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.
Finding 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.
The 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.
At 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.
Taking 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!
i The excellent Basque film, ‘Errementari’ (the Blacksmith and the Devil)
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5M9vQfFZIzbqPZvHg