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A Rare Visit to Gibson Mill

Tree tops 3

It is a rare thing indeed for us to purposefully visit Hardcastle Crags in summer.  Almost as rare (apart from holidays), we set off at 1 p.m. on a mid-July Sunday to catch Gibson Mill’s opening hours.

River rock art 2We took the most direct route via Hangingroyd Lane and the riverside path.  New rock art stood in the centre of Hebden Water, where the banks were adorned with green and white flourishes.

At the bottom of the steps up to Midgehole Road, loud barking caused me to jump out of my skin.   A large dog leapt up from behind tall grasses.

Phil let out an involuntary shout.  Two women appeared, along with a smaller dog causing more commotion.  The women apologised, saying it was a rescue dog responding to our fear.  That sounded reasonable, except I hadn’t even seen the mutt, so how could I be fearful in advance?  Later, Phil felt sorry for shouting at a rescue dog but I said (not for the first time) that dog owners should control their charges when they are likely to come into contact with other walkers.

Gibson Mill interior 3On Midgehole Road, signs declared the Crags car park full.  We weaved between parked cars and clumps of irritatingly slow people to the main gate.  Staying on the top track, we walked speedily to Gibson Mill.  We immediately entered the building and climbed to the top floor to be met by the sight of a Victorian-era kitchen.  An iron range arrayed with a selection of contemporaneous cooking vessels stood against the back wall. To the right, a shallow Belfast sink perched on brick legs.  Around the cracked windowsill, peeling whitewash revealed fading yellow paint.

Through a door on the left we found a larger room with tungsten bulbs suspended from a high ceiling.  The ample space was occupied by Yan Wang-Preston’s ‘Forest’ exhibition, the main object of our visit.  I had expected arty photos of trees.  It turned out to be a project documenting the uprooting of mature trees in China and transplanting them to concrete cities where of course they die.  Utter madness!  Why can’t they grow new trees?

Gibson Mill window viewDownstairs, we made our way to the café for freshly-made sandwiches and tea.  We chose a table on the terrace and got a different view of the mill pond.

From the upper floor, I had noticed small splashes hitting the water’s surface.  What had looked like raindrops, I now realised, were being made by small fish.

After eating, we went out front to finish our drinks.  On the surrounding tables, yet more barking dogs threatened to cause alarm but thankfully, they were kept at bay.  I spotted an acquaintance sitting nearby with a friend.  We exchanged greetings before they entered the mill to peruse the exhibition.

Rock with shadowsWe took the slower, but less populous and pleasanter riverside route back to the main entrance.  Tall pines stretched into the summer sky, the canopy giving respite from the muggy afternoon heat.  Impossibly large stones punctuated the paths and stream, some sporting strange holes.  Foliage made attractive greyscale patterns on eroding surfaces.  At the almost-dry weir, dippers dived among square paving rendered visible by the low water level.

As we rested on a nearby bench, I heard something drop to the ground.  At first, we could see nothing.  Then Phil realised it was his phone.  The screen had cracked (For the third time.  Luckily, he has since discovered he can buy the parts to fix it himself).

Behind bars 2On reaching the end of the crags, we continued on the riverside as much as possible, staying on the left-hand side towards town, foraging a few raspberries from sporadic bushes.

We paused briefly on Victoria Road where a tractor seemed imprisoned.  Headlights gleamed wide-eyed behind an iron gate fastened with rusty iron chains.  Polished blue paintwork reflected blue sky.  Getting ready for the local show, no doubt.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4JrYWA4b2_1LeHp3w

Weir 6

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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.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4FFQuY60aCBGIn0CQ

 

Nutclough in May

Bluebells on a cliff edge 2

A glorious second week in May was marred somewhat with recurring bouts of sinusitis and an altercation with a neighbour, raising my anxiety and stress levels.  Following an exhausting Saturday afternoon hacking shrubs and clearing up outside, we were determined to have some R&R on Sunday. I suggested a short walk as I was still not strong enough to go far.  We walked to the very end of the street, noting lots of hedgerow flowers, then round and down to the buttress.

Bluebells and leavesAt the bottom, we took Hangingroyd Lane to climb the steps opposite the little park and along Unity Street into Nutclough.

The stream was very low, with additional crossing points to the ‘islands’.  I was able to get much closer to the small waterfall than usual and marvelled at how much difference a short dry spell could make.

We spent a considerable time surrounded by the beautiful colours. Trees displayed an array of greens; bluebells topped walls and ridges; smatterings of yellow punctuated the palette.

The water was so blue and the reflections of trees so still that it looked like the sky.  The area became busy we families as we relaxed on the bench.

Tree reflections 7We escaped up to the top path and walked along to the stone bridge, where we debated which route to take.  We opted for the second path on the left, up towards the meadows.

A dinky craggy path led between small trees and bushes which I deduced had been planted since we last came this way.  At the top, two guys with dogs sat next to a steep stone stile.

On crossing, one of the dogs started following and pestering us.  We started up the grass path bisecting the flower meadow, resplendent with dandelions as a precursor to summertime blooms.  Put off by wandering cows, we backed down and searched for another route avoiding the canines but failed. Clambering back over the stile, being pestered again, we started to follow the line of the wall.  It became very tussocky and the darn dog followed us!  Defeated, we made our way back to the proper path.   I picked up the pace as we descended.  Phil called me to wait for him (makes a change).

Top field 1I didn’t realise it but I must have taken a right-hand fork somewhere and emerged at the bottom of the cobbled lane leading up to Hurst Road.  We jumped down a bit of a drop lay where there might have been steps once.  A smaller, unexplored path opposite looked enticing and we decided to be adventurous and follow it, only to soon emerge onto the original top path!  Phil thought it was hilarious.

We headed towards the main entrance when I suggested that as it was a day for exploring new paths, we should try the small flight of stone steps leading further up.   We found ourselves in a small wooded area, carpeted with bluebells and garlic flowers.

Garlic flowers 1Continuing up to a gate, a passive/aggressive notice on the other side declared it part of a private garden – it’s aright for some!  We emerged onto a long driveway, curving round yet more bluebell woods.  At the bottom, the stone gatepost displayed the name ‘Arnsbrae’.  How many times had we past that without noticing it? We walked down Keighley Road and into town.

In search of a refreshing pop, the cafes in the square were packed and the nearby shop shut.  We found spaces at Rendezvous on Bridge Gate.  Phil secured an outside table while I went in for drinks.  Then he decided he was hungry.  We were given both daytime and evening menus.  I settled on a wrap when we were informed that the daytime menu had just become unavailable.  We shared a hot meze off the evening menu – very tasty albeit rather more food than we had intended.

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Small waterfall 2

Horsehold to Callis

Butterflies and buddleias 3The last Sunday of September 2017, we repeated a typical walk for this time of year.  As we crossed the bridge at Hebble End, butterflies devoured blossom from a buddleia tree overhanging into the river.

We ascended HorsEarly autumn colours 3ehold Road very slowly making frequent stops to catch our breath and for photos of early autumn colours and tiny worlds of moss.  It had been a long time since I had made that steep climb.  At the gate on the right, we took the path to where the cross is placed at Easter.

Sitting on the bench enjoying the views trees on the other side of the valley looked like models made of sponge.  As we continued, we had to dodge quite a few muddy patches and impromptu streams.  We emerged in the land of green and red aka Horsehold Wood.

Continuing down to the waterfall, more streams, mud and slippy stones made crossing tricky and rendered me exhausted.  It was too damp to sit in our favourite spot.  Further up, I perched on a rock at the side of the path and Phil almost sat on a clump of mushrooms. We ate a small picnic before continuing.

The avenue 1Round the bend, a field with beech trees lining the path gave the impression of an avenue.

At the bottom, the ruined house was even more of a ruin.  The once-new stream now seemed permanent; stones had been taken from the ruin to try to contain the flow.

 

 

Descending to lock number 12, we crossed the canal and briefly turned left to look for blackberries where we had found a bumper crop last year.  Alas, we were out of luck.  We returned home via the towpath and backstreets.

Red and green 7

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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

Explorations on Lower Midgely Moor

Heights Road 1

A week into April, we deemed it dry enough to venture up to the lower part of Midgely Moor in search of archaeology we had not seen on our visit last summer.  The warm Saturday sunshine had brought hordes of people into the town centre.  Not tempted to join them, we passed by the busy pubs on our way to the bus stop on Commercial street.  As the bus to Old Town turned the corner onto Heights Road, I realised we had reached the golf club.  We pressed the buzzer and the driver let us off a bit further down the road (a tad grumpily).

Midgley Moor quarry 1We took in the views and hedgerow features before walking the few metres back to the club entrance.  At the corner, we tried to avoid making ‘selfies’ while taking shots of the mirror on a pole and watched the antics of chickens.  We walked up the drive and cut across the pleasant golf course to the gate onto the footpath.

 

Reaching the top, we checked the map and determined that the enclosure we searched should be behind the nearby quarry.   On entering, we sat awhile to enjoy the sun and debated our next move.  Phil thought he had a found a route.  We started climbing and spotted a likely mound.  But the way proved tricky, not being an actual path.  Scrambling back down, we turned left to continue on the proper path.  Just before the next gate, we noticed another path leading up sharply on the left.

Midgley Moor earthworks 1This took us to the top of the quarry where we observed grouse screeching as they flew away from us between a series of mounds.

I wondered if the whole area had been a burial site.  We kept going on small paths in the direction of Lane Ends.

They led us down through moorland vegetation and onto a track churned with mud by cattle and tractors.  We kept along the edge of a stone wall to avoid the mud but had to crouch beneath low-hanging thorn trees.  Eventually, we found a safe course back onto better paths once more and soon found ourselves back on Heights Road.   At the Hare and Hounds, we commandeered a table on the patio.  We enjoyed the sun while eating, drinking and chatting for over 2 hours.

Mill with flowers in foreground 2Deciding to walk back down to Hebden in the ‘golden hour’ proved an excellent choice: the moon rose over the moor; spring flowers adorned the hedgerows.  We stayed ‘up tops’ as long as possible, taking Raglands Lane to Dod Naze then down into Common Bank Woods to witness gilded trees in the glowing light.

I stumbled on a tree branch and landed on my bad knee.  I sat in the dirt for a while recovering but no damage had been done and I said it would have hurt more if I hadn’t had 2 pints!

Back in town, we considered another drink.  However, the sight of people who had been drinking all afternoon put us off so we headed home.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiqUzzrIq2giN_bP9qg

Trees at golden hour 2

Blackshaw Head and Rawtenstall

blackshaw-head-snowy-gate

 

Mid-January snowfall rendered the landscape picture-perfect.  While the snow looked scrappy down in the valley, we guessed it would still be sparkling ‘up tops’.  We took advantage of a sunny Saturday to plan an outing with Marisa.  Armed with coffee and cake, we caught the bus upwards and chatted to an old friend as it made its way up Heptonstall Road.  As she alighted, Marisa got on.  We continued upwards, admiring the snowy scenes in the lovely sunshine.  At Blackshaw Head we paused to look at a black and white sheep in front of a barn.  They stared back at us until they got bored.  Next to their field, we noted a beautiful old gate and tracks in the snow.

blackshaw-head-marsh-lane-4We entered the chapel grounds opposite, enjoying the feel of ‘proper snow’ under our feet before emerging onto Badger Lane.  Continuing on the now-familiar route down Marsh Lane and Winter Lane, we took in views of scudding clouds and Stoodley Pike while avoiding icy patches.

We continued along the Pennine Bridleway towards Lower Rawtenstall as far as the ‘stone doorway’, to sit on a bench overlooking the valley.

Phil commented that is was a gorgeous view of the sewage works!

 

rawtenstall-manor-2We ate our supplies before going back up to the corner where we turned right onto Dark Lane.  The way proved dodgy in places with ice, snow and mud meaning I lagged behind the others.

En route, Marisa pointed out what was once Rawtenstall Manor.

 

 

 

At the second farm along, we dropped south again onto a lovely grassy path edged by hawthorns (thus obviously pretty old).  It wended down, skirting Knott Wood, to Turret Hall Road.  I looked back to note that the shrubs created a picturesque arch over the path.  From there, we took Oakville Road down to the main road into town.  A rise in temperature meant that ice on the main routes was no longer slippy making for a speedy last leg of our journey.

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rawtenstall-path-with-arch-1