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.
A 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.
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.
I 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.
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.
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5UdBvKs2GfEYdikRA