Tag Archives: stream

Autumn Symphony – Slack Top to the Crags

View pano 2

We managed one more walk before the end of October.  I had suggested a trip to Hardcastle Crags which strangely, we had rarely visited in autumn. Following some route-finding, we embarked on what we hoped would be less of a slog to get to Gibson Mill.  This entailed catching the 596.  Due to roadworks, the bus shelter had disappeared to be replaced by a temporary sign.  As we waited, a chilly wind made me cold and I worried I might not be warm enough.

Greenwood Lea 1We rode up enjoying the scenery in the beautiful sunshine.  We got off at Slack Top, immediately crossed and began walking up Widdop Road.  To our left, a different aspect of Popples Common revealed its true size.  A cobbled lane suggested an old packhorse trail.   To the right, large gardens housed annoying yappy dogs. Farmhouses revealed ancient horse steps, auxiliary servant’s quarters. multiple chimneys and peafowl – the latter populating the grounds of Greenwood Lea (a historic Yeoman’s house dating from circa 1712).  A few sheep and ridiculously cute Shetland ponies grazed in the fields.  Across the valley, trees displayed a plethora of colours with emerald evergreens interspersing a variety of deciduous hues.

Clough trees 1The road dipped slightly and after a small bend we espied Clough Holes carpark.  As work was underway, a sign announced ‘footpath closed’.  “Oh no!” I exclaimed, then realised it meant the path to the carpark.  Alongside, a tiny step stile led down to a picturesque path following the line of a small brook, punctuated with idyllic cascades.  A second stepped stile marked meadows giving way to woodland.

Looking back, sunlight glinted on leaves of orange, yellow and green with branches stretching towards a pale blue sky.  The path became a mix of rough cobble and hardcore as it continued to wind down.  Just before the stone bridge, a tree stump resembled a teddy bear.

Like a teddyA couple of families had followed us down; a reminder it was half-term.  I hoped we would not be overwhelmed with school kids at Gibson Mill.  In spite of the family-friendly activities and several groups making use of the café facilities, I managed to find a vacant table.  We had brought our own butties.   Phil wanted a brew to go with them and disappeared inside the Weaving Shed for what seemed like an age!  Eventually emerging, he said it had taken so long because of the umpteen variations on offer including flake in coffee – is that a thing now?

Both the walk down and lunch had taken considerably longer than anticipated.  Having originally planned to go quite a bit further up, we figured there was insufficient daylight remaining.  We agreed to at least walk a little way beyond the mill.

Among the mill ponds, impressive fungi were the size of dinner plates.  The brook we had walked alongside on our descent culminated in a torrent teeming down the rocks.  A large party of elderly hikers came towards us, necessitating a precarious step off the path at the water’s edge.

Mill ponds 4A few ducks pootled about on the pond surface amidst floating oak leaves.  Below the water line, bare branches created black reflections while frondy pond weeds of bright green swayed gently.  At the actual crags, I remarked that I had only recently realised  that this exact spot had been the focus of Victorian jaunts.  Lovely as they are, I was somewhat bemused by its specific popularity; the whole Calder Valley is characterised by such features.

We continued a little further where the scene took on a more forested aspect.  Assorted mushrooms brought renewed life to dead wood.  Soft russets reflected in the silvery steam.  I lingered on the edge of Hebden Water to take in the gorgeous symphony of colours and sounds.

The Crags 1Returning, we took the top track for a faster walk home, edged with fading ferns, spindly saplings and older majestic trees marching up the slope.  On the last stretch of the riverside path, we stayed on the left side to laugh anew at the swamp.

At the end of Valley Road, Phil detoured to the shop while I headed home, stopping briefly to chat with a friend.  I slumped on the sofa, recovered slightly with a drink of water but felt in need of a proper lie down.

 

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Upstream 8

 

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!

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View back 1

 

50 Shades of Green (Horsehold Wood)

Horsehold view Panorama

 

During a mainly sunny mid-September, I had been struggling with computer issues all morning which gave me a headache and put me in a bad mood.  We planned on a mid-week walk but unfortunately picked a day when the sun remained hidden in the South Pennines.  Reluctantly, I submitted to Phil’s badgering to at least leave the house but disinclined to go far, suggested going to Horsehold Wood.  A decidedly chilly wind blew as we climbed the steep road.   I cursed grumpily at the elusive sun.

Brambles 4Through the small gate onto the path edging the valley, we stood to gaze across the valley.  A plethora of greens and yellows signalling autumn was on the way.  At our feet, fading heather and rotting blackberries added contrasting splashes of red to the natural palette.

Descending into woodland,  pale beige mushrooms and bright green ferns poked up from dark earth covered with rotten leaves.  Stunted trees struggled for dear life on the north-facing slope.  Rotting trunks resembled tree spirits.  Phil suddenly stopped in an awkward spot, dealing with a camera malfunction.  I became impatient.  I told him the walk was not doing its job of improving my mood and I just wanted to get on with it.  He giggled, and I had to admit it did sound rather ridiculous when I was meant to be having fun!

Red wood 4Deeper into the wood, we marvelled anew at the red earth with optimistically green grass sprouting in clumps, and at how on earth some of the rocks had landed in such strange configurations.  We had noticed earlier how many beech nuts and acorns there were this year.  This had prompted a new obsession with collecting items and turning them into art.  On the road, we had gathered nut casings and helicopter-like seeds.  Here, we added shinier specimens untouched since they hit the ground.

A new bridge had been constructed over the stream making crossing easier although I still found the stepping-stones tricky.  On the other side we perched on a rock to watch the fast tumbling water.  I decided I did now feel a bit better for being immersed in nature; we had not yet seen a single other person.  It was worth the initial effort, however difficult.

Upper path 2Large stones serving as steps led up.  We turned right and followed the path round where it became a tiny grassy line between spindly trees.  At the ruined house we spotted lettering on a stone among the wreckage but were unable to decipher it.  We followed the path down to the canal and walked on the towpath.  I spotted a deer across the way.  Typical, I thought, having seen none when we were in the wood!

At Stubbing’s, we left the canal to walk alongside the river where we considered the final demise of the once enormous Calder Mill (we had noticed from Horsehold Road that the roof slates had disappeared).  Back home  I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee.  Although my headache had abated and my mood lifted somewhat, I was very tired. My ankle ached too as I had forgotten to wear a bandage.

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Nutclough to Common Bank Circular

 

 

Path to Field

During the hot August Bank Holiday weekend, we headed for Nutclough in search of shade and tranquillity.  Bright green grass reflected in impossibly blue water.  Large seed heads rustled in the shade of the leafy canopy.  As we dingled amongst the islands and streams, the peace was disturbed by a crowd of insta-types trying to get the perfect selfie.  One of them said “it’s beautiful here” to which I was tempted to reply, ‘it was ‘til you showed up!’

Dappled Water 3Phil clambered over fallen trunks and dodgy slopes to get nearer the waterfall.  Still mindful of my tendonitis, I declined to follow and waited on the sunken bench.  As the large group departed, a woman with two children and a lively dog appeared putting paid to any idea of enjoying a picnic in solitude.  I realised I had totally lost sight of Phil and waited for what seemed an age until he re-appeared.

We proceeded further up the clough and took the left-hand path leading to the meadow where clumps of pale purple heather grew beneath beach trees bearing nut clusters.  As the scrub thinned out further up,  a refreshing breeze blew softly.  We squatted on the grass to eat flatbread and drink sarsaspirilla.

Before crossing the stile, we cautiously checked for cows that had spooked us on our last foray in the area, then continued slowly upwards following the just-discernible grass path between field boundaries marked by drystone walls and the odd hawthorn.  The meadow was denuded of flowers.  I wondered if the cows and eaten them all before moving on to pastures new.

Really Shiny Fly

We followed the line of the path to a small gate leading to a lovely lane, where late summer blooms  bobbed and thistle fluff floated in the mild wind. An incredibly shiny fly buzzed atop golden flowerheads.  At Club Houses, we Continued to Billy lane and through Old Town.  We stopped at Lane Ends for a pint in the beer garden.  I had to move round a lot to avoid heatstroke, even though evening fast approached.

 

We took a top route back down.  On Rowlands Lane, we looked across at the route we had climbed, observing it was a long way round to Old Town. Yet more downy fluff adorned the hedgerows with tall willow herbs stretching beyond walls into the clear sky.

Waxing 2We descended via Dodnaze into Common Bank wood where the waning sun filtered through the trees and made puddles of light on the dry path.

Approaching town, very loud music assaulted our ears.  It turned out to be emanating from the White Swan which seemed slightly bizarre.  We chatted briefly to a friend outside the Shoulder of Mutton but were not keen to linger for Bank Holiday mayhem,  returning home via the Chinese take-away instead.

 

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Path Via Field 1

 

Cragg Vale Tales 2

Mill Ponds 8

Amidst a changeable and frequently wet August, we took advantage of a more promising day to re-visit Elphin Brook.  A cloudy sky prompted me to take a pac-a-mac but at the bus stop, it suddenly became hot and I wished I’d taken a sunhat instead.  Riding up to Cragg Vale, the air cooled.  We pressed the buzzer  when we spotted the sign pointing down to the village.  On alighting, we noted tiny steep steps between the tightly packed terrace housing the old co-op building.

Church LaneWe descended Church Bank Lane, where leafy trees partially obscured church features .  In the junk yard, we played a game of ‘spot the difference’ .  Phil joked the tea mug was not resting on the rusty van last time.  I observed that there would not have been flowers in the pot in winter.  Behind, ramshackle buildings looked deserted although I was half-expecting dangerous lifeforms to emerge.

Beyond the gate, summer growth in unbelievably vivid greens surrounded the brookside path.

Friendly SignFurther down, we  laughed at the un/friendly warning sign as we picked our way down to the weir.  Large ferns almost touched the foamy water.  Eddies played tricks on the eyes, with water flowing in all directions.

A narrow path led between old water courses.  Dazzlingly green algae lay atop mill ponds.  Ubiquitous pink balsam surrounded the edge. Elongated houses reflected deep in the water. Approaching the old paper mill, we failed to see a way to get nearer and continued on the ‘permissive path’.  The small steps were almost completely obliterated by brambles necessitating care to avoid a mishap.  At the top, a sign suggested the path was maintained but not for some time I’d wager, given their unkempt condition.

StalkingBack on Cragg Road, we wondered if it was possible to get back down to the brook at some point but gates and signs suggested private land only.  We continued on tarmac and were surprised to see a heron standing in a field.  At the entrance to Broadhead Clough the brook disappeared beneath the road.  We took a refreshment break on a convenient bench. Nearer Mytholmroyd, we spotted a footpath sign and crossed to the ice cream factory.

A concrete bridge led into a shadowy yard, beyond which a path led into a decidedly eerie thicket.  I was not keen to investigate.  Instead, we opted to return home via Nest Lane and Park Lane.

Two spots of rain fell.  Ah!  I thought, just as well I brought my mac!  Then it promptly stopped again.  It was not until later that the weather really turned and I reflected that we had timed the outing perfectly.

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Evergreen 2

Jungly Jumble

Jungle 3

The last Thursday of July was the hottest day of the year so far although tempered somewhat by a few clouds and an occasional breeze.  We decided to spend the afternoon among trees and flowing water and caught the bus upwards.  Unusually quite full, several people stayed on beyond Heptonstall to alight at the New Delight (for Hebble Hole).  We continued to Blackshaw Head and went down the small lane beside the chapel onto Badger Lane.  I spotted a couple ahead of us consulting a guidebook of some sort.  We followed the familiar route signed Calderdale Way.

ChickensThe narrow path was extremely overgrown requiring careful footing to avoid being stung by nettles, scratched by thistles or sinking into marshy spots.  It seemed to take longer than I remembered to reach the trough; often surrounded flowers, today mint dominated.  After Apple Tree Farm, where we only saw a few alpacas and no babies, chickens scratched about in the gravel. 

We turned left through the wooden gate, walked along the top field boundary to the signpost and could just make out the grassy path leading downwards, although Jumble Hole was no longer signed.

Delicate 2Delicate pale blue harebells dotted the meadow, their distinctive star-shaped heads bobbing in the gentle wind.  We settled on the excellent flat rock to eat a leisurely picnic lunch.

A woman with three dogs appeared.  I shouted “help!” but she managed to stop them jumping up for our food.  They bolted straight for the water, chasing a ball.

We ascended the cute stone steps onto the wooden bridge.  Below us, foamy water tumbled over flat stones resembling paving.  On the other side, we proceeded to Staups Mill.  The man I’d seen earlier was coming the opposite way, still lost and consulting his book.  He said they had somehow missed the first path down and thus bypassed the mill, arriving at the next bridge, where his girlfriend was waiting,.  I gave him directions for proceeding down the clough (noting that a map to accompany the walking guide might be an idea).  I realised later that they must have taken a second path from the meadow, leading straight down to what we call ‘the pixie bridge’.

Mill 3A profusion of opportunistic tree growth rendered only parts of the grey mill walls visible from above.  On getting closer, we discovered that trunks and branches had been placed around the ruin making exploration annoyingly impossible.

Agreeing to stay on the straight-forward route, we used the ‘most obvious paths’ (as the man’s walking guide called them).   In places, large ferns made the wood more like a primevil jungle and we joked about dinosaurs lurking in the undergrowth.  Just before the larger bridge, the lost couple re-appeared, again coming a different way, and dithered at the junction signed Penning Bridleway.

Old Mill Race 2We pottered about among flattened mill remains.  The top of a mill pond had become visible due to low water levels.  The thick dam wall housed tiny arched doorways.  A smaller arched bridge upstream of the big one was obscured by fallen branches.  Structures jutting out over the stream suggested the location of a watermill.

We rested briefly on the low wall of the bridge, enjoying the cooling effect of the waterfall behind us with a view of the curve. Two young boys rode dangerously standing up on the back of a flatbed, shouting with glee.

We then continued down the Pennine Bridleway where the leafy canopy provided total shade. Tumble-down houses were as equally inaccessible as Staups Mill due to the encroaching trees.  Approaching Underbank, we messed about doing ‘selfies’ in a convex traffic mirror.  Outside the converted workshop a man cut stone, creating a lot of noise and dust. I  said it was too hot for that type of thing.

On reaching Burnley Road, we stuck to small paths behind the pavement and emerged near Callis Bridge.  We crossed onto the canal.  Making a slight detour through the community garden, we had to clamber over chopped-down trees to get back onto the towpath.  At Stubbings, the sun became fiercer.  I nabbed the only free table with a parasol while Phil bought beer.  I suddenly felt very hot and sweaty .  I went inside with the intention of putting cold water on my face to find the sink taps ran hot.  So that didn’t help much!

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On the Way Down 2

 

Spring Alive

Trunks and Bluebells 1

The last Sunday in April, the weather looked changeable but we really needed to get out for some air and exercise.  We walked aimlessly towards town, and stopped to chat to a neighbour on her doorstep on the way.  The town square was almost as lively as the Easter weekend.  As we emerged with pies from the baker’s, Phil reckoned he heard a peacock.  A sighting had recently been made in Old town and wondering if it had descended from there, we walked down Albert Street.  With no sign of it, I proposed it was a dog yelping.

Dandelion Flower 3At the main road, we walked on to cross near the rail station and took the track down past the stoneyard.  We stopped on the bridge, where a small bird swooped down, apparently washing something in the river.  It then flew under the arch.  We climbed up broken steps and peered precariously from the edge, but the bird eluded us.

Continuing up Wood Top Road, lush greenery surrounded on all sides.  We followed the curves to skirt farm buildings and reach Carr Lane.

Revelling in having the place to ourselves, we dawdled to examine the hedgerows.  Delicate white and purple flowers contrasted with deep green grass. Dazzlingly yellow dandelions started going to seed forming perfect clock circles.

Birdsong of myriad species made the only sound.  A very loud chaffinch dominated the chorus.  At the next group of buildings, we searched for a way through but could discern none apart from down to the railway bridge.

Grassy Lane 3

Returning to Wood Top Farm, we took the beautiful grassy lane towards Crow Nest Wood.  As we headed down, tiny forget-me-nots lay in a clump at the corner.  Oak trees sported shiny leaves and pendulous blossoms.   A mouldy stump had become almost dust in places, the culprit an iridescent turquoise.  At the quarry, we stayed on the top path into the wood.  Afternoon sun filtered through leafy boughs, making soft shadows on carpets of bluebells.

I suggested a customary stop near the stream, but as the air cooled, thought better of it.  However, a bit further down, we started flagging and rested on a moss-covered rock.

Phil tried to persuade me that stones had moved uphill since his last visit.  I was sceptical about the idea of inanimate objects having a life of their own.

Roe Deer 1We then took the shortest route down, noting trees looking even more dead and rotten than a few months ago.

As we approached the path behind Palace House Road, a roebuck grazed on shrubs.  It stared right at me, enabling a good shot.

Verges displayed a variety of life, different from the dark woodland.  Insects and spiders waited patiently for prey.  Golden Welsh poppies escaped from nearby gardens.  A cacophony of tits hopped between treetops.

Back home, we ate the re-heated pies with coffee and agreed it was much easier than picnicking perched on a rock in the woods.  I felt very tired, my legs ached and an Achilles tendon issue flared up.  But I was glad we had been out.

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Waiting 1