soil erosion. Enormous sheep grazed on the right. Further on, we recognised landmarks across the way from previous, less-adventurous treks in Crimsworth Dean.
Presently, a large black stone wall impeded the path. Due to the light, I didn’t immediately see how to cross it but realised a stile had been integrated. The steps were so dark and far apart that great care was required in clambering to the other side.
From here, signs marked out private land from permissive paths. We greeted a grumpy farmer who managed a curt ‘hello’ as we were directed back down into a field and across a rudimentary bridge into a pine forest where we spotted the next bridge. We considered crossing back towards Pecket Well but opted instead to continue. The path wound up another steep incline.
Aching, tired and thirsty, we eventually reached the main track and scanned for a suitable resting place. Planning to perch on a rotting tree trunk, the sight of a wood cockroach put us off. We settled on a nearby patch of grass to recover with a drink of sarsaparilla. Further down, clumps of flowers lined the verges with white garlic under the shady pines to our left, and poppies, bluebells and forget-me-nots on the right.
Soon enough, we reached the edge of Hardcastle Crags carpark and easily found the small path leading straight down alongside the brook and onto Midgehole Road. We headed over to the Blue Pig for a comfort break.
We found a vacant riverside bench to enjoy welcome pints. From the corner of my eye, I spotted a selection of bird species skimming Hebden Water. Standing for a closer look, I could not see any of them – typical! We took yet another upward route homeward, rouxing the decision as we ascended the wide stony steps until we reached the paved stretch to Lee Wood. A shortcut part-way down the Buttress led quickly home. As I rested my legs and supped coffee, I realised it had been my longest day out for quite some time. I was tired of course but thankfully, my ankle did not cause too much grief.
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti6k2Gh4t5DLkE9fy5A