Tag Archives: swamp

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

Freaky Nutclough

Bright trees 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Autumnal Cusp in Nutclough

View from the field 1

A mid-September walk with Marisa began up Valley road to reach Nutclough via the small steps.

Leaves and reflectionsAs we pootled about, we unearthed pot fragments, interesting stones, nibbled pink mushrooms and strange black fungi.  The latter were located on the far side of a felled tree but it proved worth clambering over for the unusual sight.

I later discovered they were ‘black bulgar’, common to Europe and North Americai.

We continued up and turned left along the cobbled path to ‘Stoodley View’.

Dodgy path

Marisa spotted a different path which I suspected would lead up to the field.  It turned out to be a hard, steep climb as the narrow path was littered with loose stones.

On reaching the top of ‘the field, we chose a good spot on the wall and admired the views.  Marisa then wanted to continue westwards but the path was blocked and marked ‘strictly private’.

After some further exploration, we chose the more familiar path down into Joan Wood.  This time, beech nuts made it tricky underfoot.

Emerging back on Keighley Road, we zig-zagged to Unity Street and she told me about the creation of ‘Tabernacle Row’ on the site of the old ‘tin chapel’ii.  We took a snicket to a back terrace bringing us onto the old ginnel.  Returning to town, we considered options for an early dinner.  The square was already in shadow and we went further down Bridge Gate and settled on Rendezvous Bistro.  Initially, we took seats outside.  The waiter brought us menus and regaled us with tales of his rare allergies. Having ordered ‘early birds‘ and a bottle to share, the air became chilly.  We retired inside to be warm and cosy, enjoy delicious food and linger over our wine.

A month later, I repeated this walk with Phil, albeit with some variation.  As we walked up Oldgate, we noted the changes displayed in the riverside trees and admired nasturtiums, some home to snails, on Hangingroyd Lane.

Autumnal soup 2

 

At the start of Nutclough, we noticed for the first time that it was possible to go through a gap in the wall and stand at the end of ‘the swamp’ providing a different perspective to the autumnal scene.  Over the stepping stones, a small dog yapped loudly as it retrieved a large stone from the water.

Black mushrooms 2I climbed over the felled trunk to show Phil the strange black mushrooms.  My efforts at capturing them on camera were better than last month, and I also managed to get a decent photo of the waterfall at closer quarters.  Crossing back, we continued up and paused at the stone bridge.

Phil decided to chance a slippy path down for close-ups of the other waterfall before we continued up the cobbles to Hurst Road.  We took the first path on the left thinking this would be the easiest option into the pleasant field.

But somehow we missed the detour and found ourselves climbing up the side of a muddy cow field.

Returning, we found the stile we had missed going up to reach the diagonal path to the wall.  Exhausted and dehydrated from the climb, I sat down to rest.

DragonflyI successfully fended off two over-excitable dogs when we heard hostile mooing behind us.  Unsure if the cow could jump down, we scarpered, taking the straightest route down.

Before going into Joan wood, we stopped at the verge and noticed more snails, this time clinging onto brown plants.

On Keighley road, a dragonfly lay on the pavement.  We tried to rescue it but it hopped and fluttered pathetically – I guess it had run out of power.

Notes

i.  For more information on ‘black bulgar’ see: http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/bulgaria-inquinans.php

ii. For more information on the ‘tin tabernacle’ see http://www.hebdenbridge.co.uk/news/news04/56.html

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Stream and waterfall

Strolls in Hareshaw and Tinker Bank Woods

Paved lane 2On a rainy Sunday in October, we ventured out to explore lesser known woods close to home. A steep climb up Moss lane led to a turning on the right and through a gate onto a small path.

The grey paving, now slippery and worn, hold testament to its past as an old road. Navigating gingerly as the overgrown path stepped downwards, before widening into a ‘lane’ banked on one side by a moss-covered stone wall.

Blocked windowWe noticed several cobbled paths leading off up the hillside.

These, together with the buildings that remain, make it easy to imagine this hidden enclave as a village in days gone by.

Proceeding to a fork in the way, we headed up to Hareshaw wood until we came upon a ‘stone circle’. We then realised we had traversed into Tinker Bank wood.

We considered carrying on going west but the path appeared overgrown and the rain returned.

Upright stone and small tree

Instead, we doubled back to the fork and took the downward route from there. This led to a very narrow path between allotments.

We navigated carefully past a large tree whose roots served as steps down, to get onto the riverside path.

We marvelled at the changing flow of Hebden Water.

After a dry summer, recent rain had brought more trees down and the river itself appeared to have shifted to the north with a new waterfall forming.

Small stone stepsWe revisited Hareshaw woods in the spring. This time, we followed the lower path that had been blocked in autumn.

It emerged near the river just beyond a bowling hut. We carried on up the lane to a posh farm.

The way ahead being marked private, we took a flight of steep stone steps up to Bobby’s lane.

 

Picnic bench with small yellow flowerFrom there, we carried on passed the Blue Pig and onto the edge of the crags.

We rested on a bench and examined the miniscule plant life in the cracks of the picnic table whilst trying to fend off all the dogs.

 

 

Swamp 3We then returned via the riverside path. At the bridge where we normally crossed, we decided to stay on the east side for a change.

It took us passed what looked like a swamp full of rubbish – not very pleasant. We came out at Windsor View and went into town.

 

 

Old casueway 2A year on, I had been mostly inactive for two months due to illness. The brightening sky with its promise of better weather lured us outdoors. I found the walk up Moss Lane hard work but persevered. We took the now-familiar right turn towards the old road and again mused over the old buildings and causey stones.

Although patches never saw sunlight and walls dripped with water and damp-loving plants, a crust had formed over the mud making it easy going.

 

Small waterfalls 1In Hareshaw Woods, we remarked how different it looked from last time we had visited. We discovered a variety of mosses and lichens and interesting holes in dead tree trunks. I tried to find the ‘stone circle’ we had discovered on our first visit but to no avail.

We carried on further along the path above the bowling hut. We crossed over a gorgeous little stream, where mini waterfalls tripped over higgledy piggledy rocks. I surmised that this had been created in the recent floods.

 

Smugglers cave 1Continuing, we came down onto a paved road near a group of chalets. This ‘little Switzerland’ is a rather odd do – someone obviously had a dream and built it. We crossed the river via a bridge with white railings. I noticed an arch in the wall at water level and joked that it was the entrance to a smuggler’s cave.

We then took the well-trodden route along Hebden Water towards Foster Mill Bridge. Again, changes had occurred, with much sand exposed on the northern banks of the river. An old tree stump I had been documenting for years looked as if it would not last much longer.

 

Dead trunk with holes and moss 1

 

 

 

 

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