Tag Archives: river

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

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St Peters Church exterior 9

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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

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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Springing up in Colden Clough

 

Twin trees 5

Following a week and a half of being bedridden with sinusitis, I recovered somewhat to enjoy the mini heatwave in mid-April.  We made the most of it with our first spring outing to Colden Clough, first visiting the healthy bakers for veggie pasties and posh pop.  We walked up the main road towards Mytholm, navigating the extensive gas roadworks.  We turned right at Church Lane and again at the school, to take the shortcut across the playground and up a short flight of steps (looking very dark and broody).

Mystery ball

On the track, we competed with each other to take the best possible photos of tiny things such as buds and lichen, which we continued throughout the walk.   I think he won the contest but I spotted the most interesting mystery feature; a round brown ball in a small bush.

Approaching Lumb mill, Phil decided to descend down to the stream and try and go under the low bridge.  I waited for him near my favourite tree, enjoying its company as I would an old friend.

He appeared quite a few minutes later having given up the quest – a sudden drop where the water became eight feet deep had put him off.  We rested awhile before climbing up to the garlic fields.

Although still not fully grown as spring is so late this year, we filled a couple of small carrier bags.  It had taken an inordinate length of time to get this far, which I put down to a combination of recent illness, a lack of uphill walking and lots of stops to admire the new growth.  We installed ourselves on the nearby flat rock to recover, ate our pasties and whittled sticks on the quartz granite.  I joked that we should keep them to use for calligraphy.

Cautious sign 1

Both still tired after all the climbing, we considered turning round until I remembered that the clapper bridge had been damaged during the infamous ‘beast from the east’ storm.  We made the effort to go the short remaining distance to Hebble Hole, noting ‘danger signs en route’ (obviously installed when the authorities came to survey the rights of way.

On reaching the bridge we saw immediately that one of the four pieces of stone forming the walkway had collapsed in the river, split in two.  The tree that had crashed onto it causing the break stood on the nearby bank, also injured.  Wooden planks and metal rails had been put up so it could still be used.  We crossed to the other side for all-round views.

Green HawthornComing back, we noticed a few bluebells in flower as we climbed up to the top causeway, enjoying being level with the tree tops.

Pussy willows and catkins surrounded us, dangling from branches and littering the causey stones.  Bright green hawthorn sprigs adorned the dry stone wall.  Phil yet again tried to persuade me there were tasty but I maintained they tasted of ‘leaf’.

We descended to arrive back in the garlic fields and took the quickest way back.

He suggested a drink in the Fox and Goose.  However, I felt exhausted and as we past the pub, I spotted a group of rowdy young men in the beer garden so that clinched it – no chance of a quiet pint!

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Ruination 4

 

Riverside in Bloom

Sycamore 1

Five days after the equinox, a hint of spring finally arrived!  We set off aimlessly down the road, just eager to be out in the sunshine.  At the corner, we watched a stupid man with a beard and shades manoeuvring his car dangerously until we could cross safely.  Proceeding to Old Gate, we got splattered by a power washer.

AnemoneFurther on, a kid called across the road to me: “I like your hair.  I’m ginger too!”  It crossed my mind to inform him that mine was dyed, but decided to be kind and just smiled instead.

We could hear a brass band and turning onto Saint George bridge we saw the junior band playing on the patio of the Town Hall. A neighbour appeared with a woman waving a palm.  We continued up Hangingroyd to Salem Fields.

 

On the riverside, buds and flowers had popped out everywhere (and about time too, after the cold, harsh winter).   Blooms of narcissi, anemone and the last of the snowdrops sprung from verges while catkins hung overhead.  At the bowling hut we took an upward turn and admired a cascading stream behind.  We started to clamber up an ‘animal path’.  It proved rather dodgy.

Meandering down 3Returning to the track, we took a sharp left and walked upwards, where sycamore trees were being strangled by poison ivy, to cross the top of the stream.

Hareshaw and Tinker Bank woods showed less signs of life, and Hollins as dank as ever.  Approaching the garden gate for our familiar shortcut, we heard loud barking.  A man on the other side controlled the dog – which turned out to be tiny and made us laugh.

 

We kept to the top path, emerging on Moss Lane where the moon hovered in a blue sky.  We went down Rose Grove and into town.  After a couple of errands, we returned home a different way to avoid another splattering.  I greeted a neighbour out gardening and said “Spring at last!”  He responded by saying that it would be snowing again by Wednesday (it didn’t but did the following week).

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Catkins

Horsehold to Callis

Butterflies and buddleias 3The last Sunday of September 2017, we repeated a typical walk for this time of year.  As we crossed the bridge at Hebble End, butterflies devoured blossom from a buddleia tree overhanging into the river.

We ascended HorsEarly autumn colours 3ehold Road very slowly making frequent stops to catch our breath and for photos of early autumn colours and tiny worlds of moss.  It had been a long time since I had made that steep climb.  At the gate on the right, we took the path to where the cross is placed at Easter.

Sitting on the bench enjoying the views trees on the other side of the valley looked like models made of sponge.  As we continued, we had to dodge quite a few muddy patches and impromptu streams.  We emerged in the land of green and red aka Horsehold Wood.

Continuing down to the waterfall, more streams, mud and slippy stones made crossing tricky and rendered me exhausted.  It was too damp to sit in our favourite spot.  Further up, I perched on a rock at the side of the path and Phil almost sat on a clump of mushrooms. We ate a small picnic before continuing.

The avenue 1Round the bend, a field with beech trees lining the path gave the impression of an avenue.

At the bottom, the ruined house was even more of a ruin.  The once-new stream now seemed permanent; stones had been taken from the ruin to try to contain the flow.

 

 

Descending to lock number 12, we crossed the canal and briefly turned left to look for blackberries where we had found a bumper crop last year.  Alas, we were out of luck.  We returned home via the towpath and backstreets.

Red and green 7

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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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