Tag Archives: rocks

Jack Bridge to Colden*

Strines Bridge 2

Early August had been a bit of a let-down.  I spent the first week ill in bed, watching the changeable and showery weather through the window with only intermittent and non-dependable sun.  Fortunately the second weekend stayed fine.  After a hot Saturday, Sunday brought a few clouds, cooling the temperature down a notch and creating ideal conditions for a walk.

Bee on thistleWe caught the bus to Colden and alighted at Jack Bridge.  Walking alongside Colden Water, we made frequent stops to examine wildlife in the hedgerows: bees hovered on purple balsam; strange orange insects came out in force to mate; thistle flowers gave way to downy seed heads.

Beside a barbed wire fence we spotted a wooden step ladder.  On the other side, a dilapidated caravan surrounded by outdoor furniture made us speculate about the al fresco living conditions of the less-fortunate locals.

 

Nearing Strines Bridge we detoured round the posh house and gardens into the field for a closer look.  Maybe it was my imagination but it seemed in more of a sad state than in our visit last spring.

Further up the lane we climbed a stile into a different field.  Causey stones led diagonally to a small wood.  A muddy path, churned up by mountain bikes then ran alongside the pine wood to the bottom of Rodmer Clough.  Signs of cultivation appeared in the hedges as we reached the corner of Land Farm.  From there, we had a hot, uphill climb to Edge Lane and along the top.

Hot StonesThe grass path we usually sneak up to reach High Gate Farm had become too overgrown necessitating a return to the road.  Passing ‘Hot Stones’, we noticed a lone standing stone.

At May’s, I commandeered the bench looking down the lane while Phil entered the farm shop to order hot cheese pies and tea.  As we waited I was being eaten alive by midges.

 

Crack Hill 2After eating we walked down the road to Crack Hill, still finding amusement in the name.  Proceeding to Slack and through Popples Common, we admired the bright new heather.  We rested on the bench just before Heptonstall, contemplating the landscape.

A dad passing on the road with two young girls on bikes amused us.  “Come on!” he shouted, in typical competitive parent style, as they struggled up the hill.  Bypassing the village, we descended Green Lane into Slater Ing.

Slater Ing 2A bit confused at first, as we had never walked this part in reverse before, we soon started to recognise the familiar rock features.  The muted light was particularly good for capturing their characteristic shapes.  The rocky path took ages to navigate and felt like hard work.  Eventually we reached the easier part above the large flat stones, again struck by the beautiful display of heather lining the route.  We took the steps at Hell Hole Rocks.

 

As we travelled through Eaves Wood and out onto Heptonstall Road, I said it was a long way to go for a cheese pie – like the olden days!

*The walk from Jack Bridge to May’s is the reverse of the ‘Edge Lane detour’ we took with M&M in April 2016.

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Purple heather 3

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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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Explorations on Lower Midgely Moor

Heights Road 1

A week into April, we deemed it dry enough to venture up to the lower part of Midgely Moor in search of archaeology we had not seen on our visit last summer.  The warm Saturday sunshine had brought hordes of people into the town centre.  Not tempted to join them, we passed by the busy pubs on our way to the bus stop on Commercial street.  As the bus to Old Town turned the corner onto Heights Road, I realised we had reached the golf club.  We pressed the buzzer and the driver let us off a bit further down the road (a tad grumpily).

Midgley Moor quarry 1We took in the views and hedgerow features before walking the few metres back to the club entrance.  At the corner, we tried to avoid making ‘selfies’ while taking shots of the mirror on a pole and watched the antics of chickens.  We walked up the drive and cut across the pleasant golf course to the gate onto the footpath.

 

Reaching the top, we checked the map and determined that the enclosure we searched should be behind the nearby quarry.   On entering, we sat awhile to enjoy the sun and debated our next move.  Phil thought he had a found a route.  We started climbing and spotted a likely mound.  But the way proved tricky, not being an actual path.  Scrambling back down, we turned left to continue on the proper path.  Just before the next gate, we noticed another path leading up sharply on the left.

Midgley Moor earthworks 1This took us to the top of the quarry where we observed grouse screeching as they flew away from us between a series of mounds.

I wondered if the whole area had been a burial site.  We kept going on small paths in the direction of Lane Ends.

They led us down through moorland vegetation and onto a track churned with mud by cattle and tractors.  We kept along the edge of a stone wall to avoid the mud but had to crouch beneath low-hanging thorn trees.  Eventually, we found a safe course back onto better paths once more and soon found ourselves back on Heights Road.   At the Hare and Hounds, we commandeered a table on the patio.  We enjoyed the sun while eating, drinking and chatting for over 2 hours.

Mill with flowers in foreground 2Deciding to walk back down to Hebden in the ‘golden hour’ proved an excellent choice: the moon rose over the moor; spring flowers adorned the hedgerows.  We stayed ‘up tops’ as long as possible, taking Raglands Lane to Dod Naze then down into Common Bank Woods to witness gilded trees in the glowing light.

I stumbled on a tree branch and landed on my bad knee.  I sat in the dirt for a while recovering but no damage had been done and I said it would have hurt more if I hadn’t had 2 pints!

Back in town, we considered another drink.  However, the sight of people who had been drinking all afternoon put us off so we headed home.

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Trees at golden hour 2

Willow Gate

Boulder field 1

 

Riverside stumpMarisa and I set out on a sunny late March afternoon.  We walked along the riverside where I noted the decaying tree stump (half the size as the last time I had seen it) and several new waterfalls.  Climbing the recently-repaired steps to Midgehole Road we continued to Hardcastle Crags gate and through the upper car park to find the Willow Gate path.

 

Stone markings 1We stopped briefly in a lovely field scattered with interesting rocks and boulders, admiring the views.  Continuing up along ancient causey stones,  we noted letters carved into them.

I spotted remains of mysterious wall and imagined the buildings that once stood here.  Impressive rocks on our right resembled squares and pillars.  We then came to the famed ‘Slurring Rock’.  Marisa told me that people used to skate down it in their clogs.

 

Sheep dyed red 2We carried on through Foul Scout Wood, across a makeshift bridge and a field containing ancient gateposts.  At the hamlet of Shackleton, old barns held testament to a long history.  Sheep alarmingly dyed red shared grazing space with pheasants.

We proceeded downhill to the edge of Crimsworth Dean.  From here we took the quicker way back, turning right onto the NT track, using new-looking steps to skirt the car parks and crossed the bridge to Midgehole.

 

River with bouldersPassing The Blue Pig we waved to an acquaintance but decided to head straight to town.  We took the lower riverside path and felt the chill off the water.  Lower down, we took the left-hand side path, spotting young garlic and yellow flowers across the ‘swamp’.  Emerging onto Windsor View we walked into town,

 

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Slurring rock 1again taking the river path when possible.

Frost, Fog and Sun

stoodley-view-4

The last Saturday in November, the low morning sun was blinding!  Lingering fog in the valley created a white line below an azure sky.

cuckoo-steps

We set off early afternoon, up the Cuckoo steps (resplendent in brown and green with a sunlit backdrop) and into Eaves Wood.  Views back down proved absolutely stunning with the bright light and clear sky.  Climbing up the lovely path along the ridge, we watched crows wheeling above the rocks – observing for the first time that they resembled a vanilla slice.

We took the steps up behind Hell Hole Rock, resting at the top to enjoy the warm sun. Phil clambered over an outcrop for more views.  I followed him and noticed a small path going southwards that I had not travelled before.

 

We walked along the edge of a horse field, past climbers whingeing about dogs, and saw an acquaintance with her dog who managed to chuck its ball into the field.   Phil clambered over the fence to retrieve it.  We continued around the field, through a newly-planted woodland and emerged near the social club.

 

As we watched the horses eating straw as if it was spaghetti, I spotted frosty leaves on the ground where the sun never shone.  We continued up the edge of Southfield to West Laithe and into the village.

sunny-path-1The old co-op building had been commandeered by a Heptonstall artists’ and makers’ market.  We Chatted to some of the artists and perused the merchandise.  I was fascinated by the pile of junk inside the old building – I never knew that lot was in there.

In the Cross iInn we found more art and bought raffle tickets. We fancied a pint and pub food, but they only seemed to be offering pizza and tapas.

Reasoning that we could walk back down in the last light of the day, we headed back to town.  We took the easy road back, until we came to The Buttress.

We took our time going down to avoid slipping on leaves.  It had been so long since I had travelled that way, and had not realised that the council had cleaned up the small graveyard.  Entering for a nosey, we found more frosty leaves, large brown mushrooms (Phil macabrely pointing out that they were growing from dead people!) and took in views of sunlight still lingering on Old Town.  At the bottom, we crossed the Packhorse bridge and up Bridge Gate for beer and huge pies at The White Lion.

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misty-valley-2

A Dodgy Walk from Blake Dean

Graining Water 1

The intermittent summer of 2016 and a series of family traumas did not allow for many opportunities to enjoy longer days out.  However, the first Saturday in August promised to be a good, fine day for walking.  We determined to forget recent troubles and make the most of it.

1800 markerI got together a picnic and we set out for the bus stop.  We almost gave up waiting for the community bus, as it was delayed by several minutes.

At last it arrived and we rode up to Blake Dean, alighting at the bridge over Graining Water.

I noticed for the first time the stonemason’s mark – ‘W. 1800’ – carved into an edge stone.

 

We crossed the road and descended via the rickety wooden gate into the dean.  Predictably busy on a warm summer’s day, we escaped uphill via paths overgrown with bracken, away from the crowds.  A lump of rocks edged an attractive grassy path, in front of a small stone cave.  We enjoyed a picnic and views whilst discussing options for the walk down into the crags.

Stone caveOpting to stay on the east side of the stream, we kept on the lower grassy path.

This took us above the remains of the trestle bridge i, over a rickety styal, past a disused quarry (likely again related to the temporary railway) and through what could have been an abandoned garden.

 

 

We then entered a cedar wood, awestruck by its sheer beauty.  Tall trees emitted scents redolent of Christmas, interspersed with truncated and fallen trunks.  We continued downstream, until things took a turn for the worse.  Apparent landslips had rendered the path unnavigable in places.  Springs had created bogs, very tricky to cross.  Much trial and error ensued. Our feet became inevitably wet and muddy (thank goodness for waterproof sandals!)

Fed up of the constant sinking, we considered fording the stream but it did not look safe enough.  Eventually we came to an old stone wall and paused to think.  After some deliberation, we decided to try and ford yet another impromptu stream surrounded by bog.  However, in spite of laying down a carpet of bracken, I was unable to make the leap.  Meanwhile, a group of European hikers appeared, in the same predicament “on no!  We will be here forever!” one of them said “yes, we are stuck” I agreed” do we have enough provisions?”  This made them all laugh in that continental way.

Wooden styalI recognised a house further up whose garden we had traversed on our very first walk on this side of the water some years before. We headed upwards in search of a path to said house.

Alas, we searched in vain but we did eventually find a safe crossing point after which the path became easy going, eventually merging with an access road which again I remembered from our first foray in this specific part of the wood.

 

Back in familiar territory, we expected the last leg through the crags to be plain sailing.  However, a flood-ravaged bridge necessitated another wet, muddy feet experience as we had to use the original Victorian path underneath the cliffs.

At Gibson Mill, we were so late even the toilets had been locked!  Exacerbated, we commandeered one of the deserted picnic tables to partake of apple pie and pop.  From there, we took the quick way back along the driveway to the main gate and along Midgehole Road and onto town.

Cedar wood 3

I Later that month, Phil came across a pamphlet by the University of Leeds with some interesting facts and photos about the history of Hardcastle Crags.  Amongst other things, there is a fantastic picture of a train crossing the trestle bridge just below Blake Dean: http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/misc/scienceandtourism/Final%20copy%20leaflets/Industrial%20Heritage%20leaflet.pdf

On the first Sunday in October, we again rode the community bus up to Blake Dean.  We spent a few minutes rambling in the dean.  Rowan trees in full berry looked beautiful against the early autumn backdrop as water sparkled under a blue sky.

We then took our more usual route back down.  Some very churned up muddy bits on undulating parts made the path rather tricky in places.   I became quite anxious at one point and sat down in a mossy glade to recover.  We spotted lots of mushrooms and a triangle-shaped rock we had not noticed before.  Refreshed, we continued down and noted that the bridges and paths damaged in the floods had all been fixed. It seemed to take quite a while to reach Gibson Mill so as usual, it was shut.

A cloud of midges descended on us as we sat on the picnic bench finishing our flask of coffee.  Again, we opted for the top track to reach the gate quickly and onto Midgehole road.  I stubbed my toe 3 times on the riverside path (cursing the walking shoes I was wearing rather than sandals I had worn since April) and felt the need to stop once more on a bench near one of the ‘beaches’ for a short rest.  Phil suggested I look for archaeology but all I found were pieces of a boring jug!

rowan-tree-close-up

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Heptonstall to Hardcastle Crags

 

Meadow Flowers 2

Having failed in an earlier attempt to reach Hardcastle Crags from Heptonstall, we tried again during the fine weather of the late May bank holiday weekend.  We caught the bus up to the village to ease our ascent.

Heptonstall NorthfieldWe walked the short walk up Towngate , passing the two pubs.  We paused at Top O’ The Town before turning right up Townfield and along to Northfield.

Notable for never being enclosed and still containing common land, this attractive area includes traditional stone-built houses and pre-fabs with attractive gardens.

 

 

Above Town - view with open gateWe emerged onto a truly stunning path!  Views overlooking three valleys confronted us, with Lee Wood directly below and Pecket Well and Old Town in the distance.

The hedgerows and meadows were resplendent with flowers of all colours.  Cows with their babies grazed peacefully in the fields.

 

I paused to consult the map and determined that we could either go straight down to Midgehole or hang a left and head further along the crags.  We plumped for the latter.  This took us across a wildflower meadow, where we dawdled to take close-up nature shots.

We exited via a tiny stone gate onto Draper Lane.  We then continued on the footpath on the opposite side of the road along the top of the crags.

Barbed wire 1Several interesting features lined the way as we walked through the woods: very arty barbed wire, sheep wool, a busy anthill, and seasonal curly ferns.

Eventually we came to another junction and chose the route heading downwards.  Large stones took the place of earth underfoot as we wound down to the ‘scout hut’.

 

We entered the crags near a grassy riverbank.  Finding a convenient rock ‘on the beach’, we settled down intending to eat pies we had brought with us, when dogs and children appeared.  We shooed them off and waited until they were out of sight before having our picnic.  We lingered awhile, contemplating the sparkling water and marvelled at a tree growing from a tiny island in the middle of the river.  Phil found some pieces of quartz which I washed in the river.

Hardcastle Crags - Hebden Water 2We walked round a very fine rock and onto small stepping stones across Hebden Water.  The other side proved crowded with more kids and dogs.

I remarked that this popularity was why we usually avoided the lower crags although it is a lovely spot.

 

 

At this point it is necessary to make a short climb in order to continue down to the lower entrance of the crags.  But we kept as close to the river as possible, with the cool water and trees providing respite from the hot sun. Amongst other things we noticed prominent tree roots underfoot, a variety of woodland flowers, a clay pit and the old weir.

At Midgehole, we laughed at the ‘New Bridge Hall – no parking’ sign.  It’s alright for some!  But to be fair, it is the original name of the property.

We visited the Blue Pig and sat on a bench by the river, enjoying our beer and the intermittent sun and watching the antics of yet more dogs and escapees from town centre bars.

As it turned chilly, we departed, taking the riverside path into town.  We had a second pint in The Oldgate.  Perched on the low part of the wall, I warned Phil not to drop his phone in the river this time.  As the sun inevitably disappeared behind a chimney, we made our way home.

A year on, we repeated the walk with one minor detour – we veered off the slippery stone path just above the scout hut, navigating carefully through grass and pine trees.

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Hardcastle Crags - Tree roots