Tag Archives: Rochdale canal

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.

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Cragg Vale Tales 2

Mill Ponds 8

Amidst a changeable and frequently wet August, we took advantage of a more promising day to re-visit Elphin Brook.  A cloudy sky prompted me to take a pac-a-mac but at the bus stop, it suddenly became hot and I wished I’d taken a sunhat instead.  Riding up to Cragg Vale, the air cooled.  We pressed the buzzer  when we spotted the sign pointing down to the village.  On alighting, we noted tiny steep steps between the tightly packed terrace housing the old co-op building.

Church LaneWe descended Church Bank Lane, where leafy trees partially obscured church features .  In the junk yard, we played a game of ‘spot the difference’ .  Phil joked the tea mug was not resting on the rusty van last time.  I observed that there would not have been flowers in the pot in winter.  Behind, ramshackle buildings looked deserted although I was half-expecting dangerous lifeforms to emerge.

Beyond the gate, summer growth in unbelievably vivid greens surrounded the brookside path.

Friendly SignFurther down, we  laughed at the un/friendly warning sign as we picked our way down to the weir.  Large ferns almost touched the foamy water.  Eddies played tricks on the eyes, with water flowing in all directions.

A narrow path led between old water courses.  Dazzlingly green algae lay atop mill ponds.  Ubiquitous pink balsam surrounded the edge. Elongated houses reflected deep in the water. Approaching the old paper mill, we failed to see a way to get nearer and continued on the ‘permissive path’.  The small steps were almost completely obliterated by brambles necessitating care to avoid a mishap.  At the top, a sign suggested the path was maintained but not for some time I’d wager, given their unkempt condition.

StalkingBack on Cragg Road, we wondered if it was possible to get back down to the brook at some point but gates and signs suggested private land only.  We continued on tarmac and were surprised to see a heron standing in a field.  At the entrance to Broadhead Clough the brook disappeared beneath the road.  We took a refreshment break on a convenient bench. Nearer Mytholmroyd, we spotted a footpath sign and crossed to the ice cream factory.

A concrete bridge led into a shadowy yard, beyond which a path led into a decidedly eerie thicket.  I was not keen to investigate.  Instead, we opted to return home via Nest Lane and Park Lane.

Two spots of rain fell.  Ah!  I thought, just as well I brought my mac!  Then it promptly stopped again.  It was not until later that the weather really turned and I reflected that we had timed the outing perfectly.

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Evergreen 2

Jungly Jumble

Jungle 3

The last Thursday of July was the hottest day of the year so far although tempered somewhat by a few clouds and an occasional breeze.  We decided to spend the afternoon among trees and flowing water and caught the bus upwards.  Unusually quite full, several people stayed on beyond Heptonstall to alight at the New Delight (for Hebble Hole).  We continued to Blackshaw Head and went down the small lane beside the chapel onto Badger Lane.  I spotted a couple ahead of us consulting a guidebook of some sort.  We followed the familiar route signed Calderdale Way.

ChickensThe narrow path was extremely overgrown requiring careful footing to avoid being stung by nettles, scratched by thistles or sinking into marshy spots.  It seemed to take longer than I remembered to reach the trough; often surrounded flowers, today mint dominated.  After Apple Tree Farm, where we only saw a few alpacas and no babies, chickens scratched about in the gravel. 

We turned left through the wooden gate, walked along the top field boundary to the signpost and could just make out the grassy path leading downwards, although Jumble Hole was no longer signed.

Delicate 2Delicate pale blue harebells dotted the meadow, their distinctive star-shaped heads bobbing in the gentle wind.  We settled on the excellent flat rock to eat a leisurely picnic lunch.

A woman with three dogs appeared.  I shouted “help!” but she managed to stop them jumping up for our food.  They bolted straight for the water, chasing a ball.

We ascended the cute stone steps onto the wooden bridge.  Below us, foamy water tumbled over flat stones resembling paving.  On the other side, we proceeded to Staups Mill.  The man I’d seen earlier was coming the opposite way, still lost and consulting his book.  He said they had somehow missed the first path down and thus bypassed the mill, arriving at the next bridge, where his girlfriend was waiting,.  I gave him directions for proceeding down the clough (noting that a map to accompany the walking guide might be an idea).  I realised later that they must have taken a second path from the meadow, leading straight down to what we call ‘the pixie bridge’.

Mill 3A profusion of opportunistic tree growth rendered only parts of the grey mill walls visible from above.  On getting closer, we discovered that trunks and branches had been placed around the ruin making exploration annoyingly impossible.

Agreeing to stay on the straight-forward route, we used the ‘most obvious paths’ (as the man’s walking guide called them).   In places, large ferns made the wood more like a primevil jungle and we joked about dinosaurs lurking in the undergrowth.  Just before the larger bridge, the lost couple re-appeared, again coming a different way, and dithered at the junction signed Penning Bridleway.

Old Mill Race 2We pottered about among flattened mill remains.  The top of a mill pond had become visible due to low water levels.  The thick dam wall housed tiny arched doorways.  A smaller arched bridge upstream of the big one was obscured by fallen branches.  Structures jutting out over the stream suggested the location of a watermill.

We rested briefly on the low wall of the bridge, enjoying the cooling effect of the waterfall behind us with a view of the curve. Two young boys rode dangerously standing up on the back of a flatbed, shouting with glee.

We then continued down the Pennine Bridleway where the leafy canopy provided total shade. Tumble-down houses were as equally inaccessible as Staups Mill due to the encroaching trees.  Approaching Underbank, we messed about doing ‘selfies’ in a convex traffic mirror.  Outside the converted workshop a man cut stone, creating a lot of noise and dust. I  said it was too hot for that type of thing.

On reaching Burnley Road, we stuck to small paths behind the pavement and emerged near Callis Bridge.  We crossed onto the canal.  Making a slight detour through the community garden, we had to clamber over chopped-down trees to get back onto the towpath.  At Stubbings, the sun became fiercer.  I nabbed the only free table with a parasol while Phil bought beer.  I suddenly felt very hot and sweaty .  I went inside with the intention of putting cold water on my face to find the sink taps ran hot.  So that didn’t help much!

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On the Way Down 2

 

Mythical Mytholmroyd

Scout View Pano

A couple of summers ago, we had attempted a walk to Scout Rock.  As the houses petered out on Scout Road, fencing blocked our route, due to post-flooding work.  A local informed us that it was due to re-open in October.

Last Sunday, I realised we had not yet returned to the area and suggested an outing.  We set off along the Rochdale Canal, dodging cyclist without bells, we looked across the water where the ever-increasing number of barges displayed photogenic washing lines.  Reflections made curvy patterns in the water and a perfect circle of the tunnel leading under the main road.

Lock 3We tarried a little at lock number 7, where strips on the walkway over the lock created an optical illusion. Although straight, it appeared to slope, whichever side I viewed it from.

We left the towpath at Westfield Terrace.  On Burnley Road, ongoing work on flood defences had progressed somewhat since I last visited on foot.

Mysterious large blocks lined the road.  The bridge over the River Calder had been transformed.  Balustrades and steps allowed us to peek through and over toughened glass.  Below, an expanse of sand prompted Phil to remark that the beach was coming on nicely.  I said there would be umbrellas and sunbeds on it soon!

Centre 1We walked up to Mytholmroyd village centre, noting a few changes in shop use and signage.  I pointed out the new bridge over Elphin Brook behind the Shoulder of Mutton.  When I had visited with Marisa in February, arty shadows danced on the yellow stonework.  Alas, the overcast conditions did not allow for the same effect this time.

Continuing to the corner, we contemplated Mytholmroyd Farm and wondered how a road leading to a business park could be private.  Climbing up Scout Road, Phil spotted numerous small berries on the trees. Sampling one, he declared it tasted like a cherry so of course, I followed suit.  As I bit through the dark red skin, I found fuzzy green pith beneath and my mouth immediately became numb!

Scout Road 6The road steepened and I hoped it would not be long before we could turn off into Scout Wood.  However, we found the footpath still shut.  It seemed unlikely that it would be open anytime soon.  A plethora of ‘Private’ and ‘Keep Out’ signs on the sturdy metal gates, not to mention an electric fence surrounding the wood beyond, made it clear that we were not welcome.

We rested on a wall and ate real cherries that I had with me, to take away the taste of the fake ones.  Phil checked google maps which showed another path further up.  Already flagging from the climb and realising it would lead onto the ridge and then to Cragg Vale, I said it would be too much for me.  Instead, we contented ourselves with gazing at the wood from afar, noting the large population of oak trees, and taking in different views of the valley below.

Heading back down, we turned left at the junction, across the green triangle.  Although I had not walked this way back from the village, my instinct told me to cross Cragg Road to the next bridge over the brook.  As we took a sharp left onto Nest Lane, I picked a few overhanging raspberries, certain they were safe.

Roger GateAfter the housing estate, we made a slight detour at ‘Roger Gate’.  Signed Stubb, I thought it might take us to Stubb Clough.  But on reaching the hamlet I realised we’d done the same thing once before, when we had ended up crossing a railway bridge and continuing to Hawksclough (the opposite direction to our destination).  We returned to the corner and ascended the picturesque Park Lane.

Unclipped hedges encroached onto tarmac.  Makeshift signs warned off HGVs.  Tall foxgloves stretched into the grey sky.  Large cows grazed in the field populated by lambs last spring.  A loud hissing noise gave me a bit of a fright until I realised it was a cow farting!  I was unable to share my amusement with Phil as he raced ahead of me: “I’m not stopping near them beasts!”

At Wood Hey, unusual large flowers provided a splash of yellow amongst the greenery.  We continued onto Wood Top for the quickest way back down to the towpath at Mayroyd.  We both felt knackered by then and rested briefly on a low wall.  We discussed why it was often problematic getting to ‘Mythical Mytholmroyd’ -like Brigadoon!  Nearer home, Will Kaufman who said hello as he walked by.  I joked he recognised us as there were so few people at the’ Lunchtime Live’ gig he had played the day before!

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Circle

 

Wood Hey to Hawksclough

Black bird

A fine and dry Sunday in early April, we remarked on the contrast with the snow and rain of the previous Easter weekend.

Cherry blossom 3We strolled along the towpath of the Rochdale Canal where daffodils created pretty reflections in the still water.  We entered the bustling Calder Holmes Park.

Dogs chased balls; kids chased around on scooters; footballers played; skateboarders wheeled up and down the slopes, listening to rap. (Just like being in ‘Da ‘Hood’!)

Taking the path alongside the river, elderly men sat contentedly on benches as we admired blossom and tree bark.  At the station, we ascended Wood Top Road, where more photogenic bark and bright green lichen punctuated the sloping woodland.

Lamb close upAs we climbed we detected bleating.  New lambs gambolled cutely in the adjoining field, occasionally returning to their mothers.  Near the fence, a set of twins nibbled twigs. One of the pair looked straight at me for a close-up shot.

We headed towards Stubb Clough before I realised it would be very muddy and double-backed through Wood Hey Farm and upwards to the corner of Spencer Lane.

Turning left along Wood Hey Lane and onto Park Lane, we enjoyed idyllic country scenes until we reached the edge of the Nest Estate.

Stubb FieldI wondered if there was a shortcut rather than going all the way into Mytholmroyd.  The amusingly titled ‘Roger Gate’ sported a sign to ‘Stubb’.  We followed, down a beautifully maintained lane.  A blackbird conveniently perched in a tree for more animal shots.  Stubb Field recreation ground contained more than its fair share of warning signs alongside an empty noticeboard.

At the end of the lane, the very large ‘Stubb House’ faced us.  From a choice of two routes we followed arrows pointing to a tiny gap in a stone wall.  Down a narrow path edged with hedges, to steps onto a green railway bridge, I hovered at the top with a touch of vertigo.

On the other side of the tracks, we continued till we could see the road, and considered the options.  Eschewing the route which would take us past the scrap yard, we turned left to a picturesque stone bridge.

Hawksclough bridge 2Complete with old stone gate posts, we imagined horses and carriages trotting along.  A small terrace of old houses on the main road was labelled ‘Hawksclough’.  I marvelled at how many times we must have seen this without actually noticing it.  Across the road, I briefly examined The Square, noting it looked just as old.

We cut across grass to get back onto the canal and rested at lock 7 where Canada Geese paddled in the fast overflow.  We returned home via the towpath, remarking on how long we’d been out without going very far.  But we had enjoyed discovering more about this little area between Hebden and Mytholmroyd.i

Note

i See:  https://hepdenerose.wordpress.com/tag/wood-hey-circular/

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Lock no seven 2

A Quick Blast

Canal Barges 3

The harsh winter of 2017-18 showed no signs of letting up.  On the last Sunday of February, the cold persisted despite the sun, but I was desperate to get out of the house having been ill in bed the previous week.

Blackpit MoonriseWe set off on a short stroll along the canal.  It felt arctic on the aqueduct with the Siberian blast hitting us straight on.  Phil said it was officially the coldest part of town which made sense, being surrounded by all that water.  At Blackpit lock, as he searched in vain for rooks in the rookery, I noticed the moon was up – a silver semi-circle in a clear blue sky.

In the park, we found little of interest.  Bare branches dominated, and there seemed to be even less to look at than in mid- winter.

Canal Perpendicular 2Exiting through the gate onto the towpath, we watched ripples on the surface created by the easterly wind, changing the reflections of small colourful barges as a lone duck swum past.

Still walking easterly, my eye caught a collection of canal paraphernalia adorning the stone wall opposite.

Re-entering via the other gate, we skirted the park and spotted a few signs of life in the shape of tiny yellow blossoms.  Over the concrete bridge into the memorial gardens, Phil looked again for rooks.

I thought I spotted some but they turned out to be jackdaws – a very cute couple in a tree.    After admiring an interesting evergreen adorned with interesting bark and moss, we retreated into town.  We made a short circuit of charity shops before returning home. I felt exhausted and cold, despite trying to warm ourselves with coffee and cake.  I retired back to bed.

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Proud Tree 2

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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