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!
We 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.
Past 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.
Eventually, 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.
Opting 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.
- The Hebden Bridge Loop: http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/pennine-way-loop/
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4EJ_MuwABD_5kPtPQ