Tag Archives: towpath

Heritage, Tea and Cake in Sowerby

Valley view pano

Mid-September heritage open day events provided an opportunity to investigate something new.  We agreed that St. Peter’s Church in Sowerby looked interesting.  I checked public transport routes to discover it involved a bit of a walk from the nearest station.  We set off in the soft late summer sun, along the towpath and through the park.  The slightly-delayed train soon arrived at Sowerby Bridge where the subway stank strongly of cat pee.  We headed down Station Road and briefly perused interesting artefacts outside the junk shop.  At the bottom, we found a crazily busy junction where motorists tore past yellow stone edifices.  With no pedestrian crossing, getting to the other side of West Street proved hairy.

Terrace 1Sowerby Street led uphill.  An incongruent concrete block was fronted by a small parade of shops, most seemingly shut.  Upper floors housed maisonettes.  Ahead of us, a faded sign on the side of The Royal Oak made us wonder if the pub still served Whitaker’s ales and stout.

Across the street, we turned right onto Sowerby New Road and climbed ever higher.  On the left-hand side, industrial buildings and a dilapidated telephone exchange interspersed residential properties.  A whole row had been demolished leaving a pile of rubble reminiscent of a bomb site.  Stunted side streets proclaimed private land.  To the right, sloping terraces clung to the valley sides.  We remarked on the juxtaposition of the urban and rural in the Lower Calder Valley.

Further up, Phil asked if we were going the right way to which I replied there was no other (apart from crossing the valley near Luddenden Foot).  He seemed sceptical so I suggested he look it up before our return.

Sowerby village 2A bend eventually marked the start of Sowerby Village with the Church Stile Inn the first sign we had reached our destination.  The imposingly dark church stood proudly on the opposite corner.   A side gate led into the graveyard.  Going round to the unlocked front door, we entered to find St. Peter’s looking quite busy but soon surmised the occupants were all church people, with us the sole visitors who’d come on spec.  Undaunted, we explored the interior.  Sunbeams shone through amazing stained-glass windows.  Ornate plasterwork decorated the wall above the altar.  An intriguing balcony was unfortunately out of bounds. Display boards showed stills of film scenes from the BBC drama Gentleman Jack  – the church had stood in for St. Martin’s in the Field.

The lovely trendy vicar offered me a cuppa.  As I settled down with my drink, I fell into conversation with two other women munching cake, one of whom was also a writer.  She fetched me a copy of the church newsletter containing articles she’d written about the church and its historyi.  In turn, I told her about my column in Valley Life magazine.  When Phil  joined us, the vicar made him a coffee and I succumbed to the proffered cake.

Surprised at how long we had spent inside, we said we ought to make a move and bade goodbye.  Walking round the church exterior, our attempt to do a complete circuit was thwarted by tangled overgrowth at the back.

ParkingWe explored the immediate vicinity of St. Peter’s Square where the primary school had been turned into a church hall.   Phil checked google for a different way to Sowerby Bridge.  As I expected, there was none.  We returned the way we’d come.  Obviously quicker downhill, we occasionally  stopped to admire valley views, picking out landmarks and peculiarities.  Lone cats stalked about in long grass. Tall towers loomed in the distance.  A line of toy cars had been parked neatly beneath a garden swing. Upper Gaukroger sounded unusual; the name turned out to be idiosyncratically Yorkshirei i.

At the bottom of Sowerby New Road, we took a slight detour down Foundry Road and noted that some of the Victorian mills had been converted into apartments, rather over-furbished in places.

Town hallTowards  the town centre, a makeshift campsite had been constructed near the weir.   We wondered at the ostentatious architecture, particularly the odd shape of the town hall and the fake art deco defunct cinema.  We ducked into a wharfside pub to use facilities but were not tempted to stay.  Narrow alleys provided a shortcut to the station.  In the subway again, Phil this time noticed the stink and surmised there must be a station cat.

The next  due train was severely delayed.  The announcements helpfully informed us that it was late due to being late leaving the depot!  As we loitered in the car park,  one of the women from the church appeared, on her way  to Manchester where she now lived.

We chatted until our train eventually arrived, leaving her to catch the next one;  not far behind due to the huge delay.  Out of earshot, Phil said the woman reminded him of the ‘lovely Debbie McGee’.  I was glad he had not mentioned that earlier or I might have struggled to keep a straight face!

Notes

i.  https://st-peters.ryburnbenefice.org/

ii. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Gaukroger

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti85ShF7iT8-DfaEScg?e=zXgwoe

St Peters Church exterior 9

Mythical Mytholmroyd

Scout View Pano

A couple of summers ago, we had attempted a walk to Scout Rock.  As the houses petered out on Scout Road, fencing blocked our route, due to post-flooding work.  A local informed us that it was due to re-open in October.

Last Sunday, I realised we had not yet returned to the area and suggested an outing.  We set off along the Rochdale Canal, dodging cyclist without bells, we looked across the water where the ever-increasing number of barges displayed photogenic washing lines.  Reflections made curvy patterns in the water and a perfect circle of the tunnel leading under the main road.

Lock 3We tarried a little at lock number 7, where strips on the walkway over the lock created an optical illusion. Although straight, it appeared to slope, whichever side I viewed it from.

We left the towpath at Westfield Terrace.  On Burnley Road, ongoing work on flood defences had progressed somewhat since I last visited on foot.

Mysterious large blocks lined the road.  The bridge over the River Calder had been transformed.  Balustrades and steps allowed us to peek through and over toughened glass.  Below, an expanse of sand prompted Phil to remark that the beach was coming on nicely.  I said there would be umbrellas and sunbeds on it soon!

Centre 1We walked up to Mytholmroyd village centre, noting a few changes in shop use and signage.  I pointed out the new bridge over Elphin Brook behind the Shoulder of Mutton.  When I had visited with Marisa in February, arty shadows danced on the yellow stonework.  Alas, the overcast conditions did not allow for the same effect this time.

Continuing to the corner, we contemplated Mytholmroyd Farm and wondered how a road leading to a business park could be private.  Climbing up Scout Road, Phil spotted numerous small berries on the trees. Sampling one, he declared it tasted like a cherry so of course, I followed suit.  As I bit through the dark red skin, I found fuzzy green pith beneath and my mouth immediately became numb!

Scout Road 6The road steepened and I hoped it would not be long before we could turn off into Scout Wood.  However, we found the footpath still shut.  It seemed unlikely that it would be open anytime soon.  A plethora of ‘Private’ and ‘Keep Out’ signs on the sturdy metal gates, not to mention an electric fence surrounding the wood beyond, made it clear that we were not welcome.

We rested on a wall and ate real cherries that I had with me, to take away the taste of the fake ones.  Phil checked google maps which showed another path further up.  Already flagging from the climb and realising it would lead onto the ridge and then to Cragg Vale, I said it would be too much for me.  Instead, we contented ourselves with gazing at the wood from afar, noting the large population of oak trees, and taking in different views of the valley below.

Heading back down, we turned left at the junction, across the green triangle.  Although I had not walked this way back from the village, my instinct told me to cross Cragg Road to the next bridge over the brook.  As we took a sharp left onto Nest Lane, I picked a few overhanging raspberries, certain they were safe.

Roger GateAfter the housing estate, we made a slight detour at ‘Roger Gate’.  Signed Stubb, I thought it might take us to Stubb Clough.  But on reaching the hamlet I realised we’d done the same thing once before, when we had ended up crossing a railway bridge and continuing to Hawksclough (the opposite direction to our destination).  We returned to the corner and ascended the picturesque Park Lane.

Unclipped hedges encroached onto tarmac.  Makeshift signs warned off HGVs.  Tall foxgloves stretched into the grey sky.  Large cows grazed in the field populated by lambs last spring.  A loud hissing noise gave me a bit of a fright until I realised it was a cow farting!  I was unable to share my amusement with Phil as he raced ahead of me: “I’m not stopping near them beasts!”

At Wood Hey, unusual large flowers provided a splash of yellow amongst the greenery.  We continued onto Wood Top for the quickest way back down to the towpath at Mayroyd.  We both felt knackered by then and rested briefly on a low wall.  We discussed why it was often problematic getting to ‘Mythical Mytholmroyd’ -like Brigadoon!  Nearer home, Will Kaufman who said hello as he walked by.  I joked he recognised us as there were so few people at the’ Lunchtime Live’ gig he had played the day before!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti7tGe7ddwXPDnan4Sg?e=TVlVHi

Circle

 

Wood Hey to Hawksclough

Black bird

A fine and dry Sunday in early April, we remarked on the contrast with the snow and rain of the previous Easter weekend.

Cherry blossom 3We strolled along the towpath of the Rochdale Canal where daffodils created pretty reflections in the still water.  We entered the bustling Calder Holmes Park.

Dogs chased balls; kids chased around on scooters; footballers played; skateboarders wheeled up and down the slopes, listening to rap. (Just like being in ‘Da ‘Hood’!)

Taking the path alongside the river, elderly men sat contentedly on benches as we admired blossom and tree bark.  At the station, we ascended Wood Top Road, where more photogenic bark and bright green lichen punctuated the sloping woodland.

Lamb close upAs we climbed we detected bleating.  New lambs gambolled cutely in the adjoining field, occasionally returning to their mothers.  Near the fence, a set of twins nibbled twigs. One of the pair looked straight at me for a close-up shot.

We headed towards Stubb Clough before I realised it would be very muddy and double-backed through Wood Hey Farm and upwards to the corner of Spencer Lane.

Turning left along Wood Hey Lane and onto Park Lane, we enjoyed idyllic country scenes until we reached the edge of the Nest Estate.

Stubb FieldI wondered if there was a shortcut rather than going all the way into Mytholmroyd.  The amusingly titled ‘Roger Gate’ sported a sign to ‘Stubb’.  We followed, down a beautifully maintained lane.  A blackbird conveniently perched in a tree for more animal shots.  Stubb Field recreation ground contained more than its fair share of warning signs alongside an empty noticeboard.

At the end of the lane, the very large ‘Stubb House’ faced us.  From a choice of two routes we followed arrows pointing to a tiny gap in a stone wall.  Down a narrow path edged with hedges, to steps onto a green railway bridge, I hovered at the top with a touch of vertigo.

On the other side of the tracks, we continued till we could see the road, and considered the options.  Eschewing the route which would take us past the scrap yard, we turned left to a picturesque stone bridge.

Hawksclough bridge 2Complete with old stone gate posts, we imagined horses and carriages trotting along.  A small terrace of old houses on the main road was labelled ‘Hawksclough’.  I marvelled at how many times we must have seen this without actually noticing it.  Across the road, I briefly examined The Square, noting it looked just as old.

We cut across grass to get back onto the canal and rested at lock 7 where Canada Geese paddled in the fast overflow.  We returned home via the towpath, remarking on how long we’d been out without going very far.  But we had enjoyed discovering more about this little area between Hebden and Mytholmroyd.i

Note

i See:  https://hepdenerose.wordpress.com/tag/wood-hey-circular/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtivZv3JA7U-9t2qm3Bg

Lock no seven 2

Horsehold to Callis

Butterflies and buddleias 3The last Sunday of September 2017, we repeated a typical walk for this time of year.  As we crossed the bridge at Hebble End, butterflies devoured blossom from a buddleia tree overhanging into the river.

We ascended HorsEarly autumn colours 3ehold Road very slowly making frequent stops to catch our breath and for photos of early autumn colours and tiny worlds of moss.  It had been a long time since I had made that steep climb.  At the gate on the right, we took the path to where the cross is placed at Easter.

Sitting on the bench enjoying the views trees on the other side of the valley looked like models made of sponge.  As we continued, we had to dodge quite a few muddy patches and impromptu streams.  We emerged in the land of green and red aka Horsehold Wood.

Continuing down to the waterfall, more streams, mud and slippy stones made crossing tricky and rendered me exhausted.  It was too damp to sit in our favourite spot.  Further up, I perched on a rock at the side of the path and Phil almost sat on a clump of mushrooms. We ate a small picnic before continuing.

The avenue 1Round the bend, a field with beech trees lining the path gave the impression of an avenue.

At the bottom, the ruined house was even more of a ruin.  The once-new stream now seemed permanent; stones had been taken from the ruin to try to contain the flow.

 

 

Descending to lock number 12, we crossed the canal and briefly turned left to look for blackberries where we had found a bumper crop last year.  Alas, we were out of luck.  We returned home via the towpath and backstreets.

Red and green 7

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtitQfkLwAoERqnx_VMg

Up and Down to Stubbing’s

Saint James church tower

A gorgeous July evening, Marisa arrived for an evening stroll and dinner. With no firm plans, we stepped outside to admire hydrangeas in the garden until Phil was ready to join us. After some debate, we settled on Stubbing’s the long way round.  We ascended the Cuckoo Steps a short stretch, entered ‘Robin’s Park’ and took the path to Heptonstall Road.  Crossing the road, we continued to Church Lane and commenced the steep climb.  At the corner of Bank Terrace, I had to pause for breath and noticed the lovely view of St. James’ Church tower framed by green leaves and lilac.

Signs of doom 1We discussed the chimney of Bankfoot Mill – quite a way from the mill buildings that sat in the valley bottom.  Marisa told me that what looked like an overgrown path by the side of the chimney was the original flue.  We continued round and down Savile Road.

We agreed that the ‘danger keep out’ signs were probably designed to deter trespassing on private land rather than for any concern for the general public.

 

 

Wall with poppy plantOn the opposite side of the road, a red brick wall arrested our attention: optimistic ferns and poppies had populated the cracks and niches while some housed snails.

A little further on, Marisa suggested detour to a picturesque small wood nearby.  Up a lane, opposite ‘Treetops’ bungalows we found a gap in the hedgerow.  Crouching to avoid being pricked by holly bushes, we entered the lovely woodland of oak and silver birch.

 

A rusty memorial to a local architect stood to the left as we carried on into a glade.  Several paths led on up to Rawtenstall but without refreshments, we had run out of steam to climb further.  I declared I needed liquid.  We retraced our steps back to Savile Road and continued down back to the main road.  We crossed over and travelled the short distance to Stubbings.

Stubbings duck familyMarisa found seats by the canal while Phil and I fetched drinks and menus.  We ordered food and admired a family of ducks on the canal.  Just before our meals arrived, a group of women with dogs arrived Oh no! I thought, that’s bad timing!

However, they were quite well-behaved apart from the inevitable begging.  The food was all good but Marisa struggled to finish her lamb and gave some to the black Labrador by her feet.  A breeze picked us as we decided to return home.

We walked along the towpath surveying the stricken weeds that an elderly man had attacked with a stick.  Further on, a pair of geese watched from the water’s edge as their offspring rooted amongst plants on the other side of the path.  Wary of getting between parent and child, we paused until we deemed it safe to continue.  Marisa and I walked quickly past the hissing pair while Phil shouted “what about me!”  I laughed.  A couple walked towards us.  As they approached, Phil snuck by and said to the man “you’re alright, you’ve got a stick”.  I said I would get him a goose stick!

Woodland trees

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtir4RnkqYMuT9ujJ4LA

Jumble Hole (eventually)

Sloping stream 2

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

ii   Pennine Bridleway

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQtiqVW9-VESIP-IhW29g

Canal to Callis

Callis wood wonderland 1

Last Sunday was another bright October day. We set off towards Hebble End and westwards along the canal.

I spotted someone filming the scene on an ipad and wondered aloud how many crap videos we must be on. My partner played up to the camera, doing a very silly jig.

We bumped into a friend and walked her to the pub where she was meeting up with other people. After saying goodbye, we carried on along the towpath.  We enjoyed the patchy sunshine and joked about walkers in their hiking gear.

Abandoned bridge 1Just before Callis, we spotted a bridge over the river we had not noticed before and clambered through undergrowth for a closer look. We deduced it must be an old bridge although built up with concrete at a later date. Derelict-looking buildings stood behind, one of which appeared modern.

Callis wood wonderland 4We then found the path leading to the ‘wood wonderland’. I had known of its existence for some time but had never explored. Someone had obviously put some effort into making it attractive.

Following the path, we spotted various features including wigwams, birds hanging in trees, trees with tiny apples, chairs stood in a glade and a lovely arch at the start (we had done the walk backwards).

From Callis Bridge, we walked across the road for some exploration at the bottom of Jumble Hole Road and contemplated the old Lancashire/Yorkshire boundary.

Callis wood wonderland 7More photos at: http://1drv.ms/1Qntj8e