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A Dodgy Walk from Blake Dean

Graining Water 1

The intermittent summer of 2016 and a series of family traumas did not allow for many opportunities to enjoy longer days out.  However, the first Saturday in August promised to be a good, fine day for walking.  We determined to forget recent troubles and make the most of it.

1800 markerI got together a picnic and we set out for the bus stop.  We almost gave up waiting for the community bus, as it was delayed by several minutes.

At last it arrived and we rode up to Blake Dean, alighting at the bridge over Graining Water.

I noticed for the first time the stonemason’s mark – ‘W. 1800’ – carved into an edge stone.

 

We crossed the road and descended via the rickety wooden gate into the dean.  Predictably busy on a warm summer’s day, we escaped uphill via paths overgrown with bracken, away from the crowds.  A lump of rocks edged an attractive grassy path, in front of a small stone cave.  We enjoyed a picnic and views whilst discussing options for the walk down into the crags.

Stone caveOpting to stay on the east side of the stream, we kept on the lower grassy path.

This took us above the remains of the trestle bridge i, over a rickety styal, past a disused quarry (likely again related to the temporary railway) and through what could have been an abandoned garden.

 

 

We then entered a cedar wood, awestruck by its sheer beauty.  Tall trees emitted scents redolent of Christmas, interspersed with truncated and fallen trunks.  We continued downstream, until things took a turn for the worse.  Apparent landslips had rendered the path unnavigable in places.  Springs had created bogs, very tricky to cross.  Much trial and error ensued. Our feet became inevitably wet and muddy (thank goodness for waterproof sandals!)

Fed up of the constant sinking, we considered fording the stream but it did not look safe enough.  Eventually we came to an old stone wall and paused to think.  After some deliberation, we decided to try and ford yet another impromptu stream surrounded by bog.  However, in spite of laying down a carpet of bracken, I was unable to make the leap.  Meanwhile, a group of European hikers appeared, in the same predicament “on no!  We will be here forever!” one of them said “yes, we are stuck” I agreed” do we have enough provisions?”  This made them all laugh in that continental way.

Wooden styalI recognised a house further up whose garden we had traversed on our very first walk on this side of the water some years before. We headed upwards in search of a path to said house.

Alas, we searched in vain but we did eventually find a safe crossing point after which the path became easy going, eventually merging with an access road which again I remembered from our first foray in this specific part of the wood.

 

Back in familiar territory, we expected the last leg through the crags to be plain sailing.  However, a flood-ravaged bridge necessitated another wet, muddy feet experience as we had to use the original Victorian path underneath the cliffs.

At Gibson Mill, we were so late even the toilets had been locked!  Exacerbated, we commandeered one of the deserted picnic tables to partake of apple pie and pop.  From there, we took the quick way back along the driveway to the main gate and along Midgehole Road and onto town.

Cedar wood 3

I Later that month, Phil came across a pamphlet by the University of Leeds with some interesting facts and photos about the history of Hardcastle Crags.  Amongst other things, there is a fantastic picture of a train crossing the trestle bridge just below Blake Dean: http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/misc/scienceandtourism/Final%20copy%20leaflets/Industrial%20Heritage%20leaflet.pdf

On the first Sunday in October, we again rode the community bus up to Blake Dean.  We spent a few minutes rambling in the dean.  Rowan trees in full berry looked beautiful against the early autumn backdrop as water sparkled under a blue sky.

We then took our more usual route back down.  Some very churned up muddy bits on undulating parts made the path rather tricky in places.   I became quite anxious at one point and sat down in a mossy glade to recover.  We spotted lots of mushrooms and a triangle-shaped rock we had not noticed before.  Refreshed, we continued down and noted that the bridges and paths damaged in the floods had all been fixed. It seemed to take quite a while to reach Gibson Mill so as usual, it was shut.

A cloud of midges descended on us as we sat on the picnic bench finishing our flask of coffee.  Again, we opted for the top track to reach the gate quickly and onto Midgehole road.  I stubbed my toe 3 times on the riverside path (cursing the walking shoes I was wearing rather than sandals I had worn since April) and felt the need to stop once more on a bench near one of the ‘beaches’ for a short rest.  Phil suggested I look for archaeology but all I found were pieces of a boring jug!

rowan-tree-close-up

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiKkeI2VJ1XgFqOVqFQ; https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiOBlL5cJNFTN45ZxzQ

 

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Edge Lane Detour

Cascade 2c

On a remarkably sunny Wednesday in April, Phil and I caught a bus from Market Street to Callis.  We had arranged to meet two walking friends somewhere up the tops and kept in touch via text.

Ruined house gardenWe walked up Jumble Hole, admiring the scenery as usual, especially the lovely waterfalls and ruined houses (some with spring gardens which made us laugh).

We found the uphill climbs hard work, but took it easy and stopped at Staups Mill for a break.  We then carried on to the small bridge taking us across the pretty brook and up to the fields below Blackshaw Head.

I paused to text our friends and check the map for a quick way down to Colden.  I had worked it out when a passing driver confirmed my instinct and we proceeded on the Calderdale Way across farmland until it met the Pennine Way going down to Hudson Mill Lane.

Colden - Lamb groupJust before the junction with Smithy Lane, we admired new born lambs.  Our friends awaited us on the bench at Jack Bridge.  We all walked up to May’s for the excellent cheese pies.

As Marisa and I went to use the primitive loo, a sheepdog cowered from us in fear.  I said it made a change; it was usually them that spooked me!

 

Signs

Marisa suggested going up Edge Lane as an alternative route back to Jack bridge.  We set off, with Hot Stones Hill on our right.

At the next junction, a sign directed travellers to tantalisingly named places such as Lower Earlees and Salt Pie (a historic stop on the packhorse tracks).

We turned down the lesser-used School Land Lane which skirted the bottom of Rodmer Clough, where a ruined chimney looked the remains of a fairy castle, and round the edge of Land Farm.

We then had a choice of routes and took the lower one. As it skirted a wood, the path became narrower.  A screeching bird could be heard but not seen…

Ruined chimneyEmerging in a field, the grass path became paved with ancient causey stones.  We crossed a styal onto New Road. I struggled to keep up with the pace setters and welcomed a short rest.

Marisa pointed out Strines Bridge in a field a little way down.  I asked if we could get to it.

The answer was yes.  Further down the lane we turned down a short driveway and across a very nice garden.  A tiny stream tinkled alongside us as we crossed a wooden bridge and then followed the line of the stream into a field.

Again, the grass path revealStrines Bridge close up 3ed old causey stones.  Peaceful sheep grazed next to the impossibly cute stone bridge, traversing a sky-blue stream.  A sharp arch was accessed by a tiny opening.  We remarked that the packhorses must have been very small (I later found out that the bridge was most likely a footbridge linking Strines Farmhouse with Coldeni.

From there, it was a relatively easy walk back down the lane to Jack Bridge.  We headed straight ahead back onto Hudson Mill Lane, and down the small, steep steps to Hebble Hole.  The boots I had chosen to wear that day proved ill-advised as my toes hurt with every step down.

We took the lower path to the garlic fields.  Phil did most of the picking as I felt exhausted and dehydrated.  I thought we were staying down in the clough but were led upwards to the top causeway.  I became even more fatigued.  Thankfully, we did not climb all the way up but instead came back down above Lumb Bank.  Mind you, loose stones and dried leaves made the path very tricky, causing more pain to my feet.

Utterly exhausted, I eschewed a visit to the pub. The day had already been too long for me. I  also felt far too sweaty to be in mixed company. I started stripping off garments even before I got in the house.  Once indoors, I hastily removed more clothes and doused myself in cold water.  I realised I had heat exhaustion.  Angry and upset, I ranted that when I said I was tired, dehydrated, and in need of rest, I really meant it.  The next day I still suffered from exhaustion.  On reflection, I decided it was my own fault – I should have heeded the signs that I had reached my limit and got on a bus instead of struggling on.

Nevertheless, the walk itself was lovely and it gave me ideas for further exploration of the Colden area (at a manageable pace)!

More photos at: https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=2DF4BDD5DCD70A39!118018&authkey=!ADRkaR0M8cPUjdY&ithint=folder%2c

Sky blue stream

i https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1133947

Up to Old Town

Joan wood tree trunks 1

Joan wood stepsOn a sunny April evening, we headed to Nutclough for one of our favourite strolls up to Old Town.

Finding the path closed, we decided to try an alternative route that my walking friend had mentioned.

We walked a little further up Keighley Road and climbed a flight of stone steps into Joan Wood. We followed the path up and along through the small wood to another flight of steps.

I sarcastically commented that the new concrete steps blended almost seamlessly with the old ones!

Rock wall

Emerging onto Hurst road, we crossed over a stile and through a series of fields.

At the boundary of the second field, we could see Old Town mill a short distance away.

We rested on a rock wall to take in the views, from Heptonstall on the right to Dodnaze on the left.

We carried on up and admired the horses in front of the mill.

From there, we skirted round the mill and through the old part of the village onto Billy Lane.

Mill with horses 1More photos at: http://1drv.ms/1IVm31X

Pootling Around Nutclough Woods

Snowy Swamp 3Nearby Nutclough woods is the perfect place for a pootle. Behind what was once Nutclough Mill on Keighley Road, lies a mini reminder of our industrial past. Now, the remnants of that Victorian legacy, including a variety of trees, mill race and ponds (maintained by the ‘Friends of Nutclough Woods’ i) are worth a visit at any time of year.

In autumn 2012, we spent a couple of enjoyable hours wandering around the post-flood altered landscape. We discovered several bits of pottery that had been washed down from the hills.

I doubt everyone would agree, but we decided it looked better as a result. A lot of silt had disappeared from the old mill ponds although that meant the ducks had scarpered, probably due to a lack of food.

Nutclough uphill 2aDuring the dry summer of 2013, it was easy to navigate the low waters of the beck via conveniently-placed stepping stones and explore the small islands.

A variety of wild flowers and a smattering of archaeology could be found. On one visit, my friend found a very interesting hook in the river.

After exploring, we often carry on up the hill to Old Town via a number of routes. Following the course of the beck, the path may be too boggy to navigate at any time of year, but especially in winter.

Last summer however, the problem was quite the reverse: it was so dusty and dry that it had become dangerous in a different way. As I found out to my cost, skidding on a pebble and landing on my arse.

A drier route involves a steep climb across a field. A scattering of meadow flowers, the views across the valley and a lack of mud, make this an attractive alternative.

Kestrel in flight 1On a recent visit to admire the snowy woodland scenes, I chickened out of crossing the fast-flowing water via the stepping stones. Instead, we crossed via a small bridge from where we climbed a steep path. This led through a private garden and out onto Sandy Gate.

 

Walking along the road, we paused to watch a kestrel hovering above. I spotted a path going down on the right. I thought it might go back into Nutclough Woods but disappointingly, it skirted the Birchcliffe Centre with cheeky signs telling us which way to walk!

Flooded Islands 1After the Boxing Day floods of 2015, the islands had got even smaller! I refused to even try fording the streams and took the top path to the stone bridge.

We crossed to the path on the other side. Missing the turning up to Sandy gate, Phil started going towards the white house where the path had turned into a muddy stream. I refused to follow him and started heading back until I spotted the path I was looking for above and found a way up to it. I

had planned to walk further but I felt exhausted and stressed. I sat on a wall to rest.

On the way back down, we noticed odd bits of Birchcliffe including a private burial ground which we explored despite the ‘no admittance’ signs.

Private burial ground 1

i https://friendsofnutcloughwoods.wordpress.com/

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Walks in Colden Clough

Tree stump with bluebells

We never tire of walking in Colden Clough. Due to the seasonal changes, it is impossible to have the same experience twice.

Spring walks are rewarded by a riot of bluebells and garlic, which we can smell before we see it (we pick young leaves away from the path for ace soups and pesto). Summer brings the trees out in full bloom – beech and birch, oak and rowan are the most common. This is also usually (but not always!) the time when the lower paths are driest allowing navigation of routes otherwise too muddy and wet.

Colden Clough April - Lumb Mill Archaeology - Mill Floor 4

Autumn brings out the true majesty of the trees in their golds, oranges, reds and browns. We may forage for beech nuts if the squirrels haven’t beaten us to it!

And in winter, the Clough becomes a wonderland, when blanketed with snow or hoar frost.

Despite the interest of organisations such as the AA i and the BBC ii, it is not unusual if you choose the less-trodden paths, to barely see another soul all day. Start by walking west out of town along the main road to the Fox and Goose pub. Then either turn right up the next path you come to or up Church Lane passed the parish church and keep going up.

Red path 5

From here, there are numerous paths to choose, some of which take you very quickly to Lumb Bank. Others will lead you on a series of adventures via woods, rocky outcrops, up and down steps, and numerous examples of industrial archaeology.

These latter two are Victorian creations: many of the small paths were built as a part of a job creation scheme in the early 1900’s.

If you keep to the route of the river, you will eventually come to Hebble Bridge. In good weather, the river and clearing on the other side is busy with people picnicking, children paddling and dogs optimistically waiting for someone to play with them.

Many of these may be staying at the campsite, just a little further up in the New Delight pub (known affectionately by locals as ‘The Newdy’).

Meaningless signs

This can be reached by climbing either of the steep sets of steps in front of you as you come over the bridge. Turn right at the top and go along the lane.

You then have choices to make: follow the packhorse trailii or the modern road to Heptonstall, go back into the Clough and keep heading down, or just get the bus back to town.

 

 

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References:

i http://www.theaa.com/walks/jumble-hole-and-colden-clough-421306

i i http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2008/04/09/colden_clough_walk_feature.shtml