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.
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.
The 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.
On 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
Quest 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.
The 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.
i For more information on the bronze age ‘Blackheath long barrow’ see:
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4IqLoyglWjabVfbvg