Tag Archives: ferns

Through the Woods and down the Corpse Road

Heptonstall ascending loop path 1

The last week in June brought a series of travails and despite the gorgeous sunny weather, life felt hard.  On the Thursday afternoon, we thought that one of our favourite wood walks might cheer us up and cool us down.  At the top of the cuckoo steps, I needed to catch my breath before crossing the road and taking the path into Eaves Wood.  A felled tree obstructed us.  Momentarily thwarted, we managed to navigate through the jumble of branches.  As we climbed the ridge, the sun beat down. “It’s like being on holiday in the Med” I commented.  Phil casually mentioned that he’d always said it was the hottest spot in Hebden – now he tells me!

Eaves Wood stone seatWe noted that the views down into the valley were obscured by profuse growth.  I needed to rest and drink water but the lack of shade and prolific bracken meant my usual spot was not an option.  I slogged on until we reached the trees.

After resting awhile on the path edge, we continued and I realised that if I’d waited a little longer I could have sat on the seat-like stone a short way up.

At Hell Hole rocks we explored the disused quarry.  Normally dank, twigs and leaves on the parched earth crunched beneath my sandals.  Today deserted apart from crows high in the treetops, we had fun guessing the pastimes of recent visitors from the evidence they had left behind including a tent peg and sweet wrappers.

Eaves Wood fern shadow 2Past the rocks, we decided to stay down in the woodland rather than climbing straight up to Heptonstall.  Descending a flight of twee steps, we noted almost impossible greenery.  Small dapples of sunlight and fern shadows fell artily on the stone treads.  The landscape became like pixie land as the myriad paths from the Victorian job creation scheme led in all directions.  Small birds flitted through trees and a squirrel scampered into the undergrowth.

Finding it hard to choose the best route, we kept to the middle route until we reached a more significant-looking fork, thinking we would soon reach the top wall and thus the lane up to the village.  However, we ended up in what we realised was the lower end of Slater Ings.  The path became indiscernible in places.  Large square boulders lay higgledy piggledy (most likely a result of quarry dumping).   We had a tricky climb through huge ferns, stopping often to locate the best way through.  Even so, Phil banged his head on a tree branch.

Slater Ings square rocksEventually, I spotted what I assumed was the top wall above us but could not see an obvious access point.  Then Phil noticed that it was not the wall I’d thought it was.  Nevertheless, we had to go upwards to reach civilisation.  I saw a gap in the wall and clambered over large stones towards it.  On reaching the top, we realised there had once been a proper path and crossing point – apparently eroded since our last trek through this neglected lower part of the wood.

We came onto the lovely rocky path that we knew quite well at the top of Slater Ings, albeit not as far along as expected.  But it was easy enough from there to reach the lane up to Heptonstall.  On the corner of Green Lane, I noticed a styal into fields which I knew would cut a corner out.  This turned out to be part of the Hebden Loopi. We crossed a beautiful meadow with attractive paving underfoot, heading for a picturesque treeline to emerge onto the road.  In the village, we entered The first pub for refreshments.

At the bar, we exchanged a few words with an acquaintance, ordered pints, grabbed menus and headed for the beer garden.  Whilst enjoying the indirect sunlight, we prevaricated about ordering food as we were not super hungry.  And then we saw the chips and that settled it!  After eating, we realised the football was underway and considered going to the other pub to watch it.  I nipped in to check the score and noted their TV was smaller than the one at home.

Taking the Corpse Road wooden gateOpting for the Corpse Road back, we initially had trouble finding the entrance.  On finding it a little way down the road, a footpath sign indicated two different routes.  We mistakenly took the upward path and arrived at the edge of Southfield.  Returning to the sign, the other path started out as gravel path as it led past houses.  It then became narrow and overgrown.  We were repeatedly stung by nettles and brambles snagged at our clothes.

The vegetation thinned alongside a low stone wall.  Just after a rickety shed, we were led downwards.  I remembered continuing in a straight line last time a rope barred our way.  Forced to turn left and then right onto Heptonstall Road, the final stretch home was very quick.  As I settled down with a coffee to watch the end of the football match, I felt boiling hot and had in urgent need of a cold shower.

Note:

  1. The Hebden Bridge Loop: http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/pennine-way-loop/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4EJ_MuwABD_5kPtPQ

Valley view

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Hike to the Pike

Erringden expanse

During the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, I had a particularly bad night on the Saturday. I lay sleepless until 4.00 a.m., when of course the sky brightened. The birds began their dawn chorus, annoyingly joined by the cockerel who lives nearby.  I did eventually sleep but fitfully.  Needless to say, I felt terrible on Sunday morning.  Phil wanted to go up to Stoodley Pike but I said “no way”.  I did manage to drag myself out in the afternoon for a bit of sun, noting that even the easterly wind felt warm.  Not really a day for climbing hills.  We pottered round town and the park, ate ice cream, and strolled up the towpath for a canal side pub meal which was nice.

Horses in golden fieldThankfully, I had a better sleep that night and awoke on Monday feeling refreshed.  I agreed to the planned trek, with the proviso that I might not make it all the way up to Stoodley Pike.

We had not reached the top since our mission in 2013 was thwarted by large cows lying in our way, causing an amusing detour up Dick’s Lane and Cock Hill.  Since then, we had discovered the lower delights of Horsehold Wood and Beaumont Clough thus negating the need for a steep climb.

Armed with supplies, we left the house mid-afternoon to climb up Horsehold Road.  Inevitably hard work I had to stop a few times but that gave us chance to look down towards town, where thick foliage prevented us from checking our roof tiles as we usually did.  Further up, the cobbles snaked between lush greenery.  Pretty horses grazed in a golden field.

First gate 2At the top, we followed the curve round to Horsehold Farm, became spooked by vicious barking from behind a crumbling wooden door, and searched for the right lane to go further up.  On locating Horsehold Lane, we were put off by very large cows in a field protected only by a low wall.  Phil swore they were like the bull on his Picasso t-shirt.  We returned to the curve and went left through the gate signed ‘Pennine way’ onto a beautiful path.

Being at the top of the wood, we remarked on the perpetual redness of the ground below on our right, no matter what the season.  Curly ferns emerged from verdant verges as we followed signs to the Pennine Bridleway.

Mysterious stones 2Through a copse and bypassing the cute stone bridge leading to the clough, we continued upwards into grassland. We wondered at the original purpose and location of mysterious stones scattered about – one looked distinctly phallic!

Ahead of us, a line of trees stood along a stone wall.  We turned right onto grassy lanes bisecting farmland and recognised an ancient ruin on the corner from our hike up five years ago.  We rested on a wall, admiring tiny pine cones on a tree opposite.

Noticing Stoodley Pike monument in view to our left, I said it wouldn’t be much further.

Pike in the distanceProceeding along Kilnshaw Lane towards the pike, it never seemed to get any nearer!  Eventually, we wound our way up the rough path as the monument loomed above us like a dark spectre silhouetted behind the early evening sun.  Further up, the path had been recently re-paved.  My camera dropped onto the stone slabs when the strap broke.  I persuaded Phil to wait until we sat down to assess the damage.

At the summit, a few people milled around as we found a lovely outcrop of sloping rocks facing Mankinholes to perch on.  Phil fixed the strap and made sure the camera still worked.  As we ate picnic snacks, a group of lads who had commandeered the monument marred the peace somewhat, playing loud music and commenting on veggie samosas. “How far is it from Hebden Bridge?” I heard one say, before answering himself: “Not far enough”.  Did they mean us? Thankfully, they soon left so we had the place to ourselves.

monument-graffiti-2.jpgI entered the monument and climbed the steps.  It was pitch black and I used my phone torch to light my way.  At the top, I discovered ancient graffiti etched into the granite, providing a foreground for the panoramic views.  I heard Phil calling from below asking how I’d got up.  I descended with my torchlight to meet him halfway.  Having taken in the vistas, we returned to ground level to circumnavigate the base.

I had used google maps to find a different way home and suggested a route staying ‘up tops’ awhile.  We followed the new paving in a straight line across a boggy field.  Our feet stayed dry thanks to thoughtful raised platforms constructed over the worst bits.  We emerged onto an apparently ancient road, separated from a pine forest by neat stone walls.  This stage of our journey was punctuated by the sights and sounds of wild birds.  Curlews wielded overhead.  A juvenile blackbird landed on a wooden fence post before flitting upwards in a flurry.

Old top road 1Arriving at a junction I checked the map. Google insisted we had gone the wrong way and suggested we backtrack.  But I felt confident that the old road wasn’t on the maps and knew that a left turn would join the suggested route.  I was further encouraged in my instincts as Heptonstall and Old Town were clearly recognisable ahead of.  We descended a desolate moorland path, beneath a wide blue sky scattered with small, fluffy clouds.  Reaching Whittaker Road, we walked eastwards until we came to a gate on our left.

Passing through, we discovered the gorgeous ‘Rake’.  Grass and flowers again surrounded us, as a sheep family grazed in a field and an archetypal farmhouse lay in front.

Rake 4As we descended, I was interrupted by a phone call which I curtailed as politely as possible, and suggested a stop to fully appreciate the scene.  As the lane curved round, we rested on the corner, looking westwards for a different view of the pike and ahead of us at the profusion of bilberry bushes.  I said it would be a good place to harvest when the fruits appeared.

Further down, the name of the lane changed to Broad lane.  Again, we were awestruck by beauty!  Trees in full leaf gave an avenue-like effect as the hedgerows were lined with cow parsley, their tiny white flowers swaying gently in the breeze.  We could hear people on the other side of the hedge.

Phil realised it was a campsite, then I spotted a poly tunnel and joked about illegal immigrants living in tents (maybe I watch too many Spanish dramas on Netflix).  As we wound down, we found ourselves on Horsehold Lane and had no option but to pass the field of large cows we’d avoided on the way up.  They looked quite docile and in spite of being eyed warily by a sheepdog, we passed through the farm without incident.  Back on Horsehold Road, I preferred going down rather than up, unlike Phil. I remarked that we had probably chosen the worse route possible to reach the pike. Maybe next time we should choose a less steep way.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtivtiSIs2Eb13PL8GzQ

Broad Lane

Up and Down to Stubbing’s

Saint James church tower

A gorgeous July evening, Marisa arrived for an evening stroll and dinner. With no firm plans, we stepped outside to admire hydrangeas in the garden until Phil was ready to join us. After some debate, we settled on Stubbing’s the long way round.  We ascended the Cuckoo Steps a short stretch, entered ‘Robin’s Park’ and took the path to Heptonstall Road.  Crossing the road, we continued to Church Lane and commenced the steep climb.  At the corner of Bank Terrace, I had to pause for breath and noticed the lovely view of St. James’ Church tower framed by green leaves and lilac.

Signs of doom 1We discussed the chimney of Bankfoot Mill – quite a way from the mill buildings that sat in the valley bottom.  Marisa told me that what looked like an overgrown path by the side of the chimney was the original flue.  We continued round and down Savile Road.

We agreed that the ‘danger keep out’ signs were probably designed to deter trespassing on private land rather than for any concern for the general public.

 

 

Wall with poppy plantOn the opposite side of the road, a red brick wall arrested our attention: optimistic ferns and poppies had populated the cracks and niches while some housed snails.

A little further on, Marisa suggested detour to a picturesque small wood nearby.  Up a lane, opposite ‘Treetops’ bungalows we found a gap in the hedgerow.  Crouching to avoid being pricked by holly bushes, we entered the lovely woodland of oak and silver birch.

 

A rusty memorial to a local architect stood to the left as we carried on into a glade.  Several paths led on up to Rawtenstall but without refreshments, we had run out of steam to climb further.  I declared I needed liquid.  We retraced our steps back to Savile Road and continued down back to the main road.  We crossed over and travelled the short distance to Stubbings.

Stubbings duck familyMarisa found seats by the canal while Phil and I fetched drinks and menus.  We ordered food and admired a family of ducks on the canal.  Just before our meals arrived, a group of women with dogs arrived Oh no! I thought, that’s bad timing!

However, they were quite well-behaved apart from the inevitable begging.  The food was all good but Marisa struggled to finish her lamb and gave some to the black Labrador by her feet.  A breeze picked us as we decided to return home.

We walked along the towpath surveying the stricken weeds that an elderly man had attacked with a stick.  Further on, a pair of geese watched from the water’s edge as their offspring rooted amongst plants on the other side of the path.  Wary of getting between parent and child, we paused until we deemed it safe to continue.  Marisa and I walked quickly past the hissing pair while Phil shouted “what about me!”  I laughed.  A couple walked towards us.  As they approached, Phil snuck by and said to the man “you’re alright, you’ve got a stick”.  I said I would get him a goose stick!

Woodland trees

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtir4RnkqYMuT9ujJ4LA

Waterworld

Pool reflections 1

A late May Sunday, we forced ourselves out of the house despite feeling tired and lazy and initially walked to the Sunday market.  Phil nipped in the newsagents while I looked at a few new stalls along the roadside.

Purple bloom with bee 2He came over and was taken by the posh pie stall with a massive queue of punters being fleeced (which later prompted us to consider ideas for selling stuff to idiots).  I said he would be better off going to the bakers, where we bought pastries at a third of the price.  We then walked up to Commercial Street and admired structured flower beds and bees.

Continuing up Keighley Road and into Nutclough, we noted several changes since our last visit in January (I don’t remember ever visiting in May before; we usually go further on our walks at this time of year).

Iron gate

 

A profusion of greenery created a picturesque frame for the iron gate.  Through the gate, we took the lower path and up steps overgrown with more greenery and yellow flowers.

Coming back up, bluebells edged the path and populated an area above a wall opposite, creating a forest amongst the ferns.

 

We proceeded down to the water where newly placed stones made it a lot easier to cross to the ‘island’.  Amongst the waterlogged ground we found more grasses and flowers.  A woman with a small dog came to talk to us and suggested going further up the clough.  I thanked her and said we did know the area.

We wandered around a while then sat on the sunken bench to eat our pies and enjoy the reflections of sky and branches in the water.  The scene was marred somewhat by a man with three kids playing at the other side of the stream, as he allowed a small boy pee in plain sight – not something you want to see when you’re eating your lunch!

White and yellow with tiny mothA more pleasant distraction was found in a moth that resembled a leaf.  As it settled on a nearby plant, we vied with each other for the best spot to get a close-up shot.  My efforts were appalling but earlier I had captured a tiny moth among a clump of small white flowers.

We then walked towards the weir and turned sharp left to take the path up, admiring the large sycamore as we reached the treetops.

On arriving at the row of houses on Sandy Gate, we walked back along the road for a short time before taking a shortcut down a path and through the car park of the Birchcliffe Centre.

Back in town, we crossed the busy pedestrian area and went down by the river to look at crows and pigeons behaving strangely in the late afternoon sun.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtirNgmqDlwCvFCdPOIg

Bluebell forest

Bluebells and garlic

 

Bluebells and trees 1Despite feeling tired and achy, we resolved to enjoy a beautiful sunny May Sunday.  We bought supplies form the local bakers before walking up Bridge Lanes.  Crossing at the Fox and Goose, we took the small path up towards Colden clough.  We made frequent stops to admire flowers of all colours amidst ferns and trees in shades of green.

GatepostJust before Lumb Bank, we perched on a small stone wall near the old gatepost which Phil persists in calling ‘the magical stone’ (well, it is in his photographs!).  Taking a shortcut through the writer’s garden to avoid the painful climb, we continued into the clough.  Our ramble was frequently arrested by the sight of bluebells, looking especially picturesque against the white flowers of the garlic fields.

Although late in the season, we found a few leaves and flowers to pick.  A little further on, we sat on a flat rock to enjoy cake and pop, before walking on to Hebble Hole.

 

Hebble Hole bridge 1We crossed the clapper bridge to watch sparkling water beneath us before starting our return.  A climb up to the causeway allowed us to enjoy warm sun on the tops for a while until we took the next path back down above the flat rock, traversing again the garlic fields.  As we came alongside the stream, I paused to look for the dipper and an elderly man who was passing stopped to discuss the glorious day.

 

At Lumb Mill, we took the slope downwards and crossed the floor of old stone flags to the main track.  It amazed me how it took two hours to get to the top of the clough via the small paths compared to a speedy 50 minute return!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtirBYEZCulsoxGA9YkA

Bluebell and ferns 2

Heptonstall to Hardcastle Crags

 

Meadow Flowers 2

Having failed in an earlier attempt to reach Hardcastle Crags from Heptonstall, we tried again during the fine weather of the late May bank holiday weekend.  We caught the bus up to the village to ease our ascent.

Heptonstall NorthfieldWe walked the short walk up Towngate , passing the two pubs.  We paused at Top O’ The Town before turning right up Townfield and along to Northfield.

Notable for never being enclosed and still containing common land, this attractive area includes traditional stone-built houses and pre-fabs with attractive gardens.

 

 

Above Town - view with open gateWe emerged onto a truly stunning path!  Views overlooking three valleys confronted us, with Lee Wood directly below and Pecket Well and Old Town in the distance.

The hedgerows and meadows were resplendent with flowers of all colours.  Cows with their babies grazed peacefully in the fields.

 

I paused to consult the map and determined that we could either go straight down to Midgehole or hang a left and head further along the crags.  We plumped for the latter.  This took us across a wildflower meadow, where we dawdled to take close-up nature shots.

We exited via a tiny stone gate onto Draper Lane.  We then continued on the footpath on the opposite side of the road along the top of the crags.

Barbed wire 1Several interesting features lined the way as we walked through the woods: very arty barbed wire, sheep wool, a busy anthill, and seasonal curly ferns.

Eventually we came to another junction and chose the route heading downwards.  Large stones took the place of earth underfoot as we wound down to the ‘scout hut’.

 

We entered the crags near a grassy riverbank.  Finding a convenient rock ‘on the beach’, we settled down intending to eat pies we had brought with us, when dogs and children appeared.  We shooed them off and waited until they were out of sight before having our picnic.  We lingered awhile, contemplating the sparkling water and marvelled at a tree growing from a tiny island in the middle of the river.  Phil found some pieces of quartz which I washed in the river.

Hardcastle Crags - Hebden Water 2We walked round a very fine rock and onto small stepping stones across Hebden Water.  The other side proved crowded with more kids and dogs.

I remarked that this popularity was why we usually avoided the lower crags although it is a lovely spot.

 

 

At this point it is necessary to make a short climb in order to continue down to the lower entrance of the crags.  But we kept as close to the river as possible, with the cool water and trees providing respite from the hot sun. Amongst other things we noticed prominent tree roots underfoot, a variety of woodland flowers, a clay pit and the old weir.

At Midgehole, we laughed at the ‘New Bridge Hall – no parking’ sign.  It’s alright for some!  But to be fair, it is the original name of the property.

We visited the Blue Pig and sat on a bench by the river, enjoying our beer and the intermittent sun and watching the antics of yet more dogs and escapees from town centre bars.

As it turned chilly, we departed, taking the riverside path into town.  We had a second pint in The Oldgate.  Perched on the low part of the wall, I warned Phil not to drop his phone in the river this time.  As the sun inevitably disappeared behind a chimney, we made our way home.

A year on, we repeated the walk with one minor detour – we veered off the slippery stone path just above the scout hut, navigating carefully through grass and pine trees.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQth8B6sDMJkEZfTc5csg; https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtirV851NDlOnsNP_KZQ

Hardcastle Crags - Tree roots