Tag Archives: ruin

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

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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Early Spring in Common Bank and Nutclough

Common Bank Trees 3

The mild weather continued into late February.  On the last Sunday, we took one of our familiar circular walks, starting out along Oldgate, over the packhorse bridge, up Bridge Gate and across Commercial Street onto the historic cobbled route towards Birchcliffe.  At the top of the steps, we proceeded upwards on School Street to the start of Common Bank Wood.

Common Bank Bark Close Up 4We could hear a dog barking from within a house when a woman with a dog came past.  She thought we were spooked by her hound, put it on a lead and walked ahead which was considerate.  However, the dog kept stopping to sniff interesting things!  We made the most of being held back on the narrow path to examine the interesting shapes and shadows.

Sycamore bark reflected filtered sunlight.  Shadows of tree trunks fell on the ground still littered with autumnal leaves.  A flawless blue sky framed tightly-packed twisty branches.

At the top, the bridge over the stream looked more precarious than ever but fortunately the water level was low thus not difficult to navigate.  Up the path between the fields, a jay (aka pink crow!) flitted from tree top to post.  We crept along to try and capture it on camera but we had more luck with the magpies and jackdaws.

Blooming 6Opposite the residential area of Dod Naze, low-hanging catkins swayed gently in the breeze.  We paused briefly on the corner where a smattering of spring flowers grew behind the bench before turning up onto Rowland Lane.  Mist topping the uplands created eerie scenes with the church towers of Heptonstall emerging ethereally from a grey landscape.

At the end of the lane, we waited for a group of walkers accompanied by a dog with stick to pass by then curved round sharp left down Sandy Gate.  Buds adorned small trees and shrubs, some appearing like miniature flowers.

Budding 6Part-way down, Phil had problems with his camera and I had a bit of tummy ache so we took a breather on the low wall.  A passing driver shouted through his open window at us as he raced up the hill, which made me jump.  Both feeling irritated, I decided to remove myself from the situation and marched off.  I had calmed down somewhat as he caught up with me.

Among the low springtime growth, I easily located the path descending into Nutclough and spotted a dead shrew under a tree– fluffy on the top, mouldy on the bottom!  As we crossed the stone bridge, fading afternoon sun glinted on the water’s surface making silvery patterns. The air became noticeably cooler as we followed the well-trodden route through the clough. Feeling disinclined to traverse to the ‘islands’, we rested instead on the top bench before a brisk walk homewards via Keighley Road.  Removing my boots to rest on the sofa, I reflected that I did not feel as tired as I would have a few weeks ago.  Although not a massive walk, it would usually be more than enough for me.

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Misty Field 2

 

Snow Wonders (Eaves Wood and Heptonstall)

Pike and spikes 2

The penultimate day of January, overnight sub-zero temperatures preserved the snowfall, to be followed by a beautiful sunny day.  We left home early afternoon, noting that it did not feel as bitingly cold outdoors as the snowy scenes and internal temperature suggested.  We climbed the Cuckoo steps, pausing to crane our necks towards the sound of tits twittering in stick-like branches above us.  This also allowed me to catch my breath.  On Heptonstall Road, roadworks blocked the pavement so we crossed over straight away and headed left up the path.

Ice lumps 1Initially, the path was sheltered by trees and remained snow-free.  At the top of the ridge, lumps of ice clung to sprouting trees growing precariously at the cliff edge.  White blankets weighed down heather bushes.  Snow melted slowly from the branches.  Water droplets created soft dripping sounds.

 

Further up, two dogs bounded towards us, then turned and ran the other way.  I could hear voices slightly further up and supposing they accompanied the hounds, suggested waiting for them to go by.  However, when a group of hippies appeared with no dogs, I was rather puzzled.  We proceeded warily wondering if the dogs might re-appear but thankfully, they did not.

Hell Hole in snow 1At Hell Hole Rocks, the pristine snow lay deep and squeaky underfoot.  Lumps on nearby trees resembled Japanese blossom.  From above, layers of white contrasted starkly with the dark rock.  We climbed the narrow steps, taking care to avoid muddy icy patches and stood at the top awhile for archetypal views across the valley.  Phil started walking North on the path, headed for the dank part of the wood.  I refused to follow him in such wintry conditions. Instead, we took the path in the opposite direction, through a gate and along the top of the quarry.

Breath-taking scenes arrested us.  Blue mist topped Snow-covered hills towards Lancashire in the west. Stoodley Pike appeared ethereal in the distance.  Plants punctuated the cliff edge, their spike-like stalks adorned with snow crystals forming needle-like blooms.

We followed the path round, through a second gate marking the start of the newly-planted ‘wood’.  Here too, snow studded the hedgerows where glacial thawing made wondrous shapes beneath  a perfect deep blue sky.  At the other end of the field, we noticed that the snowline stopped abruptly to the east with green fields visible below the white.

Starling roost 1On Southfield, jackdaws gathered atop trees, while two magpies looked totally unflustered at being outnumbered.  At the churchyard, a flock of starlings replaced the crows. They had descended from their usual roost in the clock tower onto trees by the outer wall.  Their loud chattering sounded musical; almost choral – I had never heard anything like it!

A pair of staffies made a big fuss, to be berated by the woman walking them.  We waited patiently until they calmed down before continuing into the churchyard.  Inevitably, the ruin looked delightful in the snow.

All the way up, I had been attempting to keep my boots and jeans snow-free.  I tried to shake some off when I noticed a massive lump on the bottom of my hem.  Phil was a little way ahead of me and I called after him to stop so I could tackle it.  Eventually, he came to look, declared “it’s frozen solid” and promptly walked off.  I became annoyed but eventually managed to break the ice into smaller lumps and prise them off, to be left with a big rip in the hem and freezing cold hands.

Desperate for a proper rest, I headed for chairs outside Towngate Tearoom.  I checked the time, surprised to find it had taken almost two hours to get to the village (it normally took 50 minutes).  No wonder I felt tired and narky!  I had thought the tearoom would be shut but thankfully, it was not.  Phil ordered us a cuppa.  A tray appeared, complete with china teapot and froufrou dolly-sized cups.  We huddled under the awning, doing our best to avoid melting drips from splashing in our warming drinks.  As we returned home via the road, I tried to keep my trouser hems from getting under my boots.  This proved exceedingly difficult on slippery stretches.  Near home, he volunteered to go for milk while I headed straight indoors to take my ruined clothes off and collapse on the sofa.

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Snowy ruin 1

 

Hike to the Pike

Erringden expanse

During the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, I had a particularly bad night on the Saturday. I lay sleepless until 4.00 a.m., when of course the sky brightened. The birds began their dawn chorus, annoyingly joined by the cockerel who lives nearby.  I did eventually sleep but fitfully.  Needless to say, I felt terrible on Sunday morning.  Phil wanted to go up to Stoodley Pike but I said “no way”.  I did manage to drag myself out in the afternoon for a bit of sun, noting that even the easterly wind felt warm.  Not really a day for climbing hills.  We pottered round town and the park, ate ice cream, and strolled up the towpath for a canal side pub meal which was nice.

Horses in golden fieldThankfully, I had a better sleep that night and awoke on Monday feeling refreshed.  I agreed to the planned trek, with the proviso that I might not make it all the way up to Stoodley Pike.

We had not reached the top since our mission in 2013 was thwarted by large cows lying in our way, causing an amusing detour up Dick’s Lane and Cock Hill.  Since then, we had discovered the lower delights of Horsehold Wood and Beaumont Clough thus negating the need for a steep climb.

Armed with supplies, we left the house mid-afternoon to climb up Horsehold Road.  Inevitably hard work I had to stop a few times but that gave us chance to look down towards town, where thick foliage prevented us from checking our roof tiles as we usually did.  Further up, the cobbles snaked between lush greenery.  Pretty horses grazed in a golden field.

First gate 2At the top, we followed the curve round to Horsehold Farm, became spooked by vicious barking from behind a crumbling wooden door, and searched for the right lane to go further up.  On locating Horsehold Lane, we were put off by very large cows in a field protected only by a low wall.  Phil swore they were like the bull on his Picasso t-shirt.  We returned to the curve and went left through the gate signed ‘Pennine way’ onto a beautiful path.

Being at the top of the wood, we remarked on the perpetual redness of the ground below on our right, no matter what the season.  Curly ferns emerged from verdant verges as we followed signs to the Pennine Bridleway.

Mysterious stones 2Through a copse and bypassing the cute stone bridge leading to the clough, we continued upwards into grassland. We wondered at the original purpose and location of mysterious stones scattered about – one looked distinctly phallic!

Ahead of us, a line of trees stood along a stone wall.  We turned right onto grassy lanes bisecting farmland and recognised an ancient ruin on the corner from our hike up five years ago.  We rested on a wall, admiring tiny pine cones on a tree opposite.

Noticing Stoodley Pike monument in view to our left, I said it wouldn’t be much further.

Pike in the distanceProceeding along Kilnshaw Lane towards the pike, it never seemed to get any nearer!  Eventually, we wound our way up the rough path as the monument loomed above us like a dark spectre silhouetted behind the early evening sun.  Further up, the path had been recently re-paved.  My camera dropped onto the stone slabs when the strap broke.  I persuaded Phil to wait until we sat down to assess the damage.

At the summit, a few people milled around as we found a lovely outcrop of sloping rocks facing Mankinholes to perch on.  Phil fixed the strap and made sure the camera still worked.  As we ate picnic snacks, a group of lads who had commandeered the monument marred the peace somewhat, playing loud music and commenting on veggie samosas. “How far is it from Hebden Bridge?” I heard one say, before answering himself: “Not far enough”.  Did they mean us? Thankfully, they soon left so we had the place to ourselves.

monument-graffiti-2.jpgI entered the monument and climbed the steps.  It was pitch black and I used my phone torch to light my way.  At the top, I discovered ancient graffiti etched into the granite, providing a foreground for the panoramic views.  I heard Phil calling from below asking how I’d got up.  I descended with my torchlight to meet him halfway.  Having taken in the vistas, we returned to ground level to circumnavigate the base.

I had used google maps to find a different way home and suggested a route staying ‘up tops’ awhile.  We followed the new paving in a straight line across a boggy field.  Our feet stayed dry thanks to thoughtful raised platforms constructed over the worst bits.  We emerged onto an apparently ancient road, separated from a pine forest by neat stone walls.  This stage of our journey was punctuated by the sights and sounds of wild birds.  Curlews wielded overhead.  A juvenile blackbird landed on a wooden fence post before flitting upwards in a flurry.

Old top road 1Arriving at a junction I checked the map. Google insisted we had gone the wrong way and suggested we backtrack.  But I felt confident that the old road wasn’t on the maps and knew that a left turn would join the suggested route.  I was further encouraged in my instincts as Heptonstall and Old Town were clearly recognisable ahead of.  We descended a desolate moorland path, beneath a wide blue sky scattered with small, fluffy clouds.  Reaching Whittaker Road, we walked eastwards until we came to a gate on our left.

Passing through, we discovered the gorgeous ‘Rake’.  Grass and flowers again surrounded us, as a sheep family grazed in a field and an archetypal farmhouse lay in front.

Rake 4As we descended, I was interrupted by a phone call which I curtailed as politely as possible, and suggested a stop to fully appreciate the scene.  As the lane curved round, we rested on the corner, looking westwards for a different view of the pike and ahead of us at the profusion of bilberry bushes.  I said it would be a good place to harvest when the fruits appeared.

Further down, the name of the lane changed to Broad lane.  Again, we were awestruck by beauty!  Trees in full leaf gave an avenue-like effect as the hedgerows were lined with cow parsley, their tiny white flowers swaying gently in the breeze.  We could hear people on the other side of the hedge.

Phil realised it was a campsite, then I spotted a poly tunnel and joked about illegal immigrants living in tents (maybe I watch too many Spanish dramas on Netflix).  As we wound down, we found ourselves on Horsehold Lane and had no option but to pass the field of large cows we’d avoided on the way up.  They looked quite docile and in spite of being eyed warily by a sheepdog, we passed through the farm without incident.  Back on Horsehold Road, I preferred going down rather than up, unlike Phil. I remarked that we had probably chosen the worse route possible to reach the pike. Maybe next time we should choose a less steep way.

 

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Broad Lane

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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