Tag Archives: heather

Jack Bridge Circular

 

Bridge Ahoy 3

During the the hot August bank holiday weekend we repeated a walk from two years ago, starting with a bus ride to Jack Bridge. As we walked up the lane, boisterous Scousers occupied a holiday home garden interrupting the otherwise peaceful scene.  Thistle fluff, beech nuts, and bright berries adorned the hedgerows, with glimpses of  a bright blue Colden Water beneath.

Bridge Crossing 4Now a familiar landmark, I spotted Strines Bridge quite early on and as we neared, we took the dark narrow path into private gardens to get nearer.  Infested with nettles and rather slippy in places, I trod carefully alongside the brook and managed not to get stung or fall which was quite a feat.  Passing through the small gate, the old packhorse trail was discernible as a delicate shade of green among a field of reds and pale yellows. We braved the tussocks and barbed wire to get a better view of the sparkling water.  As I crossed the bridge, a perfectly formed dandelion clock seemed to dwarf the diminuitive stone curves.  We mused about where the path led on the other side but deduced it would be quite a short walk to the village.

Pixie CastleReturning to the lane, we continued until we found the stile into the meadow.  The diagonal path was edged with tiny purple flowers and seed heads resembling pennies.

We proceeded through the woods and rickety gates and back onto tarmac near Land Farm.  What sounded like a combine turned out to be a lawnmower – what a racket! It was so distracting I almost missed the pixie castle, obscured as it was by vegetation.

I had forgotten about the climb up School Land Lane, and paced myself, picking the odd blackberry for sustenance.  At the top, posh new signs indicated local landmarks.  We turned right on Edge Lane  and chanced the grassy path to High Gate Farm.  Even more overgrown with nettles, this time I suffered several stings!  May’s Farm Shop looked  busy.  As a family ate ice creams, the holidaying Scousers turned up, chugging beer, and left with crates of the stuff.  After a lunch of pies and soft drinks, we decided to top the meal off with  lollies.  We discussed options for our return route and agreed to go via Colden Clough rather than Heptonstall.  Enjoying the cooling lollies as we walked downwards,  I observed we had never eaten ice cream on a  country walk before – a definite highlight!

Old Barn Receding 1Luckily, we located a slight detour avoiding the stingiest path and proceeded to Colden village.  Opposite an old barn, I observed the ‘junkyard’ had been cleared quite a lot.  We turned right at Smith Lane, taking us back to Jack Bridge, where we walked up to Hudson Lane and down into Hebble Hole.  New steps were framed by fading heather.  I expected the beauty spot to be packed  but only one extended family occupied the area and I realised it was teatime already.  A woman swam with a dog  hindering views downstream.  We crossed the clapper bridge onto the lower path, and stopped on the flat rock for a short rest.  Littered with beach nuts, we joked about harvesting them but they didn’t look tasty.

Mushrooms 3

Up the steps, red leaves littered the ground as sun rays beamed through tall branches.  In the ‘garlic fields,’ the rotten stump now resembled bare legs.  Unusual porcelain mushrooms grew on nearby tree trunks, where the bark had been stripped.  At Lumb Mill, I was slightly upset to see my favourite sycamore  almost bare. Blighted leaves littered the ground.  I had not noticed this elsewhere but Phil said he had and that it was not only affecting sycamores.  On the last stretch along the rough track, it started to feel very humid making me sweaty and tired.  Back home, I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee. I had now completed a walk two days’ running without an ankle bandage which was good going although it did  ache a bit prompting me to take it easy for the next couple of days.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti8RzSgdxfsO7cHxeig?e=sKDY6t

Sycamore 1

 

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Snow Wonders (Eaves Wood and Heptonstall)

Pike and spikes 2

The penultimate day of January, overnight sub-zero temperatures preserved the snowfall, to be followed by a beautiful sunny day.  We left home early afternoon, noting that it did not feel as bitingly cold outdoors as the snowy scenes and internal temperature suggested.  We climbed the Cuckoo steps, pausing to crane our necks towards the sound of tits twittering in stick-like branches above us.  This also allowed me to catch my breath.  On Heptonstall Road, roadworks blocked the pavement so we crossed over straight away and headed left up the path.

Ice lumps 1Initially, the path was sheltered by trees and remained snow-free.  At the top of the ridge, lumps of ice clung to sprouting trees growing precariously at the cliff edge.  White blankets weighed down heather bushes.  Snow melted slowly from the branches.  Water droplets created soft dripping sounds.

 

Further up, two dogs bounded towards us, then turned and ran the other way.  I could hear voices slightly further up and supposing they accompanied the hounds, suggested waiting for them to go by.  However, when a group of hippies appeared with no dogs, I was rather puzzled.  We proceeded warily wondering if the dogs might re-appear but thankfully, they did not.

Hell Hole in snow 1At Hell Hole Rocks, the pristine snow lay deep and squeaky underfoot.  Lumps on nearby trees resembled Japanese blossom.  From above, layers of white contrasted starkly with the dark rock.  We climbed the narrow steps, taking care to avoid muddy icy patches and stood at the top awhile for archetypal views across the valley.  Phil started walking North on the path, headed for the dank part of the wood.  I refused to follow him in such wintry conditions. Instead, we took the path in the opposite direction, through a gate and along the top of the quarry.

Breath-taking scenes arrested us.  Blue mist topped Snow-covered hills towards Lancashire in the west. Stoodley Pike appeared ethereal in the distance.  Plants punctuated the cliff edge, their spike-like stalks adorned with snow crystals forming needle-like blooms.

We followed the path round, through a second gate marking the start of the newly-planted ‘wood’.  Here too, snow studded the hedgerows where glacial thawing made wondrous shapes beneath  a perfect deep blue sky.  At the other end of the field, we noticed that the snowline stopped abruptly to the east with green fields visible below the white.

Starling roost 1On Southfield, jackdaws gathered atop trees, while two magpies looked totally unflustered at being outnumbered.  At the churchyard, a flock of starlings replaced the crows. They had descended from their usual roost in the clock tower onto trees by the outer wall.  Their loud chattering sounded musical; almost choral – I had never heard anything like it!

A pair of staffies made a big fuss, to be berated by the woman walking them.  We waited patiently until they calmed down before continuing into the churchyard.  Inevitably, the ruin looked delightful in the snow.

All the way up, I had been attempting to keep my boots and jeans snow-free.  I tried to shake some off when I noticed a massive lump on the bottom of my hem.  Phil was a little way ahead of me and I called after him to stop so I could tackle it.  Eventually, he came to look, declared “it’s frozen solid” and promptly walked off.  I became annoyed but eventually managed to break the ice into smaller lumps and prise them off, to be left with a big rip in the hem and freezing cold hands.

Desperate for a proper rest, I headed for chairs outside Towngate Tearoom.  I checked the time, surprised to find it had taken almost two hours to get to the village (it normally took 50 minutes).  No wonder I felt tired and narky!  I had thought the tearoom would be shut but thankfully, it was not.  Phil ordered us a cuppa.  A tray appeared, complete with china teapot and froufrou dolly-sized cups.  We huddled under the awning, doing our best to avoid melting drips from splashing in our warming drinks.  As we returned home via the road, I tried to keep my trouser hems from getting under my boots.  This proved exceedingly difficult on slippery stretches.  Near home, he volunteered to go for milk while I headed straight indoors to take my ruined clothes off and collapse on the sofa.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5pTvcnw242kyhoLDg

Snowy ruin 1

 

Down from Crimsworth into the Dean

Crimsworth view 1

The first Sunday of September started out dull but warm.  It became sunnier early afternoon and decided to get the bus up to Crimsworth and walk back via the dean.  We had just enough time to buy pies from the bakers in the square on the way to Commercial Street, with two minutes to spare till the next bus.  A walking friend who got on at the same stop, suggested an alternative walk up High Brow Knoll but I didn’t fancy it right then.

Grass verge blooms 8The bus emptied at Old Town, leaving us alone to travel to the terminus.   Awe-struck by the moorland landscape, we lingered to take photos.  My camera strap broke again and Phil fixed it for me (I was not having much luck doing it myself).

We made our way back down the road, cringing when fast motorcycles whizzed by, seeking refuge in the lush verge.  It seemed remarkable how different the plants were here, on the moorland edge.  Fluffy thistles looked ready to fly off; pale pink flowers wafted in the breeze; seed heads gave the impression of tiny trees emerging behind granite stone walls; marooned gate posts leaned precariously in the soft ground.

A couple of signs indicated footpaths going off to the right but we were put off trying them by a combination of boggy fields and large cows.

Howarth Old Road 1We continued to Haworth Old Road where an old waymarker had been attractively re-painted; the writing picked out in bold lack against a stark white background.  We turned sharp right onto the road, then left.   Grassy Small Shaw Lane zig-zagged downwards, edged by tall evergreens and punctuated by signs declaring the land private and forbidding cycling.  At the bottom we were confronted by a large house.  A sign directed us left onto a small path.  As a couple with a dog exited a gate, we checked with them that the route was passable.

As soon as we passed through the gate into a field, I recognised the area from our last visit to the area some years agoi.  Small paving helped us navigate marshy meadow where a small copper butterfly sat on a flower.

Small copper butterflyWe soon emerged in the moor-like field which I remembered, particularly the ruins and a good large rock, ideal for a lunch stop.  We made our way up to eat our pies, finding it had become much more overgrown in the intervening years, with heather, moss, lichen and pixie cups.

I could hear a dog barking loudly in the distance as soon as I took a bite of pie, convinced myself it was coming nearer and felt a bit jumpy.  I knew I was being paranoid but I ate quickly nonetheless.

Woodland fungi 3We continued, through the next gate into dark woodland where the red floor contrasted with deep green foliage.  At the start of the old mill ponds, felled trees thwarted our attempts to find a downward path.

I surmised that severe floods since our last visit had caused significant alterations to the landscape.  We followed the route marked, upwards, noting a variety of fungi clinging to rotted trunks.  Some looked curiously metallic.

I recognised the corner of the dam wall – a huge testament to the region’s industrial heritage – and the gorgeous tree down to our right.

After some investigation, we located a ‘desire path’ through pocked grass land to get back onto the Old Road (where more grass replaced paving).  From there, it was a short stretch to Midgehole Road.  An exodus from the nearby Blue Pig confirmed that a bus was due and we opted for the easy way home.  Although the walk had not been too taxing, the weather had become clammy and I felt tired and overheated.  Back in town, we chatted briefly to another friend on his way to the pub.  We eschewed the prospect of drinking in favour of coffee and cake at home.

i  See: https://hepdenerose.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/changing-landscapes-in-crimsworth-dean/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4kS20m5dNz6qZdWmg

Haworth Old Road 5

Jack Bridge to Colden*

Strines Bridge 2

Early August had been a bit of a let-down.  I spent the first week ill in bed, watching the changeable and showery weather through the window with only intermittent and non-dependable sun.  Fortunately the second weekend stayed fine.  After a hot Saturday, Sunday brought a few clouds, cooling the temperature down a notch and creating ideal conditions for a walk.

Bee on thistleWe caught the bus to Colden and alighted at Jack Bridge.  Walking alongside Colden Water, we made frequent stops to examine wildlife in the hedgerows: bees hovered on purple balsam; strange orange insects came out in force to mate; thistle flowers gave way to downy seed heads.

Beside a barbed wire fence we spotted a wooden step ladder.  On the other side, a dilapidated caravan surrounded by outdoor furniture made us speculate about the al fresco living conditions of the less-fortunate locals.

 

Nearing Strines Bridge we detoured round the posh house and gardens into the field for a closer look.  Maybe it was my imagination but it seemed in more of a sad state than in our visit last spring.

Further up the lane we climbed a stile into a different field.  Causey stones led diagonally to a small wood.  A muddy path, churned up by mountain bikes then ran alongside the pine wood to the bottom of Rodmer Clough.  Signs of cultivation appeared in the hedges as we reached the corner of Land Farm.  From there, we had a hot, uphill climb to Edge Lane and along the top.

Hot StonesThe grass path we usually sneak up to reach High Gate Farm had become too overgrown necessitating a return to the road.  Passing ‘Hot Stones’, we noticed a lone standing stone.

At May’s, I commandeered the bench looking down the lane while Phil entered the farm shop to order hot cheese pies and tea.  As we waited I was being eaten alive by midges.

 

Crack Hill 2After eating we walked down the road to Crack Hill, still finding amusement in the name.  Proceeding to Slack and through Popples Common, we admired the bright new heather.  We rested on the bench just before Heptonstall, contemplating the landscape.

A dad passing on the road with two young girls on bikes amused us.  “Come on!” he shouted, in typical competitive parent style, as they struggled up the hill.  Bypassing the village, we descended Green Lane into Slater Ing.

Slater Ing 2A bit confused at first, as we had never walked this part in reverse before, we soon started to recognise the familiar rock features.  The muted light was particularly good for capturing their characteristic shapes.  The rocky path took ages to navigate and felt like hard work.  Eventually we reached the easier part above the large flat stones, again struck by the beautiful display of heather lining the route.  We took the steps at Hell Hole Rocks.

 

As we travelled through Eaves Wood and out onto Heptonstall Road, I said it was a long way to go for a cheese pie – like the olden days!

*The walk from Jack Bridge to May’s is the reverse of the ‘Edge Lane detour’ we took with M&M in April 2016.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtisVqMstvRkcBy1eWvg

Purple heather 3

Discovering Midgley Moor Archaeology i

moor-path-1

On a bright and warm August Bank holiday Monday, we armed ourselves with pies and pop and set off to meet our friends M&M.  We spotted them outside the pub, enjoying a pre-walk tipple.  I shouted ‘oi!’.

A bit early for us to start drinking, we walked through the thronging town centre in the glorious sun, and awaited them at the bus stop.  Marisa appeared first, having dashed round charity shops looking for a cardigan.  Mike arrived soon after and stood smoking under a tree like the enigmatic poet.  As the bus climbed up Birchcliffe, we talked about the routes we planned to take and the archaeology we hoped to see.  Mike filled our heads with stories of people on acid discovering stone circles and Robin Hood being a giant.

At Lane Ends, Phil and I said goodbye and alighted.  M&M were taking a longer route across the moor than us, starting at Crimsworth Dean: we planned to meet back at the pub early evening.

We walked up Popples Lane.  An old farmer who looked a 100 years old greeted us as he emerged from a barn (I later discovered he was a proper local character who lived in the barn and spent his days carrying out ancient farming tasks; likely been there his entire life!)

As we turned a bedick-ing-2nd the lane became Latham Lane.  The sign for ‘Dick Ing’ created mirth.  The lane wound and climbed in a picturesque fashion up to another farm.

A sizeable track led upwards to the Calderdale Way.  We went through the gate onto Midgley Moor.  Admiring the vistas, we followed the path along the moor edge and onwards to the middle.

Finding ourselves on smaller paths, we were unsure of our next move but at such a high vantage point, confident of our location in relation to local settlements. I caught glimpses of a path at right angles in the distance.  We made our way towards this wider path, stopping to examine small huts (working out eventually they were grouse hides) and to gaze at square stone structures in the distance (vent shafts for the aqueducts carrying water under the moor).

greenwood-stone-1Eventually turning right, we progressed through fading purple heather and navigated the odd boggy spot.  A few yards off the path to our left, we noticed a moor pond and a standing stone some way behind.

We picked our way with caution through the heather to reach ‘Greenwood Stone’ ii.  This seemed a suitable juncture for lunch.

Working out that Miller’s Grave iii was nearby, we headed towards it.  Along the slightly bigger paths amongst the heather, we came across a large boulder (the fabled Robin Hood’s Pennystone iii).  From there, we could see a pile of stones further on and knew we had located the next object of our quest – Miler’s Grave iv.  On reaching the monument I circumnavigated; ill-advised perhaps as some of the outer stones proved unstable.

robin-hoods-pennystone-4We expected that retracing our steps back to the larger path would be straightforward as we just had to head for the large boulder then the standing stone.

Alas, the latter had disappeared from view!  However, we were fairly certain of our direction and continued.

Phil decided to take a cleared part which looked easier but dry, dying heather hampered our progress.  Eventually, we espied the Greenwood Stone again and made towards it.

En route, we noticed a ‘white stick of archaeology’ next to a sunken boulder and took another diversion to investigate.  We found what was obviously a stone circle (the one discovered on acid maybe?)  We also spotted other boulders a way off.  I wondered if they formed part of a larger stone circle, but Phil thought that unlikely.  Eventually finding our way back via the standing stone and the mill pond onto the main path, we walked southwards, again fairly sure of where it would lead.  After a short distance, we spotted the top of another standing stone and guessed that was our destination.

Sure enough as we approached, we recognised Churn Milk Joan v.  We stopped to see if anyone had left any money on top.

I texted Marisa to learn that they were already near the pub.  They must have walked at a fair lick!  I also texted another friend who aimed to meet us for a drink. churn-milk-joan-2

We turned Westwards along the ridge, back onto the Calderdale way, pausing occasionally to take in the views down towards the valley and across to strange white sheeting that looked like a ski slope on Scout Rock (ongoing post-flood work).  A grouse emerged squawking from the brush, making me jump.  We went through an attractive exit gate and started our descent towards civilisation.

 

only-foods-and-saucesAt the Mount Skip Golf Club, we considered continuing on the path and finding a trackway down to Old Town.  Mud and horned sheep made us reconsider this option.

Instead we descended a bank and over a stile onto the fairway.  We noted patches of long grass and grazing birds, and laughed at a warning sign on hole 12.

Going onto the driveway we picked our way across a cattle grid and down onto Heights Road.

We looked at old ruins and the ‘only sauce and horses’ trailer in a dilapidated farmyard, whilst bemoaning the lack of a short cut to the Hare and Hounds.

At the pub, we went round the back to find M&M in the beer garden, sitting at a table adorned with blue eggs.  We enjoyed the early evening sun and compared notes on our respective walks. I showed Mike my photos and he confirmed the archaeological landmarks we had found.  Feeling hungry, we asked about food at the bar.  A harassed landlord told us they had a limited menu due to heavy traffic, and the kitchen was shutting at 7.30.  We hastily ordered burgers.

Our other friend arrived and we all chatted amiably until M&M departed to walk back to town.  As the sun set it became chilly.  We retreated indoors until it was time for the next bus.  The bus route took us up to Crimsworth Dean before going down again.  We gazed out at the late summer evening sky, resplendent with reds and blues, whizzing past the windows.

 

exit-gate-2

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiMBDZud5pUyX0kJ6CA

Notes

  1. http://midgleywebpages.com/midgleywest.html – general info on Midgely Moor pre-history
  2. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/greenwood-stone/ – Greenwood Stone
  1. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1018236 – Miller’s Grave
  2. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/churn-milk-joan/ – Churn Milk Joan