Tag Archives: industrial heritage

Birchcliffe to Nutclough

Nutclough descent 3

A Heritage open day offered the rare opportunity of gaining access to parts of the Birchcliffe Centre normally out-of-bounds.  On the cusp of autumn but still summery, we avoided a steep climb in the heat by walking via Hangingroyd, Foster Lane and Eiffel Street.  On reaching Birchcliffe, we first investigated Chapel Avenue. Lines of washing extended across the small cul-de-sac.  A wall plaque on the side wall of the centre commemorated transfer of school activities to the chapel building in the 19th century.  A stone gateway at the end of the street led to a dark path. I wondered if it would descend to Nutclough.

Chapel Avenue 1Entering the building via the impressive front entrance complete with granite pillars, the walls of the reception area displayed newly printed photos by Alice Longstaff.  A fellow photographer responsible for the collection  explained the context of the never-before seen images and related stories of some of the people shown.  It felt a real privilege and I was fascinated to note the differences between Alice’s commercial work and shots taken for personal reasons or just for the hell of it.

On the corridor running the length of the centre a young woman accosted me, asking if I would like to join a pilates class.  “No thanks.  Tried it once. Hated it”.  I said, politely.  Right at the back, the old Baptists pool was specially uncovered for the open day.  A guide approached from the opposite direction with a family group.  We stopped to listen as she explained how it was used.  In the boardroom we took part in a consultation on the future of the centre (ran by a neighbour of ours as it turned out).  From the ground plans we learnt that the path at the back did indeed lead to Nutclough and the centre actually owned that section of the clough.

RestingIntrigued by the discovery of yet another path in the tiny but endlessly fascinating Nutclough, we had to explore. We returned to the end of Chapel Avenue.  Through the gateway, spindly silver birch strove for light. their trunks casting shadows like palimpsests criss-crossing the path.

Further down, leaf detritus blocked the weir.  Speckled wood butterfly flitted about on the islands while dayflies danced like fairies.  Mainly shady now in the late afternoon sun, we stepped over the shallow stream to the firepit, bathed in a patch of sunlight. Birch replaced by beech, nuts and shells littered the ground.  I had fun arranging them artily on the hewn benches.

We walked back in full sun down Keighley Road, in search of lunch.  The town centre was absolutely rammed as people spilled out of the pub on the square; a last gasp on the last proper end-of-summer day. We scanned cafes on Bridge Gate and at the other end of the square but all were full or about to shut.  We spotted a couple of friends and stopped to say hello.  They both had sorry tales of redundancy to tell and conversations went on quite a long time .  By then, Phil  appeared about to fall over for want of food.  I suggested we go home to eat.  He did not sound keen.  We started homeward past more populous pubs, until discovering  that Tibetan Kitchen was an oasis of calm.  Friendly staff guided us through the choice of mouth-watering dishes and served us chai while we waited for our food.  I heard a guy say the food was better than the Manchester branch.  I made a mental note to take a friend who knows the original place well so she can compare.

 

Salad 2 crop

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Heritage, Tea and Cake in Sowerby

Valley view pano

Mid-September heritage open day events provided an opportunity to investigate something new.  We agreed that St. Peter’s Church in Sowerby looked interesting.  I checked public transport routes to discover it involved a bit of a walk from the nearest station.  We set off in the soft late summer sun, along the towpath and through the park.  The slightly-delayed train soon arrived at Sowerby Bridge where the subway stank strongly of cat pee.  We headed down Station Road and briefly perused interesting artefacts outside the junk shop.  At the bottom, we found a crazily busy junction where motorists tore past yellow stone edifices.  With no pedestrian crossing, getting to the other side of West Street proved hairy.

Terrace 1Sowerby Street led uphill.  An incongruent concrete block was fronted by a small parade of shops, most seemingly shut.  Upper floors housed maisonettes.  Ahead of us, a faded sign on the side of The Royal Oak made us wonder if the pub still served Whitaker’s ales and stout.

Across the street, we turned right onto Sowerby New Road and climbed ever higher.  On the left-hand side, industrial buildings and a dilapidated telephone exchange interspersed residential properties.  A whole row had been demolished leaving a pile of rubble reminiscent of a bomb site.  Stunted side streets proclaimed private land.  To the right, sloping terraces clung to the valley sides.  We remarked on the juxtaposition of the urban and rural in the Lower Calder Valley.

Further up, Phil asked if we were going the right way to which I replied there was no other (apart from crossing the valley near Luddenden Foot).  He seemed sceptical so I suggested he look it up before our return.

Sowerby village 2A bend eventually marked the start of Sowerby Village with the Church Stile Inn the first sign we had reached our destination.  The imposingly dark church stood proudly on the opposite corner.   A side gate led into the graveyard.  Going round to the unlocked front door, we entered to find St. Peter’s looking quite busy but soon surmised the occupants were all church people, with us the sole visitors who’d come on spec.  Undaunted, we explored the interior.  Sunbeams shone through amazing stained-glass windows.  Ornate plasterwork decorated the wall above the altar.  An intriguing balcony was unfortunately out of bounds. Display boards showed stills of film scenes from the BBC drama Gentleman Jack  – the church had stood in for St. Martin’s in the Field.

The lovely trendy vicar offered me a cuppa.  As I settled down with my drink, I fell into conversation with two other women munching cake, one of whom was also a writer.  She fetched me a copy of the church newsletter containing articles she’d written about the church and its historyi.  In turn, I told her about my column in Valley Life magazine.  When Phil  joined us, the vicar made him a coffee and I succumbed to the proffered cake.

Surprised at how long we had spent inside, we said we ought to make a move and bade goodbye.  Walking round the church exterior, our attempt to do a complete circuit was thwarted by tangled overgrowth at the back.

ParkingWe explored the immediate vicinity of St. Peter’s Square where the primary school had been turned into a church hall.   Phil checked google for a different way to Sowerby Bridge.  As I expected, there was none.  We returned the way we’d come.  Obviously quicker downhill, we occasionally  stopped to admire valley views, picking out landmarks and peculiarities.  Lone cats stalked about in long grass. Tall towers loomed in the distance.  A line of toy cars had been parked neatly beneath a garden swing. Upper Gaukroger sounded unusual; the name turned out to be idiosyncratically Yorkshirei i.

At the bottom of Sowerby New Road, we took a slight detour down Foundry Road and noted that some of the Victorian mills had been converted into apartments, rather over-furbished in places.

Town hallTowards  the town centre, a makeshift campsite had been constructed near the weir.   We wondered at the ostentatious architecture, particularly the odd shape of the town hall and the fake art deco defunct cinema.  We ducked into a wharfside pub to use facilities but were not tempted to stay.  Narrow alleys provided a shortcut to the station.  In the subway again, Phil this time noticed the stink and surmised there must be a station cat.

The next  due train was severely delayed.  The announcements helpfully informed us that it was late due to being late leaving the depot!  As we loitered in the car park,  one of the women from the church appeared, on her way  to Manchester where she now lived.

We chatted until our train eventually arrived, leaving her to catch the next one;  not far behind due to the huge delay.  Out of earshot, Phil said the woman reminded him of the ‘lovely Debbie McGee’.  I was glad he had not mentioned that earlier or I might have struggled to keep a straight face!

Notes

i.  https://st-peters.ryburnbenefice.org/

ii. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Gaukroger

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti85ShF7iT8-DfaEScg?e=zXgwoe

St Peters Church exterior 9

Jungly Jumble

Jungle 3

The last Thursday of July was the hottest day of the year so far although tempered somewhat by a few clouds and an occasional breeze.  We decided to spend the afternoon among trees and flowing water and caught the bus upwards.  Unusually quite full, several people stayed on beyond Heptonstall to alight at the New Delight (for Hebble Hole).  We continued to Blackshaw Head and went down the small lane beside the chapel onto Badger Lane.  I spotted a couple ahead of us consulting a guidebook of some sort.  We followed the familiar route signed Calderdale Way.

ChickensThe narrow path was extremely overgrown requiring careful footing to avoid being stung by nettles, scratched by thistles or sinking into marshy spots.  It seemed to take longer than I remembered to reach the trough; often surrounded flowers, today mint dominated.  After Apple Tree Farm, where we only saw a few alpacas and no babies, chickens scratched about in the gravel. 

We turned left through the wooden gate, walked along the top field boundary to the signpost and could just make out the grassy path leading downwards, although Jumble Hole was no longer signed.

Delicate 2Delicate pale blue harebells dotted the meadow, their distinctive star-shaped heads bobbing in the gentle wind.  We settled on the excellent flat rock to eat a leisurely picnic lunch.

A woman with three dogs appeared.  I shouted “help!” but she managed to stop them jumping up for our food.  They bolted straight for the water, chasing a ball.

We ascended the cute stone steps onto the wooden bridge.  Below us, foamy water tumbled over flat stones resembling paving.  On the other side, we proceeded to Staups Mill.  The man I’d seen earlier was coming the opposite way, still lost and consulting his book.  He said they had somehow missed the first path down and thus bypassed the mill, arriving at the next bridge, where his girlfriend was waiting,.  I gave him directions for proceeding down the clough (noting that a map to accompany the walking guide might be an idea).  I realised later that they must have taken a second path from the meadow, leading straight down to what we call ‘the pixie bridge’.

Mill 3A profusion of opportunistic tree growth rendered only parts of the grey mill walls visible from above.  On getting closer, we discovered that trunks and branches had been placed around the ruin making exploration annoyingly impossible.

Agreeing to stay on the straight-forward route, we used the ‘most obvious paths’ (as the man’s walking guide called them).   In places, large ferns made the wood more like a primevil jungle and we joked about dinosaurs lurking in the undergrowth.  Just before the larger bridge, the lost couple re-appeared, again coming a different way, and dithered at the junction signed Penning Bridleway.

Old Mill Race 2We pottered about among flattened mill remains.  The top of a mill pond had become visible due to low water levels.  The thick dam wall housed tiny arched doorways.  A smaller arched bridge upstream of the big one was obscured by fallen branches.  Structures jutting out over the stream suggested the location of a watermill.

We rested briefly on the low wall of the bridge, enjoying the cooling effect of the waterfall behind us with a view of the curve. Two young boys rode dangerously standing up on the back of a flatbed, shouting with glee.

We then continued down the Pennine Bridleway where the leafy canopy provided total shade. Tumble-down houses were as equally inaccessible as Staups Mill due to the encroaching trees.  Approaching Underbank, we messed about doing ‘selfies’ in a convex traffic mirror.  Outside the converted workshop a man cut stone, creating a lot of noise and dust. I  said it was too hot for that type of thing.

On reaching Burnley Road, we stuck to small paths behind the pavement and emerged near Callis Bridge.  We crossed onto the canal.  Making a slight detour through the community garden, we had to clamber over chopped-down trees to get back onto the towpath.  At Stubbings, the sun became fiercer.  I nabbed the only free table with a parasol while Phil bought beer.  I suddenly felt very hot and sweaty .  I went inside with the intention of putting cold water on my face to find the sink taps ran hot.  So that didn’t help much!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti7wIAdhqdIdkUOipvA?e=vboOK1

On the Way Down 2

 

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