Tag Archives: Oak trees

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.

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Pinfold 2

Zigzagging from Heptonstall to Midgehole

Valley view 1

Another sunny Sunday and I felt strong enough to tackle a longer walk.  We intended to get the bus to Blackshaw Head and walk down Jumble Hole.  I checked bus times as there had been some timetable changes but the website displayed the original times.  On the way to the bus stop, we bought pasties and pop then waited several minutes.  The Widdop bus came first.  I suggested catching it to Heptonstall and possibly take the lovely route down to Hardcastle Crags.

Heptonstall Townfield Lane 5Alighting in the village, Phil stood in a patch of sun and declared he was stopping there.  I laughed.  We walked up Towngate and turned right.

Along Townfield, we paused often to appreciate the white tree blossom above us, golden meadows stretching before us and panoramic views of the valley below.

Among scattered farm junk, a child’s toy perched atop an animal feed container made us chuckle.

At a fork in the grassy path, I suggested taking the lower one down to Midgehole.  This took us along a stone wall, through a picturesque stile and onto Draper Lane.  I could see the footpath sign across the road, slightly to the right.

Heptonstall verge 3

On the other side, we discovered a beautiful verge on the cliff-edge.  We sat awhile on a convenient a bench surrounded by flowers to take in views of the Crags and Crimsworth Dean.

An idyllic wooded path led downwards.  Thin oaks stretch upwards, their bark adorned with red lichen and their tops crowned by shiny leaves.

Tiny anemones poked out amidst bright green ferns.  Gnarly roots acted as steps to aid our descent.

In between woodland flowers 3I had expected to go more or less straight down to Midgehole but hadn’t factored in the steep cliff-like drop, hence the path travelled westwards as it descended, until it met with the bottom of Northwell Lane.

We continued downwards along an old cobbled path where an old acquaintance was coming up the other way with a companion.   She had availed herself of a strong pint of cider at The Blue Pig.

On reaching the river, we decided we’d rather have pies than beer and walked along away from the pub to find a suitable patch of rocks to squat on.

After eating, we continued on the riverside path and up to Midgehole Road.  Having had a shorter walk than planned, we considered continuing up to Pecket Well but the prospect of a hot climb proved off-putting.  Instead, we returned home along the tried and trusted route, where tiny May flowers lined the riverside and the beaches were busy with families enjoying the sunshine.

Heptonstall meadow view 2

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Slow Autumn in Crow Nest

valley-view-1

Early October brought slow changes to the woods.  On a changeable Sunday, we headed up to Palace House Road and took the first path into Crow Nest woods.  As we climbed, we picked a few remaining blackberries and popped balsam pods.  We paused to admire the gradually altering autumnal colours across the valley before coming to a fork in the path.

tree-with-balletic-armsThis time we chose to go westwards, a path we had not walked for some years.  The path was ill-maintained and tricky in places, littered with sticks and stones.  We zig-zagged to the top of the wood and figured it must be an ancient route-way as cliff-like sides and exposed tree roots suggested it had sunk a few feet over time.

 

tree-like-an-elephant-2We remarked on how different the wood looked to our last visit in May.  Patches of straw-like grass stood in the place of the earlier bluebells; multi-coloured beech leaves littered the route; half-eaten mushrooms poked out from the ground.

We carried on eastwards along the top path as it became made for elves and noticed a tree that looked like Groot (or an elephant depending on the angle).

 

mushrooms-on-a-dead-tree-2

 

On reaching the apex, we crossed the small stream and continued down into the quarry.  Greeted by the remains of a fire, more balsam, (although dying off some still clung on), and fallen trees riddled with fungi.  I said that if it was cleaned up a bit it could be Malham Cove.

Doubling back, we came onto a narrow path behind the road.  Turning eastwards once more, we found ourselves on another old road, this time paved with cobbles, becoming slippery concrete further down.

As we emerged just north of the train station, we saw evidence of work being undertaken in the stone yard.   We picked our way through piles of stones and interesting junk to investigate. It appeared that the old watermill was being made to work again (very heartening).  From there, we walked onto Station road, across the main road and up Commercial Street.  We reached the Sunday market just in time to catch Craggs Cakes for a tasty treat.

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waterfall-down-the-cliffside-1

Our Back Yard

Eaves Wood - Down the path 2

The first Sunday of 2015 dawned bright and crisp. In the afternoon, we chased the sun up the hill through what we call ‘our back yard’ (commonly known as Eaves Wood). A climb up to Heptonstall road and a left turn, took us to possibly my favourite path along the ridge. I love all the little crevices made by the weathering of the sandy rocks and the numerous minute plants found clinging to the rock face. I could explore this tiny world for hours.

From Great Rock we took the precarious steps up and paused at ‘photographers’ corner’ where there was a bit of a lock jam. Not surprising given the views back down the valley across to Stoodley Pike. We then followed the path along, and stopped on one of the flat rocks for coffee, avoiding getting blasted by the icy air. I closed my eyes and felt the bright orange sun on my face – a real tonic.

Heptonstall - Churchyard in winter 3

We then carried on as far as the path took us turning right up the lane where we came across the tree planters. We waved in greeting then took the road down into the village. As the light faded, we lingered in the churchyard before setting off to walk back home.

Alternative route - Leaves of green and yellowWe recently discovered a different way up to the woods. I had a vague recollection of taking this less direct route some years before but unfortunately my memories were flawed.

We started out along the main road and soon after the Fox & Goose, we took a small flight of steps up. Struggling through brambles and overgrown balsam plants, we came to a dead end and concluded that we had followed a path to a telegraph pole!

 

Alternative route - Woodland den

 

We retraced our steps. About to go back down to the main road, we noticed an actual path leading further up and thought that might have been the one we had thought we were on to start with.

The sight of a woodland den prompted a joke that Ray Mears had been here recently.

We followed it up and around until we joined my favourite path from which we had a relatively easy and familiar climb.

 

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