Tag Archives: spring

Bar Cliff to Crow Nest

Looking around

At the end of May, sinusitis returned rendering me bedridden on the hottest and most dazzling of days so far. Sunday, I felt much better and up for a short walk to stretch my unused legs.  The blazing sun and heat was tempered by a bit of a breeze and cloudy spells.  This made the walk up ‘Bar Cliff’ more bearable.

Curly Ferns 4A resplendent rhododendron marked the start of the path.  Curly ferns provided highlights of yellow against green verges.  Small groups of children clutched picnic blankets on their way up to grassy fields.  We followed the curves of New Road towards Old Chamber, laughing at local signs telling motorists to ‘turn back’ – very local!  At the bridge, we stopped to take in the pastoral scenes.  Lambs quickly scarpered across a small field, spooked by a family obviously not used to walking, yelping as they picked their way down the stony path below.  “Something tells me that’s a new hobby for them.”  I commented.  Phil sniggered but I reminded him “there was a time when you considered going to the pub on the canal ‘a walk’.  We all have to start somewhere!”  At the far end of the field, a brave lamb stared at me curiously over the wall.

Munching goats 3At Old Chamber, more lambs were penned into a small triangle.  Were they in quarantine?  Nearby, a mountain of hardcore was dumped in front of a ruined farm building.  On the other side of the valley, a bright yellow air ambulance flew above Midgeley Moor.  The honesty box remained open with signs instructing users to enter one at a time.  We peered in to see only eggs for sale; sensible to not offer cups of tea right now, I guess.

Continuing to Spencer Lane, house martins flitted between eaves and a pair of kestrels took turns surveying the landscape from treetops before swooping down to unseen prey.  Larger fields contained larger flocks of sheep and goats too, with offspring.  Close up, I noticed the small kids had tiny horns like little demons!

Underneath are starsWe skirted Wood Top Farm and turned left onto the beautiful grassy lane to the old quarry.  Glade-like in the arid conditions, a variety of implements suggested recent gardening activity.  Entering Crow Nest Wood, dappled lighting created a restful ambience.  We rested on the almost-dry waterfall where barely a trickle flowed in the brook.  Miniscule flowers of white and yellow bloomed beneath fading bluebells.  We marvelled anew at the trees simultaneously dead and alive.  Probably the case in all woodland, it always struck us particularly in this one; maybe because we knew it so well.  Mouldy mushrooms inhabited the rotten lower trunks while new oak leaves sprouted from higher branches. One such tree resembled a wraith performing a dance macabre in the wispy air.

Taking the short way home, we waited for a small family to ascend the dry path, made tricky by a thick layer of last years’ tinder-dry beech nuts.  On palace House Road, we noted new traffic lights, explaining the roadworks a few weeks back.  The updated controls enabled us to safely navigate the single-file bridge.  Phil larked about, insisting we had to pointlessly cross the road.  Back home, I headed straight for the bathroom.   The dusty dry paths had turned my sandal-clad feet black.   We had been saving small pies in the fridge for a longer outing,  but justified eating them after the walk – an indoor picnic!

Restful 3

The First Picnic (Oakville circular)

Roadside poppies 8

A week after lockdown easing allowed picnics, we took sandwiches on a slightly longer walk.  Initially making our way to the canal again, we walked on the towpath to Stubbings only to find the route blocked.  Quickly coming up with Plan B, we crossed the main drag and took the second left turning.  Heady scents of pine assailed us.  Phil said it smelt of holidays!   Oakville Road resembled a poppy field.  Dazzling golds and oranges crowded the hedgerows, dancing in the stark sunlight.  Arriving at a junction, we continued upwards on Turret Hall Road, becoming  hot on the steep switchbacks.  We stopped by a patch of bluebells to rest and drink water.  Phil looked as though he needed it more than me which was unusual and I rued not bringing more.

Wood Farm 1Cooler in Rawtenstall Wood, we noted ‘Wood Farm’ seemed to have grown.  Just off the track, a dappled clearing housed palettes and rickety lean-tos with tarpaulin draped atop indeterminate piles.  I joked the farm actually made wood like in the old PC video game ‘Transport Tycoon’!

We detoured onto a magical-looking small path, scented by more bluebells with smaller flowers studded between the rough hardcore.  Reaching what I deduced was Dark Lane, we perched on a wall opposite the pike to eat the packed lunch, enjoying a light breeze and the beautiful scenes.

Roadside garlicComing down Marsh Lane, the views ahead of us omitted the road hidden deep in the valley, suggesting a clear run to the pike.  Twisty trees and barbed wire decorated the descent.  As  signs indicated the Pennine Way, the path became uncomfortably stony underfoot, reminding me that several years ago I’d arrived at the bottom footsore and vowed never to come this way again!  The towpath also blocked at Callis, I suggested it was nothing to do with flood repairs but to contain the hippies!

Not quite remembering the best way back to Oakville Road, we eventually found it behind Stoney Bridge.  Away from the dusty main road, the scent of wild garlic replaced that of traffic.  Crossing back to Stubbing’s we returned to the towpath and rested briefly on lock number 10.  To quench the still burning thirst, we popped in the co-op for ice cream.  Normally immune to advertising, I had to admit the new magnum ruby red lollies were rather yummy.

 

Stoodley view 2

Confined walks 4 – Canalside Medley

Bridge view

Early May, we struggled to leave the house before later afternoon.  Thus we did not get further than the canal.

At the start of the week, Phil cast about for an excuse to go out.  With no shop requirements, he suggested going to look for goslings, snapped by a fellow photographer on the marina.  Hoping they’d still be there we set off late Wednesday afternoon. We waited for a neighbour coming up the steps.  “It’s so strange walking round (town) now, she remarked, “but I quite like it.  Apart from missing the charity shops. I’ve got no summer clothes.” I sympathised as I also missed them.  As she reached the top step, a slipper-wearing man with a mini dog rudely overtook us.  The usual hippies milled about on the main road.

Chapel AquilegiaWe paused at the chapel where cultivated purple aquilegia competed for space with yellow wild poppies and dandelions in the untended garden.  At the marina, we spotted geese, pigeons, a wagtail, a pile of pallets and a small family squatting on the cobbles, but no goslings.  Walking back to the park entrance, a man sat on the cinema steps.  Still talking into his phone, he abruptly stood and strode in our direction necessitating a sudden dodge.

In the memorial gardens, displaced pub-goers socialised on benches while in the park, children weaved about on bikes.  The ‘wild flower’ patch was a riot of dandelions.  On the less-trod playing field, they sprouted alongside daisies, heedless of dogs chasing balls.

Towpath SignExiting onto the towpath, signs redolent of Royston Vasey proclaimed ‘local use only’.  Fish swam beneath bright ripples in the canal, but still no sign of goslings. Turning towards Mayroyd, we climbed onto the lock, avoiding another small family.  A layer of scum and fallen blossom coated the water, blocking any view of wild life.  The way ahead seemed rather busy.  We retreated and stayed on the left side hoping to avoid busier stretches, taking the steps up to Palace House Road.  Peeking over the wall  down onto the canal at Hebble End, there were still no pesky goslings!

Friday (VE Day), jolly laughter, bursts of terrible music and milling about implied people on the street below were actually having a party. On our street, neighbours of the adjacent terrace socialised in their own self-created ‘bubble’.  Mr. Fast n Furious raced up and parked in the middle of the thoroughfare for no apparent reason, stood there a few minutes with engine idling, then reversed out with equal speed.

Bunting 1We gave all a wide berth and walked through clouds of floating dandelion seeds and upon the fading chalk art, to the end of the street, giggling at pathetic bunting in ‘Brexit Close’.  We took The Buttress down to the Packhorse Bridge, and into the square where a solitary figured occupied a bench.  I discovered later that an anti-lockdown demo, consisting of 8 sociopathic hippies had taken place.  Getting a few errands, we popped in the fancy wine shop to smirk at the exorbitant prices and dance to Sister Sledge and purchased the fabled goat meat from the very local butchers.

We wandered towards Holme Street where more half-hearted bunting adorned the school.  The smoky wood smell of the people’s pizza van was a big draw, but competed with the stink of draw towards the aqueduct.

DippingWe crossed to the other side of the lock again, evading the idiotic bank holiday smokers and drinkers, and enjoying a quiet patch of sunlight until the coast cleared.  Continuing past Hebble End, the angry white geese noisily defended their territory against half-breed ducks.  One, a mix of mallard and runner duck, swam in an ungainly fashion, struggling to keep its long neck up .  At the next exit point, we walked down a dirt track housing half-demolished vans, to the river and spotted a wagtail hopping from rock to rock.

Around the corner, we hailed a couple of friends in their garden, chatting safely from the other side of the wall.  He had been furloughed and she’d sensibly given up work as a self-employed painter for the duration, enjoying the rest.  That made at least two other people liking the slower pace of life! By coincidence, she had painted the red windows reflected in the canal waters that I had shot a couple of days before (and subject of the next Monday Morning Haiga).

Towpath reflections 1

On Spring Bank holiday Monday, we set off slightly earlier hoping to find lunch in town.  Heaving with day-trippers, carparks and bins overflowed, people queued for café take-a-ways, and benches outside the pub were fully occupied (although still not offering take-outs themselves).  It appeared as if the square had become a makeshift food court.  In search of pies, we found the bakers shut.  The local convenience stores supplied meagre pickings.  We waited ages while a family who looked like they’d already eaten all the pies, hovered round the instant food section.  The staff complained about the tourists “There are at least 300 people in the square”, one of them exaggerated.  Navigating the busy street, almost mowed down by a motorbike, we crossed over to the park to find a suitable patch of grass amidst the small groups populating the green spaces, in front of the shut café.  I said they could at least be selling ice cream.

Calder Holmes Park 2We enjoyed a long overdue picnic lunch in the warm sunshine, realising it was the first time since early March we had bought ‘lunch out’.  Discussing the recent Cummings farrago, we agreed the cat was out of the bag now.  Although physical distancing was not being totally ignored, friendship groups had definitely formed.  I learnt the art beloved of Daily Mail photographers, misleading the viewer into thinking small clumps of people were actually one seething mass.  An infamous local character staggered from one group to another, wearing a mask round his chin.  Phil suggested his keyworker probably put a stack in his house to protect the rest of us!

After eating, we walked along the canal to Mytholmroyd.  Delicate white flowers and common orchids resembling bottle brushes swayed gently at the water’s edge, dwarfed by Margarites.

Canal Whites 1At the boundary, more Margarites grew in hard gravel also home to a smattering of clover and trefoil.  We crossed the main road to the ancient hamlet of Hawksclough and walked home  via the Sustrans cycle path.  As the habitat changed, so did the flora.   Bright kingcups dazzled beside grey granite while fading wild garlic and miniscule blooms stretched upwards in the shade of riverside trees.

I popped in the co-op while Phil waited outside.  The halfwit serving me spoke into his headset: “we appear to have a stalker at the window.“  I turned round to see Phil doing funny faces behind my back!

Field of dreams

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

Wood Top to Mytholmroyd

Spencer Lane

It was grey and cold start last Wednesday.  We  considered a trip to Bradford for an exhibition and lunch, when a hint of brightness tempted us to go walking instead.  As it turned out, HRH Wills & Kate were in the city the same day and visited  My Lahore; one of our favourite eateries so we had a lucky escape!

We walked via the canal and park, hurrying over the aqueduct which is always colder no matter the season, to the station and popped in to collect tickets for a planned rail excursion next week.  While there, I took a few black and white  as part of a new project.

Ancient Post box 2We ascended Wood Top Road.  At the top, direct sunlight began to warm us up somewhat.  Past the old farmhouse, I was struck by the quaint post box on the telegraph pole at the corner of Carr Lane.

At the junction with Spencer Lane, wet cobbles sparkled in the glare.  Turning left onto Wood Hey Lane, we dodged several puddles and impromptu streams following seemingly weeks of rain.  Stubb Clough resembled a quagmire making me glad we had not taken a short cut across fields.  As we reached Park Lane, I remarked that we had taken the route several times during summer and spring but rarely in winter.

In place of new lambs, large sheep still sporting thick fleeces, munched lush grass.   A couple of dog walkers were the only other human occupants of the lane.  A large woman with a large dog courteously stood aside for us to pass.  Shortly after, another woman with a small dog approached from the opposite direction.  The juxtaposition made me giggle.  We continued down Nest Lane and took the sharp right-hand bend into Mytholmroyd village.

Keen for shots of historic buildings, I tried to determine if Elphaborough Close was the location of a long-gone hall of the same name.  Views of The Shoulder of Mutton and adjacent buildings were hampered by seemingly never-ending roadworks.  We had planned lunch at the Riverside Café.  Unfortunately, it is now shut.

Shoulder of Mutton 1Reaching Burnley Road, we navigated yet more roadworks and crossed to Grange Dene Yard.   The Blue Teapot proved cosy and provided tasty veggie fare. While waiting for our food, I perused leaflets of suggested walks from the village and discovered  another way of reaching Scout Rock which I aim to try in spring.  As we came back out into the cold, the wind blew straight at us and I felt freezing after the warmth of the café.

Hordes of school kids infested the road so we escaped back onto the towpath.  Along the canal, we observed the former site of Walkley’s Clog mill had been totally flattened.  A  very strange sight.  Further down, beer bottles surreally staying upright, floated  gently in the wind, while a child’s car seat resembled a small boat.  Detritus deposited by the recent storm no doubt.

Wasted 1

Lumb Falls and Crimsworth

Lumb Falls Panorama

Plagued by tendonitis for a couple of months, I had been hesitant to embark on longer walks, despite the longer late spring days.  Recent outings had been confined to familiar territory with minimal climbing.  By mid-May I decided to be pre-active and embarked on a self-treatment programme involving special Achilles heel exercises, massage and the use of a bandage when necessary.

Suitably prepared, I agreed to a more adventurous jaunt to Lumb Falls in the mid-week sunshine.  This started with a ride on the 595 bus. The few other passengers alighted at Dod Naze or Old Town leaving us alone on the rest of the journey onto Keighley Road.  The driver stopped for us at the junction of Haworth old Road, with a cheery farewell.

Haworth Old Road 2We walked upon the patchy tarmac of the single track, almost silent apart from bleating sheep, a handful of birds flitting between telegraph wires, and the odd passing vehicle.  Roadwork signs indicating that the road narrowed ahead made us chuckle; narrowed to what?   Grassy verges lined the route, interspersed with bright flowers, rickety gates and defunct signposts.

A sole walker overtook us, striding purposefully and disappeared behind a wall.  Guessing his destination, we then saw a helpful sign indicating ‘Lumb Falls’.  We paused at the top of the path for a couple with a trio of panting dogs to come up and get straight in a car.

Dean Descent 7

The steep path proved absolutely stunning!  Square grey cobbles shone underfoot, rising into bridge-like structures over springs.  Overgrown grasses, tall flowers and curly ferns made arty shadows on the ground.  Leafy boughs formed shady arches, framing a bright blue sky.  Across the dean, a grassy track rose steeply with a trio of sheep seemingly teetering on the slope.

Arriving at Lumb Falls, we discovered a variety of wonders.  A tree trunk resembled an elephant’s head; tributaries tumbled picturesquely into Crimsworth Brook; sturdy stone gate posts stood amongst the debris of a long-gone wall.  A smattering of people occupied the beauty spot including two men hogging the prime rock.

Lumb Falls 5We explored the scene from all angles witnessing a yellow dipper swooping over the water as insects buzzed beneath the arched bridge.  Picking a spot to rest, we ate a small packed lunch and gazed at the gushing falls, mesmerised by the babbling sounds and popping bubbles.

It became quite hot in the direct sun prompting us to eventually stir.  Climbing up the opposite side of the dean, I was very glad of the bandage on my bad ankle!  We soon spotted a sign pointing to Midgehole.  I immediately recognised the path, from our only other visit to this particular stretch several years ago.

Path Going Up 1Along the ridge, dry pale brown bracken covered the slope to our left.   Large stones littered the landscape, which may or may not have been from ancient buildings.  A tree gripping onto a mound with exposed roots suggested dramatic soil erosion. Enormous sheep grazed on the right.  Further on, we recognised landmarks across the way from previous, less-adventurous treks in Crimsworth Dean.

Presently, a large black stone wall impeded the path.  Due to the light, I didn’t immediately see how to cross it but realised a stile had been integrated.  The steps were so dark and far apart that great care was required in clambering to the other side.

From here, signs marked out private land from permissive paths.  We greeted a grumpy farmer who managed a curt ‘hello’ as we were directed back down into a field and across a rudimentary bridge into a pine forest where we spotted the next bridge.  We considered crossing back towards Pecket Well but opted instead to continue.  The path wound up another steep incline.

Wayside Flowers 2Aching, tired and thirsty, we eventually reached the main track and scanned for a suitable resting place.  Planning to perch on a rotting tree trunk, the sight of a wood cockroach put us off.  We settled on a nearby patch of grass to recover with a drink of sarsaparilla.  Further down, clumps of flowers lined the verges with white garlic under the shady pines to our left, and poppies, bluebells and forget-me-nots on the right.

Soon enough, we reached the edge of Hardcastle Crags carpark and easily found the small path leading straight down alongside the brook and onto Midgehole Road.  We headed over to the Blue Pig for a comfort break.

We found a vacant riverside bench to enjoy welcome pints.  From the corner of my eye, I spotted a selection of bird species skimming Hebden Water.   Standing for a closer look, I could not see any of them – typical!  We took yet another upward route homeward, rouxing the decision as we ascended the wide stony steps until we reached the paved stretch to Lee Wood.  A shortcut part-way down the Buttress led quickly home.  As I rested my legs and supped coffee, I realised it had been my longest day out for quite some time.  I was tired of course but thankfully, my ankle did not cause too much grief.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti6k2Gh4t5DLkE9fy5A

Path Through the Wood 2

 

 

Rainy Birthday

Calder View 3

Changeable weather threatened plans for a day out on Phil’s birthday.  We prevaricated but eventually decided to go for a walk anyway.  Donning suitable gear, we set off mid-afternoon towards the bus stop, chatting to a acquaintances en route.

On the journey upward from Heptonstall, the skies seemed to clear so we stayed on the bus to Blackshaw Head.  We stood at the corner for obligatory views before going down the side road with the chapel on our right to Badger Lane then immediately over the stile onto the Calderdale Way.

Calder Way 1The wind blew on our backs as we traversed the sheep fields.  I wished had on a warmer layer under my anorak.  Yellow arrows on each gate or stile indicated the way until we came onto the track forming part of the Pennine Way and stopped again to enjoy the vista.  Phil pointed out the small valley up to the left of Colden village in front of us.

I recognised Strines Bridge thus realising the vale became Colden Clough further down, which later reminded me of an ill-fated quest for the source of the Calder!  Behind us, graduating stone steps and a granite post punctuated the surface.  Normally easy-going, mud made the hard-core surface rather tricky.  What first looked like red clay, turned out to fine sand feeling squelchy underfoot.

Lichen and Pixie Cups 1Further down, we came across a wall covered with a variety of moss and lichen.  Zooming in, I spotted a miniscule raindrop hanging from a pixie cup and a tiny fly sporting whitish grey wings and dots.  Not for the first time, I marvelled at the microscopic worlds that we are usually unaware of.

Approaching the corner, boisterous dogs could be heard.  I hung back until they came into view.  Said dog bounded up towards us but soon scarpered when the owner called it back, leaving us unmolested.

Pussy Willow and Raindrops 9At Hudson Mill Lane, we turned right.  Pussy willows bloomed in profusion.   Raindrops hung like jewels from the silky surface.

Tiny buds started to emerge heralding spring.  We took the small steps down to Hebble Hole where Colden Water resembled a torrent and made a racket to match!

It seemed incredible that the tiny stream became such a force at this point; a result of numerous springs and underground tributaries flowing down to this point.  The drizzle returned as we admired the colours.  Vibrant green moss carpeted boulders. Pale ochre catkins almost touched the water’s surface, churning brown, white and grey.

Heptonstall Approach 6We crossed the restored clapper bridge, and took the upward route along the old causeway.  The rain became more insistent as we climbed up towards Heptonstall.  Thankful for our waterproofs, we continued doggedly, managing to locate all the right turnings to the village outskirts.  I remarked it was the first time we had walked all the way from Colden to Heptonstall on small paths alone.

We entered the White Lion pub for beer. The room with the coiners’ display was being prepped for a function so we sat on the other side and looked at photos of Dawson City.  As we did so, the man at the bar related interesting facts.  Drinks finished, we walked down the road.  At the corner of Lee Wood Road, we double-backed to the Buttress and descended the wet and slippy cobbles with care.

Over the Packhorse Bridge, we made our way round to the new Indian restaurant.  Someone shouted “happy birthday!”- a group of friends stood outside the club across the street.  The food was delicious.  We couldn’t understand the mixed reviews – five stars in my book!  We waddled home feeling extremely full but found room for coffee and cake.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti51wrLDkr9EDSpQHsQ

Colden Water 3

 

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

 

Stones and Rocks – Bridestones to Great Rock

Causeway Vista

Late February 2019 brought unseasonably warm weather and an early spring (hard to believe this time last year we were ravaged by the Beast from the East!).  During half term, we enjoyed a rare Friday outing – further afield than usual to Bridestones Moor.

We began the journey by bus, calling at the bakers for pasties before crossing over to the stop.  The service to Blackshaw Head seemed very late and I almost gave up but it eventually arrived.  Typically, we were the only passengers left after Heptonstall.  We alighted at Blackshaw Head chapel and sat in the sun to eat our pasty lunch before trekking up The Long Causeway.

Causeway KestrelFrom the OS map, I knew it would be 2 or 3 miles so maintained a steady pace.  After the village, the straight road rose gently between fields of sheep.  Many looked fit to burst they were so fat.  Others appeared incredibly scruffy with straggly wool hanging off them.  Overhead wires provided lookouts for crows and a kestrel which considerately stayed still for several minutes.

Possible shortcuts took the form of dodgy-looking paths across ill-kempt farmland scattered with ramshackle buildings.

We kept to tarmac until we reached the corner of Eastwood Road, marked by a milepost. On re-checking the map, we plumped for the more well-trodden route up to the stones.  Down Eastwood Road we found a ridiculously narrow gate (what M&M would call an obesity check!)  On the other side a lovely track headed up across moorland to the rocks with sponge-like moss keeping the bog at bay.  A smattering of fellow visitors populated the site, most of whom had driven judging by the cars parked in the lay by opposite.

Bridestones Trig Point 1The wind picked up as we climbed up to the trig point where I risked being blown off.  We examined stark groove lines on the stones where weathering over millennia had resulted in amazing features, and marvelled at the power of wind and water.

We then rested in the lee of the rocks before walking further behind to survey the alternative paths we could have used.  The ground became boggier as we approached a steep drop – I was glad we had opted for the easier route.

Bridestones Main Event 5Curving round to the front of the stones, smooth erosion left triangular holes between rocks and chair-like hollows in grey boulders.  A stretch of sturdy brown rock resembled a castle wall.  Cubed stones tumbling down the slope evoked memories of archaeological sites.  We felt as if we were on holiday!

Approaching the Bridestones themselves, we waited for families with dogs to move out of shot.  Majestic pillars of solid granite stood curiously grouped as though surveying the landscape. The base of one had been so worn away that it appeared precariously balanced.

No wonder they have inspired legends and folk tales!  We were astonished at how it had taken us so long to visit (and later discovered we had only seen the half of it.  I vowed it would not be another twenty years before returning).

The Great Rock 2We returned to the daft gate and turned right, continuing down Eastwood Road to Great Rock.  It didn’t look so great now!  I had hoped to easily find a straight way down to Eastwood but it eluded me.  Again, we eschewed uncertain paths heading towards Jumble Hole.  We checked the map once more and decided to stay on the road back up to Blackshaw Head.

Overcome with fatigue and with less than an hour of daylight remaining, we rested briefly at Hippins Bridge (a road bridge not a footbridge as I used to think) to look up bus times on google.  With one due in half an hour, we made the final climb back up to The Long Causeway.  As we waited, dusk fell.  A menagerie serenaded us; I could only identify a couple of the several species of bird amongst the cacophony of the twilight chorus.  Inevitably late again, it was almost dark when the bus finally made it up the hill, turned and picked us up.  During the descent, a man from Bolton amused us with his tales of drinking around Calderdale.  The driver stopped right opposite the Fox and Goose for him!

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Bridestones Frontage 2