Tag Archives: cyclists

Scouring in Eaves Wood and Heptonstall

The last weekend of summer, Phil suffered severe back pain which thankfully eased off enough to allow for a Sunday walk. That morning, cop cars screeched along the main road and helicopters circled overhead.  A Facebook post suggested they were scouring the valley for a parachutist or hang-glider had fallen in the woods and couldn’t be found.  Surely there’d be signs of the canopy?

We ascended the cuckoo steps onto Heptonstall Road where a pair of new houses had sprung up.  A planning notice opposite, only posted a few days before, announced a 3 week timescale to object – how did that work when they were almost built?

Crossing into Eaves Wood, dappled shadowed adorned the path, strewn with felled branches.  Speckled wood butterflies grazed on browning bracken.  Slender trees reached for the sky as thick layers of moss obscured their silvery bark.

At Hell Hole Rocks, we spotted something brightly coloured and joked it had fallen off the parachutist.  In fact it was a bag containing chalk, left by a climber.

We waited for a couple to climb the worn steps and clambered onto the overhanging rocks for a brief rest at ‘photographer’s corner.

Proceeding along the top path, horses fretted within the confines of a very small area, cruelly hemmed in by electric fencing.  Through the gate, small white flowers danced prettily in the gentle breeze while willow herbs thrived in the newly-planted forest.  Southfield displayed a wealth of life.  Crows roosted in treetops, above varied hedges where bees sapped on flowers resembling yellow pom-poms, and papery honesty paraded a rainbow of hues.  We scoured the brambles for a few late blackberries.

In the churchyard, history buffs scoured gravestones for famous names.  We indicated the resting place of David Hartley to a bemused couple.  Resting under the yew tree, the ground beneath was strewn with attractive cones.  A pigeon stood statue-like on the eaves of the ruined church, where deep magenta flowers bestowed a splash of colour to monochrome stone troughs.

With both village pubs open, Phil suggested a pint.  I’d drunk enough for the weekend and would have preferred a cuppa.  Alas, the tearoom was shut.  We returned quickly via the road, dodged a cyclist careering recklessly down The Buttress and a lump of people at the top of the street, to pick a few more berries: the pathetic crop only sufficient to supplant a fruit salad.

Confined walks 4 – Canalside Medley

Bridge view

Early May, we struggled to leave the house before later afternoon.  Thus we did not get further than the canal.

At the start of the week, Phil cast about for an excuse to go out.  With no shop requirements, he suggested going to look for goslings, snapped by a fellow photographer on the marina.  Hoping they’d still be there we set off late Wednesday afternoon. We waited for a neighbour coming up the steps.  “It’s so strange walking round (town) now, she remarked, “but I quite like it.  Apart from missing the charity shops. I’ve got no summer clothes.” I sympathised as I also missed them.  As she reached the top step, a slipper-wearing man with a mini dog rudely overtook us.  The usual hippies milled about on the main road.

Chapel AquilegiaWe paused at the chapel where cultivated purple aquilegia competed for space with yellow wild poppies and dandelions in the untended garden.  At the marina, we spotted geese, pigeons, a wagtail, a pile of pallets and a small family squatting on the cobbles, but no goslings.  Walking back to the park entrance, a man sat on the cinema steps.  Still talking into his phone, he abruptly stood and strode in our direction necessitating a sudden dodge.

In the memorial gardens, displaced pub-goers socialised on benches while in the park, children weaved about on bikes.  The ‘wild flower’ patch was a riot of dandelions.  On the less-trod playing field, they sprouted alongside daisies, heedless of dogs chasing balls.

Towpath SignExiting onto the towpath, signs redolent of Royston Vasey proclaimed ‘local use only’.  Fish swam beneath bright ripples in the canal, but still no sign of goslings. Turning towards Mayroyd, we climbed onto the lock, avoiding another small family.  A layer of scum and fallen blossom coated the water, blocking any view of wild life.  The way ahead seemed rather busy.  We retreated and stayed on the left side hoping to avoid busier stretches, taking the steps up to Palace House Road.  Peeking over the wall  down onto the canal at Hebble End, there were still no pesky goslings!

Friday (VE Day), jolly laughter, bursts of terrible music and milling about implied people on the street below were actually having a party. On our street, neighbours of the adjacent terrace socialised in their own self-created ‘bubble’.  Mr. Fast n Furious raced up and parked in the middle of the thoroughfare for no apparent reason, stood there a few minutes with engine idling, then reversed out with equal speed.

Bunting 1We gave all a wide berth and walked through clouds of floating dandelion seeds and upon the fading chalk art, to the end of the street, giggling at pathetic bunting in ‘Brexit Close’.  We took The Buttress down to the Packhorse Bridge, and into the square where a solitary figured occupied a bench.  I discovered later that an anti-lockdown demo, consisting of 8 sociopathic hippies had taken place.  Getting a few errands, we popped in the fancy wine shop to smirk at the exorbitant prices and dance to Sister Sledge and purchased the fabled goat meat from the very local butchers.

We wandered towards Holme Street where more half-hearted bunting adorned the school.  The smoky wood smell of the people’s pizza van was a big draw, but competed with the stink of draw towards the aqueduct.

DippingWe crossed to the other side of the lock again, evading the idiotic bank holiday smokers and drinkers, and enjoying a quiet patch of sunlight until the coast cleared.  Continuing past Hebble End, the angry white geese noisily defended their territory against half-breed ducks.  One, a mix of mallard and runner duck, swam in an ungainly fashion, struggling to keep its long neck up .  At the next exit point, we walked down a dirt track housing half-demolished vans, to the river and spotted a wagtail hopping from rock to rock.

Around the corner, we hailed a couple of friends in their garden, chatting safely from the other side of the wall.  He had been furloughed and she’d sensibly given up work as a self-employed painter for the duration, enjoying the rest.  That made at least two other people liking the slower pace of life! By coincidence, she had painted the red windows reflected in the canal waters that I had shot a couple of days before (and subject of the next Monday Morning Haiga).

Towpath reflections 1

On Spring Bank holiday Monday, we set off slightly earlier hoping to find lunch in town.  Heaving with day-trippers, carparks and bins overflowed, people queued for café take-a-ways, and benches outside the pub were fully occupied (although still not offering take-outs themselves).  It appeared as if the square had become a makeshift food court.  In search of pies, we found the bakers shut.  The local convenience stores supplied meagre pickings.  We waited ages while a family who looked like they’d already eaten all the pies, hovered round the instant food section.  The staff complained about the tourists “There are at least 300 people in the square”, one of them exaggerated.  Navigating the busy street, almost mowed down by a motorbike, we crossed over to the park to find a suitable patch of grass amidst the small groups populating the green spaces, in front of the shut café.  I said they could at least be selling ice cream.

Calder Holmes Park 2We enjoyed a long overdue picnic lunch in the warm sunshine, realising it was the first time since early March we had bought ‘lunch out’.  Discussing the recent Cummings farrago, we agreed the cat was out of the bag now.  Although physical distancing was not being totally ignored, friendship groups had definitely formed.  I learnt the art beloved of Daily Mail photographers, misleading the viewer into thinking small clumps of people were actually one seething mass.  An infamous local character staggered from one group to another, wearing a mask round his chin.  Phil suggested his keyworker probably put a stack in his house to protect the rest of us!

After eating, we walked along the canal to Mytholmroyd.  Delicate white flowers and common orchids resembling bottle brushes swayed gently at the water’s edge, dwarfed by Margarites.

Canal Whites 1At the boundary, more Margarites grew in hard gravel also home to a smattering of clover and trefoil.  We crossed the main road to the ancient hamlet of Hawksclough and walked home  via the Sustrans cycle path.  As the habitat changed, so did the flora.   Bright kingcups dazzled beside grey granite while fading wild garlic and miniscule blooms stretched upwards in the shade of riverside trees.

I popped in the co-op while Phil waited outside.  The halfwit serving me spoke into his headset: “we appear to have a stalker at the window.“  I turned round to see Phil doing funny faces behind my back!

Field of dreams

Confined Walks 3 – Riverside

Islands in the stream 2

By Easter, I became quite anxious as idiots (including neighbours who appeared to have friends round and flit from one house to another) seemed heedless of ‘social distancing’.  But a fine Easter Sunday convinced me I should get out of the house.  We ventured down the Cuckoo Steps onto the all but deserted main road.  As we waited for cyclists at the corner taking photos of the eeriness, we chatted about how rammed town would be normally during a Bank Holiday weekend.

Blossom of pink 2On Oldgate, Canada Geese sat unflustered by the river.  On Hangingroyd Road a mother and child cycled round an empty carpark fringed with white and orange tree blossom.  Continuing to Victoria Road, rainbows decorated windows and chalk Easter eggs adorned pavements.  People chatted, straddling the road as a mad cat lady took her cats for a jog.

We discussed the loveliness of the pink cherry blooms with a woman on the balcony above until, coast clear, we could proceed.

Horse chestnut 1From Foster Mill Bridge, we saw several people occupying the riverside path.  A woman with a dog came towards us necessitating a hasty move.  The grassy riverbank was resplendent with daffodils.  Horse chestnuts started to sprout, heedless of parasitic moss hijacking their drier branches.  Hebden Water resembled silvery ribbons flowing downstream.

As the path narrowed, we turned, re-crossed the bridge, and quickened our pace to keep clear of a walking group following close behind.  On Valley Road, we side-stepped back alongside the river.  A man sat on the wall.  Unsure if he waited for us, he seemed oblivious.  We hurried past to see him stuff 3 chocolate bars in his gob; essential eating, judging by the size of him!  In the town centre, even the square was deserted.

Pixie pool 2

Ten days later, following a bout of sinusitis, we visited Nutclough.  Walking via The Buttress onto Hangingroyd Lane, we encountered very few people on quiet mid-week streets.  At the Little Park, we cautiously took narrow steps between houses to Foster Lane, tricky to navigate with all the parked cars.  Crossing at the lights, workmen occupied the entrance path to the clough.  We hung back for a small group coming the other way then ran through, holding our breath.

Green and yellow 1Gasping for air amidst the spring foliage, flowers shone in the brilliant sunlight, including impossibly yellow celandine and soft-toned early bluebells.  We jumped over the wall to the top of the swamp.  Our shadows lay atop the stagnant water of the old mill ponds and glinting fish swam just below the surface.

Returning via Birchcliffe, boxes dotted on street corners contained random items including child’s toys, rucksacks, kitchen gadgets and bric-a-brac.  Normally, I would have derided the practice as ‘middle class dumping’ but with charity shops shut, it seemed acceptable.  I availed myself of a couple of free books.

Blue shadows 2

Confined walks 2 – Slater Ings

 

Dark shadows 1With the return of bright sunshine on Sunday, we ventured a little further to walk up the Cuckoo Steps, across Heptonstall Road to the path leading to our favourite ridge. On the climb, black shadows of twisty thin trees criss-crossed the dusty pink shingle. Two women with dogs stopped for us, but although they stood aside, the dogs still blocked the path.  As I hesitated they assured us that their fur harboured no germs as they had been in isolation for 2 weeks.  Passing cautiously, Phil noted they were nice friendly dogs.  I agreed, but told the women I was wary as this is not always the case.  They sympathised saying “We’ll put the leads on if we run into us again”.  “That’s kind but it’s fine.”  Next, it was our turn to wait for a small family crouched on the verge.  We side-stepped into the old quarry until they had finished doing selfies.

Hell Hole 1As we rounded the corner, we saw unsightly scribbles on Hell Hole Rocks.  At first glance it appeared to be made with chalk, but on closer inspection turned out to be painted graffiti, thus likely permanent and a real shame.  We checked the coast was clear and climbed the small steps up to ‘photographer’s corner’.

Wavering about whether to clamber onto the ‘viewing platform’, quite a few people approached form the opposite direction, making the decision for us.  We gazed down at a more pleasing aspect of the big rock, without scrawls, and across the valley until it was clear to continue.

Heading for Slater Ings, an ageing hippie couple sat on a large flat rock right near it.  They could easily have moved further away, but as they didn’t, we side-stepped as far as possible to the other side.  The man greeted us to which I responded “that’s not 6 feet”.  He said “Don’t worry about it.”  “I do, it’s because of morons like you that the stupid lockdown will last forever.”  As we hurried on past, he shouted  “Stay indoors then… You’re out walking!” “Yes, but when I want a rest, I don’t just plonk down; I move away from the path!”  “Do you remember the Nazis?” to which Phil retorted “No, I’m not old enough.  Are you?”  Tempted to go back and clatter him, I said it wasn’t worth it and anyway, it couldn’t be done at a safe distance!

Slater Ings stony detour 3Luckily, the wood was less populous.  We soon spotted a patch of wild garlic and climbed down a slippery dry slope where deadwood crackled beneath our shoes – the feeble brook having dried to a trickle in the warm April weather.

A few people past on the path above as we gathered the pungent leaves.  Taking a while to come back up, we spotted several pieces of broken pottery, indicating this was once a popular picnic spot.

Hitherto considering Slater Ings the wilder part of  the woodlands, now I looked properly, it became obvious it had also been part of the Victorian ‘job creation scheme’.  Why else would the large rocks be so picturesquely placed along the walking path?

Making our way between said rocks, bluebells and primroses lined the grassy edges.  A woman with several kids in tow kindly took a detour for us and a second pair of women with dogs waited for us at a gap in the wall leading out to the lane.

Wayside primroses 3Chancing a return via Heptonstall, we saw more people in one place than in the last 3 weeks.  Locals stood chatting in small groups in their gardens while visitors lounged in fields and on benches, and walked, cycled, and drove along the road in both directions.  The small community had rallied round with the post office offering a distribution service for local businesses and the pub doing ‘order and collect’ Sunday lunch.

Managing to keep at a safe distance we rested  very briefly in Weaver’s Square and re-enacted a scene from the Pace Egg – sadly cancelled this year along with everything else during lockdown.

We continued on Heptonstall Road, down the steps to Lee Wood Road and onto The Buttress, where we made further waits a  for slower elderly people coming up the punishingly steep cobbles.

Slater Ings path 2

Confined Walks 1 – Crow Nest and Environs

Post with wood

Breaking the confines of the town centre, we took two small walks on successive sunny Wednesdays, in and around Crow Nest.  On the first of these, we set off quite a bit later than planned, due to mislaid keys.  Ambling down quiet streets to the main road, we waited to cross at the zebra.  An impatient driver beeped us; obviously frustrated at having to slow down from 100 mph on the clear stretch!

Dandelion clocks

On reaching the canal, we turned left.  Some waiting and weaving was required to avoid loiterers and cyclists.  In the almost-empty park, Japanese cherry trees blossomed pink beneath a blue sky.  Towards the station, dandelion clocks dominated the verge. Men loitered around roadworks on the access road and clambered noisily on the roof as refurbishment continued.  We had to wait again for people coming the other way, detouring onto undergrowth as a man dithered with his phone on the Sustrans path.

Finally, he shifted leaving us free to examine mysterious signs on posts, small white and yellow flowers, and sandy stretches near the water from which stunted garlic grew.

Surrounded by greenery, we continued at a leisurely pace to the end of the path, noting long shadows cast by tall trees on the tarmac and further ruination of the shipping containers.

Rusty container 5Moss continued its relentless quest to obliterate the graffiti, with artistic effect.  Just before the site of the old Walkleys Mill (Still odd to see flattened), we turned sharp right up to the green railway bridge and followed the path skirting the bottom of Crow Nest wood.

At the station again, large dislodged stones had scattered on the flood-damaged road.  Past the stoneyard, the towpath looked clear when a pair of joggers almost ran into us under the next bridge.  I was annoyed they hadn’t stopped for us.  The next stretch housed several moored barges.  We waited for a woman strolling with a pram on other side of the gate so we could re-enter the park.  We made for the central pitch to avoid weed smokers huddled on benches, not adhering to ‘social distancing’.  At Blackpit Lock, we ran past more loiterers, deciding it might be less hazardous to return home via Holme Street.

 

Going up

The following Wednesday, lattice-like clouds scattered across a deep blue sky in the bright afternoon light.  I had become anxious about socialising between different households on the street below, with children running interminably hither and thither.  To avoid them, we took the larger steps down to the road, greeting a neighbour at the end of the terrace over her garden wall.  On the other side of the main road, we climbed straight to the top of Crow Nest wood.  On the way up, we stood aside a couple of times, first for a couple then for a straggling family group.  As we passed the noxious dead tree, on the steep climb, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my bad ankle, making me keen to reach the flat.

 

New sheepAt the top, sheep with lambs so brand new they shone white, grazed in a meadow, fenced with barbed wire. Further on, last year’s beech nut husks clung onto spindly twigs.  Bluebells had started to emerge while the brook had almost totally dried up.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  A pair of women waited for us and I thanked them heartily; it made a change for us not to be the ones who paused.

A rather steep end section of path led down onto the wider track.  As we turned right to Wood Top farm, we heard bleating and hoped to see more lambs.  Instead, we came across a field of goats with offspring – no kidding!

No kidding 1On Wood Top Road, we again had  to stand on the verge a couple of times for other walkers, using the opportunity to take pleasure in a squirrel jumping between high branches and resplendent native white cherry blossom.

After the episode of the previous week, we deemed the park safer than the towpath.  However, the plethora of non-essential activity made me wonder if we’d chosen wisely.  Several people sat around on benches and grass; kids skateboarded and cycled with gay abandon; teenage girls made videos for tick-tock.  Near the lock, a dog rushed canal-side making the geese scatter and squawk with fear.  It made me jump too!

Hanging on