Tag Archives: riverside

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.

 

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Upstream 8

 

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

Lumb Falls and Crimsworth

Lumb Falls Panorama

Plagued by tendonitis for a couple of months, I had been hesitant to embark on longer walks, despite the longer late spring days.  Recent outings had been confined to familiar territory with minimal climbing.  By mid-May I decided to be pre-active and embarked on a self-treatment programme involving special Achilles heel exercises, massage and the use of a bandage when necessary.

Suitably prepared, I agreed to a more adventurous jaunt to Lumb Falls in the mid-week sunshine.  This started with a ride on the 595 bus. The few other passengers alighted at Dod Naze or Old Town leaving us alone on the rest of the journey onto Keighley Road.  The driver stopped for us at the junction of Haworth old Road, with a cheery farewell.

Haworth Old Road 2We walked upon the patchy tarmac of the single track, almost silent apart from bleating sheep, a handful of birds flitting between telegraph wires, and the odd passing vehicle.  Roadwork signs indicating that the road narrowed ahead made us chuckle; narrowed to what?   Grassy verges lined the route, interspersed with bright flowers, rickety gates and defunct signposts.

A sole walker overtook us, striding purposefully and disappeared behind a wall.  Guessing his destination, we then saw a helpful sign indicating ‘Lumb Falls’.  We paused at the top of the path for a couple with a trio of panting dogs to come up and get straight in a car.

Dean Descent 7

The steep path proved absolutely stunning!  Square grey cobbles shone underfoot, rising into bridge-like structures over springs.  Overgrown grasses, tall flowers and curly ferns made arty shadows on the ground.  Leafy boughs formed shady arches, framing a bright blue sky.  Across the dean, a grassy track rose steeply with a trio of sheep seemingly teetering on the slope.

Arriving at Lumb Falls, we discovered a variety of wonders.  A tree trunk resembled an elephant’s head; tributaries tumbled picturesquely into Crimsworth Brook; sturdy stone gate posts stood amongst the debris of a long-gone wall.  A smattering of people occupied the beauty spot including two men hogging the prime rock.

Lumb Falls 5We explored the scene from all angles witnessing a yellow dipper swooping over the water as insects buzzed beneath the arched bridge.  Picking a spot to rest, we ate a small packed lunch and gazed at the gushing falls, mesmerised by the babbling sounds and popping bubbles.

It became quite hot in the direct sun prompting us to eventually stir.  Climbing up the opposite side of the dean, I was very glad of the bandage on my bad ankle!  We soon spotted a sign pointing to Midgehole.  I immediately recognised the path, from our only other visit to this particular stretch several years ago.

Path Going Up 1Along the ridge, dry pale brown bracken covered the slope to our left.   Large stones littered the landscape, which may or may not have been from ancient buildings.  A tree gripping onto a mound with exposed roots suggested dramatic soil erosion. Enormous sheep grazed on the right.  Further on, we recognised landmarks across the way from previous, less-adventurous treks in Crimsworth Dean.

Presently, a large black stone wall impeded the path.  Due to the light, I didn’t immediately see how to cross it but realised a stile had been integrated.  The steps were so dark and far apart that great care was required in clambering to the other side.

From here, signs marked out private land from permissive paths.  We greeted a grumpy farmer who managed a curt ‘hello’ as we were directed back down into a field and across a rudimentary bridge into a pine forest where we spotted the next bridge.  We considered crossing back towards Pecket Well but opted instead to continue.  The path wound up another steep incline.

Wayside Flowers 2Aching, tired and thirsty, we eventually reached the main track and scanned for a suitable resting place.  Planning to perch on a rotting tree trunk, the sight of a wood cockroach put us off.  We settled on a nearby patch of grass to recover with a drink of sarsaparilla.  Further down, clumps of flowers lined the verges with white garlic under the shady pines to our left, and poppies, bluebells and forget-me-nots on the right.

Soon enough, we reached the edge of Hardcastle Crags carpark and easily found the small path leading straight down alongside the brook and onto Midgehole Road.  We headed over to the Blue Pig for a comfort break.

We found a vacant riverside bench to enjoy welcome pints.  From the corner of my eye, I spotted a selection of bird species skimming Hebden Water.   Standing for a closer look, I could not see any of them – typical!  We took yet another upward route homeward, rouxing the decision as we ascended the wide stony steps until we reached the paved stretch to Lee Wood.  A shortcut part-way down the Buttress led quickly home.  As I rested my legs and supped coffee, I realised it had been my longest day out for quite some time.  I was tired of course but thankfully, my ankle did not cause too much grief.

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Path Through the Wood 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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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

Up Hollins and Tinker Bank

Branches and sky 1

The first decent walk of 2018 began on a bright, frosty day.  Setting off at 2 p.m., thaw had occurred as we headed through town towards the riverside path.  However, on the unpaved Groove Road, ice on the ground proved tricky.

Cart and garageJust before Foster Mill Bridge, we stopped to examine a dilapidated cart in front of a wood-fronted garage, surrounded by frosty leaves and grass.

On the bridge, mossy walls appeared to have been sprinkled with icing sugar.  A cheery man said “nice day for it” and advised me to take care as we crossed to Salem.

 

We took the steps up to Hollins, surveying the lovely sycamore tree and sunlight on the hills opposite.  Through the eternally dark hamlet and into Tinker Bank wood, a group of walkers asked directions into town.  We paused to consider which path to take and initially elected for the lower one before Phil suddenly took a steep upward path.  I said we had not been that way before but he was sure we had.  It became horribly muddy in places and I was glad I had sensible boots on.

SlowLarge stone blocks were strewn either side of the narrow path, suggesting that it had been a vehicle track, lined by walls at one time.

At the top, we emerged onto Lee Wood Road and were amused by the ‘slow’ sign nailed to a tree, beside a newly-formed waterfall.  We walked eastwards towards Bobby’s Lane.  But on encountering a paved lane downwards, we decided it might be a quicker way down to the riverside.

Not sure if it was a private drive, we discovered a dilapidated shed and another shortcut.  This one looked decidedly dodgy though, so we kept to the tarmac, and round a large bend to emerge near the posh horse farm.

Frosty twig on wall 3

A couple walking with a bonkers dog created amusement for a few minutes before becoming rather annoying.

We overtook them, until we were forced to slow down by ice underfoot.  I also wanted to take photos looking up to Pecket Well where sunlight on the hilltops created a contrast with the dark shadows below.

Further down, ice on the path turned to water.  I kept to the edges and trod carefully.

Reaching the river, we spotted more frosty vegetation and a tree branch fallen in the weir.

We took the usual route back along Hebden Water and stopped at the first ‘beach’ to rest.

As we climbed back up to the path, Phil saw someone he knew in the garden opposite and we chatted over the gate before continuing back to town – this time sticking to Spring Grove; a much safer  option.

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Sunny tops 2

 

Return to Willow Gate

River art 1Mid July, the intermittent summer returned bringing a bright, sunny day but with a breeze making conditions bearable.  Phil and I took the same walk.   As we ambled along the river, we noticed the sun falling between the trees made arty reflections on the water’s surface.  Our photos looked like impressionist masterpieces without the need for any digital trickery!.

At Hardcastle Crags, we walked through the full car park, trying to locate the path I’d found instinctively in March but this time it eluded me.  Confused, I asked a man in an NT hut.  After he tried to flog me a map, I eventually garnered from him the way to the Willow Gate path.  I just about recognised the leafy lane now overgrown with summer vegetation.  At the field, I suggested a rest but the gate was not attached and required too much heft to lift so we perched on the wall.  I pointed out a huge rabbit in the rough field opposite.  Phil captured it on camera but I failed.  As we climbed up the stone path, I indicated various rock features remembered from my previous visit.

 

Continuing to the top of the wood, we crossed a stile and went up the ‘green lane’ to emerge at Shackleton.  Spotting another rabbit, this time I managed to get it in shot.  At the bottom of Shackleton Hill, we debated options.  Phil said he needed to rest and I thought going into the dean might be too much for me anyway.  We started down the track on the lookout for a stopping place, settling on a clump of rocks amidst the trees.  We ate a small picnic before walking the short distance back to Midgehole Road.  With 10 minutes till the 906 bus was due, we waited to enjoy a lovely quick ride back to town.  As we walked home, the sky became cloudier and the air cooler.

 

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