Tag Archives: Rochdale canal

Up and Down to Stubbing’s

Saint James church tower

A gorgeous July evening, Marisa arrived for an evening stroll and dinner. With no firm plans, we stepped outside to admire hydrangeas in the garden until Phil was ready to join us. After some debate, we settled on Stubbing’s the long way round.  We ascended the Cuckoo Steps a short stretch, entered ‘Robin’s Park’ and took the path to Heptonstall Road.  Crossing the road, we continued to Church Lane and commenced the steep climb.  At the corner of Bank Terrace, I had to pause for breath and noticed the lovely view of St. James’ Church tower framed by green leaves and lilac.

Signs of doom 1We discussed the chimney of Bankfoot Mill – quite a way from the mill buildings that sat in the valley bottom.  Marisa told me that what looked like an overgrown path by the side of the chimney was the original flue.  We continued round and down Savile Road.

We agreed that the ‘danger keep out’ signs were probably designed to deter trespassing on private land rather than for any concern for the general public.

 

 

Wall with poppy plantOn the opposite side of the road, a red brick wall arrested our attention: optimistic ferns and poppies had populated the cracks and niches while some housed snails.

A little further on, Marisa suggested detour to a picturesque small wood nearby.  Up a lane, opposite ‘Treetops’ bungalows we found a gap in the hedgerow.  Crouching to avoid being pricked by holly bushes, we entered the lovely woodland of oak and silver birch.

 

A rusty memorial to a local architect stood to the left as we carried on into a glade.  Several paths led on up to Rawtenstall but without refreshments, we had run out of steam to climb further.  I declared I needed liquid.  We retraced our steps back to Savile Road and continued down back to the main road.  We crossed over and travelled the short distance to Stubbings.

Stubbings duck familyMarisa found seats by the canal while Phil and I fetched drinks and menus.  We ordered food and admired a family of ducks on the canal.  Just before our meals arrived, a group of women with dogs arrived Oh no! I thought, that’s bad timing!

However, they were quite well-behaved apart from the inevitable begging.  The food was all good but Marisa struggled to finish her lamb and gave some to the black Labrador by her feet.  A breeze picked us as we decided to return home.

We walked along the towpath surveying the stricken weeds that an elderly man had attacked with a stick.  Further on, a pair of geese watched from the water’s edge as their offspring rooted amongst plants on the other side of the path.  Wary of getting between parent and child, we paused until we deemed it safe to continue.  Marisa and I walked quickly past the hissing pair while Phil shouted “what about me!”  I laughed.  A couple walked towards us.  As they approached, Phil snuck by and said to the man “you’re alright, you’ve got a stick”.  I said I would get him a goose stick!

Woodland trees

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New Road through Erringden

New Road cobbles 2

The last Sunday of June, we ascended Palace House Road planning to go straight up to Crow Nest wood.

Purple foxglove 2Initially taking our usual path upwards, we made frequent stops to admire foxgloves in various shades of pink, purple and white and tried to capture bees on camera as they foraged for nectar.  Halfway up, I noticed a footpath leading off from the right with a sign pointing up to ‘Bar Cliff’ and suggested we try it for a change.

Along a walled path, we got different views of the town and surrounds and could hear the handmade parade party in the park.  We emerged near Weasel Hall, and continued up, following the cobbled New Road (well, I guess it was new once) up and round, noting the different coloured flowers.  At the summit, the wind picked up and I held onto my hat until we arrived at Old Chamber.

At the next the corner, we paused to look at grazing sheep: small family groups sat peaceably; lambs bleated and demanded ewe’s milk between munching grass; scruffy adults moulted wool.    We turned left and searched for a suitable stone to rest on, finally settling on the verge.  A woman passed by, with a mincing gait, which we cruelly mimicked behind her back.

But as we continued down Spencer Lane, care was needed to navigate the close-set cobbles and I laughed at Phil’s delicate steps. “who’s mincing now?”

Shiny beeReaching the bottom of the lane we took a shortcut back to the narrow lower path through Crow Nest.  Passing the quarry, we noticed the stream now headed westwards down the middle of the path for a short distance before tipping over the cliff edge.  So that’s where it had disappeared to! We continued until we arrived at the path we had started out on.

Within the hedgerow, a shiny been settling on bramble blossom caught my eye.

 

 

I remarked it had been a long circuitous walk considering the small area we had covered.  Back on Palace House Road, we took the side lane down to the canal and noted very large balsam plants growing amidst the setts of the run-off, safe from the wrath of the balsam-bashers. We walked along the north side crossing at Blackpit lock to return home via Hebble End.

Spencer Lane 3

 

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Notes:Erringden is derived from the Norse Heyrikdene; Valley of Erik or ‘Valley of the High Ridge’.  see:  http://www.hebdenroyd.org.uk/erringden/index.html

Beyond the Treeline

Crow Nest branches and sky 1

A late April Sunday walk began with a climb up to Crow Nest wood.  We took the most direct route straight to the top treeline.

Crow Nest early bluebellThe previous seasons’ detritus crunched underfoot, broken in places by fresh spring growth.  A few early bluebells pushed up through the brown.   Above us, branches framed a fresh blue sky.  We crossed the glade at the top of the quarry, passing a clump of silver birch and noting fresh green shoots on oak and chestnuts along the tiny path.

 

We navigated the tree roots serving as steps down near Wood Top Farm.  Taking a diagonal path in front of us, we walked along the paved lane for a time, before taking a shortcut through a field into Stubb Clough.

Stubb Clough 1The brook tinkled below as we crossed the bridge and ascended the stone steps.  Emerging onto Wood Hey Lane, we continued to Park Lane.  We rested on the verge with green fields behind stone walls either side, to watch new lambs gambolling and bleating.

From there we carried on until it became Nest Lane and into Mytholmroyd.  We took the quicker way back along the canal, laughing at angry geese and wondering at iron fixtures.

 

 

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New lambs

 

Jumble Hole (eventually)

Sloping stream 2

 

Long Causeway 3The day after our trip up to Midgeley Moor also started sunny.  We packed a picnic and caught the bus up to Blackshaw Head.  Alighting at the last stop on the Long Causeway, we walked up the road to Harley Wood Gate Farm in search of a path leading to the top end of Jumble Hole Clough.  Passing scruffy sheep and ramshackle ruins, we found a public footpath sign pointing to the farmhousei.

 

 

As we approached, a man gardening intercepted us.  I said we were looking for the marked public right of way.  He directed us round the house and through a bog!  We picked our way through tussocks and more bog, following the path first West then South.  Because it was not always clear, we made sure of the next stage of the route before continuing over each field.  Eventually we were thwarted by a fence that had been put up in front of a stile, beyond which even worse quagmires lurked.

Thwarted 1Retracing our steps, Phil managed to step into a swampy hole, soaking his sandaled feet (making me glad to have persisted in wearing sensible boots).  On the way back, I took photos as evidence of the obviously deliberate ploy to put walkers off.  I refused to cross the bog in front of the farmhouse and walked on the path through the garden.  There was no sign of the man.

We returned back down the causeway to Davey Lane.  This led easily to the clough, via Bullion Farm (Phil insisted on calling it ‘Bull Lion’ farm), the familiar stone trough, the friendly alpacas and the attractive field above the clough.

Here, we noticed some deliberately-placed stones for the first time; as if someone had started building a bridge but gave it up as a hard job.  We made use of the flat rock for our picnic.

White anemones 3It had become rather windy.  We took the steps down, bedecked with yellow flowers, and crossed the sloping stream into the sheltered clough.  At Staups Mill, two couples stood around chatting, hampering our photography.

Further down the clough the tree line opposite resembled clouds as they sprouted new growth.  We took a path down on the left to the small clapper bridge, pausing to admire wood anemones.

 

Ruined hovel with bluebellsWe then climbed up to the ruined hovels and imagined the grim lives of those who once dwelt there.  With careful footing, we found our first bluebells of the year and an excellent crop of wild garlic to pick.

As we rested on a nearby wall, mist appeared across the valley.  The air became decidedly chillier as if a storm was a-coming.

 

Keen to return to civilisation, we carried on climbing to the higher path, then South along the ridge.  When the PBW ii became steep, we veered off to the left along a smaller path edged with flowers and hawthorn blossom.  Emerging at Wood View we noted the ‘danger balsam’ sign indicating poisoning had taken place in the futile battle against the plant.  We crossed the road and metal steps onto the canal towpath, walking home fast as the air had become even more chilly.

i The next day, Marisa said she knew the dodgy path we had attempted and told us that a better route to the top of the clough could be found further up the Long Causeway.

ii   Pennine Bridleway

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Shaking off atrophy

Park blossom close up 2

We’d had an enjoyable week’s holiday but unfortunately our flight home was delayed by several hours.  We finally got home at 3.45 a.m. Monday morning. I had been up for 21 hours.  Exhausted, I went straight to bed. I really struggled to get back to normal that week.  To add to the frustration, we had no heating or hot water.  I spent the next two days fighting depression and trying to carry out essential activities while waiting in for the gas man.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with painful cramp in my leg.  Phil was working at home and after lunch, he suggested getting out of the house.  As it was the second sunny day in a row and I had been unable to leave the house the day before, I agreed to accompany him for a short walk and fresh air.

Narcissus 2We left the house and remarked on the warmth of the sun and the appearance of flowers in the garden during our absence.  We walked along the canal towpath and into the park.  He stopped for ages to take pictures of the rookery – an annual occurrence.  As I waited, I did my best to ignore the noisy kids in the playground and admired tree blossom.  Taking the longest route round the park, we spotted more blossom, narcissus, and red cherry tree bark.  It really did feel like spring was coming!

Park nobbly tree 2Wanting to sit and enjoy the sun, we looked in vain for a vacant bench.  Instead, we sat on a bit of wall near the canal and were amused by native geese chasing Canada geese.  I noticed lots of nobbles in a nearby tree trunk.  We had a go at the outdoor gym and decided it was hard work when you’re not used it.

 

Riverside jackdaw amongst the pigeonsFollowing a few errands in town, we wanted to stay out and settled on the White Swan for a pint.  They were very enthusiastic and welcoming.  The beer garden was not open but we could take drinks out front.  We perched near the wavy steps and observed the riverside wildlife.

The lone Muscovy duck (since the sad demise of its partner last month) stood on a rectangular stone in the middle of the river; mallards squabbled; jackdaws swooped to steal bread from the pigeons.

The air became chillier as we took our empty glasses back inside the pub and used the facilities.  I noticed the back wall still sported peeling paint – evidence that the pub had still not been renovated fully following the flood damage.  We received cheery ‘goodbyes’ from the landlady and staff.  I felt much better that evening – my leg cramp had become a dull ache and my depression had lessened.

Riverside forlorn Muscovy 2

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Changes up Horsehold

Crucifix 2

A year on, the walk up Horsehold Road felt like even harder work than I remembered!   I noted new bollards along the way.  We took the small path to the crucifix (a new one this year) and paused a while for views over the valley.  We then carried on along the small path, muddy in places.  A couple who had passed by earlier, came back the opposite way clutching a guide book.  I asked if they were lost.  They said they were looking for a climbing rock.

Dried fungi 2We continued on into the wood, noticing strange dried fungi on a fallen tree (where a year ago I had spotted a growth that looked like a head.  Further on, we surveyed the detritus left by teenagers during the Easter break.  In places, the predominant reds of the wood had been supplemented by spring greens.

 

Phil had a camera crisis.  While he sorted it out, I perched on a rock, enjoying the sun.  I then wandered about looking at strange bits of mould, rotten wood and searching for a stick to use before we got to the dell.  As predicted, it became trickier underfoot but passable with care.  I gingerly navigated the stepping stone, using the stick to find the safest way across.

On the other sidCute pathe, a dog ran towards us.  Straight away, I realised that it had spotted my stick.  Sure enough, it bounded up, jumping to try and grab the stick, before bounding a little way off expecting me to throw it.  When I didn’t, it came back and clamped its mouth around the stick.  Realising it was a Golden retriever intent on retrieving the stick, I let go and the dog ran off.  Finally the owners hove into view.

I explained what had happened and they apologised.  I remarked that every time I went out these days I had some annoying encounter with a canine.  They apologised again and as we proceeded upwards, they called after me to ask if I wanted the stick back.  I declined, not wanting to take back a stick covered in dog slaver.

Old ruin 1The path round the knoll was very muddy indeed.  Phil had found a very large stick, more like a staff and used it to guide us across the safest route.  At the ruined house, we noted that someone had made a barrier of stones to make the stream that appeared last year passable.

We continued down to the canal. As we approached, we noticed that the towpath was blocked by fencing for repairs.

Thus after crossing the small wooden bridge, we turned left to Callis and from there, doubled back along the road.  I noticed a milestone that might have been there for some time.  After a disused industrial unit, we clambered over a strange iron step-bridge and down an alley to get back onto the towpath.  We walked along to the stone bench where we paused for a rest.

Goose waitingA lone goose appeared and I threw it some grains that had been left on the arm of the bench..  When the grains had been used up, we made to move off.  The goose hopped out of the water onto the bank and hissed aggressively.  Phil brandished his staff and said harsh words as we hurried away from the stupid creature. I declared: “That’s gratitude for you… I am never feeding geese again!” Phil said it had already forgotten I had fed it.

Further on, a passing man asked Phil where his punt was.  Soon after, Phil’s stick broke and we agreed it was not a very mighty staff after all.  Well, I said, we can put it outside for the moss and insects to grow on.

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The Path to Nowhere

Canal ripples 1

The day after we returned from a short break away from home, we both felt tired but thought we ought to make an effort to stretch our legs. It appeared to be a nice, bright day, but outside, a cold wind blew.  We confined ourselves to the valley bottom, and started out along the canal towards Mytholmroyd.

Barge windowI noticed several details highlighted by the early April sun; out-of-season holly berries; fascinating junk in the stone yard at Mayroyd; strange items adorning lived-in and abandoned barges.  Meanwhile, the stiff breeze created ripples on the usually still canal waters.

 

Marsh marigolds 1Just before Fallingroyd Bridge, we saw someone head down a path towards the river.  Spotting a gap in the fence, we followed them.  At first, the trail seemed picturesque.  The ‘desire path’ was edged by marsh marigolds, pudding docks and other spring vegetation.

 

However, we soon came across fallen tree trunks blocking the narrowing path, now perilously close to the water’s edge. Continuing seemed impossible.  We could not work out where the people we saw had gone. Looking for an alternative route, we found that going upwards took us to a dangerous-looking boggy industrial wasteland whilst.  We retraced our steps back to the towpath.  At the old Walkey’s clogs building (Now even more decrepit) we crossed the bridge over the river and searched in vain for more clues as to where the path led.

Gateposts 1On the other side of the river, we took the path leading upwards over the railway bridge.  Then we noticed a path following the line of the river and railway and decided to explore.  Attempts at proper drainage meant we could easily navigate passed waterfalls and trees forming the edge of Crow Nest Woods.

 

Nearer town, neglected buildings and ramshackle sheds became hidden from view behind a new wooden fence.  As we approached the end of the path, the railway station platform came into view on the same level.  We crossed back over the river and onto the canal towards home.

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Neglected shed