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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 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

 

New Road to Crow Nest

High roadIt is very rare for me to suggest a walk in Crow Nest Wood during the winter months.  But in mid-February, spring made an early appearance.  Setting off in early afternoon sun, we initially embarked on our usual route: across Market Street, up to Palace House Road and up the signed path towards Crow Nest.  I then spontaneously suggested turning up the next switchback.  The attractive path was no longer signed ‘bar cliff’ as it had been in summer 2017.  As we climbed steadily upwards, we paused for scenic views of the busy town centre below and over to Midgeley Moor and villages ‘up tops’.  The sun disappeared and a few spots of rain fell.  With no protection, I hesitated to continue until Phil lent me his cap.  A few minutes later, the rain stopped.

Field with ridgesAt the top of the path, we passed through the metal gate, skirted Weasel Hall and followed the road round onto the lovely cobbled part of New Road.  Behind stone walls dotted with holes, mysterious ridges lay in a field.  We could only guess at their meaning.

We followed the line of the road west then east, to the TV transmitter.  The grey steel structure keyed in perfectly with the steel grey sky.

Gushing water 1Continuing to Old Chamber, a noisy family inhabited the ‘honesty shed’ outing paid to the idea of stopping for a cuppa.  Water gushed down gutters, splashing into stone troughs.  Bright primroses poked out of ceramic pots.  Further on, we noted several changes.  Among the farm buildings and fields containing very pregnant-looking sheep, some of the old buildings had been demolished with others converted into holiday lets.

Descending the steep incline proved hard work as the square grey cobbles made my toes hurt.  At the bottom we looked back.  The view up towards the line of trees at the top of the hill was marred somewhat by the clouds of smoke.  We kept to the left of Wood Top Farm and turned left, to climb up once more.

Sunlit laneThe sun re-appeared, infusing the scene with a lovely yellow glow. We rested on the edge of a broken wall to enjoy some rays.  On the ridge behind us, a tree covered in flaky green mould looked ready to fall – not the first rotted casualty of the afternoon.  We continued on the grassy lane, sloping gently downwards to Crow Nest Wood.

The old quarry was totally dry – very uncharacteristic, especially in winter.  We then climbed up again, along the rocky path to the top of the wood.  I did not recall ever doing the journey this way round before.   Phil strode ahead with absolute certainty of the route.

Trees within treesHe made me laugh as he used familiar trees as landmarks, many of which he had given funny names such as ‘stone tree’ ‘smelly tree’ – the latter having rotten and collapsed, emitting a distinct stink of sulphur which followed us for some time.  Others sported stripped bark, and desiccated branches hanging precariously and crashing into their neighbours.

We crossed the stream and commented that plants were already poking through the ground in the area resplendent with flowers during spring.   I wondered if the garlic might actually be ready in March for once.  Still unsure of the way down we soon spotted a small gate, marking both the place where the path straight down from Old Chamber emerges and the point where we could descend.

The mixture of loose stones and sticky mud was even worse on the toes than the Spencer Lane cobbles!  Still, at least the dearth of water after a dry winter did not add to the discomfiture and made for a short easy stretch back to Palace House Road.

Before leaving the track, I stopped to admire pussy willows when I heard the sound of tits twittering.  They flitted about so fast they were difficult to keep track of.  I was still trying to follow them from branch to branch when midget dogs barked ferociously at us.  Not even I was scared by them as the owners laughed, although I observed some training would not go amiss.

New Road with River 3August 2019 brought copious rain.  Tributaries poured from fields and bled from underground springs.  New Road looked more like New River!  We paused at the crest where bright pink and orange flowers dotted the verge and took in panoramic views before continuing to Old Chamber.  This time the ‘honesty box’  was unoccupied.

I hoped it might supply lunchtime butties but alas not.  I eschewed the tea and cake, settling instead for a cup of water on the bench outside.  A gentle breeze ruffled grass in the meadows as small birds swooped between hedges and poles.

RestingProceeding to Spencer Lane, fat sheep grazed peacefully.  A butterfly landed on the cobbles in front of us.  It was hard to convince Phil, who claims to have only ever seen four species of butterfly in his life, to admit it was a different one, (even when I later identified it from a recently-acquired book as a ‘speckled wood’)

Hungry, we opted for a quick route into town via Wood Top, past the station and through the park.  We took a table outside Rendezvous, ensuring full coverage from the awning in case of the predicted rain.  As we finished our drinks, a downpour arrived on cue and we prepared for a drenching.   But it stopped as we left (to return with more force later – story of the summer!)

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5t8WfxIrGFAg9r5UQ;

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View Panorama

 

 

 

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

 

Down from Crimsworth into the Dean

Crimsworth view 1

The first Sunday of September started out dull but warm.  It became sunnier early afternoon and decided to get the bus up to Crimsworth and walk back via the dean.  We had just enough time to buy pies from the bakers in the square on the way to Commercial Street, with two minutes to spare till the next bus.  A walking friend who got on at the same stop, suggested an alternative walk up High Brow Knoll but I didn’t fancy it right then.

Grass verge blooms 8The bus emptied at Old Town, leaving us alone to travel to the terminus.   Awe-struck by the moorland landscape, we lingered to take photos.  My camera strap broke again and Phil fixed it for me (I was not having much luck doing it myself).

We made our way back down the road, cringing when fast motorcycles whizzed by, seeking refuge in the lush verge.  It seemed remarkable how different the plants were here, on the moorland edge.  Fluffy thistles looked ready to fly off; pale pink flowers wafted in the breeze; seed heads gave the impression of tiny trees emerging behind granite stone walls; marooned gate posts leaned precariously in the soft ground.

A couple of signs indicated footpaths going off to the right but we were put off trying them by a combination of boggy fields and large cows.

Howarth Old Road 1We continued to Haworth Old Road where an old waymarker had been attractively re-painted; the writing picked out in bold lack against a stark white background.  We turned sharp right onto the road, then left.   Grassy Small Shaw Lane zig-zagged downwards, edged by tall evergreens and punctuated by signs declaring the land private and forbidding cycling.  At the bottom we were confronted by a large house.  A sign directed us left onto a small path.  As a couple with a dog exited a gate, we checked with them that the route was passable.

As soon as we passed through the gate into a field, I recognised the area from our last visit to the area some years agoi.  Small paving helped us navigate marshy meadow where a small copper butterfly sat on a flower.

Small copper butterflyWe soon emerged in the moor-like field which I remembered, particularly the ruins and a good large rock, ideal for a lunch stop.  We made our way up to eat our pies, finding it had become much more overgrown in the intervening years, with heather, moss, lichen and pixie cups.

I could hear a dog barking loudly in the distance as soon as I took a bite of pie, convinced myself it was coming nearer and felt a bit jumpy.  I knew I was being paranoid but I ate quickly nonetheless.

Woodland fungi 3We continued, through the next gate into dark woodland where the red floor contrasted with deep green foliage.  At the start of the old mill ponds, felled trees thwarted our attempts to find a downward path.

I surmised that severe floods since our last visit had caused significant alterations to the landscape.  We followed the route marked, upwards, noting a variety of fungi clinging to rotted trunks.  Some looked curiously metallic.

I recognised the corner of the dam wall – a huge testament to the region’s industrial heritage – and the gorgeous tree down to our right.

After some investigation, we located a ‘desire path’ through pocked grass land to get back onto the Old Road (where more grass replaced paving).  From there, it was a short stretch to Midgehole Road.  An exodus from the nearby Blue Pig confirmed that a bus was due and we opted for the easy way home.  Although the walk had not been too taxing, the weather had become clammy and I felt tired and overheated.  Back in town, we chatted briefly to another friend on his way to the pub.  We eschewed the prospect of drinking in favour of coffee and cake at home.

i  See: https://hepdenerose.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/changing-landscapes-in-crimsworth-dean/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4kS20m5dNz6qZdWmg

Haworth Old Road 5

A Rare Visit to Gibson Mill

Tree tops 3

It is a rare thing indeed for us to purposefully visit Hardcastle Crags in summer.  Almost as rare (apart from holidays), we set off at 1 p.m. on a mid-July Sunday to catch Gibson Mill’s opening hours.

River rock art 2We took the most direct route via Hangingroyd Lane and the riverside path.  New rock art stood in the centre of Hebden Water, where the banks were adorned with green and white flourishes.

At the bottom of the steps up to Midgehole Road, loud barking caused me to jump out of my skin.   A large dog leapt up from behind tall grasses.

Phil let out an involuntary shout.  Two women appeared, along with a smaller dog causing more commotion.  The women apologised, saying it was a rescue dog responding to our fear.  That sounded reasonable, except I hadn’t even seen the mutt, so how could I be fearful in advance?  Later, Phil felt sorry for shouting at a rescue dog but I said (not for the first time) that dog owners should control their charges when they are likely to come into contact with other walkers.

Gibson Mill interior 3On Midgehole Road, signs declared the Crags car park full.  We weaved between parked cars and clumps of irritatingly slow people to the main gate.  Staying on the top track, we walked speedily to Gibson Mill.  We immediately entered the building and climbed to the top floor to be met by the sight of a Victorian-era kitchen.  An iron range arrayed with a selection of contemporaneous cooking vessels stood against the back wall. To the right, a shallow Belfast sink perched on brick legs.  Around the cracked windowsill, peeling whitewash revealed fading yellow paint.

Through a door on the left we found a larger room with tungsten bulbs suspended from a high ceiling.  The ample space was occupied by Yan Wang-Preston’s ‘Forest’ exhibition, the main object of our visit.  I had expected arty photos of trees.  It turned out to be a project documenting the uprooting of mature trees in China and transplanting them to concrete cities where of course they die.  Utter madness!  Why can’t they grow new trees?

Gibson Mill window viewDownstairs, we made our way to the café for freshly-made sandwiches and tea.  We chose a table on the terrace and got a different view of the mill pond.

From the upper floor, I had noticed small splashes hitting the water’s surface.  What had looked like raindrops, I now realised, were being made by small fish.

After eating, we went out front to finish our drinks.  On the surrounding tables, yet more barking dogs threatened to cause alarm but thankfully, they were kept at bay.  I spotted an acquaintance sitting nearby with a friend.  We exchanged greetings before they entered the mill to peruse the exhibition.

Rock with shadowsWe took the slower, but less populous and pleasanter riverside route back to the main entrance.  Tall pines stretched into the summer sky, the canopy giving respite from the muggy afternoon heat.  Impossibly large stones punctuated the paths and stream, some sporting strange holes.  Foliage made attractive greyscale patterns on eroding surfaces.  At the almost-dry weir, dippers dived among square paving rendered visible by the low water level.

As we rested on a nearby bench, I heard something drop to the ground.  At first, we could see nothing.  Then Phil realised it was his phone.  The screen had cracked (For the third time.  Luckily, he has since discovered he can buy the parts to fix it himself).

Behind bars 2On reaching the end of the crags, we continued on the riverside as much as possible, staying on the left-hand side towards town, foraging a few raspberries from sporadic bushes.

We paused briefly on Victoria Road where a tractor seemed imprisoned.  Headlights gleamed wide-eyed behind an iron gate fastened with rusty iron chains.  Polished blue paintwork reflected blue sky.  Getting ready for the local show, no doubt.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4JrYWA4b2_1LeHp3w

Weir 6

Up Hollins and Tinker Bank

Branches and sky 1

The first decent walk of 2018 began on a bright, frosty day.  Setting off at 2 p.m., thaw had occurred as we headed through town towards the riverside path.  However, on the unpaved Groove Road, ice on the ground proved tricky.

Cart and garageJust before Foster Mill Bridge, we stopped to examine a dilapidated cart in front of a wood-fronted garage, surrounded by frosty leaves and grass.

On the bridge, mossy walls appeared to have been sprinkled with icing sugar.  A cheery man said “nice day for it” and advised me to take care as we crossed to Salem.

 

We took the steps up to Hollins, surveying the lovely sycamore tree and sunlight on the hills opposite.  Through the eternally dark hamlet and into Tinker Bank wood, a group of walkers asked directions into town.  We paused to consider which path to take and initially elected for the lower one before Phil suddenly took a steep upward path.  I said we had not been that way before but he was sure we had.  It became horribly muddy in places and I was glad I had sensible boots on.

SlowLarge stone blocks were strewn either side of the narrow path, suggesting that it had been a vehicle track, lined by walls at one time.

At the top, we emerged onto Lee Wood Road and were amused by the ‘slow’ sign nailed to a tree, beside a newly-formed waterfall.  We walked eastwards towards Bobby’s Lane.  But on encountering a paved lane downwards, we decided it might be a quicker way down to the riverside.

Not sure if it was a private drive, we discovered a dilapidated shed and another shortcut.  This one looked decidedly dodgy though, so we kept to the tarmac, and round a large bend to emerge near the posh horse farm.

Frosty twig on wall 3

A couple walking with a bonkers dog created amusement for a few minutes before becoming rather annoying.

We overtook them, until we were forced to slow down by ice underfoot.  I also wanted to take photos looking up to Pecket Well where sunlight on the hilltops created a contrast with the dark shadows below.

Further down, ice on the path turned to water.  I kept to the edges and trod carefully.

Reaching the river, we spotted more frosty vegetation and a tree branch fallen in the weir.

We took the usual route back along Hebden Water and stopped at the first ‘beach’ to rest.

As we climbed back up to the path, Phil saw someone he knew in the garden opposite and we chatted over the gate before continuing back to town – this time sticking to Spring Grove; a much safer  option.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiuo3on4DPPFIIWhcCw

Sunny tops 2