Tag Archives: Gibson Mill

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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A Dodgy Walk from Blake Dean

Graining Water 1

The intermittent summer of 2016 and a series of family traumas did not allow for many opportunities to enjoy longer days out.  However, the first Saturday in August promised to be a good, fine day for walking.  We determined to forget recent troubles and make the most of it.

1800 markerI got together a picnic and we set out for the bus stop.  We almost gave up waiting for the community bus, as it was delayed by several minutes.

At last it arrived and we rode up to Blake Dean, alighting at the bridge over Graining Water.

I noticed for the first time the stonemason’s mark – ‘W. 1800’ – carved into an edge stone.

 

We crossed the road and descended via the rickety wooden gate into the dean.  Predictably busy on a warm summer’s day, we escaped uphill via paths overgrown with bracken, away from the crowds.  A lump of rocks edged an attractive grassy path, in front of a small stone cave.  We enjoyed a picnic and views whilst discussing options for the walk down into the crags.

Stone caveOpting to stay on the east side of the stream, we kept on the lower grassy path.

This took us above the remains of the trestle bridge i, over a rickety styal, past a disused quarry (likely again related to the temporary railway) and through what could have been an abandoned garden.

 

 

We then entered a cedar wood, awestruck by its sheer beauty.  Tall trees emitted scents redolent of Christmas, interspersed with truncated and fallen trunks.  We continued downstream, until things took a turn for the worse.  Apparent landslips had rendered the path unnavigable in places.  Springs had created bogs, very tricky to cross.  Much trial and error ensued. Our feet became inevitably wet and muddy (thank goodness for waterproof sandals!)

Fed up of the constant sinking, we considered fording the stream but it did not look safe enough.  Eventually we came to an old stone wall and paused to think.  After some deliberation, we decided to try and ford yet another impromptu stream surrounded by bog.  However, in spite of laying down a carpet of bracken, I was unable to make the leap.  Meanwhile, a group of European hikers appeared, in the same predicament “on no!  We will be here forever!” one of them said “yes, we are stuck” I agreed” do we have enough provisions?”  This made them all laugh in that continental way.

Wooden styalI recognised a house further up whose garden we had traversed on our very first walk on this side of the water some years before. We headed upwards in search of a path to said house.

Alas, we searched in vain but we did eventually find a safe crossing point after which the path became easy going, eventually merging with an access road which again I remembered from our first foray in this specific part of the wood.

 

Back in familiar territory, we expected the last leg through the crags to be plain sailing.  However, a flood-ravaged bridge necessitated another wet, muddy feet experience as we had to use the original Victorian path underneath the cliffs.

At Gibson Mill, we were so late even the toilets had been locked!  Exacerbated, we commandeered one of the deserted picnic tables to partake of apple pie and pop.  From there, we took the quick way back along the driveway to the main gate and along Midgehole Road and onto town.

Cedar wood 3

I Later that month, Phil came across a pamphlet by the University of Leeds with some interesting facts and photos about the history of Hardcastle Crags.  Amongst other things, there is a fantastic picture of a train crossing the trestle bridge just below Blake Dean: http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/misc/scienceandtourism/Final%20copy%20leaflets/Industrial%20Heritage%20leaflet.pdf

On the first Sunday in October, we again rode the community bus up to Blake Dean.  We spent a few minutes rambling in the dean.  Rowan trees in full berry looked beautiful against the early autumn backdrop as water sparkled under a blue sky.

We then took our more usual route back down.  Some very churned up muddy bits on undulating parts made the path rather tricky in places.   I became quite anxious at one point and sat down in a mossy glade to recover.  We spotted lots of mushrooms and a triangle-shaped rock we had not noticed before.  Refreshed, we continued down and noted that the bridges and paths damaged in the floods had all been fixed. It seemed to take quite a while to reach Gibson Mill so as usual, it was shut.

A cloud of midges descended on us as we sat on the picnic bench finishing our flask of coffee.  Again, we opted for the top track to reach the gate quickly and onto Midgehole road.  I stubbed my toe 3 times on the riverside path (cursing the walking shoes I was wearing rather than sandals I had worn since April) and felt the need to stop once more on a bench near one of the ‘beaches’ for a short rest.  Phil suggested I look for archaeology but all I found were pieces of a boring jug!

rowan-tree-close-up

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiKkeI2VJ1XgFqOVqFQ; https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiOBlL5cJNFTN45ZxzQ