Tag Archives: jackdaw

Early Spring in Common Bank and Nutclough

Common Bank Trees 3

The mild weather continued into late February.  On the last Sunday, we took one of our familiar circular walks, starting out along Oldgate, over the packhorse bridge, up Bridge Gate and across Commercial Street onto the historic cobbled route towards Birchcliffe.  At the top of the steps, we proceeded upwards on School Street to the start of Common Bank Wood.

Common Bank Bark Close Up 4We could hear a dog barking from within a house when a woman with a dog came past.  She thought we were spooked by her hound, put it on a lead and walked ahead which was considerate.  However, the dog kept stopping to sniff interesting things!  We made the most of being held back on the narrow path to examine the interesting shapes and shadows.

Sycamore bark reflected filtered sunlight.  Shadows of tree trunks fell on the ground still littered with autumnal leaves.  A flawless blue sky framed tightly-packed twisty branches.

At the top, the bridge over the stream looked more precarious than ever but fortunately the water level was low thus not difficult to navigate.  Up the path between the fields, a jay (aka pink crow!) flitted from tree top to post.  We crept along to try and capture it on camera but we had more luck with the magpies and jackdaws.

Blooming 6Opposite the residential area of Dod Naze, low-hanging catkins swayed gently in the breeze.  We paused briefly on the corner where a smattering of spring flowers grew behind the bench before turning up onto Rowland Lane.  Mist topping the uplands created eerie scenes with the church towers of Heptonstall emerging ethereally from a grey landscape.

At the end of the lane, we waited for a group of walkers accompanied by a dog with stick to pass by then curved round sharp left down Sandy Gate.  Buds adorned small trees and shrubs, some appearing like miniature flowers.

Budding 6Part-way down, Phil had problems with his camera and I had a bit of tummy ache so we took a breather on the low wall.  A passing driver shouted through his open window at us as he raced up the hill, which made me jump.  Both feeling irritated, I decided to remove myself from the situation and marched off.  I had calmed down somewhat as he caught up with me.

Among the low springtime growth, I easily located the path descending into Nutclough and spotted a dead shrew under a tree– fluffy on the top, mouldy on the bottom!  As we crossed the stone bridge, fading afternoon sun glinted on the water’s surface making silvery patterns. The air became noticeably cooler as we followed the well-trodden route through the clough. Feeling disinclined to traverse to the ‘islands’, we rested instead on the top bench before a brisk walk homewards via Keighley Road.  Removing my boots to rest on the sofa, I reflected that I did not feel as tired as I would have a few weeks ago.  Although not a massive walk, it would usually be more than enough for me.

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Misty Field 2

 

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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.

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Snowy ruin 1

 

Archaeology in Cross Stone

Stoodley View

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.

Red and yellow 4

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.

Street sign 4The 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.

Golf course 5On 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

Up the laneQuest 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.

Carr Lane Farm 2The 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.

Note

i For more information on the bronze age ‘Blackheath long barrow’ see:

https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/leisure-and-culture/local-history-and-heritage/glimpse-past/archaeology

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Golf course 2

A Quick Blast

Canal Barges 3

The harsh winter of 2017-18 showed no signs of letting up.  On the last Sunday of February, the cold persisted despite the sun, but I was desperate to get out of the house having been ill in bed the previous week.

Blackpit MoonriseWe set off on a short stroll along the canal.  It felt arctic on the aqueduct with the Siberian blast hitting us straight on.  Phil said it was officially the coldest part of town which made sense, being surrounded by all that water.  At Blackpit lock, as he searched in vain for rooks in the rookery, I noticed the moon was up – a silver semi-circle in a clear blue sky.

In the park, we found little of interest.  Bare branches dominated, and there seemed to be even less to look at than in mid- winter.

Canal Perpendicular 2Exiting through the gate onto the towpath, we watched ripples on the surface created by the easterly wind, changing the reflections of small colourful barges as a lone duck swum past.

Still walking easterly, my eye caught a collection of canal paraphernalia adorning the stone wall opposite.

Re-entering via the other gate, we skirted the park and spotted a few signs of life in the shape of tiny yellow blossoms.  Over the concrete bridge into the memorial gardens, Phil looked again for rooks.

I thought I spotted some but they turned out to be jackdaws – a very cute couple in a tree.    After admiring an interesting evergreen adorned with interesting bark and moss, we retreated into town.  We made a short circuit of charity shops before returning home. I felt exhausted and cold, despite trying to warm ourselves with coffee and cake.  I retired back to bed.

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Proud Tree 2

Up The Buttress and down to the pub

 

Buttress looking upA Wednesday in June, the weather was not as good as forecast, but warm and sunny in places.   Phil had been working at home and having been glued to the computer, late afternoon we eventually left the house.  With no aim in mind we wandered up to the top of the road onto the buttress.  As we climbed, I tried not to slip on the cobbles which never get the sun.

Cobbled lane going down 2At the top we sat briefly on the wall to catch our breath then continued along Heptonstall road thinking about going to Lee Wood.  Instead, we headed down the next path which I thought might lead to Moss Lane but as we descended, I realised it would end up at Foster Mill Bridge.  As we approached, we headed left to go through Hollins and into Hareshaw Wood.

It became warmer and I stripped off a layer and rest on some large stones just off the path.  We kept to the lower part of the wood and crossed the stream now totally dried up (odd as we’d had rain recently) and down to the ‘Swiss chalets’.

Riverside beachOver the stone bridge, we walked along the river towards town, crossing back at the next bridge to the sunny side.  Pausing for a bit of beachcombing, we spotted a bike and I said “You always find something on this beach!” (although it was obviously not detritus).

Further on, we laughed at kids practicing with stilts on Salem Fields (Phil joked it had spoiled the surprise for what was in store during the ‘Handmade Parade’.

 

At Valley road, we went back alongside the river then into the centre in search of beer.  After circumnavigating the town, we ended up back in the square.  I sat at a small table outside the shoulder as he went to the bar.  Supping pints, we watched the early evening antics; a young jackdaw strutted about and jumped on a crisp packet for the hell of it; children ran about and cycled round their parents; a friend passed by and gave us a cheery wave.  We reflected that it was almost like being on holiday – sitting in the town square now full of pubs and cafes, except here all the latter shut at tea-time.  Maybe it’s time to change that.  After all, we’ve only got 20 drinking establishments in the town centre (at the last count)…

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Shaking off atrophy

Park blossom close up 2

We’d had an enjoyable week’s holiday but unfortunately our flight home was delayed by several hours.  We finally got home at 3.45 a.m. Monday morning. I had been up for 21 hours.  Exhausted, I went straight to bed. I really struggled to get back to normal that week.  To add to the frustration, we had no heating or hot water.  I spent the next two days fighting depression and trying to carry out essential activities while waiting in for the gas man.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with painful cramp in my leg.  Phil was working at home and after lunch, he suggested getting out of the house.  As it was the second sunny day in a row and I had been unable to leave the house the day before, I agreed to accompany him for a short walk and fresh air.

Narcissus 2We left the house and remarked on the warmth of the sun and the appearance of flowers in the garden during our absence.  We walked along the canal towpath and into the park.  He stopped for ages to take pictures of the rookery – an annual occurrence.  As I waited, I did my best to ignore the noisy kids in the playground and admired tree blossom.  Taking the longest route round the park, we spotted more blossom, narcissus, and red cherry tree bark.  It really did feel like spring was coming!

Park nobbly tree 2Wanting to sit and enjoy the sun, we looked in vain for a vacant bench.  Instead, we sat on a bit of wall near the canal and were amused by native geese chasing Canada geese.  I noticed lots of nobbles in a nearby tree trunk.  We had a go at the outdoor gym and decided it was hard work when you’re not used it.

 

Riverside jackdaw amongst the pigeonsFollowing a few errands in town, we wanted to stay out and settled on the White Swan for a pint.  They were very enthusiastic and welcoming.  The beer garden was not open but we could take drinks out front.  We perched near the wavy steps and observed the riverside wildlife.

The lone Muscovy duck (since the sad demise of its partner last month) stood on a rectangular stone in the middle of the river; mallards squabbled; jackdaws swooped to steal bread from the pigeons.

The air became chillier as we took our empty glasses back inside the pub and used the facilities.  I noticed the back wall still sported peeling paint – evidence that the pub had still not been renovated fully following the flood damage.  We received cheery ‘goodbyes’ from the landlady and staff.  I felt much better that evening – my leg cramp had become a dull ache and my depression had lessened.

Riverside forlorn Muscovy 2

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