Tag Archives: sheep

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

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Horsehold to Cock Hill

Stoodley View 2

In July 2013, almost a year after my last day at work, in the midst of battling my employers I felt highly stressed.  To take our mind off things, we planned a summer visit to Stoodley Pike.

Horsehold 1We climbed up Horsehold Road to the hamlet of the same name.  It suddenly dawned on us that the collection of old farm buildings was once a village and could be used as a location for historical TV dramas.

Continuing to Pinnacle Lane, we headed upwards until a herd of huge cows blocked our way.

Due to my heightened adrenaline levels, and Phil convinced that all cows were intent on murder, I became panicky and refused to go any further.

Field grassWe turned back and took ‘Crag Lane’ until we emerged onto the pleasingly named Cock Hill Moor.  This proved tussocky but dry underfoot due to a good summer.

Round the corner, we could see Halifax to our right and the Upper end of the Calder valley to our left for fantastic panoramas.

 

Finding a spot where the tussocks thinned out somewhat, we sat to enjoy a picnic and picked out landmarks and other walking routes we knew.  On our descent, we were fairly confident on the way to Spencer Lane.  However, we were mistaken and had to double back down a steep slope.  I managed this okay but unfortunately Phil twisted his bad ankle.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiutl1BV2OWcnb2oHjw

 

Clouds 2

New Road through Erringden

New Road cobbles 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Spencer Lane 3

 

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

Beyond the Treeline

Crow Nest branches and sky 1

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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New lambs

 

Jumble Hole (eventually)

Sloping stream 2

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

ii   Pennine Bridleway

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Colden to Heptonstall

Hebble Hole bridge 1

The last Sunday in March started sunny but partly cloudy, perfect for walking.  We took the quick way up through Mytholm and along the track into Colden Clough.

Lumb mill twin trees 1.jpgWe noted the newly constructed managed weir on the river just before Lumb Mill.  Stopping for a short rest, I realised I had not yet taken photos of the ‘twin trees’ with my new camera.  Halfway up the clough, we dallied in the garlic fields to pick a few early season leaves.  At Hebble Hole we crossed the clapper bridge, and took the small steps up to Hudson Mill Lane.

We continued along the road, turning left towards Colden Village and onto May’s.  I entered the farm shop to buy pies.

 

Wagtail 2I did not pick my moment well: several people arrived at the same time, including a woman in slippers and a dressing gown.  As we sat on the bench outside eating the warmed pies, we watched a pied wagtail delicately searching between the cobbles for morsels, and chatted.

 

 

Phil suggested the shop had created a culture of dependency within a 500 metre radius.  I reckoned the catchment area was somewhat wider as many people drove there.  Feeling tired, I checked the bus times but it would be almost an hour until the next one.

We walked down Edge Lane, observing our first field of new lambs, through Popples Common towards Heptonstall.  On the edge of the village, I again considered waiting for the bus.  Instead, Phil suggested visiting the Cross Inn.  We sat in the beer garden supping pints.  It started to get cooler with the waning sun.  We finally agreed to catch the bus home.  A cat followed us to the bus stop.  As we waited, I collected rather nice cedar cones form the small park on Hepton Drive.

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Sheep and lambs 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.