Tag Archives: February

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

 

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Stones and Rocks – Bridestones to Great Rock

Causeway Vista

Late February 2019 brought unseasonably warm weather and an early spring (hard to believe this time last year we were ravaged by the Beast from the East!).  During half term, we enjoyed a rare Friday outing – further afield than usual to Bridestones Moor.

We began the journey by bus, calling at the bakers for pasties before crossing over to the stop.  The service to Blackshaw Head seemed very late and I almost gave up but it eventually arrived.  Typically, we were the only passengers left after Heptonstall.  We alighted at Blackshaw Head chapel and sat in the sun to eat our pasty lunch before trekking up The Long Causeway.

Causeway KestrelFrom the OS map, I knew it would be 2 or 3 miles so maintained a steady pace.  After the village, the straight road rose gently between fields of sheep.  Many looked fit to burst they were so fat.  Others appeared incredibly scruffy with straggly wool hanging off them.  Overhead wires provided lookouts for crows and a kestrel which considerately stayed still for several minutes.

Possible shortcuts took the form of dodgy-looking paths across ill-kempt farmland scattered with ramshackle buildings.

We kept to tarmac until we reached the corner of Eastwood Road, marked by a milepost. On re-checking the map, we plumped for the more well-trodden route up to the stones.  Down Eastwood Road we found a ridiculously narrow gate (what M&M would call an obesity check!)  On the other side a lovely track headed up across moorland to the rocks with sponge-like moss keeping the bog at bay.  A smattering of fellow visitors populated the site, most of whom had driven judging by the cars parked in the lay by opposite.

Bridestones Trig Point 1The wind picked up as we climbed up to the trig point where I risked being blown off.  We examined stark groove lines on the stones where weathering over millennia had resulted in amazing features, and marvelled at the power of wind and water.

We then rested in the lee of the rocks before walking further behind to survey the alternative paths we could have used.  The ground became boggier as we approached a steep drop – I was glad we had opted for the easier route.

Bridestones Main Event 5Curving round to the front of the stones, smooth erosion left triangular holes between rocks and chair-like hollows in grey boulders.  A stretch of sturdy brown rock resembled a castle wall.  Cubed stones tumbling down the slope evoked memories of archaeological sites.  We felt as if we were on holiday!

Approaching the Bridestones themselves, we waited for families with dogs to move out of shot.  Majestic pillars of solid granite stood curiously grouped as though surveying the landscape. The base of one had been so worn away that it appeared precariously balanced.

No wonder they have inspired legends and folk tales!  We were astonished at how it had taken us so long to visit (and later discovered we had only seen the half of it.  I vowed it would not be another twenty years before returning).

The Great Rock 2We returned to the daft gate and turned right, continuing down Eastwood Road to Great Rock.  It didn’t look so great now!  I had hoped to easily find a straight way down to Eastwood but it eluded me.  Again, we eschewed uncertain paths heading towards Jumble Hole.  We checked the map once more and decided to stay on the road back up to Blackshaw Head.

Overcome with fatigue and with less than an hour of daylight remaining, we rested briefly at Hippins Bridge (a road bridge not a footbridge as I used to think) to look up bus times on google.  With one due in half an hour, we made the final climb back up to The Long Causeway.  As we waited, dusk fell.  A menagerie serenaded us; I could only identify a couple of the several species of bird amongst the cacophony of the twilight chorus.  Inevitably late again, it was almost dark when the bus finally made it up the hill, turned and picked us up.  During the descent, a man from Bolton amused us with his tales of drinking around Calderdale.  The driver stopped right opposite the Fox and Goose for him!

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Bridestones Frontage 2

A Quick Blast

Canal Barges 3

The harsh winter of 2017-18 showed no signs of letting up.  On the last Sunday of February, the cold persisted despite the sun, but I was desperate to get out of the house having been ill in bed the previous week.

Blackpit MoonriseWe set off on a short stroll along the canal.  It felt arctic on the aqueduct with the Siberian blast hitting us straight on.  Phil said it was officially the coldest part of town which made sense, being surrounded by all that water.  At Blackpit lock, as he searched in vain for rooks in the rookery, I noticed the moon was up – a silver semi-circle in a clear blue sky.

In the park, we found little of interest.  Bare branches dominated, and there seemed to be even less to look at than in mid- winter.

Canal Perpendicular 2Exiting through the gate onto the towpath, we watched ripples on the surface created by the easterly wind, changing the reflections of small colourful barges as a lone duck swum past.

Still walking easterly, my eye caught a collection of canal paraphernalia adorning the stone wall opposite.

Re-entering via the other gate, we skirted the park and spotted a few signs of life in the shape of tiny yellow blossoms.  Over the concrete bridge into the memorial gardens, Phil looked again for rooks.

I thought I spotted some but they turned out to be jackdaws – a very cute couple in a tree.    After admiring an interesting evergreen adorned with interesting bark and moss, we retreated into town.  We made a short circuit of charity shops before returning home. I felt exhausted and cold, despite trying to warm ourselves with coffee and cake.  I retired back to bed.

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Proud Tree 2