Tag Archives: leaves

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

 

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Freaky Nutclough

Bright trees 1

Following a week in bed with sinusitis, we managed one more walk before the end of October.  As it was the day the clocks reverted to GMT and as usual, we did not leave the house until mid-afternoon, we agreed on a short jaunt to Nutclough.  We used the shortcut to the buttress and down towards town.  Discordant music could be heard, prompting speculation as to what event might be occurring but concluded it might just be a busker.  We walked the familiar route via Hangingroyd road, up the steps opposite the Little Park onto Foster Lane, turned right and crossed Keighley Road into Nutclough Wood.  Beautiful colours greeted us immediately; many trees still sported green leaves while browns and oranges littered the path.

Evil pixie 2Finding the large iron gate padlocked, we entered via side gate.  It squeaked ominously as I lifted the latch and went through.  I joked about recording the sound to scare young children on Halloween!  The freaky theme continued as Phil cavorted like an evil pixie – obviously influenced by the film we’d watched the night before featuring fantastically crap demons.i

We continued up leaf-strewn steps and through the gap onto the edge of ‘the swamp’.  Braving snagging brambles and biting insects, I ventured further towards the edge than ever before.

Colourful reflections 6The colours reflected in the water were stunning!  A cyan sky provided a backdrop for dark horizontal shadows of tree trunks.  Bright green ferns were reflected beneath curled-up leaves floating gently on the surface.  Ripples produced surreal effects with undulations of red and yellow.  On returning to the gap in the wall I spotted a small swarm of flies glinting in the sunlight; they gave the impression of fairies dancing in a magical woodland.

Continuing down towards the stream, a couple with two small boys strolled around ‘the island’.  The man chatted to us about the local environment and good weather, making comparisons with his home county of Kent.  The elder of the two boys asked Phil if he could use his camera.  Phil understandably said no and I added that he probably wouldn’t even be able to lift it.  In spite of the shallow water, I cautiously used the stepping stones to cross.

Flourish of fungiAt the top end of the island, we clambered over the felled branches.  More cutting had occurred – evidenced by sawdust on the ground – and sadly obliterated the black mushrooms.    However, a flourish of pale pink fungi grew in its stead.  Due to the low water level, the waterfall had become a tinkling trickle.  Above us, the sun glinted on the uppermost leaves of tall beeches, quietly rustling in the softest of breezes.

We rested briefly on the now even more sunken bench, somewhat bemused by the elder boy bashing everything in sight with a stick.  I remarked that he obviously didn’t get out in the countryside much (urban kids being well known for a fear of the great outdoors!)

Proceeding to the other end of the swamp, my attempts to capture a group of paddling ducks on camera were distinctly blurry.  We turned sharp left to climb the steep path up to the treetops looking down on the kaleidoscope of colours.  Behind the terrace of houses, we nosed around and discovered another path leading back down to the clough.   Phil considered it but I felt it would be too much for me.  After my latest illness, I had just wanted an hour or two of sun and exercise which I had achieved.  Instead, we carried on up to Sandy Gate and down to Birchcliffe.

Picturesque chair 1Taking the steep buttress-like ginnel, tall houses framed a narrow slither of sky in front of us was.  Halfway down, a picturesque chair had been left outside a garden gate, while at the bottom., lichen and small ferns created textured wallpaper against grey stone.  On reaching School Street, we proceeded onto Bridge Gate, noting that Calan’s did not seem popular.

Along Market street, we found amusement in a horrifying display of pumpkins accompanied by a terrible painting of Frida Kahlo – which someone obviously considered an appropriate homage to the late artist – probably the freakiest thing we had seen all day!

Pumpkin helli The excellent Basque film, ‘Errementari’ (the Blacksmith and the Devil)

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5M9vQfFZIzbqPZvHg

 

 

Finding Ted and Sylvia (Lumb Bank to Heptonstall)

Bend and boughs

The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult.  Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process.  Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression.  The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.

Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks.  On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine.  After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m.  We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot.  They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely.  We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property.  At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.

Colourful trees revisitedWe turned right again and started the ascent into woodland.  It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath.   A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion.  I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake.  Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.

Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path.  A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork.  This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.

Lumb Bank garden 4

Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers.   As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.

I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet.  Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.

We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village.  We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next.  Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left.  We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.

Churchyard selfieAmongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.

A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost.  She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave.  Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it.  There are usually pens and stuff on it”.  Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath.  She looked the type”.  I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.

We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked.  He thought he might have left it at home.  I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark.  Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.

We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves.  We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked.   I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop.  On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it.  We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer.  When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!”  Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!

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Lumb Bank view 1

Frost, Fog and Sun

stoodley-view-4

The last Saturday in November, the low morning sun was blinding!  Lingering fog in the valley created a white line below an azure sky.

cuckoo-steps

We set off early afternoon, up the Cuckoo steps (resplendent in brown and green with a sunlit backdrop) and into Eaves Wood.  Views back down proved absolutely stunning with the bright light and clear sky.  Climbing up the lovely path along the ridge, we watched crows wheeling above the rocks – observing for the first time that they resembled a vanilla slice.

We took the steps up behind Hell Hole Rock, resting at the top to enjoy the warm sun. Phil clambered over an outcrop for more views.  I followed him and noticed a small path going southwards that I had not travelled before.

 

We walked along the edge of a horse field, past climbers whingeing about dogs, and saw an acquaintance with her dog who managed to chuck its ball into the field.   Phil clambered over the fence to retrieve it.  We continued around the field, through a newly-planted woodland and emerged near the social club.

 

As we watched the horses eating straw as if it was spaghetti, I spotted frosty leaves on the ground where the sun never shone.  We continued up the edge of Southfield to West Laithe and into the village.

sunny-path-1The old co-op building had been commandeered by a Heptonstall artists’ and makers’ market.  We Chatted to some of the artists and perused the merchandise.  I was fascinated by the pile of junk inside the old building – I never knew that lot was in there.

In the Cross iInn we found more art and bought raffle tickets. We fancied a pint and pub food, but they only seemed to be offering pizza and tapas.

Reasoning that we could walk back down in the last light of the day, we headed back to town.  We took the easy road back, until we came to The Buttress.

We took our time going down to avoid slipping on leaves.  It had been so long since I had travelled that way, and had not realised that the council had cleaned up the small graveyard.  Entering for a nosey, we found more frosty leaves, large brown mushrooms (Phil macabrely pointing out that they were growing from dead people!) and took in views of sunlight still lingering on Old Town.  At the bottom, we crossed the Packhorse bridge and up Bridge Gate for beer and huge pies at The White Lion.

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misty-valley-2

Colden to Draper Lane

Colourful trees 5

The first Sunday in November felt more like summer. It later turned out to be officially the hottest November day ever recorded. I wore sandals which could be unprecedented for this late in the year.

We walked the small paths up to Colden Clough. The bright sunlight and autumn leaves resulted in a profusion of stunning colours throughout the woodland.  We trod paths strewn with copper beech leaves, framed by greens and golds clinging still to trees, beneath a flawless blue sky.

Path with fallen leaves 2Just before Lumb Bank, Phil had to stop to rest his back. Perched on a rock, we watched leaves falling and tiny birds flitting through the trees.

As we set off again, we saw a friend coming towards us with a companion. We chatted about the glorious scene and taking photos inside Lumb bank sometime.

We said goodbye and carried on climbing up. We stayed on the upper path and continued climbing to the causeway at the very top along the wall.

 

 

Upper Causeway 1We continued to ‘Hebble Hole’ and sat on another rock for coffee and parkin.

I calculated we had about an hour and a quarter of daylight left. I did not feel confident walking back down through the clough in case we didn’t make it before dark.

Instead, we climbed up the small steep steps to Hudson Mill Lane to walk along the road towards Heptonstall. On the tops, the sun created beautiful orange glows across the valley. We saw a field of pheasants being stalked by a cat which amused us.

Twilight across the valley 4At Draper’s corner we turned down Draper Lane. We descended in the gloaming, catching the last light on the trees.  Even as we stopped to take yet more photos, we hoped we would make it down before full dark.

Coming onto Heptonstall Road and down onto the Cuckoo Steps (thankfully lit) we reached home with mere seconds of the dusk remaining.

Back home, we ate a very fat dinner of about 1000 calories, which we justified by reminding ourselves that we had no lunch and had walked for over 3 hours – a lot for us with all our ailments.

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Draper Lane

Tat and Leaves

Puddle and leaves 3Another grey day, but desperate for some air, we took the opportunity to visit the first floor of Hebble End Mill.

Hebble End mill 4The so-called ‘vintage sale’ proved to be a load of tat but the building was great. White-washed walls juxtaposed with hanging fabrics and trailing wires while leftover paraphernalia provided props for hanging clothes.

Hebble End mill 5As we took our photos, a woman asked if we were industrial spies. The mission took only a few minutes and we continued along to Blackpit Lock.

For a change, we crossed the bridge and trod the path on the other side. Now the reflections in the water became framed by structural plants reaching optimistically sky-ward

We were forced to turn left near the canal overflow, where the rippling water cascaded down into the river.

Further up, we examined old ruined buildings and an old tree-lined road.

The Old Pattern Works 3After some exploration, we went up the short flight of steps to Palace House Road and walked along to The Old Pattern works.

We perused the renovated exterior and the backyard, now converted into ‘luxury holiday cottages’.

We continued on the road. Reaching the train station, we crossed back over the river.

I spotted a heron on the weir – my efforts to capture it on camera were dire. At Mayroyd we bypassed the canal up to Station Road. I saw a huge squirrel dashing down a tree but it was too fast to photograph.

A day for bad wildlife photography obviously!

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Canal and plants