Tag Archives: cliffs

Autumn Symphony – Slack Top to the Crags

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We managed one more walk before the end of October.  I had suggested a trip to Hardcastle Crags which strangely, we had rarely visited in autumn. Following some route-finding, we embarked on what we hoped would be less of a slog to get to Gibson Mill.  This entailed catching the 596.  Due to roadworks, the bus shelter had disappeared to be replaced by a temporary sign.  As we waited, a chilly wind made me cold and I worried I might not be warm enough.

Greenwood Lea 1We rode up enjoying the scenery in the beautiful sunshine.  We got off at Slack Top, immediately crossed and began walking up Widdop Road.  To our left, a different aspect of Popples Common revealed its true size.  A cobbled lane suggested an old packhorse trail.   To the right, large gardens housed annoying yappy dogs. Farmhouses revealed ancient horse steps, auxiliary servant’s quarters. multiple chimneys and peafowl – the latter populating the grounds of Greenwood Lea (a historic Yeoman’s house dating from circa 1712).  A few sheep and ridiculously cute Shetland ponies grazed in the fields.  Across the valley, trees displayed a plethora of colours with emerald evergreens interspersing a variety of deciduous hues.

Clough trees 1The road dipped slightly and after a small bend we espied Clough Holes carpark.  As work was underway, a sign announced ‘footpath closed’.  “Oh no!” I exclaimed, then realised it meant the path to the carpark.  Alongside, a tiny step stile led down to a picturesque path following the line of a small brook, punctuated with idyllic cascades.  A second stepped stile marked meadows giving way to woodland.

Looking back, sunlight glinted on leaves of orange, yellow and green with branches stretching towards a pale blue sky.  The path became a mix of rough cobble and hardcore as it continued to wind down.  Just before the stone bridge, a tree stump resembled a teddy bear.

Like a teddyA couple of families had followed us down; a reminder it was half-term.  I hoped we would not be overwhelmed with school kids at Gibson Mill.  In spite of the family-friendly activities and several groups making use of the café facilities, I managed to find a vacant table.  We had brought our own butties.   Phil wanted a brew to go with them and disappeared inside the Weaving Shed for what seemed like an age!  Eventually emerging, he said it had taken so long because of the umpteen variations on offer including flake in coffee – is that a thing now?

Both the walk down and lunch had taken considerably longer than anticipated.  Having originally planned to go quite a bit further up, we figured there was insufficient daylight remaining.  We agreed to at least walk a little way beyond the mill.

Among the mill ponds, impressive fungi were the size of dinner plates.  The brook we had walked alongside on our descent culminated in a torrent teeming down the rocks.  A large party of elderly hikers came towards us, necessitating a precarious step off the path at the water’s edge.

Mill ponds 4A few ducks pootled about on the pond surface amidst floating oak leaves.  Below the water line, bare branches created black reflections while frondy pond weeds of bright green swayed gently.  At the actual crags, I remarked that I had only recently realised  that this exact spot had been the focus of Victorian jaunts.  Lovely as they are, I was somewhat bemused by its specific popularity; the whole Calder Valley is characterised by such features.

We continued a little further where the scene took on a more forested aspect.  Assorted mushrooms brought renewed life to dead wood.  Soft russets reflected in the silvery steam.  I lingered on the edge of Hebden Water to take in the gorgeous symphony of colours and sounds.

The Crags 1Returning, we took the top track for a faster walk home, edged with fading ferns, spindly saplings and older majestic trees marching up the slope.  On the last stretch of the riverside path, we stayed on the left side to laugh anew at the swamp.

At the end of Valley Road, Phil detoured to the shop while I headed home, stopping briefly to chat with a friend.  I slumped on the sofa, recovered slightly with a drink of water but felt in need of a proper lie down.

 

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Zigzagging from Heptonstall to Midgehole

Valley view 1

Another sunny Sunday and I felt strong enough to tackle a longer walk.  We intended to get the bus to Blackshaw Head and walk down Jumble Hole.  I checked bus times as there had been some timetable changes but the website displayed the original times.  On the way to the bus stop, we bought pasties and pop then waited several minutes.  The Widdop bus came first.  I suggested catching it to Heptonstall and possibly take the lovely route down to Hardcastle Crags.

Heptonstall Townfield Lane 5Alighting in the village, Phil stood in a patch of sun and declared he was stopping there.  I laughed.  We walked up Towngate and turned right.

Along Townfield, we paused often to appreciate the white tree blossom above us, golden meadows stretching before us and panoramic views of the valley below.

Among scattered farm junk, a child’s toy perched atop an animal feed container made us chuckle.

At a fork in the grassy path, I suggested taking the lower one down to Midgehole.  This took us along a stone wall, through a picturesque stile and onto Draper Lane.  I could see the footpath sign across the road, slightly to the right.

Heptonstall verge 3

On the other side, we discovered a beautiful verge on the cliff-edge.  We sat awhile on a convenient a bench surrounded by flowers to take in views of the Crags and Crimsworth Dean.

An idyllic wooded path led downwards.  Thin oaks stretch upwards, their bark adorned with red lichen and their tops crowned by shiny leaves.

Tiny anemones poked out amidst bright green ferns.  Gnarly roots acted as steps to aid our descent.

In between woodland flowers 3I had expected to go more or less straight down to Midgehole but hadn’t factored in the steep cliff-like drop, hence the path travelled westwards as it descended, until it met with the bottom of Northwell Lane.

We continued downwards along an old cobbled path where an old acquaintance was coming up the other way with a companion.   She had availed herself of a strong pint of cider at The Blue Pig.

On reaching the river, we decided we’d rather have pies than beer and walked along away from the pub to find a suitable patch of rocks to squat on.

After eating, we continued on the riverside path and up to Midgehole Road.  Having had a shorter walk than planned, we considered continuing up to Pecket Well but the prospect of a hot climb proved off-putting.  Instead, we returned home along the tried and trusted route, where tiny May flowers lined the riverside and the beaches were busy with families enjoying the sunshine.

Heptonstall meadow view 2

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Slow Autumn in Crow Nest

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Early October brought slow changes to the woods.  On a changeable Sunday, we headed up to Palace House Road and took the first path into Crow Nest woods.  As we climbed, we picked a few remaining blackberries and popped balsam pods.  We paused to admire the gradually altering autumnal colours across the valley before coming to a fork in the path.

tree-with-balletic-armsThis time we chose to go westwards, a path we had not walked for some years.  The path was ill-maintained and tricky in places, littered with sticks and stones.  We zig-zagged to the top of the wood and figured it must be an ancient route-way as cliff-like sides and exposed tree roots suggested it had sunk a few feet over time.

 

tree-like-an-elephant-2We remarked on how different the wood looked to our last visit in May.  Patches of straw-like grass stood in the place of the earlier bluebells; multi-coloured beech leaves littered the route; half-eaten mushrooms poked out from the ground.

We carried on eastwards along the top path as it became made for elves and noticed a tree that looked like Groot (or an elephant depending on the angle).

 

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On reaching the apex, we crossed the small stream and continued down into the quarry.  Greeted by the remains of a fire, more balsam, (although dying off some still clung on), and fallen trees riddled with fungi.  I said that if it was cleaned up a bit it could be Malham Cove.

Doubling back, we came onto a narrow path behind the road.  Turning eastwards once more, we found ourselves on another old road, this time paved with cobbles, becoming slippery concrete further down.

As we emerged just north of the train station, we saw evidence of work being undertaken in the stone yard.   We picked our way through piles of stones and interesting junk to investigate. It appeared that the old watermill was being made to work again (very heartening).  From there, we walked onto Station road, across the main road and up Commercial Street.  We reached the Sunday market just in time to catch Craggs Cakes for a tasty treat.

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Our Back Yard

Eaves Wood - Down the path 2

The first Sunday of 2015 dawned bright and crisp. In the afternoon, we chased the sun up the hill through what we call ‘our back yard’ (commonly known as Eaves Wood). A climb up to Heptonstall road and a left turn, took us to possibly my favourite path along the ridge. I love all the little crevices made by the weathering of the sandy rocks and the numerous minute plants found clinging to the rock face. I could explore this tiny world for hours.

From Great Rock we took the precarious steps up and paused at ‘photographers’ corner’ where there was a bit of a lock jam. Not surprising given the views back down the valley across to Stoodley Pike. We then followed the path along, and stopped on one of the flat rocks for coffee, avoiding getting blasted by the icy air. I closed my eyes and felt the bright orange sun on my face – a real tonic.

Heptonstall - Churchyard in winter 3

We then carried on as far as the path took us turning right up the lane where we came across the tree planters. We waved in greeting then took the road down into the village. As the light faded, we lingered in the churchyard before setting off to walk back home.

Alternative route - Leaves of green and yellowWe recently discovered a different way up to the woods. I had a vague recollection of taking this less direct route some years before but unfortunately my memories were flawed.

We started out along the main road and soon after the Fox & Goose, we took a small flight of steps up. Struggling through brambles and overgrown balsam plants, we came to a dead end and concluded that we had followed a path to a telegraph pole!

 

Alternative route - Woodland den

 

We retraced our steps. About to go back down to the main road, we noticed an actual path leading further up and thought that might have been the one we had thought we were on to start with.

The sight of a woodland den prompted a joke that Ray Mears had been here recently.

We followed it up and around until we joined my favourite path from which we had a relatively easy and familiar climb.

 

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Circular Walks Through Crow Nest

Crow Nest bluebells with twisty treeWe know Crow Nest Woods well, but always find something new every time we visit. This time, we headed straight up to the top of the woods, bearing South East.

The early autumn leaf mulch which crunched beneath our boots kept the mud below at bay and made for an easy climb. We then followed a less-trodden path along the ridge, where the only other being was a black cat eying us warily.

Beech trees with red stones 4As we tried to avoid stinging nettles and bramble thorns, the woods changed from beech to birch.

Navigating our way through a split tree and down onto Spencer Lane for a short stretch, we Wood Hey clough 3veered left onto Wood Hey lane.

For the first time, we noticed a sign pointing to Wood Hey Clough. We decided to explore.

It involved a very steep climb up the hill, via a footpath lined by the ubiquitous beech trees.

At the top, we were rewarded by fantastic views back down towards the valley and the sight of a kestrel hovering in the sky.

We came back out on Spencer Lane and after some exploration walked back down onto New Road.

The last part of our walk involved descending down a very dodgy path, strewn with leaves and branches, on the Western edge of Crow Nest to come out just behind Palace House Road.

Dandelion with raindropsOne early May Sunday, the sky brightened after a dreary morning.

We took advantage of the change in the weather and climbed up to Crow Nest woods. As we reached a spot just above town, we could see people waiting around and realised the Tour de Yorkshire was due. We decided to chill and wait for it – a dull half hour of police motorbikes showing off and a few support vehicles. Eventually, the cyclists appeared but it was nothing like the Tour de France of the previous year.

Cliff with waterfall 1We then carried on walking up to the tops of the woods, looking at trees and emerging bluebells.

Following the line of the valley we came across a small world of cliffs, streams and a waterfall. What a surprise! We forded the brook from a choice of three passing points.

Tree looks like a whormI could see the road below but with no way down. Thus we carried on along the path until we could eventually join Wood Top Road. As we descended back to town, we got rained on yet again.

 

 

 

Crow Nest bluebell closeup 5As we approached the top of the wood the following spring, we were confronted by the gorgeous sight of thousands of bluebells, enhanced by fortuitous dappled sunlight.  We sat on the other side of the small stream near the top, just looking at the beautiful scene.  I had never seen it look so stunning!

We continued on the path along the top of the old quarry.  As we climbed down a few small stone steps, we turned left and perused the quarry itself.  Interestingly, the stream had dried up and there was no waterfall.  We then walked back towards town, taking a precarious flight of steps down to Palace House Road.

 

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