Tag Archives: garden

Confined Walks 5 – Salem to Moss Lane

Going up 4

Due to recurring bouts of sinusitis and a family bereavement, there had been little opportunity to enjoy local walks for quite a few weeks.  The first Sunday in August, I felt slightly unwell but we sorely needed  fresh air.  Phil needed the shop.  I thought we might have a short walk first but he was intent on the errand.  The centre was rammed again, particularly the square, as it had been since the easement of lockdown earlier in the summer.  The recently imposed new restrictions in the region had made no difference as far as we could tell.  A gang of ageing bikers inhabited a favoured spot opposite the pub.  One wore a fox stole – very Mad Max!  Acquiring the essentials, we wandered up to the large charity shop.

Carbuncle 2Emerging empty-handed, we found the others shut, dithered about what to do, then returned briefly to the packed square to buy pies for a handy lunch.  We walked on the riverside and continued to the end of Victoria Road until it became a cul-de-sac.  Hebden Water gushed enthusiastically beyond a low stone wall.  Ubiquitous Himalayan Balsam sprouted amid rusting car wrecks.  Piles of tyres were artily arranged in front of patchwork buildings.

 

Towards Foster Mill Bridge, a for sale sign grandly claimed a dilapidated workshop included a garden – actually a strip of scrappy grass.  Over the small humped bridge, waterside flowers already went to seed.  Unable to identify the tall white blooms (so many looked similar), we compared their characteristics to the willowy features of the wild carrot – dominant in the park this year.  We’d planned to sit and eat our pies but the beaches and benches were occupied.  As the wind whipped up, I suddenly felt worse.   I suggested a different route home instead.

Stone wall flora 2Overgrown stone steps took us past the glorious sycamore up to a rough path.  Dodging a couple of women conversing on the corner, we turned left and paused to catch our breath.  Here, the balsam grew tall, lower stems entwined with bindweed, providing a foreground for lines of terraced houses climbing the hills.

Further up, thick garden walls were encrusted with escapees, the bright orange and yellow flowers contrasting brightly with grey granite.

We soon reached Lee Wood Road and walked a short distance westwards, amused by a ‘Cross Lee’ installation, to the top of The Buttress.  I momentarily hesitated as the well-worn packhorse trail all but disappeared in a spookily distant vanishing point.  “Do you want to go this way?” asked Phil.  I shrugged “It’s the quickest way back.”  Stealing myself for a slippery descent on cobbles edged with lush seasonal growth, I soon found my stride.

We nipped in the small cemetery.  Spruced up a few years ago, large clumps of yellow flowers now inhabited narrow spaces between Victorian gravestones.  Slippery paths led precariously to a back wall.  Hillside settlements across the valley seemed remote.  Proceeding downwards, we reached the last turn-off before the bottom leading home.

View down the Buttress

Confined walks 4 – Canalside Medley

Bridge view

Early May, we struggled to leave the house before later afternoon.  Thus we did not get further than the canal.

At the start of the week, Phil cast about for an excuse to go out.  With no shop requirements, he suggested going to look for goslings, snapped by a fellow photographer on the marina.  Hoping they’d still be there we set off late Wednesday afternoon. We waited for a neighbour coming up the steps.  “It’s so strange walking round (town) now, she remarked, “but I quite like it.  Apart from missing the charity shops. I’ve got no summer clothes.” I sympathised as I also missed them.  As she reached the top step, a slipper-wearing man with a mini dog rudely overtook us.  The usual hippies milled about on the main road.

Chapel AquilegiaWe paused at the chapel where cultivated purple aquilegia competed for space with yellow wild poppies and dandelions in the untended garden.  At the marina, we spotted geese, pigeons, a wagtail, a pile of pallets and a small family squatting on the cobbles, but no goslings.  Walking back to the park entrance, a man sat on the cinema steps.  Still talking into his phone, he abruptly stood and strode in our direction necessitating a sudden dodge.

In the memorial gardens, displaced pub-goers socialised on benches while in the park, children weaved about on bikes.  The ‘wild flower’ patch was a riot of dandelions.  On the less-trod playing field, they sprouted alongside daisies, heedless of dogs chasing balls.

Towpath SignExiting onto the towpath, signs redolent of Royston Vasey proclaimed ‘local use only’.  Fish swam beneath bright ripples in the canal, but still no sign of goslings. Turning towards Mayroyd, we climbed onto the lock, avoiding another small family.  A layer of scum and fallen blossom coated the water, blocking any view of wild life.  The way ahead seemed rather busy.  We retreated and stayed on the left side hoping to avoid busier stretches, taking the steps up to Palace House Road.  Peeking over the wall  down onto the canal at Hebble End, there were still no pesky goslings!

Friday (VE Day), jolly laughter, bursts of terrible music and milling about implied people on the street below were actually having a party. On our street, neighbours of the adjacent terrace socialised in their own self-created ‘bubble’.  Mr. Fast n Furious raced up and parked in the middle of the thoroughfare for no apparent reason, stood there a few minutes with engine idling, then reversed out with equal speed.

Bunting 1We gave all a wide berth and walked through clouds of floating dandelion seeds and upon the fading chalk art, to the end of the street, giggling at pathetic bunting in ‘Brexit Close’.  We took The Buttress down to the Packhorse Bridge, and into the square where a solitary figured occupied a bench.  I discovered later that an anti-lockdown demo, consisting of 8 sociopathic hippies had taken place.  Getting a few errands, we popped in the fancy wine shop to smirk at the exorbitant prices and dance to Sister Sledge and purchased the fabled goat meat from the very local butchers.

We wandered towards Holme Street where more half-hearted bunting adorned the school.  The smoky wood smell of the people’s pizza van was a big draw, but competed with the stink of draw towards the aqueduct.

DippingWe crossed to the other side of the lock again, evading the idiotic bank holiday smokers and drinkers, and enjoying a quiet patch of sunlight until the coast cleared.  Continuing past Hebble End, the angry white geese noisily defended their territory against half-breed ducks.  One, a mix of mallard and runner duck, swam in an ungainly fashion, struggling to keep its long neck up .  At the next exit point, we walked down a dirt track housing half-demolished vans, to the river and spotted a wagtail hopping from rock to rock.

Around the corner, we hailed a couple of friends in their garden, chatting safely from the other side of the wall.  He had been furloughed and she’d sensibly given up work as a self-employed painter for the duration, enjoying the rest.  That made at least two other people liking the slower pace of life! By coincidence, she had painted the red windows reflected in the canal waters that I had shot a couple of days before (and subject of the next Monday Morning Haiga).

Towpath reflections 1

On Spring Bank holiday Monday, we set off slightly earlier hoping to find lunch in town.  Heaving with day-trippers, carparks and bins overflowed, people queued for café take-a-ways, and benches outside the pub were fully occupied (although still not offering take-outs themselves).  It appeared as if the square had become a makeshift food court.  In search of pies, we found the bakers shut.  The local convenience stores supplied meagre pickings.  We waited ages while a family who looked like they’d already eaten all the pies, hovered round the instant food section.  The staff complained about the tourists “There are at least 300 people in the square”, one of them exaggerated.  Navigating the busy street, almost mowed down by a motorbike, we crossed over to the park to find a suitable patch of grass amidst the small groups populating the green spaces, in front of the shut café.  I said they could at least be selling ice cream.

Calder Holmes Park 2We enjoyed a long overdue picnic lunch in the warm sunshine, realising it was the first time since early March we had bought ‘lunch out’.  Discussing the recent Cummings farrago, we agreed the cat was out of the bag now.  Although physical distancing was not being totally ignored, friendship groups had definitely formed.  I learnt the art beloved of Daily Mail photographers, misleading the viewer into thinking small clumps of people were actually one seething mass.  An infamous local character staggered from one group to another, wearing a mask round his chin.  Phil suggested his keyworker probably put a stack in his house to protect the rest of us!

After eating, we walked along the canal to Mytholmroyd.  Delicate white flowers and common orchids resembling bottle brushes swayed gently at the water’s edge, dwarfed by Margarites.

Canal Whites 1At the boundary, more Margarites grew in hard gravel also home to a smattering of clover and trefoil.  We crossed the main road to the ancient hamlet of Hawksclough and walked home  via the Sustrans cycle path.  As the habitat changed, so did the flora.   Bright kingcups dazzled beside grey granite while fading wild garlic and miniscule blooms stretched upwards in the shade of riverside trees.

I popped in the co-op while Phil waited outside.  The halfwit serving me spoke into his headset: “we appear to have a stalker at the window.“  I turned round to see Phil doing funny faces behind my back!

Field of dreams

Confined walks 2 – Slater Ings

 

Dark shadows 1With the return of bright sunshine on Sunday, we ventured a little further to walk up the Cuckoo Steps, across Heptonstall Road to the path leading to our favourite ridge. On the climb, black shadows of twisty thin trees criss-crossed the dusty pink shingle. Two women with dogs stopped for us, but although they stood aside, the dogs still blocked the path.  As I hesitated they assured us that their fur harboured no germs as they had been in isolation for 2 weeks.  Passing cautiously, Phil noted they were nice friendly dogs.  I agreed, but told the women I was wary as this is not always the case.  They sympathised saying “We’ll put the leads on if we run into us again”.  “That’s kind but it’s fine.”  Next, it was our turn to wait for a small family crouched on the verge.  We side-stepped into the old quarry until they had finished doing selfies.

Hell Hole 1As we rounded the corner, we saw unsightly scribbles on Hell Hole Rocks.  At first glance it appeared to be made with chalk, but on closer inspection turned out to be painted graffiti, thus likely permanent and a real shame.  We checked the coast was clear and climbed the small steps up to ‘photographer’s corner’.

Wavering about whether to clamber onto the ‘viewing platform’, quite a few people approached form the opposite direction, making the decision for us.  We gazed down at a more pleasing aspect of the big rock, without scrawls, and across the valley until it was clear to continue.

Heading for Slater Ings, an ageing hippie couple sat on a large flat rock right near it.  They could easily have moved further away, but as they didn’t, we side-stepped as far as possible to the other side.  The man greeted us to which I responded “that’s not 6 feet”.  He said “Don’t worry about it.”  “I do, it’s because of morons like you that the stupid lockdown will last forever.”  As we hurried on past, he shouted  “Stay indoors then… You’re out walking!” “Yes, but when I want a rest, I don’t just plonk down; I move away from the path!”  “Do you remember the Nazis?” to which Phil retorted “No, I’m not old enough.  Are you?”  Tempted to go back and clatter him, I said it wasn’t worth it and anyway, it couldn’t be done at a safe distance!

Slater Ings stony detour 3Luckily, the wood was less populous.  We soon spotted a patch of wild garlic and climbed down a slippery dry slope where deadwood crackled beneath our shoes – the feeble brook having dried to a trickle in the warm April weather.

A few people past on the path above as we gathered the pungent leaves.  Taking a while to come back up, we spotted several pieces of broken pottery, indicating this was once a popular picnic spot.

Hitherto considering Slater Ings the wilder part of  the woodlands, now I looked properly, it became obvious it had also been part of the Victorian ‘job creation scheme’.  Why else would the large rocks be so picturesquely placed along the walking path?

Making our way between said rocks, bluebells and primroses lined the grassy edges.  A woman with several kids in tow kindly took a detour for us and a second pair of women with dogs waited for us at a gap in the wall leading out to the lane.

Wayside primroses 3Chancing a return via Heptonstall, we saw more people in one place than in the last 3 weeks.  Locals stood chatting in small groups in their gardens while visitors lounged in fields and on benches, and walked, cycled, and drove along the road in both directions.  The small community had rallied round with the post office offering a distribution service for local businesses and the pub doing ‘order and collect’ Sunday lunch.

Managing to keep at a safe distance we rested  very briefly in Weaver’s Square and re-enacted a scene from the Pace Egg – sadly cancelled this year along with everything else during lockdown.

We continued on Heptonstall Road, down the steps to Lee Wood Road and onto The Buttress, where we made further waits a  for slower elderly people coming up the punishingly steep cobbles.

Slater Ings path 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

 

Autumn Symphony – Slack Top to the Crags

View pano 2

We managed one more walk before the end of October.  I had suggested a trip to Hardcastle Crags which strangely, we had rarely visited in autumn. Following some route-finding, we embarked on what we hoped would be less of a slog to get to Gibson Mill.  This entailed catching the 596.  Due to roadworks, the bus shelter had disappeared to be replaced by a temporary sign.  As we waited, a chilly wind made me cold and I worried I might not be warm enough.

Greenwood Lea 1We rode up enjoying the scenery in the beautiful sunshine.  We got off at Slack Top, immediately crossed and began walking up Widdop Road.  To our left, a different aspect of Popples Common revealed its true size.  A cobbled lane suggested an old packhorse trail.   To the right, large gardens housed annoying yappy dogs. Farmhouses revealed ancient horse steps, auxiliary servant’s quarters. multiple chimneys and peafowl – the latter populating the grounds of Greenwood Lea (a historic Yeoman’s house dating from circa 1712).  A few sheep and ridiculously cute Shetland ponies grazed in the fields.  Across the valley, trees displayed a plethora of colours with emerald evergreens interspersing a variety of deciduous hues.

Clough trees 1The road dipped slightly and after a small bend we espied Clough Holes carpark.  As work was underway, a sign announced ‘footpath closed’.  “Oh no!” I exclaimed, then realised it meant the path to the carpark.  Alongside, a tiny step stile led down to a picturesque path following the line of a small brook, punctuated with idyllic cascades.  A second stepped stile marked meadows giving way to woodland.

Looking back, sunlight glinted on leaves of orange, yellow and green with branches stretching towards a pale blue sky.  The path became a mix of rough cobble and hardcore as it continued to wind down.  Just before the stone bridge, a tree stump resembled a teddy bear.

Like a teddyA couple of families had followed us down; a reminder it was half-term.  I hoped we would not be overwhelmed with school kids at Gibson Mill.  In spite of the family-friendly activities and several groups making use of the café facilities, I managed to find a vacant table.  We had brought our own butties.   Phil wanted a brew to go with them and disappeared inside the Weaving Shed for what seemed like an age!  Eventually emerging, he said it had taken so long because of the umpteen variations on offer including flake in coffee – is that a thing now?

Both the walk down and lunch had taken considerably longer than anticipated.  Having originally planned to go quite a bit further up, we figured there was insufficient daylight remaining.  We agreed to at least walk a little way beyond the mill.

Among the mill ponds, impressive fungi were the size of dinner plates.  The brook we had walked alongside on our descent culminated in a torrent teeming down the rocks.  A large party of elderly hikers came towards us, necessitating a precarious step off the path at the water’s edge.

Mill ponds 4A few ducks pootled about on the pond surface amidst floating oak leaves.  Below the water line, bare branches created black reflections while frondy pond weeds of bright green swayed gently.  At the actual crags, I remarked that I had only recently realised  that this exact spot had been the focus of Victorian jaunts.  Lovely as they are, I was somewhat bemused by its specific popularity; the whole Calder Valley is characterised by such features.

We continued a little further where the scene took on a more forested aspect.  Assorted mushrooms brought renewed life to dead wood.  Soft russets reflected in the silvery steam.  I lingered on the edge of Hebden Water to take in the gorgeous symphony of colours and sounds.

The Crags 1Returning, we took the top track for a faster walk home, edged with fading ferns, spindly saplings and older majestic trees marching up the slope.  On the last stretch of the riverside path, we stayed on the left side to laugh anew at the swamp.

At the end of Valley Road, Phil detoured to the shop while I headed home, stopping briefly to chat with a friend.  I slumped on the sofa, recovered slightly with a drink of water but felt in need of a proper lie down.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9RkfZatqiLCPQD4XQ?e=3ctubM

 

Upstream 8

 

Nutclough to Common Bank Circular

 

 

Path to Field

During the hot August Bank Holiday weekend, we headed for Nutclough in search of shade and tranquillity.  Bright green grass reflected in impossibly blue water.  Large seed heads rustled in the shade of the leafy canopy.  As we dingled amongst the islands and streams, the peace was disturbed by a crowd of insta-types trying to get the perfect selfie.  One of them said “it’s beautiful here” to which I was tempted to reply, ‘it was ‘til you showed up!’

Dappled Water 3Phil clambered over fallen trunks and dodgy slopes to get nearer the waterfall.  Still mindful of my tendonitis, I declined to follow and waited on the sunken bench.  As the large group departed, a woman with two children and a lively dog appeared putting paid to any idea of enjoying a picnic in solitude.  I realised I had totally lost sight of Phil and waited for what seemed an age until he re-appeared.

We proceeded further up the clough and took the left-hand path leading to the meadow where clumps of pale purple heather grew beneath beach trees bearing nut clusters.  As the scrub thinned out further up,  a refreshing breeze blew softly.  We squatted on the grass to eat flatbread and drink sarsaspirilla.

Before crossing the stile, we cautiously checked for cows that had spooked us on our last foray in the area, then continued slowly upwards following the just-discernible grass path between field boundaries marked by drystone walls and the odd hawthorn.  The meadow was denuded of flowers.  I wondered if the cows and eaten them all before moving on to pastures new.

Really Shiny Fly

We followed the line of the path to a small gate leading to a lovely lane, where late summer blooms  bobbed and thistle fluff floated in the mild wind. An incredibly shiny fly buzzed atop golden flowerheads.  At Club Houses, we Continued to Billy lane and through Old Town.  We stopped at Lane Ends for a pint in the beer garden.  I had to move round a lot to avoid heatstroke, even though evening fast approached.

 

We took a top route back down.  On Rowlands Lane, we looked across at the route we had climbed, observing it was a long way round to Old Town. Yet more downy fluff adorned the hedgerows with tall willow herbs stretching beyond walls into the clear sky.

Waxing 2We descended via Dodnaze into Common Bank wood where the waning sun filtered through the trees and made puddles of light on the dry path.

Approaching town, very loud music assaulted our ears.  It turned out to be emanating from the White Swan which seemed slightly bizarre.  We chatted briefly to a friend outside the Shoulder of Mutton but were not keen to linger for Bank Holiday mayhem,  returning home via the Chinese take-away instead.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti8F79NjMPwOJ-eADkw?e=hCKpef

Path Via Field 1

 

Spring Alive

Trunks and Bluebells 1

The last Sunday in April, the weather looked changeable but we really needed to get out for some air and exercise.  We walked aimlessly towards town, and stopped to chat to a neighbour on her doorstep on the way.  The town square was almost as lively as the Easter weekend.  As we emerged with pies from the baker’s, Phil reckoned he heard a peacock.  A sighting had recently been made in Old town and wondering if it had descended from there, we walked down Albert Street.  With no sign of it, I proposed it was a dog yelping.

Dandelion Flower 3At the main road, we walked on to cross near the rail station and took the track down past the stoneyard.  We stopped on the bridge, where a small bird swooped down, apparently washing something in the river.  It then flew under the arch.  We climbed up broken steps and peered precariously from the edge, but the bird eluded us.

Continuing up Wood Top Road, lush greenery surrounded on all sides.  We followed the curves to skirt farm buildings and reach Carr Lane.

Revelling in having the place to ourselves, we dawdled to examine the hedgerows.  Delicate white and purple flowers contrasted with deep green grass. Dazzlingly yellow dandelions started going to seed forming perfect clock circles.

Birdsong of myriad species made the only sound.  A very loud chaffinch dominated the chorus.  At the next group of buildings, we searched for a way through but could discern none apart from down to the railway bridge.

Grassy Lane 3

Returning to Wood Top Farm, we took the beautiful grassy lane towards Crow Nest Wood.  As we headed down, tiny forget-me-nots lay in a clump at the corner.  Oak trees sported shiny leaves and pendulous blossoms.   A mouldy stump had become almost dust in places, the culprit an iridescent turquoise.  At the quarry, we stayed on the top path into the wood.  Afternoon sun filtered through leafy boughs, making soft shadows on carpets of bluebells.

I suggested a customary stop near the stream, but as the air cooled, thought better of it.  However, a bit further down, we started flagging and rested on a moss-covered rock.

Phil tried to persuade me that stones had moved uphill since his last visit.  I was sceptical about the idea of inanimate objects having a life of their own.

Roe Deer 1We then took the shortest route down, noting trees looking even more dead and rotten than a few months ago.

As we approached the path behind Palace House Road, a roebuck grazed on shrubs.  It stared right at me, enabling a good shot.

Verges displayed a variety of life, different from the dark woodland.  Insects and spiders waited patiently for prey.  Golden Welsh poppies escaped from nearby gardens.  A cacophony of tits hopped between treetops.

Back home, we ate the re-heated pies with coffee and agreed it was much easier than picnicking perched on a rock in the woods.  I felt very tired, my legs ached and an Achilles tendon issue flared up.  But I was glad we had been out.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti6cACS87vPUo7HaryQ

Waiting 1

Finding Ted and Sylvia (Lumb Bank to Heptonstall)

Bend and boughs

The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult.  Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process.  Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression.  The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.

Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks.  On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine.  After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m.  We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot.  They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely.  We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property.  At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.

Colourful trees revisitedWe turned right again and started the ascent into woodland.  It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath.   A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion.  I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake.  Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.

Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path.  A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork.  This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.

Lumb Bank garden 4

Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers.   As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.

I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet.  Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.

We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village.  We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next.  Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left.  We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.

Churchyard selfieAmongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.

A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost.  She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave.  Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it.  There are usually pens and stuff on it”.  Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath.  She looked the type”.  I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.

We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked.  He thought he might have left it at home.  I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark.  Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.

We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves.  We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked.   I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop.  On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it.  We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer.  When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!”  Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!

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Lumb Bank view 1

Archaeology in Cross Stone

Stoodley View

A rare Friday outing began with a speedy bus journey to Todmorden.  Having no firm plans about what to do when we got there, Phil suggested going up to Cross Stone to re-examine a prehistoric site, previously visited during an archaeology trip some time ago.  I agreed, with the proviso that we had food first.  Alighting at the bus station, we entered the classic market hall to be tempted by an all-day breakfast at the cheap ‘n’ cheerful Market Hall Café.

Red and yellow 4

From the town centre, we took a back route eastward, stopping briefly in the community garden.

Bees buzzed amidst colourful flower beds. Young green apples hung from low branches.  Juvenile jackdaws searched for worms on the moist grass.  A small tent pitched close to the bins, suggesting someone lived there.

Proceeding down back streets we noted the familiar northern town grid-pattern terraces. We walked the length of the unmistakably Victorian-named Industrial Street, and turned right onto Anchor Street.

At the corner of Halifax Road, I cut through the grounds of Roomfiled Baptist Church to re-join Phil on Halifax Road.  We paused on the bridge over the River Calder to watch dippers hopping among the stones as small fish created concentric ripples on the water’s surface.

Street sign 4The second turning on the left marked the start of our climb up Cross Stone Road.  Urban landscapes quickly gave way to a more rural aspect.  Steep curves led us past dark green verges, almost submerging large stones and unkempt benches.  An old toll house had been converted into a twee cottage.

At the top, we felt overheated layer and rested awhile by a clump of dog roses. We turned up Hey Head Lane toward the golf club.  Unsure of where the earthworks lay, we followed the drive into the car park, and started heading upwards across the green to a likely ridge. Phil asked a helpful golfer if he knew where the site was and he directed us to the top of the course.

Golf course 5On a further ridge, we tried to differentiate between ancient markings and modern bunkers.  A second golfer shouted sarcastically “take your time!”  before informing us about a public footpath along the top edge of the green.  This turned out to be quite pleasant.  Edged with small shrubs, grasses and willow herbs, we discovered what looked like a grave marked by a standing stone in a boggy patch.

Eventually, Phil reckoned we had located the ‘earthwork’.  Having been told in archaeology class that it was a long barrow, we were sceptical.  Clearly visible markings that appeared to be field boundaries, lay atop the undulating mound, suggesting this had been a settlement. Views of the valley across to Stoodley Pike seemed to confirm our theory.i

Up the laneQuest over, we returned to the marked path.  A gap in a lovely stone wall led back onto the lane.  I developed indigestion as a result of eating just before embarking on the climb.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pleasant walk down.  In places, hedgerows of hawthorns were fronted by stone walls suggesting that Medieval hedges had then been added to later.

Back in the village, we rested on a wall by the now-defunct church.  Ignoring the curtain-twitchers, we looked round for the stocks then realised they were by our feet, almost totally overgrown with weeds.  We had noticed a footpath down the west side of the churchyard and guessed it might cut out the first big bend on Cross Stone Road.

Carr Lane Farm 2The extremely narrow path soon arrived at some steps.  A woman gardening informed us of the way to go, but it seemed to be leading in the wrong direction.  The untrodden path took on a spooky aspect, until we reached another ‘junction’.

I suggested taking a lane back to the road rather than following the path (signed ‘Calderdale way link path’) as I didn’t want to end up walking along the tops all the way home.  We past an impossibly cute row of houses, followed by a row of posh parked cars.

Later, I discovered it was marked on the map as ‘Carr Lane Farm’, but the clues implied this was now a des res.  Carr Lane became grassy as it led us down to Cross Stone Road.  From there, it was an easy stroll down to the main road where we caught a bus straight away and were soon home.

Note

i For more information on the bronze age ‘Blackheath long barrow’ see:

https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/leisure-and-culture/local-history-and-heritage/glimpse-past/archaeology

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Golf course 2

Wainsgate to Common Bank

Walking down the lane 1

A warm, sunny but occasionally breezy first Sunday in July, we had arranged to meet a friend for an arts festival event in Old Town followed by a meal at the country inn. We had intended to walk, but she had an errand in town and picked us up on her way back.  She drove up via Pecket Well and along Billy Lane, finding a spot to park near the corner of Wainsgate Lane.

Wainsgate wallpaper 1During the short stroll to the chapel, we admired the pretty cottage gardens, resplendent in the bright light.

A couple lounged on deck chairs at the entrance.  One of them was a local artist jointly responsible for the event.  She explained what to expect from the sound installation. ‘Gather’ entailed a music performance played on a loop.  As we settled on pews, among a smattering of others, the sounds of wispy singing could be heard, followed by tweeting birds, choral music and a small narrative about the Baptist Minister, John Fawcett.

The pleasant noises created a contemplative atmosphere. However, I had some trouble settling on the hard benches.  My concentration wandered to examine cracks in the crumbling plaster as the sunlight made odd reflections on the pulpit.  I turned to speak to Phil and he pointed to the slip of paper requesting peace and quiet – I suppose he thought that was funny!

Wainsgate comments 1At the end of the sound loop, I snuck out back to take photos of the kitchen.  Finding a ‘no entry’ sign on the door, I asked the artist for permission.  she obligingly led me round to the side door and left me to try and capture the interesting junk and fading wallpaper amidst shadowy light.  Back out front, kind words had been left in the comments book.

We hung around outside a while, to chat to the artist and sip water.  A selection of old photos showed the chapel choir through the ages.  We reflected on the excellent quality of the old choir recordings and marvelled that it had been recorded at all.

We walked back to the road.  Our friend drove her car down while we enjoyed a pleasant walk through the village.  We re-united at the country inn.  Armed with drinks and a menu we took seats out in the garden and chatted awhile to a mutual friend until he departed for home.  Although a pleasant breeze tempered the heat, it was hard to find a shady spot.  Eventually, we changed tables and settled down to peruse the food options.  We caught up on each other’s news until pies and more beer arrived.

Wild foxglove 2We said goodbye to our friend and took the back exit onto Lane Ends.  At the next junction, we continued straight ahead.  On Rowlands Lane, grey haze hovered over the valley bottom. Desiccated flowers and tall grasses swayed in the gentle wind.  Crows flitted from rickety gates to yellow fields.  Majestic foxgloves rose into a picture-perfect sky.  At the end of the lane, we took steps down to the edge of Dodd Naze and crossed the road to reach the public footpath where we turned left.

A short stretch, fenced in on both sides, led to the virtually dry small stream.  We stepped gingerly over stones covered in green slime into Common Bank Wood and followed the dusty path.

Tall trees provided welcome shade.  We noted that some trees had been cut down and sported signs stating that the path would be closed later for an arts festival event and wondered what that could be.

Vertigo 1

From Osborne street, we took a steep flight of steps.  The blinding sun made stark shadows on the way down to Commercial street. We had considered visiting more free events in town.  The street theatre appeared to have ended as only a few people milled about.  We wandered in vain for a couple of minutes looking for clues.  Hot, tired and thirsty, we abandoned the mission and returned home.

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