Tag Archives: recreation

Confined Walks 5 – Salem to Moss Lane

Going up 4

Due to recurring bouts of sinusitis and a family bereavement, there had been little opportunity to enjoy local walks for quite a few weeks.  The first Sunday in August, I felt slightly unwell but we sorely needed  fresh air.  Phil needed the shop.  I thought we might have a short walk first but he was intent on the errand.  The centre was rammed again, particularly the square, as it had been since the easement of lockdown earlier in the summer.  The recently imposed new restrictions in the region had made no difference as far as we could tell.  A gang of ageing bikers inhabited a favoured spot opposite the pub.  One wore a fox stole – very Mad Max!  Acquiring the essentials, we wandered up to the large charity shop.

Carbuncle 2Emerging empty-handed, we found the others shut, dithered about what to do, then returned briefly to the packed square to buy pies for a handy lunch.  We walked on the riverside and continued to the end of Victoria Road until it became a cul-de-sac.  Hebden Water gushed enthusiastically beyond a low stone wall.  Ubiquitous Himalayan Balsam sprouted amid rusting car wrecks.  Piles of tyres were artily arranged in front of patchwork buildings.

 

Towards Foster Mill Bridge, a for sale sign grandly claimed a dilapidated workshop included a garden – actually a strip of scrappy grass.  Over the small humped bridge, waterside flowers already went to seed.  Unable to identify the tall white blooms (so many looked similar), we compared their characteristics to the willowy features of the wild carrot – dominant in the park this year.  We’d planned to sit and eat our pies but the beaches and benches were occupied.  As the wind whipped up, I suddenly felt worse.   I suggested a different route home instead.

Stone wall flora 2Overgrown stone steps took us past the glorious sycamore up to a rough path.  Dodging a couple of women conversing on the corner, we turned left and paused to catch our breath.  Here, the balsam grew tall, lower stems entwined with bindweed, providing a foreground for lines of terraced houses climbing the hills.

Further up, thick garden walls were encrusted with escapees, the bright orange and yellow flowers contrasting brightly with grey granite.

We soon reached Lee Wood Road and walked a short distance westwards, amused by a ‘Cross Lee’ installation, to the top of The Buttress.  I momentarily hesitated as the well-worn packhorse trail all but disappeared in a spookily distant vanishing point.  “Do you want to go this way?” asked Phil.  I shrugged “It’s the quickest way back.”  Stealing myself for a slippery descent on cobbles edged with lush seasonal growth, I soon found my stride.

We nipped in the small cemetery.  Spruced up a few years ago, large clumps of yellow flowers now inhabited narrow spaces between Victorian gravestones.  Slippery paths led precariously to a back wall.  Hillside settlements across the valley seemed remote.  Proceeding downwards, we reached the last turn-off before the bottom leading home.

View down the Buttress

Hollins to Midgehole

Lee Wood Road 6

After an unseasonably cold and wet start, mid-June brought some improvement.  I suggested a wander up Tinker Bank, but ended up walking rather further than planned.

Crossing Hebden Water at Foster Mill Bridge, we paused for fellow walkers coming the opposite way.  Below us, laden branches all but obscured the stream, hanging heavy above the silvery torrent.

Dog rose 4On the steps to Hollins, the majestic sycamore presided over an enchanting scene.  Geometric foxgloves had survived a battering from the previous night’s thunderstorm.  Bees buzzed round dog roses.  One disappeared inside a flower.  As I waited patiently for it to re-emerge, a second one landed.  After some fumbling that too vanished.  Turning right on the small path, we past the gloomy hamlet and proceeded up through the wood, mildly reeking of dankness.

 

Just Passing 4Here, bees focused on bramble blossom, so pretty I initially mistook them for another kind of rose.  Reaching Lee Wood Road, we followed signs to ‘Hebden Hey/Hardcastle Crags’.  Picturesque twisty trees and well-curated rocks soon made it apparent this was yet another Victorian construction.  Amazed at still discovering new parts of the vast National Trust estate, I wondered why we had never taken this route before.  I then recalled a foray in our early walking days, and thought maybe we had, albeit from the other direction and not quite as far.

We became hungry and weary.  Reluctant to end up in the middle of the crags, we back-tracked to a stony footpath.  As predicted, we arrived at The Blue Pig.  The outside seating area was packed!  At first, we wondered if it was illegally open.  But as the doors looked firmly shut, we concluded the regulars congregated out of habit.  I refused to sit anywhere near the flouters.  Instead, we took the snicket at the side of the small bridge into the lower reaches of the crags.  The first bench occupied by a family, I stopped in the verge.  Phil marched on.  “Where are you going!” I called after him.  He indicated a further bench that I hadn’t seen due to the tall grass.

Vergeside 1Breathless and sweaty, we collapsed with cold drinks, wishing we’d brought lunch with us.  We mustered the strength to walk back via the flattest route.  On Midgehole Road, the deep purple foxgloves contrasted with golden poppies against grey drystone walls.

Descending to the riverside, kids played on the makeshift beach. We took the less populous left-hand Foster Mill Dam path.  ‘The swamp’ exuded a strong smell of wild garlic, severely past it at this time of year.

Further on, we traced the remains of the old mill ponds and dam wall, envisioning the location of the erstwhile mill buildings.

Towards Windsor View, a dog blocked the path.  I hailed a woman gardening close by, asking her to call her mutt away so we could pass unimpeded.  Back on tarmac, I felt uncomfortably hot.  As I stripped off a layer of clothing, I heard my camera hit the pavement.  Thankfully, with firm hold of the strap, it survived unscathed.   Towards town, we returned to the riverside path.  We held our breath hurrying past a bunch of itinerant drinkers.  Phil said hello as one recognised us but I refused to open my gob until well clear.  Aware they would never change their behaviour, I really wished they wouldn’t move round so much- they were much easier to avoid in the park!  In search of instant fodder, we perused the shops to little avail.  I exited One Stop pretty sharpish as people crowded round the ice cream freezer and a massive queue for the till snaked round the aisles.  Back home, we were absolutely desperate for food and rest. I hastily assembled cheese and crackers and slumped on the sofa.

Ye olde dam wall 1

Bar Cliff to Crow Nest

Looking around

At the end of May, sinusitis returned rendering me bedridden on the hottest and most dazzling of days so far. Sunday, I felt much better and up for a short walk to stretch my unused legs.  The blazing sun and heat was tempered by a bit of a breeze and cloudy spells.  This made the walk up ‘Bar Cliff’ more bearable.

Curly Ferns 4A resplendent rhododendron marked the start of the path.  Curly ferns provided highlights of yellow against green verges.  Small groups of children clutched picnic blankets on their way up to grassy fields.  We followed the curves of New Road towards Old Chamber, laughing at local signs telling motorists to ‘turn back’ – very local!  At the bridge, we stopped to take in the pastoral scenes.  Lambs quickly scarpered across a small field, spooked by a family obviously not used to walking, yelping as they picked their way down the stony path below.  “Something tells me that’s a new hobby for them.”  I commented.  Phil sniggered but I reminded him “there was a time when you considered going to the pub on the canal ‘a walk’.  We all have to start somewhere!”  At the far end of the field, a brave lamb stared at me curiously over the wall.

Munching goats 3At Old Chamber, more lambs were penned into a small triangle.  Were they in quarantine?  Nearby, a mountain of hardcore was dumped in front of a ruined farm building.  On the other side of the valley, a bright yellow air ambulance flew above Midgeley Moor.  The honesty box remained open with signs instructing users to enter one at a time.  We peered in to see only eggs for sale; sensible to not offer cups of tea right now, I guess.

Continuing to Spencer Lane, house martins flitted between eaves and a pair of kestrels took turns surveying the landscape from treetops before swooping down to unseen prey.  Larger fields contained larger flocks of sheep and goats too, with offspring.  Close up, I noticed the small kids had tiny horns like little demons!

Underneath are starsWe skirted Wood Top Farm and turned left onto the beautiful grassy lane to the old quarry.  Glade-like in the arid conditions, a variety of implements suggested recent gardening activity.  Entering Crow Nest Wood, dappled lighting created a restful ambience.  We rested on the almost-dry waterfall where barely a trickle flowed in the brook.  Miniscule flowers of white and yellow bloomed beneath fading bluebells.  We marvelled anew at the trees simultaneously dead and alive.  Probably the case in all woodland, it always struck us particularly in this one; maybe because we knew it so well.  Mouldy mushrooms inhabited the rotten lower trunks while new oak leaves sprouted from higher branches. One such tree resembled a wraith performing a dance macabre in the wispy air.

Taking the short way home, we waited for a small family to ascend the dry path, made tricky by a thick layer of last years’ tinder-dry beech nuts.  On palace House Road, we noted new traffic lights, explaining the roadworks a few weeks back.  The updated controls enabled us to safely navigate the single-file bridge.  Phil larked about, insisting we had to pointlessly cross the road.  Back home, I headed straight for the bathroom.   The dusty dry paths had turned my sandal-clad feet black.   We had been saving small pies in the fridge for a longer outing,  but justified eating them after the walk – an indoor picnic!

Restful 3

The First Picnic (Oakville circular)

Roadside poppies 8

A week after lockdown easing allowed picnics, we took sandwiches on a slightly longer walk.  Initially making our way to the canal again, we walked on the towpath to Stubbings only to find the route blocked.  Quickly coming up with Plan B, we crossed the main drag and took the second left turning.  Heady scents of pine assailed us.  Phil said it smelt of holidays!   Oakville Road resembled a poppy field.  Dazzling golds and oranges crowded the hedgerows, dancing in the stark sunlight.  Arriving at a junction, we continued upwards on Turret Hall Road, becoming  hot on the steep switchbacks.  We stopped by a patch of bluebells to rest and drink water.  Phil looked as though he needed it more than me which was unusual and I rued not bringing more.

Wood Farm 1Cooler in Rawtenstall Wood, we noted ‘Wood Farm’ seemed to have grown.  Just off the track, a dappled clearing housed palettes and rickety lean-tos with tarpaulin draped atop indeterminate piles.  I joked the farm actually made wood like in the old PC video game ‘Transport Tycoon’!

We detoured onto a magical-looking small path, scented by more bluebells with smaller flowers studded between the rough hardcore.  Reaching what I deduced was Dark Lane, we perched on a wall opposite the pike to eat the packed lunch, enjoying a light breeze and the beautiful scenes.

Roadside garlicComing down Marsh Lane, the views ahead of us omitted the road hidden deep in the valley, suggesting a clear run to the pike.  Twisty trees and barbed wire decorated the descent.  As  signs indicated the Pennine Way, the path became uncomfortably stony underfoot, reminding me that several years ago I’d arrived at the bottom footsore and vowed never to come this way again!  The towpath also blocked at Callis, I suggested it was nothing to do with flood repairs but to contain the hippies!

Not quite remembering the best way back to Oakville Road, we eventually found it behind Stoney Bridge.  Away from the dusty main road, the scent of wild garlic replaced that of traffic.  Crossing back to Stubbing’s we returned to the towpath and rested briefly on lock number 10.  To quench the still burning thirst, we popped in the co-op for ice cream.  Normally immune to advertising, I had to admit the new magnum ruby red lollies were rather yummy.

 

Stoodley view 2

Confined walks 4 – Canalside Medley

Bridge view

Early May, we struggled to leave the house before later afternoon.  Thus we did not get further than the canal.

At the start of the week, Phil cast about for an excuse to go out.  With no shop requirements, he suggested going to look for goslings, snapped by a fellow photographer on the marina.  Hoping they’d still be there we set off late Wednesday afternoon. We waited for a neighbour coming up the steps.  “It’s so strange walking round (town) now, she remarked, “but I quite like it.  Apart from missing the charity shops. I’ve got no summer clothes.” I sympathised as I also missed them.  As she reached the top step, a slipper-wearing man with a mini dog rudely overtook us.  The usual hippies milled about on the main road.

Chapel AquilegiaWe paused at the chapel where cultivated purple aquilegia competed for space with yellow wild poppies and dandelions in the untended garden.  At the marina, we spotted geese, pigeons, a wagtail, a pile of pallets and a small family squatting on the cobbles, but no goslings.  Walking back to the park entrance, a man sat on the cinema steps.  Still talking into his phone, he abruptly stood and strode in our direction necessitating a sudden dodge.

In the memorial gardens, displaced pub-goers socialised on benches while in the park, children weaved about on bikes.  The ‘wild flower’ patch was a riot of dandelions.  On the less-trod playing field, they sprouted alongside daisies, heedless of dogs chasing balls.

Towpath SignExiting onto the towpath, signs redolent of Royston Vasey proclaimed ‘local use only’.  Fish swam beneath bright ripples in the canal, but still no sign of goslings. Turning towards Mayroyd, we climbed onto the lock, avoiding another small family.  A layer of scum and fallen blossom coated the water, blocking any view of wild life.  The way ahead seemed rather busy.  We retreated and stayed on the left side hoping to avoid busier stretches, taking the steps up to Palace House Road.  Peeking over the wall  down onto the canal at Hebble End, there were still no pesky goslings!

Friday (VE Day), jolly laughter, bursts of terrible music and milling about implied people on the street below were actually having a party. On our street, neighbours of the adjacent terrace socialised in their own self-created ‘bubble’.  Mr. Fast n Furious raced up and parked in the middle of the thoroughfare for no apparent reason, stood there a few minutes with engine idling, then reversed out with equal speed.

Bunting 1We gave all a wide berth and walked through clouds of floating dandelion seeds and upon the fading chalk art, to the end of the street, giggling at pathetic bunting in ‘Brexit Close’.  We took The Buttress down to the Packhorse Bridge, and into the square where a solitary figured occupied a bench.  I discovered later that an anti-lockdown demo, consisting of 8 sociopathic hippies had taken place.  Getting a few errands, we popped in the fancy wine shop to smirk at the exorbitant prices and dance to Sister Sledge and purchased the fabled goat meat from the very local butchers.

We wandered towards Holme Street where more half-hearted bunting adorned the school.  The smoky wood smell of the people’s pizza van was a big draw, but competed with the stink of draw towards the aqueduct.

DippingWe crossed to the other side of the lock again, evading the idiotic bank holiday smokers and drinkers, and enjoying a quiet patch of sunlight until the coast cleared.  Continuing past Hebble End, the angry white geese noisily defended their territory against half-breed ducks.  One, a mix of mallard and runner duck, swam in an ungainly fashion, struggling to keep its long neck up .  At the next exit point, we walked down a dirt track housing half-demolished vans, to the river and spotted a wagtail hopping from rock to rock.

Around the corner, we hailed a couple of friends in their garden, chatting safely from the other side of the wall.  He had been furloughed and she’d sensibly given up work as a self-employed painter for the duration, enjoying the rest.  That made at least two other people liking the slower pace of life! By coincidence, she had painted the red windows reflected in the canal waters that I had shot a couple of days before (and subject of the next Monday Morning Haiga).

Towpath reflections 1

On Spring Bank holiday Monday, we set off slightly earlier hoping to find lunch in town.  Heaving with day-trippers, carparks and bins overflowed, people queued for café take-a-ways, and benches outside the pub were fully occupied (although still not offering take-outs themselves).  It appeared as if the square had become a makeshift food court.  In search of pies, we found the bakers shut.  The local convenience stores supplied meagre pickings.  We waited ages while a family who looked like they’d already eaten all the pies, hovered round the instant food section.  The staff complained about the tourists “There are at least 300 people in the square”, one of them exaggerated.  Navigating the busy street, almost mowed down by a motorbike, we crossed over to the park to find a suitable patch of grass amidst the small groups populating the green spaces, in front of the shut café.  I said they could at least be selling ice cream.

Calder Holmes Park 2We enjoyed a long overdue picnic lunch in the warm sunshine, realising it was the first time since early March we had bought ‘lunch out’.  Discussing the recent Cummings farrago, we agreed the cat was out of the bag now.  Although physical distancing was not being totally ignored, friendship groups had definitely formed.  I learnt the art beloved of Daily Mail photographers, misleading the viewer into thinking small clumps of people were actually one seething mass.  An infamous local character staggered from one group to another, wearing a mask round his chin.  Phil suggested his keyworker probably put a stack in his house to protect the rest of us!

After eating, we walked along the canal to Mytholmroyd.  Delicate white flowers and common orchids resembling bottle brushes swayed gently at the water’s edge, dwarfed by Margarites.

Canal Whites 1At the boundary, more Margarites grew in hard gravel also home to a smattering of clover and trefoil.  We crossed the main road to the ancient hamlet of Hawksclough and walked home  via the Sustrans cycle path.  As the habitat changed, so did the flora.   Bright kingcups dazzled beside grey granite while fading wild garlic and miniscule blooms stretched upwards in the shade of riverside trees.

I popped in the co-op while Phil waited outside.  The halfwit serving me spoke into his headset: “we appear to have a stalker at the window.“  I turned round to see Phil doing funny faces behind my back!

Field of dreams

Wood Top to Mytholmroyd

Spencer Lane

It was grey and cold start last Wednesday.  We  considered a trip to Bradford for an exhibition and lunch, when a hint of brightness tempted us to go walking instead.  As it turned out, HRH Wills & Kate were in the city the same day and visited  My Lahore; one of our favourite eateries so we had a lucky escape!

We walked via the canal and park, hurrying over the aqueduct which is always colder no matter the season, to the station and popped in to collect tickets for a planned rail excursion next week.  While there, I took a few black and white  as part of a new project.

Ancient Post box 2We ascended Wood Top Road.  At the top, direct sunlight began to warm us up somewhat.  Past the old farmhouse, I was struck by the quaint post box on the telegraph pole at the corner of Carr Lane.

At the junction with Spencer Lane, wet cobbles sparkled in the glare.  Turning left onto Wood Hey Lane, we dodged several puddles and impromptu streams following seemingly weeks of rain.  Stubb Clough resembled a quagmire making me glad we had not taken a short cut across fields.  As we reached Park Lane, I remarked that we had taken the route several times during summer and spring but rarely in winter.

In place of new lambs, large sheep still sporting thick fleeces, munched lush grass.   A couple of dog walkers were the only other human occupants of the lane.  A large woman with a large dog courteously stood aside for us to pass.  Shortly after, another woman with a small dog approached from the opposite direction.  The juxtaposition made me giggle.  We continued down Nest Lane and took the sharp right-hand bend into Mytholmroyd village.

Keen for shots of historic buildings, I tried to determine if Elphaborough Close was the location of a long-gone hall of the same name.  Views of The Shoulder of Mutton and adjacent buildings were hampered by seemingly never-ending roadworks.  We had planned lunch at the Riverside Café.  Unfortunately, it is now shut.

Shoulder of Mutton 1Reaching Burnley Road, we navigated yet more roadworks and crossed to Grange Dene Yard.   The Blue Teapot proved cosy and provided tasty veggie fare. While waiting for our food, I perused leaflets of suggested walks from the village and discovered  another way of reaching Scout Rock which I aim to try in spring.  As we came back out into the cold, the wind blew straight at us and I felt freezing after the warmth of the café.

Hordes of school kids infested the road so we escaped back onto the towpath.  Along the canal, we observed the former site of Walkley’s Clog mill had been totally flattened.  A  very strange sight.  Further down, beer bottles surreally staying upright, floated  gently in the wind, while a child’s car seat resembled a small boat.  Detritus deposited by the recent storm no doubt.

Wasted 1

Domesday (Cruttenstall via Pinnacle Lane)

 

On Pinnacle Lane 1

A glimmer of sunlight in early January prompted me to suggest a mission to find Cruttenstall – an ancient settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book.  On a list of sites to investigate as part of background research for Cool Places, I’d not actively followed this up for some time although we did chance across one or two last year.

We set off at lunchtime, bought pasties from the bakers and proceeded up Palace House Road to the familiar path towards Crow Nest.  Taking the diagonal path on the right, views of the north side of the valley provided an opportunity to use my film camera for the first time, pre-loaded with black and white film.  Past Weasel Hall, we continued on New Road, where grey cobbles glistened in patchy sunlight, round the bend to the TV mast.  We had considered a detour for a cuppa at Old Chamber but due to short daylight hours at this time of year, we headed straight up instead.

Sheep and treeA signed path on the right led us through steep, muddy fields.  The climb proved much harder going than I’d anticipated. Out of breath, I stopped to sip water allowing another couple, garbed in proper hiking gear, to overtake us.  I then noticed sheep calmly grazing on the other side of the drystone wall.  Behind a winding dirt path, black branches appeared stark against a pale blue sky.

At the top of the field, a gate led out onto a paved lane I recognised as our return route from Stoodley Pike in May 2018 (the juncture of Broad Lane and Horsehold Lane).  Straight across, signs proclaimed access to Pinnacle Farm only.  Deducing the signs were aimed at vehicles, we strode onto a delightfully grassy Pinnacle Lane.

As we approached the farmhouse, a man disappeared round the back.  I had not expected the downward path so soon but to be sure, I checked with a woman who happened to be in front of the house. “No, that’s our garden” she replied, not unpleasantly.  She then proceeded to give directions to the pike and looked bemused when I informed her that was not our objective.  “We’re trying to find Cruttenstall” I said, then added, “for historical research” (In case she wondered what on earth for!)

PBW gate 2The woman told us to continue to a line of trees further on.  I had already guessed from the map that this would lead down to the Pennine Way but thanked her for the confirmation.  continuing, we eschewed a smaller footpath which would also have led to our destination as looking rather dodgy, and arrived at the line of trees indicating an intersection with the national trail.  Again, I recognised it from visiting the pike.

Through a large wooden gate, the path sloped downwards.  An azure haze dominated the view eastward with Heptonstall church tower appearing ethereal on the opposite side of the valley.  On our right, bright green lichens, dotted with small red flowers, carpeted sturdy stone walls.  To the left, a brook tripped down the slope.  Phil noticed that rocks had been deliberately thrown in to determine its course.  This evidence, coupled with the fact that further down it had gouged out a deep valley, suggested it was an old waterway.  Although the scene was not new to us, I remarked that having a historical objective in mind gave a new perspective to the landscape.  Hungry, we clambered over deep tractor ruts to stop among stones away from any traffic (not that we saw any), quickly ate the pasties then continued.

Tiny bridge

At the bottom of a dip,  the familiar cute arched bridge traversed the brook.  We took a moment to admire its small but perfectly-formed dimensions with shimmering water reflecting thin trees in the fading light.  We then crossed to climb another steep incline up to the fabled Cruttenstall.  Today just a farm, we saw no point getting closer.  As I had suspected, we’d passed nearby several times but gained a better picture of its context thanks to a specific quest.

We continued to follow the steepening valley, now with the brook on our right.   Loud barking emanated from a large house and instead of testing the ferocity of the hounds, we opted for a path through Callis wood, indicated by an acorn sign.  Happily, it was also a shorter route.

Arriving at a very familiar junction, we had a choice of turning right through Horsehold Wood or left down to Callis.  We chose the latter as a safer bet in the darkening afternoon.   We walked quickly westwards on the towpath, except for a short wait while a workman moved dredging machinery to let us through.  Back home, we removed our shoes  at the doorstep.  Along with our jeans, they were clarted in mud.

 

 

Autumn Symphony – Slack Top to the Crags

View pano 2

We managed one more walk before the end of October.  I had suggested a trip to Hardcastle Crags which strangely, we had rarely visited in autumn. Following some route-finding, we embarked on what we hoped would be less of a slog to get to Gibson Mill.  This entailed catching the 596.  Due to roadworks, the bus shelter had disappeared to be replaced by a temporary sign.  As we waited, a chilly wind made me cold and I worried I might not be warm enough.

Greenwood Lea 1We rode up enjoying the scenery in the beautiful sunshine.  We got off at Slack Top, immediately crossed and began walking up Widdop Road.  To our left, a different aspect of Popples Common revealed its true size.  A cobbled lane suggested an old packhorse trail.   To the right, large gardens housed annoying yappy dogs. Farmhouses revealed ancient horse steps, auxiliary servant’s quarters. multiple chimneys and peafowl – the latter populating the grounds of Greenwood Lea (a historic Yeoman’s house dating from circa 1712).  A few sheep and ridiculously cute Shetland ponies grazed in the fields.  Across the valley, trees displayed a plethora of colours with emerald evergreens interspersing a variety of deciduous hues.

Clough trees 1The road dipped slightly and after a small bend we espied Clough Holes carpark.  As work was underway, a sign announced ‘footpath closed’.  “Oh no!” I exclaimed, then realised it meant the path to the carpark.  Alongside, a tiny step stile led down to a picturesque path following the line of a small brook, punctuated with idyllic cascades.  A second stepped stile marked meadows giving way to woodland.

Looking back, sunlight glinted on leaves of orange, yellow and green with branches stretching towards a pale blue sky.  The path became a mix of rough cobble and hardcore as it continued to wind down.  Just before the stone bridge, a tree stump resembled a teddy bear.

Like a teddyA couple of families had followed us down; a reminder it was half-term.  I hoped we would not be overwhelmed with school kids at Gibson Mill.  In spite of the family-friendly activities and several groups making use of the café facilities, I managed to find a vacant table.  We had brought our own butties.   Phil wanted a brew to go with them and disappeared inside the Weaving Shed for what seemed like an age!  Eventually emerging, he said it had taken so long because of the umpteen variations on offer including flake in coffee – is that a thing now?

Both the walk down and lunch had taken considerably longer than anticipated.  Having originally planned to go quite a bit further up, we figured there was insufficient daylight remaining.  We agreed to at least walk a little way beyond the mill.

Among the mill ponds, impressive fungi were the size of dinner plates.  The brook we had walked alongside on our descent culminated in a torrent teeming down the rocks.  A large party of elderly hikers came towards us, necessitating a precarious step off the path at the water’s edge.

Mill ponds 4A few ducks pootled about on the pond surface amidst floating oak leaves.  Below the water line, bare branches created black reflections while frondy pond weeds of bright green swayed gently.  At the actual crags, I remarked that I had only recently realised  that this exact spot had been the focus of Victorian jaunts.  Lovely as they are, I was somewhat bemused by its specific popularity; the whole Calder Valley is characterised by such features.

We continued a little further where the scene took on a more forested aspect.  Assorted mushrooms brought renewed life to dead wood.  Soft russets reflected in the silvery steam.  I lingered on the edge of Hebden Water to take in the gorgeous symphony of colours and sounds.

The Crags 1Returning, we took the top track for a faster walk home, edged with fading ferns, spindly saplings and older majestic trees marching up the slope.  On the last stretch of the riverside path, we stayed on the left side to laugh anew at the swamp.

At the end of Valley Road, Phil detoured to the shop while I headed home, stopping briefly to chat with a friend.  I slumped on the sofa, recovered slightly with a drink of water but felt in need of a proper lie down.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9RkfZatqiLCPQD4XQ?e=3ctubM

 

Upstream 8

 

50 Shades of Green (Horsehold Wood)

Horsehold view Panorama

 

During a mainly sunny mid-September, I had been struggling with computer issues all morning which gave me a headache and put me in a bad mood.  We planned on a mid-week walk but unfortunately picked a day when the sun remained hidden in the South Pennines.  Reluctantly, I submitted to Phil’s badgering to at least leave the house but disinclined to go far, suggested going to Horsehold Wood.  A decidedly chilly wind blew as we climbed the steep road.   I cursed grumpily at the elusive sun.

Brambles 4Through the small gate onto the path edging the valley, we stood to gaze across the valley.  A plethora of greens and yellows signalling autumn was on the way.  At our feet, fading heather and rotting blackberries added contrasting splashes of red to the natural palette.

Descending into woodland,  pale beige mushrooms and bright green ferns poked up from dark earth covered with rotten leaves.  Stunted trees struggled for dear life on the north-facing slope.  Rotting trunks resembled tree spirits.  Phil suddenly stopped in an awkward spot, dealing with a camera malfunction.  I became impatient.  I told him the walk was not doing its job of improving my mood and I just wanted to get on with it.  He giggled, and I had to admit it did sound rather ridiculous when I was meant to be having fun!

Red wood 4Deeper into the wood, we marvelled anew at the red earth with optimistically green grass sprouting in clumps, and at how on earth some of the rocks had landed in such strange configurations.  We had noticed earlier how many beech nuts and acorns there were this year.  This had prompted a new obsession with collecting items and turning them into art.  On the road, we had gathered nut casings and helicopter-like seeds.  Here, we added shinier specimens untouched since they hit the ground.

A new bridge had been constructed over the stream making crossing easier although I still found the stepping-stones tricky.  On the other side we perched on a rock to watch the fast tumbling water.  I decided I did now feel a bit better for being immersed in nature; we had not yet seen a single other person.  It was worth the initial effort, however difficult.

Upper path 2Large stones serving as steps led up.  We turned right and followed the path round where it became a tiny grassy line between spindly trees.  At the ruined house we spotted lettering on a stone among the wreckage but were unable to decipher it.  We followed the path down to the canal and walked on the towpath.  I spotted a deer across the way.  Typical, I thought, having seen none when we were in the wood!

At Stubbing’s, we left the canal to walk alongside the river where we considered the final demise of the once enormous Calder Mill (we had noticed from Horsehold Road that the roof slates had disappeared).  Back home  I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee.  Although my headache had abated and my mood lifted somewhat, I was very tired. My ankle ached too as I had forgotten to wear a bandage.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti88A2h6gtEDU9B8_SQ?e=q824MX

 

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