Tag Archives: spring

Waterworld

Pool reflections 1

A late May Sunday, we forced ourselves out of the house despite feeling tired and lazy and initially walked to the Sunday market.  Phil nipped in the newsagents while I looked at a few new stalls along the roadside.

Purple bloom with bee 2He came over and was taken by the posh pie stall with a massive queue of punters being fleeced (which later prompted us to consider ideas for selling stuff to idiots).  I said he would be better off going to the bakers, where we bought pastries at a third of the price.  We then walked up to Commercial Street and admired structured flower beds and bees.

Continuing up Keighley Road and into Nutclough, we noted several changes since our last visit in January (I don’t remember ever visiting in May before; we usually go further on our walks at this time of year).

Iron gate

 

A profusion of greenery created a picturesque frame for the iron gate.  Through the gate, we took the lower path and up steps overgrown with more greenery and yellow flowers.

Coming back up, bluebells edged the path and populated an area above a wall opposite, creating a forest amongst the ferns.

 

We proceeded down to the water where newly placed stones made it a lot easier to cross to the ‘island’.  Amongst the waterlogged ground we found more grasses and flowers.  A woman with a small dog came to talk to us and suggested going further up the clough.  I thanked her and said we did know the area.

We wandered around a while then sat on the sunken bench to eat our pies and enjoy the reflections of sky and branches in the water.  The scene was marred somewhat by a man with three kids playing at the other side of the stream, as he allowed a small boy pee in plain sight – not something you want to see when you’re eating your lunch!

White and yellow with tiny mothA more pleasant distraction was found in a moth that resembled a leaf.  As it settled on a nearby plant, we vied with each other for the best spot to get a close-up shot.  My efforts were appalling but earlier I had captured a tiny moth among a clump of small white flowers.

We then walked towards the weir and turned sharp left to take the path up, admiring the large sycamore as we reached the treetops.

On arriving at the row of houses on Sandy Gate, we walked back along the road for a short time before taking a shortcut down a path and through the car park of the Birchcliffe Centre.

Back in town, we crossed the busy pedestrian area and went down by the river to look at crows and pigeons behaving strangely in the late afternoon sun.

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Bluebell forest

Hollins to Heptonstall

Hollins Tree bark 4

On the final Saturday of April, we had arranged a walk and lunch with Marisa.  I started the day feeling tired and a slightly ill but well enough.  The weather (cloudy and changeable) made us reluctant to go far and she suggested a different way up to Heptonstall.  A walk across town and over Foster Mill Bridge took us to the steps leading to Hollins.  Pausing to catch our breath, we admired the bark and twisty branches of a wayside sycamore tree.  We continued through the hamlet and entered Tinker Bank Wood.

Path edged with bluebells 1We kept to the pretty lower path where luscious grass was interspersed with clumps of bluebells.  Stepping over the tiny stream, we came down alongside Hebden Water and climbed up a rough track.   We arrived at a massive farm which appeared to be being converted into a horsey holiday camp.  They also had a rather impressive if alarming collection of military vehicles!  Are they getting ready for a post-Brexit Britain?

We climbed the long flight of stone steps to Bobby’s Lane and had to rest at the top before continuing.  Walking eastwards to the next junction we took left turn.  Picturesque old stones underfoot and a variety of tree life either side provided plenty of interest.

Route marker 2We emerged at Lee Wood Road where we crossed and examined the marker post before ascending up of Northwell Lane.  This gave us great views across the valley and eventually led to Heptonstall.   In the White Lion, we supped pints and had fun reading the place mats (mine had the grim tale of a murderous Coiners plot) while awaiting our food.

 

 

We agreed on a quick way back home and detoured through the village to locate the village stocks opposite the old co-op yard.  Marisa showed us the ‘Corpse Road’ which travels parallel to Heptonstall Road.  I had been unaware of this path although I worked out that we had taken various parts of it previouslyi.  Again, we admired different views down the valley and varied plant life including a wild cherry tree, while avoiding the muddy spots.

Stone with carved initials

We spiralled down to the bottom of Eaves wood, noting the old stone carved with the initials ‘W.G.’.   On Heptonstall Road once more, Marisa invited us in for a cuppa but I had become very tired and slightly unwell.  We walked her to her front door and commented on her tidied up garden, said our goodbyes and returned via the Cuckoo Steps.

 

 

Note

i. For further information on the Corpse Road see:  http://www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk/folklore/the-last-road.html

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Corpse path 3

Explorations on Lower Midgely Moor

Heights Road 1

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trees at golden hour 2

Willow Gate

Boulder field 1

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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Slurring rock 1again taking the river path when possible.

Shaking off atrophy

Park blossom close up 2

We’d had an enjoyable week’s holiday but unfortunately our flight home was delayed by several hours.  We finally got home at 3.45 a.m. Monday morning. I had been up for 21 hours.  Exhausted, I went straight to bed. I really struggled to get back to normal that week.  To add to the frustration, we had no heating or hot water.  I spent the next two days fighting depression and trying to carry out essential activities while waiting in for the gas man.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with painful cramp in my leg.  Phil was working at home and after lunch, he suggested getting out of the house.  As it was the second sunny day in a row and I had been unable to leave the house the day before, I agreed to accompany him for a short walk and fresh air.

Narcissus 2We left the house and remarked on the warmth of the sun and the appearance of flowers in the garden during our absence.  We walked along the canal towpath and into the park.  He stopped for ages to take pictures of the rookery – an annual occurrence.  As I waited, I did my best to ignore the noisy kids in the playground and admired tree blossom.  Taking the longest route round the park, we spotted more blossom, narcissus, and red cherry tree bark.  It really did feel like spring was coming!

Park nobbly tree 2Wanting to sit and enjoy the sun, we looked in vain for a vacant bench.  Instead, we sat on a bit of wall near the canal and were amused by native geese chasing Canada geese.  I noticed lots of nobbles in a nearby tree trunk.  We had a go at the outdoor gym and decided it was hard work when you’re not used it.

 

Riverside jackdaw amongst the pigeonsFollowing a few errands in town, we wanted to stay out and settled on the White Swan for a pint.  They were very enthusiastic and welcoming.  The beer garden was not open but we could take drinks out front.  We perched near the wavy steps and observed the riverside wildlife.

The lone Muscovy duck (since the sad demise of its partner last month) stood on a rectangular stone in the middle of the river; mallards squabbled; jackdaws swooped to steal bread from the pigeons.

The air became chillier as we took our empty glasses back inside the pub and used the facilities.  I noticed the back wall still sported peeling paint – evidence that the pub had still not been renovated fully following the flood damage.  We received cheery ‘goodbyes’ from the landlady and staff.  I felt much better that evening – my leg cramp had become a dull ache and my depression had lessened.

Riverside forlorn Muscovy 2

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Heptonstall to Hardcastle Crags

 

Meadow Flowers 2

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Hardcastle Crags - Tree roots

The Neglected Wood

Neglected Wood - Trees with sky behindEarly May, signs of spring finally emerged.  We took a fast route upwards through Eaves Wood in the bright sunlight, barely stopping to admire tiny flowers and catkins along the dry path.  At Hell Hole Rock, we saw a group of campers around the embers of a dying fire.  One of them waved to us.  Phil laughed at them having a festival.  I remarked it wasn’t a festival but they had probably been there all weekend.

Eaves Wood - Trees with catkins

When we reached photographer’s corner, I braved the ‘desire path’ to the overhanging crag in pursuit of good shots across the valley.  However, my efforts were thwarted by haze.

 

I felt very hot and tired from climbing up the steep steps.  I decided that my original plan to reach Hardcastle Crags via an untried route was too much in the heat.

We sat awhile on one of the flat rocks, sipping coffee and enjoying the scenery.  We then proceeded into the neglected part of the wood (Slater Ing Wood according to Phil’s phone app).  It looked less dank than on our previous visits with lush green vegetation, bluebells and other woodland flowers amongst the dead trees.

Neglected Wood - Moss with pale green lineWe ventured off the main path to find a suitable rock for a picnic.  Two dogs rushed by and we kept our food hidden until they had gone.

Whilst eating, we examined the features around us including tiny detritus from the nearby trees and the patterns in the rock we were sat on.  Lighter stripes could be seen where fallen sticks had been dislodged, exposing fresher greenery underneath.

 

Heptonstall - GatewayWe then continued on the usual route to Heptonstall and noticed a posh new sign proclaiming the entrance to the village.  In The Cross Inn beer garden, all the sunny spots had been taken.  The main attraction was eating burgers off the grill, although kids playing in a toy taxi provided amusement.

 

 

Tinker Bank Lane - DeadwoodWe walked out the side gate and down the path at the side of the octagonal chapel onto Tinker Bank Lane.  Guinea fowl on the path scattered as we approached.  I spotted a fallen tree branch forming a low arch (which I had not noticed last time).  At the end of the lane, more bluebells were found.

 

We crossed Lee Mill Road into Tinker Bank Wood to admire yet more bluebells and a strange branch on the ground with apparently seven trees growing from it.  We proceeded through Hollins, down onto Foster Mill Bridge and into town.

It was still too nice to go home so we stopped at Oldgate for a second pint.  As I went to the bar, Phil sat at the end of the wall opposite by the riverside.  We enjoyed the evening sun soon to disappear behind the rooftops. I was just polishing off my beer when I heard a splash and Phil exclaimed ‘oh bugger!’  He had dropped his phone in the river!

After some consideration, he decided he had to get it.  He walked to the packhorse bridge, over to the other side, down into the water and waded across to retrieve it.  He looked very calm and relaxed about it.  I gestured to him to indicate the location of the dropped phone and suggested he took a shorter route back.  Miraculously, the phone still worked!  A fine recommendation for the British Wiley Fox company. We laughed about it all the way home.

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Tinker Bank Wood - Seven in one