Tag Archives: church

Snow Wonders (Eaves Wood and Heptonstall)

Pike and spikes 2

The penultimate day of January, overnight sub-zero temperatures preserved the snowfall, to be followed by a beautiful sunny day.  We left home early afternoon, noting that it did not feel as bitingly cold outdoors as the snowy scenes and internal temperature suggested.  We climbed the Cuckoo steps, pausing to crane our necks towards the sound of tits twittering in stick-like branches above us.  This also allowed me to catch my breath.  On Heptonstall Road, roadworks blocked the pavement so we crossed over straight away and headed left up the path.

Ice lumps 1Initially, the path was sheltered by trees and remained snow-free.  At the top of the ridge, lumps of ice clung to sprouting trees growing precariously at the cliff edge.  White blankets weighed down heather bushes.  Snow melted slowly from the branches.  Water droplets created soft dripping sounds.

 

Further up, two dogs bounded towards us, then turned and ran the other way.  I could hear voices slightly further up and supposing they accompanied the hounds, suggested waiting for them to go by.  However, when a group of hippies appeared with no dogs, I was rather puzzled.  We proceeded warily wondering if the dogs might re-appear but thankfully, they did not.

Hell Hole in snow 1At Hell Hole Rocks, the pristine snow lay deep and squeaky underfoot.  Lumps on nearby trees resembled Japanese blossom.  From above, layers of white contrasted starkly with the dark rock.  We climbed the narrow steps, taking care to avoid muddy icy patches and stood at the top awhile for archetypal views across the valley.  Phil started walking North on the path, headed for the dank part of the wood.  I refused to follow him in such wintry conditions. Instead, we took the path in the opposite direction, through a gate and along the top of the quarry.

Breath-taking scenes arrested us.  Blue mist topped Snow-covered hills towards Lancashire in the west. Stoodley Pike appeared ethereal in the distance.  Plants punctuated the cliff edge, their spike-like stalks adorned with snow crystals forming needle-like blooms.

We followed the path round, through a second gate marking the start of the newly-planted ‘wood’.  Here too, snow studded the hedgerows where glacial thawing made wondrous shapes beneath  a perfect deep blue sky.  At the other end of the field, we noticed that the snowline stopped abruptly to the east with green fields visible below the white.

Starling roost 1On Southfield, jackdaws gathered atop trees, while two magpies looked totally unflustered at being outnumbered.  At the churchyard, a flock of starlings replaced the crows. They had descended from their usual roost in the clock tower onto trees by the outer wall.  Their loud chattering sounded musical; almost choral – I had never heard anything like it!

A pair of staffies made a big fuss, to be berated by the woman walking them.  We waited patiently until they calmed down before continuing into the churchyard.  Inevitably, the ruin looked delightful in the snow.

All the way up, I had been attempting to keep my boots and jeans snow-free.  I tried to shake some off when I noticed a massive lump on the bottom of my hem.  Phil was a little way ahead of me and I called after him to stop so I could tackle it.  Eventually, he came to look, declared “it’s frozen solid” and promptly walked off.  I became annoyed but eventually managed to break the ice into smaller lumps and prise them off, to be left with a big rip in the hem and freezing cold hands.

Desperate for a proper rest, I headed for chairs outside Towngate Tearoom.  I checked the time, surprised to find it had taken almost two hours to get to the village (it normally took 50 minutes).  No wonder I felt tired and narky!  I had thought the tearoom would be shut but thankfully, it was not.  Phil ordered us a cuppa.  A tray appeared, complete with china teapot and froufrou dolly-sized cups.  We huddled under the awning, doing our best to avoid melting drips from splashing in our warming drinks.  As we returned home via the road, I tried to keep my trouser hems from getting under my boots.  This proved exceedingly difficult on slippery stretches.  Near home, he volunteered to go for milk while I headed straight indoors to take my ruined clothes off and collapse on the sofa.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5pTvcnw242kyhoLDg

Snowy ruin 1

 

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Cragg Vale Tales

 

cragg vale 2

Since we moved to this part of the world, we have only visited Cragg Vale three times.  In 2015, we met our friends M&M at the Hinchcliffe Arms for a birthday lunch.  With time to kill before they arrived, we explored the churchyard backlit by the watery yellow winter sun. Amongst the jumble of rusting vehicles in the adjacent junkyard, a collection of discarded Christmas paraphernalia added pathos to the scene.

cragg vale - merry christmasThe following year, I had a terrible summer involving the loss of a brother.  Over the August bank Holiday weekend, I struggled with deep depression but forced myself to get out of the house.  We heard of a food and drink festival in Cragg Vale, and rode the bus up.  A few stalls inhabited the pub car park.  It did not take long to exhaust their offerings, although we discovered the best sausages ever!

We parked ourselves outside the Hinchcliffe to eat them hot with a pint of beer.  We then noticed that the superbly named church of St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness was open to visitors.  Exploring the interior we noted that this gem, built in 1815 amongst the textile mills, is now badly in need of restoration.  Dedicated volunteers endeavour to keep it going.

On the 2nd of January this year, M&M planned a traditional birthday walk to Cragg Vale. Having just fought off yet another dose of sinusitis, I did not feel strong enough to accompany them and instead, we arranged to meet them there for lunch.  It took a lot of effort to be up and ready to leave the house on time to catch the bus at 12.38.  Travelling up the steep incline of Cragg Road, I hoped we would know where to alight, when I spotted the sign pointing down to the Hinchcliffe Arms.

lichen and moss 4A short upward walk took us to the junction of Church Bank Lane.  With time to spare, we dallied to look down on the compact village centre nestled in a dip – consisting mainly of a couple of farms, a church and a pub.  Cushiony greens adorned stone walls edging the lane all the way down to the brook. I had never seen so many different lichens and moss in one place.

Finding the church locked, we contented ourselves with circumnavigating the churchyard and the junkyard where the accumulated old tractors and vans still stood rusting.  The pile of Christmas decorations were sadly absent.  Arriving at the Hinchliffe Arms, a sign in the window informed declared ‘no food available’.

As we hung around near the door, staff emerged on a break and apologised for the kitchen closure (for a deep clean during which the chef was taking a break).  I mentioned that I had seen him featured on ‘Back in Time for Tea’ serving up Yorkshire Goujons, which led to reminiscing about eating tripe and offal as kids.  They invited us in for a cuppa by the fireside.  Preferring to await M&M outside, we perused planters at the car park entrance where melting ice left structural drops atop oval leaves.

When our friends appeared at the end of their walk over the tops, we entered the bar to spend an hour supping beer, chatting and exchanging amusing anecdotes.  We then walked past the junkyard, turned left, immediately right and through a gate onto a path alongside the brook.  Worn round cobbles marked the route as we past weirs and twisty trees.  Marisa spotted a dipper but as usual, it flitted about too fast to be caught on camera.

mill ponds 2We passed through a second gate and soon after, ascended steps amongst mill ponds.  Clumps of bright green algae dotted the surface.  Wintery black trees reflected into the depths.  As we climbed back up, we espied crumbling walls marking the site of an old paper mill, making a mental note to come back and explore in summer.

Ascending yet more steps we came to a gap in the wall and headed up to the road.  Just before we reached the top, I was amused by a sign consisting of an angry-looking black cat in a red triangle.  ‘Watch Out’ was written in large letters underneath.  We emerged onto Cragg Road opposite the Robin Hood Inn which was of course shut.  I had mentioned that according to google, there would not be a bus until after 4 o’clock.

The timetable at the nearby bus stop confirmed this. There was no option but to continue walking down to Mytholmroyd.

As we neared the end of the long road, we spotted a mutual friend coming towards us and stopped to exchange new year greetings.  One of the two children accompanying him jabbered onto me in an incomprehensible manner.  I nodded and smiled.  We entered the Shoulder of Mutton (now recently fully re-opened by a celebrity comic) but as predicted, they stopped serving food at 3 p.m.; we had missed it by 10 minutes!  Luckily, as we continued down to Burnley Road we spotted a bus and caught it just in time.  Back in Hebden, we went to The Oldgate and said hello to a group of friends.  Table and drinks secured, we were able to order food at last – three hours later than planned!  After eating, I started falling asleep so said goodbye and returned home before fatigue set in.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5gWWa2i7APXI4OXWw

weir 3

 

Woodland Mist

Mistical 1

As the mild weather continued well into November, we enjoyed a mid-week stroll.  We planned to catch a bus up to Colden for lunch at May’s but missed one by minutes.  With a short window of afternoon sun, we bought pasties from the local bakers and strode rapidly towards town.  I remarked we were going at a fair lick considering we had no aim in mind.  I suggested going to Hareshaw Wood and we made our way up to Salem Fields.  After crossing Foster Mill Bridge, we climbed the large cobbled steps and paused by the majestic sycamore to contemplate the glorious sunny scene.

Majestic 2A friend descended the steps towards us and stopped for a chat.  She asked if we were going to Heptonstall.  I replied that we had no definite plans but “’All roads lead to Heptonstall’ (as it says in my book)”.

She laughed, and invited us to call in for a cuppa next time we ended a walk there.

We turned right at the top to pass through Hollins.  A rustling sound near my feet did not alarm me at first, assuming it was my boots treading fallen leaves. However, the noise did not match my pace.  I looked down to find a daft dog sniffing at my heels, threatening to jump onto me.  The owner seemed oblivious: strolling some paces back, busy gassing on her phone.  I shouted repeatedly at the mutt until the owner overheard and called the animal off.

Leaves with drops

We chose to go upwards through the wood which we rarely do.  Interesting colours strew the path, with lichens and fungi dotted amongst the autumn foliage, some sprinkled with perfectly round dewdrops.

At the top, we crossed Lee Wood Road and looked for the gap on the other side.  Having thought we had spotted it, we made our way up worn shallow steps barely discernible beneath a thick carpet of brown leaves, indicating an ancient route.  We crossed the road to continue, where more worn steps and a crumbling waymarker post gave further clues to its history.  Hesitating briefly as it was not Tinker Bank Lane as we had expected, we reasoned that it must be nearby.

Tiny mushroomsI found the last part of steep climb very hard work.  We caught our breath near the top where a fowl enclosure stood to our right.  Disgruntled geese flapped their wings, perturbed by our presence.  Tiny orange mushrooms grew in a clump from a hollow in a tree.  A wooden signpost gave directions to various locales from which I guessed we had somehow come up a parallel path to Tinker Bank Lane.  This assumption was confirmed as we made the last bit of the climb alongside the octagonal chapel.

Yellow sign

Now in Heptonstall (which, as I pointed out to our friend earlier, was inevitable), we continued along Northfield.

An almost blank yellow sign amused us with only the word ‘Please’ discernible, albeit faded.  We guessed it had once warned against parking before the letters had peeled off.

Over in the churchyard we sought a patch of sunlight to sit in and settled on the church steps facing south.  After eating my pasty, I foraged for interesting leaves that had collected round the Victorian gravestones.

With only an hour till dusk, we made a quick return via Eaves Wood.  At ‘photographer’s corner’, the Stoodley Pike monument and wind turbines rose from a blanket of grey, topped by artily-arranged lenticular clouds.  We joked about the ‘mistical valley’ (which became the subject for the next Monday Morning haigai.  Descending the steps at Hell Hole Rocks, a man waited at the bottom and asked us if he was on the right track for Heptonstall.  I confirmed that he was.  Further down, we watched squirrels scampering amidst the tree branches, gathering nuts.  My wildlife photography proved as pathetic as ever!  Back home, I felt pleased that we had got out for some fresh air and exercise, in spite of my extreme tiredness and achy legs necessitating a lie down.

Squirrel 2

Note:

i. https://mondaymorninghaiga.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/mistical-valley/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5UdBvKs2GfEYdikRA

 

Finding Ted and Sylvia (Lumb Bank to Heptonstall)

Bend and boughs

The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult.  Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process.  Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression.  The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.

Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks.  On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine.  After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m.  We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot.  They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely.  We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property.  At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.

Colourful trees revisitedWe turned right again and started the ascent into woodland.  It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath.   A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion.  I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake.  Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.

Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path.  A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork.  This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.

Lumb Bank garden 4

Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers.   As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.

I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet.  Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.

We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village.  We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next.  Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left.  We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.

Churchyard selfieAmongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.

A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost.  She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave.  Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it.  There are usually pens and stuff on it”.  Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath.  She looked the type”.  I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.

We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked.  He thought he might have left it at home.  I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark.  Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.

We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves.  We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked.   I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop.  On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it.  We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer.  When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!”  Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!

More pictures at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5MOEgjdfTeeeTetXg

Lumb Bank view 1

Archaeology in Cross Stone

Stoodley View

A rare Friday outing began with a speedy bus journey to Todmorden.  Having no firm plans about what to do when we got there, Phil suggested going up to Cross Stone to re-examine a prehistoric site, previously visited during an archaeology trip some time ago.  I agreed, with the proviso that we had food first.  Alighting at the bus station, we entered the classic market hall to be tempted by an all-day breakfast at the cheap ‘n’ cheerful Market Hall Café.

Red and yellow 4

From the town centre, we took a back route eastward, stopping briefly in the community garden.

Bees buzzed amidst colourful flower beds. Young green apples hung from low branches.  Juvenile jackdaws searched for worms on the moist grass.  A small tent pitched close to the bins, suggesting someone lived there.

Proceeding down back streets we noted the familiar northern town grid-pattern terraces. We walked the length of the unmistakably Victorian-named Industrial Street, and turned right onto Anchor Street.

At the corner of Halifax Road, I cut through the grounds of Roomfiled Baptist Church to re-join Phil on Halifax Road.  We paused on the bridge over the River Calder to watch dippers hopping among the stones as small fish created concentric ripples on the water’s surface.

Street sign 4The second turning on the left marked the start of our climb up Cross Stone Road.  Urban landscapes quickly gave way to a more rural aspect.  Steep curves led us past dark green verges, almost submerging large stones and unkempt benches.  An old toll house had been converted into a twee cottage.

At the top, we felt overheated layer and rested awhile by a clump of dog roses. We turned up Hey Head Lane toward the golf club.  Unsure of where the earthworks lay, we followed the drive into the car park, and started heading upwards across the green to a likely ridge. Phil asked a helpful golfer if he knew where the site was and he directed us to the top of the course.

Golf course 5On a further ridge, we tried to differentiate between ancient markings and modern bunkers.  A second golfer shouted sarcastically “take your time!”  before informing us about a public footpath along the top edge of the green.  This turned out to be quite pleasant.  Edged with small shrubs, grasses and willow herbs, we discovered what looked like a grave marked by a standing stone in a boggy patch.

Eventually, Phil reckoned we had located the ‘earthwork’.  Having been told in archaeology class that it was a long barrow, we were sceptical.  Clearly visible markings that appeared to be field boundaries, lay atop the undulating mound, suggesting this had been a settlement. Views of the valley across to Stoodley Pike seemed to confirm our theory.i

Up the laneQuest over, we returned to the marked path.  A gap in a lovely stone wall led back onto the lane.  I developed indigestion as a result of eating just before embarking on the climb.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pleasant walk down.  In places, hedgerows of hawthorns were fronted by stone walls suggesting that Medieval hedges had then been added to later.

Back in the village, we rested on a wall by the now-defunct church.  Ignoring the curtain-twitchers, we looked round for the stocks then realised they were by our feet, almost totally overgrown with weeds.  We had noticed a footpath down the west side of the churchyard and guessed it might cut out the first big bend on Cross Stone Road.

Carr Lane Farm 2The extremely narrow path soon arrived at some steps.  A woman gardening informed us of the way to go, but it seemed to be leading in the wrong direction.  The untrodden path took on a spooky aspect, until we reached another ‘junction’.

I suggested taking a lane back to the road rather than following the path (signed ‘Calderdale way link path’) as I didn’t want to end up walking along the tops all the way home.  We past an impossibly cute row of houses, followed by a row of posh parked cars.

Later, I discovered it was marked on the map as ‘Carr Lane Farm’, but the clues implied this was now a des res.  Carr Lane became grassy as it led us down to Cross Stone Road.  From there, it was an easy stroll down to the main road where we caught a bus straight away and were soon home.

Note

i For more information on the bronze age ‘Blackheath long barrow’ see:

https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/leisure-and-culture/local-history-and-heritage/glimpse-past/archaeology

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4IqLoyglWjabVfbvg

Golf course 2

Springing up in Colden Clough

 

Twin trees 5

Following a week and a half of being bedridden with sinusitis, I recovered somewhat to enjoy the mini heatwave in mid-April.  We made the most of it with our first spring outing to Colden Clough, first visiting the healthy bakers for veggie pasties and posh pop.  We walked up the main road towards Mytholm, navigating the extensive gas roadworks.  We turned right at Church Lane and again at the school, to take the shortcut across the playground and up a short flight of steps (looking very dark and broody).

Mystery ball

On the track, we competed with each other to take the best possible photos of tiny things such as buds and lichen, which we continued throughout the walk.   I think he won the contest but I spotted the most interesting mystery feature; a round brown ball in a small bush.

Approaching Lumb mill, Phil decided to descend down to the stream and try and go under the low bridge.  I waited for him near my favourite tree, enjoying its company as I would an old friend.

He appeared quite a few minutes later having given up the quest – a sudden drop where the water became eight feet deep had put him off.  We rested awhile before climbing up to the garlic fields.

Although still not fully grown as spring is so late this year, we filled a couple of small carrier bags.  It had taken an inordinate length of time to get this far, which I put down to a combination of recent illness, a lack of uphill walking and lots of stops to admire the new growth.  We installed ourselves on the nearby flat rock to recover, ate our pasties and whittled sticks on the quartz granite.  I joked that we should keep them to use for calligraphy.

Cautious sign 1

Both still tired after all the climbing, we considered turning round until I remembered that the clapper bridge had been damaged during the infamous ‘beast from the east’ storm.  We made the effort to go the short remaining distance to Hebble Hole, noting ‘danger signs en route’ (obviously installed when the authorities came to survey the rights of way.

On reaching the bridge we saw immediately that one of the four pieces of stone forming the walkway had collapsed in the river, split in two.  The tree that had crashed onto it causing the break stood on the nearby bank, also injured.  Wooden planks and metal rails had been put up so it could still be used.  We crossed to the other side for all-round views.

Green HawthornComing back, we noticed a few bluebells in flower as we climbed up to the top causeway, enjoying being level with the tree tops.

Pussy willows and catkins surrounded us, dangling from branches and littering the causey stones.  Bright green hawthorn sprigs adorned the dry stone wall.  Phil yet again tried to persuade me there were tasty but I maintained they tasted of ‘leaf’.

We descended to arrive back in the garlic fields and took the quickest way back.

He suggested a drink in the Fox and Goose.  However, I felt exhausted and as we past the pub, I spotted a group of rowdy young men in the beer garden so that clinched it – no chance of a quiet pint!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtivdeUC2sldpeMizeVg

Ruination 4

 

Eaves Wood in Snow

 

Black and white 1

Last Saturday we watched the snow falling and considered a walk.  However, we were put off by the cold, grey conditions.  After dark, the snow started melting.   So much for predictions of sub-zero temperatures and a crisp, white dawn!

Sunday started off equally cold and grey but we felt that we really ought to get out.  It started snowing again as we wrapped in layers and braved the elements.  We climbed the cuckoo steps, slowly.  At the top I already felt knackered and as the snow became heavier, I wondered aloud what the hell I was doing.  Phil said he just wanted to reach the ridge leading into Eaves Wood.  I agreed it would be a lovely scene and reluctantly followed.  On reaching the lovely path, we were greeted by an almost monochrome landscape – black hills and trees sprinkled with white against a grey sky, broken here and there by splashes of brown and red.

Black and red rock 3We continued up to Hell Hole Rocks and waited for a small child leading a family group down the steps behind before we ascended.  After another hard climb, we elected to travel along the path round to the bowling club.

Two girls were building an enormous snowman in their garden.  “That’ll be a snow giant!” I told them.

 

Forlorn pairBy then I felt much better and was actually enjoying being out on the blustery tops.  As we rounded the field, two forlorn horses trotted over to us, probably hoping for apples.  Sadly, we had nothing to give them but appreciated the opportunity to take close-ups.

We continued up Acres Lane to St. Thomas’ churchyard and cut through the church where I pointed out the Last Supper painting to Phil.

In Heptonstall village, I suggested calling on a friend.  She invited us in for a cuppa and we had a lovely time chatting until I noticed it was getting dark and time to head down the hill.  Heading down the road in the darkening, we admired views of snow and lights in the town below us (very Christmassy!).  Returning back down the cuckoo steps, I lost my footing slightly but it was due to slippery leaves rather than snow and ice.

Snowy church ruin 2

More photos at:  https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiuZDZ3ZmpbKTyS2ziA