Tag Archives: Hell Hole Rocks

A Mystery Solved? (Heptonstall and Northwell Lane)

Northwell Panorama

In the heat of July, Marisa and I took the bus up to Heptonstall for lunch at The Towngate Tearooms.  We discussed options for walking back to Hebden and I asked her to confirm for me which path was Tinker Bank Lane and see if I could determine if there was another path between that and Northwell Lane.

FleecedShe led me through the old co-op yard into a carpark and up a grassy path parallel to Northgate.  I noted a washing line being used to hang sheep fleeces and the pinfold.  Now a picnic area, this little enclave was once used communally to house livestock.  At the end of the path we turned immediately right, onto Tinker Bank Lane.   With no apparent right of way ahead of us, I still wondered if I had imagined the middle path and resolved to clear up the mystery at some future date.  We descended to Draper Lane and crossed into the wood, through Hollins and into town.

The days leading up to the autumn equinox brought a resurgence of summer.  Still tired from an outing earlier in the week, I consented to a short hike through Eaves Wood.  We walked along the ridge slowly, pausing to examine details close up.  Tall grassed framed the hamlet below.  Fat spiders lay in wait on delicate webs.  Baby oak trees sprouted from the ground, their tiny red leaves bright amidst the grass.

At Hell Hole Rock, we waited as a dorky-looking couple descended the steep stone staircase, carrying mattresses on their backs.  I joked they planned on camping but obviously they were climbers.  Steps clear,  we went up to ‘photographer’s corner’ and clambered onto the dodgy ledge overlooking the rock, the climbing couple hampering attempts to take good shots.

Lit ruin 1Back on the proper path, we turned right to Southfield.  Loud bellringing emanated from the church where the afternoon sun glinted yellow on the stonework.  We had the ruin to ourselves for a spell, enjoying seeing it in a different light, until a few other walkers appeared.  A woman with young boy in tow enquired as to the location of ‘King David’s’ grave (aka David Hartley of the Cragg Vale coiners).  She was horrified that we had never made a point of seeking it out.  Phil commented it made a change from women asking about Sylvia Plath’s resting place.  I suggested she may well end up there but was probably trying to make the visit more engaging for her son.

Normally we would tarry awhile in  the churchyard but the persistent bell-ringing played havoc with my tinnitus.  We retreated onto West Laithe and walked down the road to a snicket into the old co-op yard.  Dismayed at the apparent lack of maintenance , I joked  they should get the stocks back out.  A man stood in front of the adjacent garage.  Imposingly large, with a bushy beard and arms crossed, he regarded us suspiciously. Unperturbed, I bade him a cheery “hello!”.  He reluctantly returned the greeting.  At a side door, an even surlier-looking fellow eyed us warily.

Tinker Bank chickensWe stifled sniggers as we continued up the small path to the pinfold which I had wanted to explore since discovering in July.  Through the small square doorway, worn picnic tables inhabited an oasis of dappled shade.  We agreed it was a good spot for a rest although we ended up covered in particles raining down on us from the nearby trees.  As we chatted, I expressed amazement that in spite of  gentrification,  real yokels still existed in little enclaves.  Phil said he was not in the least bit surprised.  He regaled me with tales of Dick the ‘beech nut god’ and the ‘bramble spirit’, claiming people round here still believed in these pagan deities.

We continued to Tinker Bank Lane, being chased by chickens as we went back up a short way onto Northgate and turned right to the top of Northwell Lane.  We took in the views and my eyes were drawn to the private garden immediately below us.  A distinctly wide section with stone walls on either side, seemed to solve the mystery of the middle path; seemingly once a lane joining Tinker Bank with Northwell but now repurposed.

Northwell HouseBrightness at the top of the lane gave way dramatically to darkness as we walked down Northwell to Draper Lane.  Crossing, we followed the footpath towards Lee Wood, even darker and decidedly cool.  I picked up the pace as we headed down to a junction.  Of three routes, we chose one leading to Hebden Water in the hope of returning to warmth.  Snaking round bends, we noted the horsey holiday farm had become even bigger, though the military vehicles we had spotted a couple of years ago were no longer in evidence

On the riverside, a woman walking purposefully ahead f us and game of croquet underway at the bowling club were the only signs of life.  Disappointingly still in shade, we finally regained sunlight on Valley Road.  We dawdled into town and considered staying out for a pint to make the most of it.  Inevitably though, hordes of after-work drinkers had descended.  With barely a scrap of outdoor seating to be had. We went for coffee instead.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti8w-WdOR1IKkqBqWHQ?e=fGxd5B

Pinfold 2

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

 

Woodland Mist

Mistical 1

As the mild weather continued well into November, we enjoyed a mid-week stroll.  We planned to catch a bus up to Colden for lunch at May’s but missed one by minutes.  With a short window of afternoon sun, we bought pasties from the local bakers and strode rapidly towards town.  I remarked we were going at a fair lick considering we had no aim in mind.  I suggested going to Hareshaw Wood and we made our way up to Salem Fields.  After crossing Foster Mill Bridge, we climbed the large cobbled steps and paused by the majestic sycamore to contemplate the glorious sunny scene.

Majestic 2A friend descended the steps towards us and stopped for a chat.  She asked if we were going to Heptonstall.  I replied that we had no definite plans but “’All roads lead to Heptonstall’ (as it says in my book)”.

She laughed, and invited us to call in for a cuppa next time we ended a walk there.

We turned right at the top to pass through Hollins.  A rustling sound near my feet did not alarm me at first, assuming it was my boots treading fallen leaves. However, the noise did not match my pace.  I looked down to find a daft dog sniffing at my heels, threatening to jump onto me.  The owner seemed oblivious: strolling some paces back, busy gassing on her phone.  I shouted repeatedly at the mutt until the owner overheard and called the animal off.

Leaves with drops

We chose to go upwards through the wood which we rarely do.  Interesting colours strew the path, with lichens and fungi dotted amongst the autumn foliage, some sprinkled with perfectly round dewdrops.

At the top, we crossed Lee Wood Road and looked for the gap on the other side.  Having thought we had spotted it, we made our way up worn shallow steps barely discernible beneath a thick carpet of brown leaves, indicating an ancient route.  We crossed the road to continue, where more worn steps and a crumbling waymarker post gave further clues to its history.  Hesitating briefly as it was not Tinker Bank Lane as we had expected, we reasoned that it must be nearby.

Tiny mushroomsI found the last part of steep climb very hard work.  We caught our breath near the top where a fowl enclosure stood to our right.  Disgruntled geese flapped their wings, perturbed by our presence.  Tiny orange mushrooms grew in a clump from a hollow in a tree.  A wooden signpost gave directions to various locales from which I guessed we had somehow come up a parallel path to Tinker Bank Lane.  This assumption was confirmed as we made the last bit of the climb alongside the octagonal chapel.

Yellow sign

Now in Heptonstall (which, as I pointed out to our friend earlier, was inevitable), we continued along Northfield.

An almost blank yellow sign amused us with only the word ‘Please’ discernible, albeit faded.  We guessed it had once warned against parking before the letters had peeled off.

Over in the churchyard we sought a patch of sunlight to sit in and settled on the church steps facing south.  After eating my pasty, I foraged for interesting leaves that had collected round the Victorian gravestones.

With only an hour till dusk, we made a quick return via Eaves Wood.  At ‘photographer’s corner’, the Stoodley Pike monument and wind turbines rose from a blanket of grey, topped by artily-arranged lenticular clouds.  We joked about the ‘mistical valley’ (which became the subject for the next Monday Morning haigai.  Descending the steps at Hell Hole Rocks, a man waited at the bottom and asked us if he was on the right track for Heptonstall.  I confirmed that he was.  Further down, we watched squirrels scampering amidst the tree branches, gathering nuts.  My wildlife photography proved as pathetic as ever!  Back home, I felt pleased that we had got out for some fresh air and exercise, in spite of my extreme tiredness and achy legs necessitating a lie down.

Squirrel 2

Note:

i. https://mondaymorninghaiga.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/mistical-valley/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5UdBvKs2GfEYdikRA

 

Through the Woods and down the Corpse Road

Heptonstall ascending loop path 1

The last week in June brought a series of travails and despite the gorgeous sunny weather, life felt hard.  On the Thursday afternoon, we thought that one of our favourite wood walks might cheer us up and cool us down.  At the top of the cuckoo steps, I needed to catch my breath before crossing the road and taking the path into Eaves Wood.  A felled tree obstructed us.  Momentarily thwarted, we managed to navigate through the jumble of branches.  As we climbed the ridge, the sun beat down. “It’s like being on holiday in the Med” I commented.  Phil casually mentioned that he’d always said it was the hottest spot in Hebden – now he tells me!

Eaves Wood stone seatWe noted that the views down into the valley were obscured by profuse growth.  I needed to rest and drink water but the lack of shade and prolific bracken meant my usual spot was not an option.  I slogged on until we reached the trees.

After resting awhile on the path edge, we continued and I realised that if I’d waited a little longer I could have sat on the seat-like stone a short way up.

At Hell Hole rocks we explored the disused quarry.  Normally dank, twigs and leaves on the parched earth crunched beneath my sandals.  Today deserted apart from crows high in the treetops, we had fun guessing the pastimes of recent visitors from the evidence they had left behind including a tent peg and sweet wrappers.

Eaves Wood fern shadow 2Past the rocks, we decided to stay down in the woodland rather than climbing straight up to Heptonstall.  Descending a flight of twee steps, we noted almost impossible greenery.  Small dapples of sunlight and fern shadows fell artily on the stone treads.  The landscape became like pixie land as the myriad paths from the Victorian job creation scheme led in all directions.  Small birds flitted through trees and a squirrel scampered into the undergrowth.

Finding it hard to choose the best route, we kept to the middle route until we reached a more significant-looking fork, thinking we would soon reach the top wall and thus the lane up to the village.  However, we ended up in what we realised was the lower end of Slater Ings.  The path became indiscernible in places.  Large square boulders lay higgledy piggledy (most likely a result of quarry dumping).   We had a tricky climb through huge ferns, stopping often to locate the best way through.  Even so, Phil banged his head on a tree branch.

Slater Ings square rocksEventually, I spotted what I assumed was the top wall above us but could not see an obvious access point.  Then Phil noticed that it was not the wall I’d thought it was.  Nevertheless, we had to go upwards to reach civilisation.  I saw a gap in the wall and clambered over large stones towards it.  On reaching the top, we realised there had once been a proper path and crossing point – apparently eroded since our last trek through this neglected lower part of the wood.

We came onto the lovely rocky path that we knew quite well at the top of Slater Ings, albeit not as far along as expected.  But it was easy enough from there to reach the lane up to Heptonstall.  On the corner of Green Lane, I noticed a styal into fields which I knew would cut a corner out.  This turned out to be part of the Hebden Loopi. We crossed a beautiful meadow with attractive paving underfoot, heading for a picturesque treeline to emerge onto the road.  In the village, we entered The first pub for refreshments.

At the bar, we exchanged a few words with an acquaintance, ordered pints, grabbed menus and headed for the beer garden.  Whilst enjoying the indirect sunlight, we prevaricated about ordering food as we were not super hungry.  And then we saw the chips and that settled it!  After eating, we realised the football was underway and considered going to the other pub to watch it.  I nipped in to check the score and noted their TV was smaller than the one at home.

Taking the Corpse Road wooden gateOpting for the Corpse Road back, we initially had trouble finding the entrance.  On finding it a little way down the road, a footpath sign indicated two different routes.  We mistakenly took the upward path and arrived at the edge of Southfield.  Returning to the sign, the other path started out as gravel path as it led past houses.  It then became narrow and overgrown.  We were repeatedly stung by nettles and brambles snagged at our clothes.

The vegetation thinned alongside a low stone wall.  Just after a rickety shed, we were led downwards.  I remembered continuing in a straight line last time a rope barred our way.  Forced to turn left and then right onto Heptonstall Road, the final stretch home was very quick.  As I settled down with a coffee to watch the end of the football match, I felt boiling hot and had in urgent need of a cold shower.

Note:

  1. The Hebden Bridge Loop: http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/pennine-way-loop/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4EJ_MuwABD_5kPtPQ

Valley view

Eaves Wood in Snow

 

Black and white 1

Last Saturday we watched the snow falling and considered a walk.  However, we were put off by the cold, grey conditions.  After dark, the snow started melting.   So much for predictions of sub-zero temperatures and a crisp, white dawn!

Sunday started off equally cold and grey but we felt that we really ought to get out.  It started snowing again as we wrapped in layers and braved the elements.  We climbed the cuckoo steps, slowly.  At the top I already felt knackered and as the snow became heavier, I wondered aloud what the hell I was doing.  Phil said he just wanted to reach the ridge leading into Eaves Wood.  I agreed it would be a lovely scene and reluctantly followed.  On reaching the lovely path, we were greeted by an almost monochrome landscape – black hills and trees sprinkled with white against a grey sky, broken here and there by splashes of brown and red.

Black and red rock 3We continued up to Hell Hole Rocks and waited for a small child leading a family group down the steps behind before we ascended.  After another hard climb, we elected to travel along the path round to the bowling club.

Two girls were building an enormous snowman in their garden.  “That’ll be a snow giant!” I told them.

 

Forlorn pairBy then I felt much better and was actually enjoying being out on the blustery tops.  As we rounded the field, two forlorn horses trotted over to us, probably hoping for apples.  Sadly, we had nothing to give them but appreciated the opportunity to take close-ups.

We continued up Acres Lane to St. Thomas’ churchyard and cut through the church where I pointed out the Last Supper painting to Phil.

In Heptonstall village, I suggested calling on a friend.  She invited us in for a cuppa and we had a lovely time chatting until I noticed it was getting dark and time to head down the hill.  Heading down the road in the darkening, we admired views of snow and lights in the town below us (very Christmassy!).  Returning back down the cuckoo steps, I lost my footing slightly but it was due to slippery leaves rather than snow and ice.

Snowy church ruin 2

More photos at:  https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiuZDZ3ZmpbKTyS2ziA

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