Tag Archives: shadows

Confined Walks 3 – Riverside

Islands in the stream 2

By Easter, I became quite anxious as idiots (including neighbours who appeared to have friends round and flit from one house to another) seemed heedless of ‘social distancing’.  But a fine Easter Sunday convinced me I should get out of the house.  We ventured down the Cuckoo Steps onto the all but deserted main road.  As we waited for cyclists at the corner taking photos of the eeriness, we chatted about how rammed town would be normally during a Bank Holiday weekend.

Blossom of pink 2On Oldgate, Canada Geese sat unflustered by the river.  On Hangingroyd Road a mother and child cycled round an empty carpark fringed with white and orange tree blossom.  Continuing to Victoria Road, rainbows decorated windows and chalk Easter eggs adorned pavements.  People chatted, straddling the road as a mad cat lady took her cats for a jog.

We discussed the loveliness of the pink cherry blooms with a woman on the balcony above until, coast clear, we could proceed.

Horse chestnut 1From Foster Mill Bridge, we saw several people occupying the riverside path.  A woman with a dog came towards us necessitating a hasty move.  The grassy riverbank was resplendent with daffodils.  Horse chestnuts started to sprout, heedless of parasitic moss hijacking their drier branches.  Hebden Water resembled silvery ribbons flowing downstream.

As the path narrowed, we turned, re-crossed the bridge, and quickened our pace to keep clear of a walking group following close behind.  On Valley Road, we side-stepped back alongside the river.  A man sat on the wall.  Unsure if he waited for us, he seemed oblivious.  We hurried past to see him stuff 3 chocolate bars in his gob; essential eating, judging by the size of him!  In the town centre, even the square was deserted.

Pixie pool 2

Ten days later, following a bout of sinusitis, we visited Nutclough.  Walking via The Buttress onto Hangingroyd Lane, we encountered very few people on quiet mid-week streets.  At the Little Park, we cautiously took narrow steps between houses to Foster Lane, tricky to navigate with all the parked cars.  Crossing at the lights, workmen occupied the entrance path to the clough.  We hung back for a small group coming the other way then ran through, holding our breath.

Green and yellow 1Gasping for air amidst the spring foliage, flowers shone in the brilliant sunlight, including impossibly yellow celandine and soft-toned early bluebells.  We jumped over the wall to the top of the swamp.  Our shadows lay atop the stagnant water of the old mill ponds and glinting fish swam just below the surface.

Returning via Birchcliffe, boxes dotted on street corners contained random items including child’s toys, rucksacks, kitchen gadgets and bric-a-brac.  Normally, I would have derided the practice as ‘middle class dumping’ but with charity shops shut, it seemed acceptable.  I availed myself of a couple of free books.

Blue shadows 2

Confined walks 2 – Slater Ings

 

Dark shadows 1With the return of bright sunshine on Sunday, we ventured a little further to walk up the Cuckoo Steps, across Heptonstall Road to the path leading to our favourite ridge. On the climb, black shadows of twisty thin trees criss-crossed the dusty pink shingle. Two women with dogs stopped for us, but although they stood aside, the dogs still blocked the path.  As I hesitated they assured us that their fur harboured no germs as they had been in isolation for 2 weeks.  Passing cautiously, Phil noted they were nice friendly dogs.  I agreed, but told the women I was wary as this is not always the case.  They sympathised saying “We’ll put the leads on if we run into us again”.  “That’s kind but it’s fine.”  Next, it was our turn to wait for a small family crouched on the verge.  We side-stepped into the old quarry until they had finished doing selfies.

Hell Hole 1As we rounded the corner, we saw unsightly scribbles on Hell Hole Rocks.  At first glance it appeared to be made with chalk, but on closer inspection turned out to be painted graffiti, thus likely permanent and a real shame.  We checked the coast was clear and climbed the small steps up to ‘photographer’s corner’.

Wavering about whether to clamber onto the ‘viewing platform’, quite a few people approached form the opposite direction, making the decision for us.  We gazed down at a more pleasing aspect of the big rock, without scrawls, and across the valley until it was clear to continue.

Heading for Slater Ings, an ageing hippie couple sat on a large flat rock right near it.  They could easily have moved further away, but as they didn’t, we side-stepped as far as possible to the other side.  The man greeted us to which I responded “that’s not 6 feet”.  He said “Don’t worry about it.”  “I do, it’s because of morons like you that the stupid lockdown will last forever.”  As we hurried on past, he shouted  “Stay indoors then… You’re out walking!” “Yes, but when I want a rest, I don’t just plonk down; I move away from the path!”  “Do you remember the Nazis?” to which Phil retorted “No, I’m not old enough.  Are you?”  Tempted to go back and clatter him, I said it wasn’t worth it and anyway, it couldn’t be done at a safe distance!

Slater Ings stony detour 3Luckily, the wood was less populous.  We soon spotted a patch of wild garlic and climbed down a slippery dry slope where deadwood crackled beneath our shoes – the feeble brook having dried to a trickle in the warm April weather.

A few people past on the path above as we gathered the pungent leaves.  Taking a while to come back up, we spotted several pieces of broken pottery, indicating this was once a popular picnic spot.

Hitherto considering Slater Ings the wilder part of  the woodlands, now I looked properly, it became obvious it had also been part of the Victorian ‘job creation scheme’.  Why else would the large rocks be so picturesquely placed along the walking path?

Making our way between said rocks, bluebells and primroses lined the grassy edges.  A woman with several kids in tow kindly took a detour for us and a second pair of women with dogs waited for us at a gap in the wall leading out to the lane.

Wayside primroses 3Chancing a return via Heptonstall, we saw more people in one place than in the last 3 weeks.  Locals stood chatting in small groups in their gardens while visitors lounged in fields and on benches, and walked, cycled, and drove along the road in both directions.  The small community had rallied round with the post office offering a distribution service for local businesses and the pub doing ‘order and collect’ Sunday lunch.

Managing to keep at a safe distance we rested  very briefly in Weaver’s Square and re-enacted a scene from the Pace Egg – sadly cancelled this year along with everything else during lockdown.

We continued on Heptonstall Road, down the steps to Lee Wood Road and onto The Buttress, where we made further waits a  for slower elderly people coming up the punishingly steep cobbles.

Slater Ings path 2

Confined Walks 1 – Crow Nest and Environs

Post with wood

Breaking the confines of the town centre, we took two small walks on successive sunny Wednesdays, in and around Crow Nest.  On the first of these, we set off quite a bit later than planned, due to mislaid keys.  Ambling down quiet streets to the main road, we waited to cross at the zebra.  An impatient driver beeped us; obviously frustrated at having to slow down from 100 mph on the clear stretch!

Dandelion clocks

On reaching the canal, we turned left.  Some waiting and weaving was required to avoid loiterers and cyclists.  In the almost-empty park, Japanese cherry trees blossomed pink beneath a blue sky.  Towards the station, dandelion clocks dominated the verge. Men loitered around roadworks on the access road and clambered noisily on the roof as refurbishment continued.  We had to wait again for people coming the other way, detouring onto undergrowth as a man dithered with his phone on the Sustrans path.

Finally, he shifted leaving us free to examine mysterious signs on posts, small white and yellow flowers, and sandy stretches near the water from which stunted garlic grew.

Surrounded by greenery, we continued at a leisurely pace to the end of the path, noting long shadows cast by tall trees on the tarmac and further ruination of the shipping containers.

Rusty container 5Moss continued its relentless quest to obliterate the graffiti, with artistic effect.  Just before the site of the old Walkleys Mill (Still odd to see flattened), we turned sharp right up to the green railway bridge and followed the path skirting the bottom of Crow Nest wood.

At the station again, large dislodged stones had scattered on the flood-damaged road.  Past the stoneyard, the towpath looked clear when a pair of joggers almost ran into us under the next bridge.  I was annoyed they hadn’t stopped for us.  The next stretch housed several moored barges.  We waited for a woman strolling with a pram on other side of the gate so we could re-enter the park.  We made for the central pitch to avoid weed smokers huddled on benches, not adhering to ‘social distancing’.  At Blackpit Lock, we ran past more loiterers, deciding it might be less hazardous to return home via Holme Street.

 

Going up

The following Wednesday, lattice-like clouds scattered across a deep blue sky in the bright afternoon light.  I had become anxious about socialising between different households on the street below, with children running interminably hither and thither.  To avoid them, we took the larger steps down to the road, greeting a neighbour at the end of the terrace over her garden wall.  On the other side of the main road, we climbed straight to the top of Crow Nest wood.  On the way up, we stood aside a couple of times, first for a couple then for a straggling family group.  As we passed the noxious dead tree, on the steep climb, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my bad ankle, making me keen to reach the flat.

 

New sheepAt the top, sheep with lambs so brand new they shone white, grazed in a meadow, fenced with barbed wire. Further on, last year’s beech nut husks clung onto spindly twigs.  Bluebells had started to emerge while the brook had almost totally dried up.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  A pair of women waited for us and I thanked them heartily; it made a change for us not to be the ones who paused.

A rather steep end section of path led down onto the wider track.  As we turned right to Wood Top farm, we heard bleating and hoped to see more lambs.  Instead, we came across a field of goats with offspring – no kidding!

No kidding 1On Wood Top Road, we again had  to stand on the verge a couple of times for other walkers, using the opportunity to take pleasure in a squirrel jumping between high branches and resplendent native white cherry blossom.

After the episode of the previous week, we deemed the park safer than the towpath.  However, the plethora of non-essential activity made me wonder if we’d chosen wisely.  Several people sat around on benches and grass; kids skateboarded and cycled with gay abandon; teenage girls made videos for tick-tock.  Near the lock, a dog rushed canal-side making the geese scatter and squawk with fear.  It made me jump too!

Hanging on

 

Puddling in Colden Clough

Bridle way puddle 3

A bright but breezy start to March prompted us to re-visit another familiar haunt.  Getting ready seemed to take ages, making me quite impatient.  Finally, we left the house and walked westwards up the main road.   Several cars parked on the pavement at Bridge Lanes made me wonder if they had different laws in those parts.  Seeing a woman come out of one, I was about to have a go when she said hello.  It was an ex-neighbour, laden with groceries, poised to cross the road. On enquiring about the pavement parking, she suggested it was for unloading purposes.

Chimney from the back 1Past the Fox and Goose, the cold wind blew straight in our faces.  Feeling buffeted, we wondered how long we would be out.  But it eased off as we turned into Church Lane.  We took the easy way up to Eaves, via the play park and steps to the bridle track.  Already, my legs began to tire.  Hearing me sigh, Phil said “don’t start getting grumpy.”  To which I retorted, “what do you mean start? I already am grumpy! I haven’t even taken any photos yet!”  He chuckled and challenged my claim that I had not yet seen anything inspiring.  Then, I noticed reflections in the puddles occupying every pothole.  In small watery worlds of black and blue, branches and sky appeared trapped, framed by displaced hardcore.

Cheered somewhat, we continued to Lumb Mill and explored the ceaseless torrents, almost full-to-bursting streams and derelict ponds. Underground gurgling indicated yet more water beneath our feet.  We started to climb up to the higher path.  Pausing at the top of the small arch, I  spotted a smaller path behind the chimney.  Having tried it from the top end in autumn, I wondered if we may have more luck from this end.  I stepped in the stream without thinking, making the bottom of my jeans sopping wet.  The path came to an abrupt end just beyond the chimney where a chunk of earth had fallen.  Thwarted, we at least gained a different perspective.  Tall thin trees stretching up to the sun way overhead created ebony shadows on the yellow stone.

Red and green 2We returned to the standard route which  proved hard going.  Large rough stones were replaced further up by the remains of dead trees and deep patches of sticky mud, requiring several small detours off the path.  above the glade, we climbed a strange mound which Phil comedically named ‘the ‘escarpment’, for a higher vantage point.  Square stones,  that had tumbled from the raggedy cliffs opposite, so long ago that they were now adorned with thick green moss, lay stranded amidst a permanent carpet of scrunched copper beech leaves and discarded nut husks.

Proceeding, we descended the steep wooden steps to land in the worst patch of mud so far.  Carefully picking our way through the earth and debris, we stopped on the flat rock to fend off dogs while we ate the wraps we’d brought with us.

As it had taken almost ninety minutes to get that far,  I guessed we only had an hour of daylight left.  We called it a day to get home before dark.  It was only then that I noticed that as well as being soaked through, the bottom of my jeans also had gravel caught up in them!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9tvFGnnr5q8QZCxXw?e=Fsf6pZ

Cascade force 3

 

Eaves Wood to the Corpse Road

Afternoon shadows 2

Right at the end of December 2019, the grey lifted somewhat.  We decided to go up Eaves Wood to catch the sun on the ridge.  Never disappointing, we discovered amazing tree shadows striating the path beneath a clear blue sky. At Hell Hole Rocks, a man clambered about, apparently practicing falling!

Glimpses 2Behind, Stoodley Pike peeked spookily between black tree branches.  We  waited for a couple dawdling with a tiny dog on the steep stone steps until we could ascend.  A rowdy crowd of kids, this time with a boisterous dogs, almost knocked us off the precipice.

That ordeal over, I was left breathless at the top and stopped for a much-needed break.  To stay in sunlight, we turned right along the ridge-top path and paused at the gate to the newly planted wood.  A delicate white flower fluttered in the light breeze.  We meandered through onto Southfield.  Then the clouds gathered, obliterating the warmth and brightness. In the churchyard, we discovered it infested  with tourists, including a crowd round the grave of Sylvia Plath.

Lone flower 1We retreated to the bench behind the yew tree to eat clementines then wandered slowly among the gravestones and within the ruin.  For once, I actually stopped at the resting place of David Hartley where a scattering of coins had been left by admirers.  I joked they should be clipped!

Through the village, we started down the road when I suggested we take the corpse road.  I was quite pleased to find the right entrance to the path,  but for the second time, we mistakenly took the upward path to the right of houses, leading back to Southfield.  Back on the correct path, twisty trees edged  the narrow route, incredibly muddy in places.  Back in Eaves Wood, I searched in vain for the engraved stone.

 

Returning 3

Birchcliffe to Nutclough

Nutclough descent 3

A Heritage open day offered the rare opportunity of gaining access to parts of the Birchcliffe Centre normally out-of-bounds.  On the cusp of autumn but still summery, we avoided a steep climb in the heat by walking via Hangingroyd, Foster Lane and Eiffel Street.  On reaching Birchcliffe, we first investigated Chapel Avenue. Lines of washing extended across the small cul-de-sac.  A wall plaque on the side wall of the centre commemorated transfer of school activities to the chapel building in the 19th century.  A stone gateway at the end of the street led to a dark path. I wondered if it would descend to Nutclough.

Chapel Avenue 1Entering the building via the impressive front entrance complete with granite pillars, the walls of the reception area displayed newly printed photos by Alice Longstaff.  A fellow photographer responsible for the collection  explained the context of the never-before seen images and related stories of some of the people shown.  It felt a real privilege and I was fascinated to note the differences between Alice’s commercial work and shots taken for personal reasons or just for the hell of it.

On the corridor running the length of the centre a young woman accosted me, asking if I would like to join a pilates class.  “No thanks.  Tried it once. Hated it”.  I said, politely.  Right at the back, the old Baptists pool was specially uncovered for the open day.  A guide approached from the opposite direction with a family group.  We stopped to listen as she explained how it was used.  In the boardroom we took part in a consultation on the future of the centre (ran by a neighbour of ours as it turned out).  From the ground plans we learnt that the path at the back did indeed lead to Nutclough and the centre actually owned that section of the clough.

RestingIntrigued by the discovery of yet another path in the tiny but endlessly fascinating Nutclough, we had to explore. We returned to the end of Chapel Avenue.  Through the gateway, spindly silver birch strove for light. their trunks casting shadows like palimpsests criss-crossing the path.

Further down, leaf detritus blocked the weir.  Speckled wood butterfly flitted about on the islands while dayflies danced like fairies.  Mainly shady now in the late afternoon sun, we stepped over the shallow stream to the firepit, bathed in a patch of sunlight. Birch replaced by beech, nuts and shells littered the ground.  I had fun arranging them artily on the hewn benches.

We walked back in full sun down Keighley Road, in search of lunch.  The town centre was absolutely rammed as people spilled out of the pub on the square; a last gasp on the last proper end-of-summer day. We scanned cafes on Bridge Gate and at the other end of the square but all were full or about to shut.  We spotted a couple of friends and stopped to say hello.  They both had sorry tales of redundancy to tell and conversations went on quite a long time .  By then, Phil  appeared about to fall over for want of food.  I suggested we go home to eat.  He did not sound keen.  We started homeward past more populous pubs, until discovering  that Tibetan Kitchen was an oasis of calm.  Friendly staff guided us through the choice of mouth-watering dishes and served us chai while we waited for our food.  I heard a guy say the food was better than the Manchester branch.  I made a mental note to take a friend who knows the original place well so she can compare.

Salad 2 crop

It seemed as though winter arrived early in November.  Often elusive, the sun appeared intermittently on a late Wednesday.  Although lifting the temperature slightly, it was still cold.  We discussed a few ideas involving a short walk to somewhere offering lunch.  I suggested Heptonstall, Mytholmroyd and Stubbings.  As we stepped out, a chilly wind made it feel even colder.  We decided to stay near town with a short trip to Nutclough.

Taking the picturesque route  via The Buttress and Hangingroyd Lane to Foster Lane, we remarked it had been a long time since we climbed the ginnel up to Unity Street.  Always evocative of the Victorian industrial heydays, parked cars hampered efforts to capture the mood on camera.  We scanned the rooftops of the town centre below, noticing for the first time how many turrets there are.

Far out 2At the end of the street,  we crossed the main road and headed into Nutclough. In spite of recent assaults by wind, rain and frost, autumnal colours still bedecked the trees.  Fallen leaves scattered the paths.  Jade-like lichen covered large grey boulders, resembling textured wallpaper.  Glistening moss swathed drystone walls.  Speckled brown oak leaves contrasted with the bright emerald.

On reaching the ‘islands’ I noticed some of the stepping-stones had been washed away by heavy downpours.  Phil strode over the shimmying stream regardless but I deemed it impassable.  I casted around for replacement stones and threw a promising square lump into the water.  It settled in the right place but was insufficient to breach the gap.  I had no luck finding the right shape and size to improve the situation. He tried to help by lobbing a stones from the other side but it was useless.  I gave up and backtracked to the steps near the weir.  At the top, different varieties of moss adorned rocks.  Delicate red stalks supported their tiny blooms.

Moss close up 2

Finding ourselves on the path belonging to the Birchcliffe Centre, copper beech, dark green in September, now lived up to their name.  We took the straight-forward route down into town.  This time, we had lunch options aplenty, with only a smattering of punters in the fading light of mid-afternoon.  Rendezvous supplied us with tasty, warming and filling meals.  I nipped outside for a smoke.  A juvenile jackdaw perched on the back of the adjacent chair to mine. He kept looking towards the café window as though waiting for something.  When I returned back inside, one of the staff told her colleague “Scruffy’s here.” Consequently, a young woman appeared with a crust of bread.  “Ah!  I wondered why he was hanging around.” “Yes,” she told me, “he comes every day to be fed.” Crafty!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9VYfw4vAup5Tzqjsw?e=OYna4j

View back 1

 

Freaky Nutclough

Bright trees 1

Following a week in bed with sinusitis, we managed one more walk before the end of October.  As it was the day the clocks reverted to GMT and as usual, we did not leave the house until mid-afternoon, we agreed on a short jaunt to Nutclough.  We used the shortcut to the buttress and down towards town.  Discordant music could be heard, prompting speculation as to what event might be occurring but concluded it might just be a busker.  We walked the familiar route via Hangingroyd road, up the steps opposite the Little Park onto Foster Lane, turned right and crossed Keighley Road into Nutclough Wood.  Beautiful colours greeted us immediately; many trees still sported green leaves while browns and oranges littered the path.

Evil pixie 2Finding the large iron gate padlocked, we entered via side gate.  It squeaked ominously as I lifted the latch and went through.  I joked about recording the sound to scare young children on Halloween!  The freaky theme continued as Phil cavorted like an evil pixie – obviously influenced by the film we’d watched the night before featuring fantastically crap demons.i

We continued up leaf-strewn steps and through the gap onto the edge of ‘the swamp’.  Braving snagging brambles and biting insects, I ventured further towards the edge than ever before.

Colourful reflections 6The colours reflected in the water were stunning!  A cyan sky provided a backdrop for dark horizontal shadows of tree trunks.  Bright green ferns were reflected beneath curled-up leaves floating gently on the surface.  Ripples produced surreal effects with undulations of red and yellow.  On returning to the gap in the wall I spotted a small swarm of flies glinting in the sunlight; they gave the impression of fairies dancing in a magical woodland.

Continuing down towards the stream, a couple with two small boys strolled around ‘the island’.  The man chatted to us about the local environment and good weather, making comparisons with his home county of Kent.  The elder of the two boys asked Phil if he could use his camera.  Phil understandably said no and I added that he probably wouldn’t even be able to lift it.  In spite of the shallow water, I cautiously used the stepping stones to cross.

Flourish of fungiAt the top end of the island, we clambered over the felled branches.  More cutting had occurred – evidenced by sawdust on the ground – and sadly obliterated the black mushrooms.    However, a flourish of pale pink fungi grew in its stead.  Due to the low water level, the waterfall had become a tinkling trickle.  Above us, the sun glinted on the uppermost leaves of tall beeches, quietly rustling in the softest of breezes.

We rested briefly on the now even more sunken bench, somewhat bemused by the elder boy bashing everything in sight with a stick.  I remarked that he obviously didn’t get out in the countryside much (urban kids being well known for a fear of the great outdoors!)

Proceeding to the other end of the swamp, my attempts to capture a group of paddling ducks on camera were distinctly blurry.  We turned sharp left to climb the steep path up to the treetops looking down on the kaleidoscope of colours.  Behind the terrace of houses, we nosed around and discovered another path leading back down to the clough.   Phil considered it but I felt it would be too much for me.  After my latest illness, I had just wanted an hour or two of sun and exercise which I had achieved.  Instead, we carried on up to Sandy Gate and down to Birchcliffe.

Picturesque chair 1Taking the steep buttress-like ginnel, tall houses framed a narrow slither of sky in front of us was.  Halfway down, a picturesque chair had been left outside a garden gate, while at the bottom., lichen and small ferns created textured wallpaper against grey stone.  On reaching School Street, we proceeded onto Bridge Gate, noting that Calan’s did not seem popular.

Along Market street, we found amusement in a horrifying display of pumpkins accompanied by a terrible painting of Frida Kahlo – which someone obviously considered an appropriate homage to the late artist – probably the freakiest thing we had seen all day!

Pumpkin helli The excellent Basque film, ‘Errementari’ (the Blacksmith and the Devil)

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5M9vQfFZIzbqPZvHg

 

 

Finding Ted and Sylvia (Lumb Bank to Heptonstall)

Bend and boughs

The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult.  Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process.  Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression.  The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.

Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks.  On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine.  After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m.  We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot.  They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely.  We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property.  At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.

Colourful trees revisitedWe turned right again and started the ascent into woodland.  It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath.   A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion.  I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake.  Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.

Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path.  A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork.  This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.

Lumb Bank garden 4

Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers.   As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.

I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet.  Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.

We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village.  We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next.  Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left.  We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.

Churchyard selfieAmongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.

A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost.  She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave.  Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it.  There are usually pens and stuff on it”.  Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath.  She looked the type”.  I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.

We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked.  He thought he might have left it at home.  I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark.  Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.

We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves.  We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked.   I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop.  On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it.  We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer.  When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!”  Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!

More pictures at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5MOEgjdfTeeeTetXg

Lumb Bank view 1

Through the Woods and down the Corpse Road

Heptonstall ascending loop path 1

The last week in June brought a series of travails and despite the gorgeous sunny weather, life felt hard.  On the Thursday afternoon, we thought that one of our favourite wood walks might cheer us up and cool us down.  At the top of the cuckoo steps, I needed to catch my breath before crossing the road and taking the path into Eaves Wood.  A felled tree obstructed us.  Momentarily thwarted, we managed to navigate through the jumble of branches.  As we climbed the ridge, the sun beat down. “It’s like being on holiday in the Med” I commented.  Phil casually mentioned that he’d always said it was the hottest spot in Hebden – now he tells me!

Eaves Wood stone seatWe noted that the views down into the valley were obscured by profuse growth.  I needed to rest and drink water but the lack of shade and prolific bracken meant my usual spot was not an option.  I slogged on until we reached the trees.

After resting awhile on the path edge, we continued and I realised that if I’d waited a little longer I could have sat on the seat-like stone a short way up.

At Hell Hole rocks we explored the disused quarry.  Normally dank, twigs and leaves on the parched earth crunched beneath my sandals.  Today deserted apart from crows high in the treetops, we had fun guessing the pastimes of recent visitors from the evidence they had left behind including a tent peg and sweet wrappers.

Eaves Wood fern shadow 2Past the rocks, we decided to stay down in the woodland rather than climbing straight up to Heptonstall.  Descending a flight of twee steps, we noted almost impossible greenery.  Small dapples of sunlight and fern shadows fell artily on the stone treads.  The landscape became like pixie land as the myriad paths from the Victorian job creation scheme led in all directions.  Small birds flitted through trees and a squirrel scampered into the undergrowth.

Finding it hard to choose the best route, we kept to the middle route until we reached a more significant-looking fork, thinking we would soon reach the top wall and thus the lane up to the village.  However, we ended up in what we realised was the lower end of Slater Ings.  The path became indiscernible in places.  Large square boulders lay higgledy piggledy (most likely a result of quarry dumping).   We had a tricky climb through huge ferns, stopping often to locate the best way through.  Even so, Phil banged his head on a tree branch.

Slater Ings square rocksEventually, I spotted what I assumed was the top wall above us but could not see an obvious access point.  Then Phil noticed that it was not the wall I’d thought it was.  Nevertheless, we had to go upwards to reach civilisation.  I saw a gap in the wall and clambered over large stones towards it.  On reaching the top, we realised there had once been a proper path and crossing point – apparently eroded since our last trek through this neglected lower part of the wood.

We came onto the lovely rocky path that we knew quite well at the top of Slater Ings, albeit not as far along as expected.  But it was easy enough from there to reach the lane up to Heptonstall.  On the corner of Green Lane, I noticed a styal into fields which I knew would cut a corner out.  This turned out to be part of the Hebden Loopi. We crossed a beautiful meadow with attractive paving underfoot, heading for a picturesque treeline to emerge onto the road.  In the village, we entered The first pub for refreshments.

At the bar, we exchanged a few words with an acquaintance, ordered pints, grabbed menus and headed for the beer garden.  Whilst enjoying the indirect sunlight, we prevaricated about ordering food as we were not super hungry.  And then we saw the chips and that settled it!  After eating, we realised the football was underway and considered going to the other pub to watch it.  I nipped in to check the score and noted their TV was smaller than the one at home.

Taking the Corpse Road wooden gateOpting for the Corpse Road back, we initially had trouble finding the entrance.  On finding it a little way down the road, a footpath sign indicated two different routes.  We mistakenly took the upward path and arrived at the edge of Southfield.  Returning to the sign, the other path started out as gravel path as it led past houses.  It then became narrow and overgrown.  We were repeatedly stung by nettles and brambles snagged at our clothes.

The vegetation thinned alongside a low stone wall.  Just after a rickety shed, we were led downwards.  I remembered continuing in a straight line last time a rope barred our way.  Forced to turn left and then right onto Heptonstall Road, the final stretch home was very quick.  As I settled down with a coffee to watch the end of the football match, I felt boiling hot and had in urgent need of a cold shower.

Note:

  1. The Hebden Bridge Loop: http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/pennine-way-loop/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4EJ_MuwABD_5kPtPQ

Valley view