Tag Archives: crows

Early Spring in Common Bank and Nutclough

Common Bank Trees 3

The mild weather continued into late February.  On the last Sunday, we took one of our familiar circular walks, starting out along Oldgate, over the packhorse bridge, up Bridge Gate and across Commercial Street onto the historic cobbled route towards Birchcliffe.  At the top of the steps, we proceeded upwards on School Street to the start of Common Bank Wood.

Common Bank Bark Close Up 4We could hear a dog barking from within a house when a woman with a dog came past.  She thought we were spooked by her hound, put it on a lead and walked ahead which was considerate.  However, the dog kept stopping to sniff interesting things!  We made the most of being held back on the narrow path to examine the interesting shapes and shadows.

Sycamore bark reflected filtered sunlight.  Shadows of tree trunks fell on the ground still littered with autumnal leaves.  A flawless blue sky framed tightly-packed twisty branches.

At the top, the bridge over the stream looked more precarious than ever but fortunately the water level was low thus not difficult to navigate.  Up the path between the fields, a jay (aka pink crow!) flitted from tree top to post.  We crept along to try and capture it on camera but we had more luck with the magpies and jackdaws.

Blooming 6Opposite the residential area of Dod Naze, low-hanging catkins swayed gently in the breeze.  We paused briefly on the corner where a smattering of spring flowers grew behind the bench before turning up onto Rowland Lane.  Mist topping the uplands created eerie scenes with the church towers of Heptonstall emerging ethereally from a grey landscape.

At the end of the lane, we waited for a group of walkers accompanied by a dog with stick to pass by then curved round sharp left down Sandy Gate.  Buds adorned small trees and shrubs, some appearing like miniature flowers.

Budding 6Part-way down, Phil had problems with his camera and I had a bit of tummy ache so we took a breather on the low wall.  A passing driver shouted through his open window at us as he raced up the hill, which made me jump.  Both feeling irritated, I decided to remove myself from the situation and marched off.  I had calmed down somewhat as he caught up with me.

Among the low springtime growth, I easily located the path descending into Nutclough and spotted a dead shrew under a tree– fluffy on the top, mouldy on the bottom!  As we crossed the stone bridge, fading afternoon sun glinted on the water’s surface making silvery patterns. The air became noticeably cooler as we followed the well-trodden route through the clough. Feeling disinclined to traverse to the ‘islands’, we rested instead on the top bench before a brisk walk homewards via Keighley Road.  Removing my boots to rest on the sofa, I reflected that I did not feel as tired as I would have a few weeks ago.  Although not a massive walk, it would usually be more than enough for me.

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Misty Field 2

 

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.

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Snowy ruin 1

 

Ice Cold in Colden

edge lane on ice 2

An icy cold day in January, we were eager to enjoy the crisp wintery scenes.  We caught a bus towards Colden and alighted at bottom of Edge Lane.

character

Stark shadows cast from hedgerow trees intersected snowy white lines on the tarmac where the sun never shone.  To our left, smoke rose slowly casting a haze towards Stoodley Pike.  To our right, an archetypal character strode between nearby fields where fat sheep grazed.

The door to May’s shop was bolted.  Phil said “It’s shut.”  Don’t be daft,” I replied, “It’s never shut.” I started to undo the bolt when a woman appeared to serve us.  I asked for cheese pies.  Shock horror!  They no longer stock them (apparently they came from the historic Granma Pollards’ in Walsden, now closed down).  Instead, we bought ‘sausage croissants’. Thinking we might find a patch of sun to sit in, we asked for tea in take-away cups but we settled instead on the trusty bench facing back out to Edge Lane, sadly in the shade.

moon with flockFeeling rather frozen, we walked back down the lane enjoying the sun on our faces, as far as the ‘Pennine way’.  I had noticed on the way up that the path appeared less treacherous than alternative routes.  At the bottom, we crossed Smithy Lane and followed signs onto the boggy field skirting the large house.  Thankfully, ice kept the mud at bay.

As we went through the last gate, we stopped to take photos of the almost-full moon in the east, as a clock of crows flew by.  A pair of dogs could be heard barking wildly.  I turned to see them running in our direction and became anxious.  Phil reminded me that it had happened before and they didn’t go any further than their own field.  Although the paved path proved easy-going, the steps down to Hebble Hole were inevitably flooded at the bottom.

mended clapper bridge 1

We turned right towards the recently restored clapper bridge.  On closer inspection, we could hardly see the join where the broken slab had been fixed. Over the bridge, felled trees had created fertile ground for clumps of orange mushrooms.  Frosty grass edged the narrow ‘desire paths’.  Ripples of pink and silver gently glided on the stream.  Amber sunlight filtered through trees on the skyline.

Crossing back, we took the lower path down into Colden Clough.  As we came to the area known as the ‘garlic fields’ in spring, I felt tired, out of breath and dehydrated.  I rested briefly on a severed trunk to muster the energy to clamber over another one blocking the path.

Descending further, frozen water globules rested atop mossy cushions resembling miniature worlds.  We followed the line of Colden Water, still dumbfounded by the needless warning signs.  At Lumb Mill, I noted yet more chopped-down trees.  I hoped that my favourite sycamore (aka ‘twin trees’) would not be next.  Phil capered about doing his gnome impression beneath the arching roots.  We squatted on stones at the foot of the tree until our rest was curtailed at the sound of yet more loud barking.  We moved onwards, taking the quickest way home.   I felt exhausted and footsore, after the longest walk so far this year, but glad we had got out during daylight.

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frosty glade 2

Wainsgate to Common Bank

Walking down the lane 1

A warm, sunny but occasionally breezy first Sunday in July, we had arranged to meet a friend for an arts festival event in Old Town followed by a meal at the country inn. We had intended to walk, but she had an errand in town and picked us up on her way back.  She drove up via Pecket Well and along Billy Lane, finding a spot to park near the corner of Wainsgate Lane.

Wainsgate wallpaper 1During the short stroll to the chapel, we admired the pretty cottage gardens, resplendent in the bright light.

A couple lounged on deck chairs at the entrance.  One of them was a local artist jointly responsible for the event.  She explained what to expect from the sound installation. ‘Gather’ entailed a music performance played on a loop.  As we settled on pews, among a smattering of others, the sounds of wispy singing could be heard, followed by tweeting birds, choral music and a small narrative about the Baptist Minister, John Fawcett.

The pleasant noises created a contemplative atmosphere. However, I had some trouble settling on the hard benches.  My concentration wandered to examine cracks in the crumbling plaster as the sunlight made odd reflections on the pulpit.  I turned to speak to Phil and he pointed to the slip of paper requesting peace and quiet – I suppose he thought that was funny!

Wainsgate comments 1At the end of the sound loop, I snuck out back to take photos of the kitchen.  Finding a ‘no entry’ sign on the door, I asked the artist for permission.  she obligingly led me round to the side door and left me to try and capture the interesting junk and fading wallpaper amidst shadowy light.  Back out front, kind words had been left in the comments book.

We hung around outside a while, to chat to the artist and sip water.  A selection of old photos showed the chapel choir through the ages.  We reflected on the excellent quality of the old choir recordings and marvelled that it had been recorded at all.

We walked back to the road.  Our friend drove her car down while we enjoyed a pleasant walk through the village.  We re-united at the country inn.  Armed with drinks and a menu we took seats out in the garden and chatted awhile to a mutual friend until he departed for home.  Although a pleasant breeze tempered the heat, it was hard to find a shady spot.  Eventually, we changed tables and settled down to peruse the food options.  We caught up on each other’s news until pies and more beer arrived.

Wild foxglove 2We said goodbye to our friend and took the back exit onto Lane Ends.  At the next junction, we continued straight ahead.  On Rowlands Lane, grey haze hovered over the valley bottom. Desiccated flowers and tall grasses swayed in the gentle wind.  Crows flitted from rickety gates to yellow fields.  Majestic foxgloves rose into a picture-perfect sky.  At the end of the lane, we took steps down to the edge of Dodd Naze and crossed the road to reach the public footpath where we turned left.

A short stretch, fenced in on both sides, led to the virtually dry small stream.  We stepped gingerly over stones covered in green slime into Common Bank Wood and followed the dusty path.

Tall trees provided welcome shade.  We noted that some trees had been cut down and sported signs stating that the path would be closed later for an arts festival event and wondered what that could be.

Vertigo 1

From Osborne street, we took a steep flight of steps.  The blinding sun made stark shadows on the way down to Commercial street. We had considered visiting more free events in town.  The street theatre appeared to have ended as only a few people milled about.  We wandered in vain for a couple of minutes looking for clues.  Hot, tired and thirsty, we abandoned the mission and returned home.

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Peace and Tranquility in Slack and Colden

harvest

A mid-September Sunday, we caught the bus upwards.  Alighting at Slack Top, crows, horses and harvesting added to the pastoral scene.  Behind the fields, the church tower peeked out amid the tree line, as if it was growing out of the hills.  .

vanishing-point-1We crossed the road to examine the milestone and interesting signs.

Walking through Popples Common, we marvelled at strange carved stones and at the view towards the vanishing point, redolent of the mid-west.

 

 

As we reached the brow, we turned up Crack Hill (with inevitable chuckles!) and walked along Edge Lane, enjoying the tranquil scenes with grouse in a field, old ruins and gate posts.

mays-shop-8At May’s Farm Shop we bought cheese pies to eat on the picnic bench outside.

I strolled around the farm buildings and snuck in the old cow shed to look at ancient stalls and interesting junk.

We then backtracked along Edge Lane until we came to a sign pointing down towards ‘Pennine Way’ and ‘Hebble Hole’.

wooden-gate-2The path looked very old and narrow, edged with dressed stone, wooden fence posts and rickety gates.  We crossed Colden road once more and continued following the signs.

This took us over gates and styals, round the side of a large house and down through more fields.

 

 

We arrived at a flight of steep small steps.  Water and mud made them potentially treacherous.  Descending carefully, we emerged just above the bridge at Hebble Hole.  Traversing the bridge, we had the glade to ourselves for once.  We sat peacefully, admiring trees and reflections in the water – like fairyland.  We then crossed back over the bridge and took the familiar quick route home through the clough.

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trees-with-reflections-2