Tag Archives: trees

Hike to the Pike

Erringden expanse

During the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, I had a particularly bad night on the Saturday. I lay sleepless until 4.00 a.m., when of course the sky brightened. The birds began their dawn chorus, annoyingly joined by the cockerel who lives nearby.  I did eventually sleep but fitfully.  Needless to say, I felt terrible on Sunday morning.  Phil wanted to go up to Stoodley Pike but I said “no way”.  I did manage to drag myself out in the afternoon for a bit of sun, noting that even the easterly wind felt warm.  Not really a day for climbing hills.  We pottered round town and the park, ate ice cream, and strolled up the towpath for a canal side pub meal which was nice.

Horses in golden fieldThankfully, I had a better sleep that night and awoke on Monday feeling refreshed.  I agreed to the planned trek, with the proviso that I might not make it all the way up to Stoodley Pike.

We had not reached the top since our mission in 2013 was thwarted by large cows lying in our way, causing an amusing detour up Dick’s Lane and Cock Hill.  Since then, we had discovered the lower delights of Horsehold Wood and Beaumont Clough thus negating the need for a steep climb.

Armed with supplies, we left the house mid-afternoon to climb up Horsehold Road.  Inevitably hard work I had to stop a few times but that gave us chance to look down towards town, where thick foliage prevented us from checking our roof tiles as we usually did.  Further up, the cobbles snaked between lush greenery.  Pretty horses grazed in a golden field.

First gate 2At the top, we followed the curve round to Horsehold Farm, became spooked by vicious barking from behind a crumbling wooden door, and searched for the right lane to go further up.  On locating Horsehold Lane, we were put off by very large cows in a field protected only by a low wall.  Phil swore they were like the bull on his Picasso t-shirt.  We returned to the curve and went left through the gate signed ‘Pennine way’ onto a beautiful path.

Being at the top of the wood, we remarked on the perpetual redness of the ground below on our right, no matter what the season.  Curly ferns emerged from verdant verges as we followed signs to the Pennine Bridleway.

Mysterious stones 2Through a copse and bypassing the cute stone bridge leading to the clough, we continued upwards into grassland. We wondered at the original purpose and location of mysterious stones scattered about – one looked distinctly phallic!

Ahead of us, a line of trees stood along a stone wall.  We turned right onto grassy lanes bisecting farmland and recognised an ancient ruin on the corner from our hike up five years ago.  We rested on a wall, admiring tiny pine cones on a tree opposite.

Noticing Stoodley Pike monument in view to our left, I said it wouldn’t be much further.

Pike in the distanceProceeding along Kilnshaw Lane towards the pike, it never seemed to get any nearer!  Eventually, we wound our way up the rough path as the monument loomed above us like a dark spectre silhouetted behind the early evening sun.  Further up, the path had been recently re-paved.  My camera dropped onto the stone slabs when the strap broke.  I persuaded Phil to wait until we sat down to assess the damage.

At the summit, a few people milled around as we found a lovely outcrop of sloping rocks facing Mankinholes to perch on.  Phil fixed the strap and made sure the camera still worked.  As we ate picnic snacks, a group of lads who had commandeered the monument marred the peace somewhat, playing loud music and commenting on veggie samosas. “How far is it from Hebden Bridge?” I heard one say, before answering himself: “Not far enough”.  Did they mean us? Thankfully, they soon left so we had the place to ourselves.

monument-graffiti-2.jpgI entered the monument and climbed the steps.  It was pitch black and I used my phone torch to light my way.  At the top, I discovered ancient graffiti etched into the granite, providing a foreground for the panoramic views.  I heard Phil calling from below asking how I’d got up.  I descended with my torchlight to meet him halfway.  Having taken in the vistas, we returned to ground level to circumnavigate the base.

I had used google maps to find a different way home and suggested a route staying ‘up tops’ awhile.  We followed the new paving in a straight line across a boggy field.  Our feet stayed dry thanks to thoughtful raised platforms constructed over the worst bits.  We emerged onto an apparently ancient road, separated from a pine forest by neat stone walls.  This stage of our journey was punctuated by the sights and sounds of wild birds.  Curlews wielded overhead.  A juvenile blackbird landed on a wooden fence post before flitting upwards in a flurry.

Old top road 1Arriving at a junction I checked the map. Google insisted we had gone the wrong way and suggested we backtrack.  But I felt confident that the old road wasn’t on the maps and knew that a left turn would join the suggested route.  I was further encouraged in my instincts as Heptonstall and Old Town were clearly recognisable ahead of.  We descended a desolate moorland path, beneath a wide blue sky scattered with small, fluffy clouds.  Reaching Whittaker Road, we walked eastwards until we came to a gate on our left.

Passing through, we discovered the gorgeous ‘Rake’.  Grass and flowers again surrounded us, as a sheep family grazed in a field and an archetypal farmhouse lay in front.

Rake 4As we descended, I was interrupted by a phone call which I curtailed as politely as possible, and suggested a stop to fully appreciate the scene.  As the lane curved round, we rested on the corner, looking westwards for a different view of the pike and ahead of us at the profusion of bilberry bushes.  I said it would be a good place to harvest when the fruits appeared.

Further down, the name of the lane changed to Broad lane.  Again, we were awestruck by beauty!  Trees in full leaf gave an avenue-like effect as the hedgerows were lined with cow parsley, their tiny white flowers swaying gently in the breeze.  We could hear people on the other side of the hedge.

Phil realised it was a campsite, then I spotted a poly tunnel and joked about illegal immigrants living in tents (maybe I watch too many Spanish dramas on Netflix).  As we wound down, we found ourselves on Horsehold Lane and had no option but to pass the field of large cows we’d avoided on the way up.  They looked quite docile and in spite of being eyed warily by a sheepdog, we passed through the farm without incident.  Back on Horsehold Road, I preferred going down rather than up, unlike Phil. I remarked that we had probably chosen the worse route possible to reach the pike. Maybe next time we should choose a less steep way.

 

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Broad Lane

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Zigzagging from Heptonstall to Midgehole

Valley view 1

Another sunny Sunday and I felt strong enough to tackle a longer walk.  We intended to get the bus to Blackshaw Head and walk down Jumble Hole.  I checked bus times as there had been some timetable changes but the website displayed the original times.  On the way to the bus stop, we bought pasties and pop then waited several minutes.  The Widdop bus came first.  I suggested catching it to Heptonstall and possibly take the lovely route down to Hardcastle Crags.

Heptonstall Townfield Lane 5Alighting in the village, Phil stood in a patch of sun and declared he was stopping there.  I laughed.  We walked up Towngate and turned right.

Along Townfield, we paused often to appreciate the white tree blossom above us, golden meadows stretching before us and panoramic views of the valley below.

Among scattered farm junk, a child’s toy perched atop an animal feed container made us chuckle.

At a fork in the grassy path, I suggested taking the lower one down to Midgehole.  This took us along a stone wall, through a picturesque stile and onto Draper Lane.  I could see the footpath sign across the road, slightly to the right.

Heptonstall verge 3

On the other side, we discovered a beautiful verge on the cliff-edge.  We sat awhile on a convenient a bench surrounded by flowers to take in views of the Crags and Crimsworth Dean.

An idyllic wooded path led downwards.  Thin oaks stretch upwards, their bark adorned with red lichen and their tops crowned by shiny leaves.

Tiny anemones poked out amidst bright green ferns.  Gnarly roots acted as steps to aid our descent.

In between woodland flowers 3I had expected to go more or less straight down to Midgehole but hadn’t factored in the steep cliff-like drop, hence the path travelled westwards as it descended, until it met with the bottom of Northwell Lane.

We continued downwards along an old cobbled path where an old acquaintance was coming up the other way with a companion.   She had availed herself of a strong pint of cider at The Blue Pig.

On reaching the river, we decided we’d rather have pies than beer and walked along away from the pub to find a suitable patch of rocks to squat on.

After eating, we continued on the riverside path and up to Midgehole Road.  Having had a shorter walk than planned, we considered continuing up to Pecket Well but the prospect of a hot climb proved off-putting.  Instead, we returned home along the tried and trusted route, where tiny May flowers lined the riverside and the beaches were busy with families enjoying the sunshine.

Heptonstall meadow view 2

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Nutclough in May

Bluebells on a cliff edge 2

A glorious second week in May was marred somewhat with recurring bouts of sinusitis and an alteration with a neighbour, raising my anxiety and stress levels.  Following an exhausting Saturday afternoon hacking shrubs and clearing up outside, we were determined to have some R&R on Sunday. I suggested a short walk as I was still not strong enough to go far.  We walked to the very end of the street, noting lots of hedgerow flowers, then round and down to the buttress.

Bluebells and leavesAt the bottom, we took Hangingroyd Lane to climb the steps opposite the little park and along Unity Street into Nutclough.

The stream was very low, with additional crossing points to the ‘islands’.  I was able to get much closer to the small waterfall than usual and marvelled at how much difference a short dry spell could make.

We spent a considerable time surrounded by the beautiful colours. Trees displayed an array of greens; bluebells topped walls and ridges; smatterings of yellow punctuated the palette.

The water was so blue and the reflections of trees so still that it looked like the sky.  The area became busy we families as we relaxed on the bench.

Tree reflections 7We escaped up to the top path and walked along to the stone bridge, where we debated which route to take.  We opted for the second path on the left, up towards the meadows.

A dinky craggy path led between small trees and bushes which I deduced had been planted since we last came this way.  At the top, two guys with dogs sat next to a steep stone stile.

On crossing, one of the dogs started following and pestering us.  We started up the grass path bisecting the flower meadow, resplendent with dandelions as a precursor to summertime blooms.  Put off by wandering cows, we backed down and searched for another route avoiding the canines but failed. Clambering back over the stile, being pestered again, we started to follow the line of the wall.  It became very tussocky and the darn dog followed us!  Defeated, we made our way back to the proper path.   I picked up the pace as we descended.  Phil called me to wait for him (makes a change).

Top field 1I didn’t realise it but I must have taken a right-hand fork somewhere and emerged at the bottom of the cobbled lane leading up to Hurst Road.  We jumped down a bit of a drop lay where there might have been steps once.  A smaller, unexplored path opposite looked enticing and we decided to be adventurous and follow it, only to soon emerge onto the original top path!  Phil thought it was hilarious.

We headed towards the main entrance when I suggested that as it was a day for exploring new paths, we should try the small flight of stone steps leading further up.   We found ourselves in a small wooded area, carpeted with bluebells and garlic flowers.

Garlic flowers 1Continuing up to a gate, a passive/aggressive notice on the other side declared it part of a private garden – it’s aright for some!  We emerged onto a long driveway, curving round yet more bluebell woods.  At the bottom, the stone gatepost displayed the name ‘Arnsbrae’.  How many times had we past that without noticing it? We walked down Keighley Road and into town.

In search of a refreshing pop, the cafes in the square were packed and the nearby shop shut.  We found spaces at Rendezvous on Bridge Gate.  Phil secured an outside we discovered while I went in for drinks.  Then he decided he was hungry.  We were given both daytime and evening menus.  I settled on a wrap when we were informed that the daytime menu had just become unavailable.  We shared a hot meze off the evening menu – very tasty albeit rather more food than we had intended.

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Small waterfall 2

Hot May Sunday

Bluebell field 3

Searching for bluebells in May has now become an annual event.  This year, we set off on a hot Sunday to walk up to Crow Nest.  On the way up, we stopped often to examine tree blossom.

Rugged path

We took the longer but less steep, windy path and noticed shale at the edges where the route dropped significantly below the line of tree roots, providing further proof of its age. At the top, we admired the greenery.

Although the bluebells were not quite in profusion, it still created a pretty scene.

 

The path was mainly dry but I managed to get my foot stuck in an unexpected patch of deep mud, causing a small panic attack.  I sat on a fallen trunk to recover and wipe mud off my best walking sandals.  A woman passed us with a cheery “hello”.  Soon after, Phil said he felt funny.  I suggested he was overheated and we stopped again by the small stream.

Bluebell close up 1We relaxed, sipping water, and listening to the tinkling brook as birds flitted amongst the treetops, with leaves rustling in a gentle breeze.

Mentally transported, I failed to notice the same woman appear behind us, until she made me jump by saying “I didn’t want to make you jump”.  She asked the way back to town and we offered to escort her.

 

We chose the lower path into the quarry, which she agreed was stunning, albeit devoid of water following the recent dry spell.  We returned to civilisation via Wood Top Road and past the stoneyard.

It turned out she had come on a weekend visit from Gloucestershire, planning to stay with a friend but had got the dates wrong and had booked into a B&B, determined to enjoy the area.  On reaching town, I advised her on which cafes would still be open so she could get a coffee before she collected her luggage and caught a train home.  We said goodbye and availed ourselves of a bag of chips followed by a few pints in the busy centre.

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Quarry 4

Springing up in Colden Clough

 

Twin trees 5

Following a week and a half of being bedridden with sinusitis, I recovered somewhat to enjoy the mini heatwave in mid-April.  We made the most of it with our first spring outing to Colden Clough, first visiting the healthy bakers for veggie pasties and posh pop.  We walked up the main road towards Mytholm, navigating the extensive gas roadworks.  We turned right at Church Lane and again at the school, to take the shortcut across the playground and up a short flight of steps (looking very dark and broody).

Mystery ball

On the track, we competed with each other to take the best possible photos of tiny things such as buds and lichen, which we continued throughout the walk.   I think he won the contest but I spotted the most interesting mystery feature; a round brown ball in a small bush.

Approaching Lumb mill, Phil decided to descend down to the stream and try and go under the low bridge.  I waited for him near my favourite tree, enjoying its company as I would an old friend.

He appeared quite a few minutes later having given up the quest – a sudden drop where the water became eight feet deep had put him off.  We rested awhile before climbing up to the garlic fields.

Although still not fully grown as spring is so late this year, we filled a couple of small carrier bags.  It had taken an inordinate length of time to get this far, which I put down to a combination of recent illness, a lack of uphill walking and lots of stops to admire the new growth.  We installed ourselves on the nearby flat rock to recover, ate our pasties and whittled sticks on the quartz granite.  I joked that we should keep them to use for calligraphy.

Cautious sign 1

Both still tired after all the climbing, we considered turning round until I remembered that the clapper bridge had been damaged during the infamous ‘beast from the east’ storm.  We made the effort to go the short remaining distance to Hebble Hole, noting ‘danger signs en route’ (obviously installed when the authorities came to survey the rights of way.

On reaching the bridge we saw immediately that one of the four pieces of stone forming the walkway had collapsed in the river, split in two.  The tree that had crashed onto it causing the break stood on the nearby bank, also injured.  Wooden planks and metal rails had been put up so it could still be used.  We crossed to the other side for all-round views.

Green HawthornComing back, we noticed a few bluebells in flower as we climbed up to the top causeway, enjoying being level with the tree tops.

Pussy willows and catkins surrounded us, dangling from branches and littering the causey stones.  Bright green hawthorn sprigs adorned the dry stone wall.  Phil yet again tried to persuade me there were tasty but I maintained they tasted of ‘leaf’.

We descended to arrive back in the garlic fields and took the quickest way back.

He suggested a drink in the Fox and Goose.  However, I felt exhausted and as we past the pub, I spotted a group of rowdy young men in the beer garden so that clinched it – no chance of a quiet pint!

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Ruination 4

 

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

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Lock no seven 2

Riverside in Bloom

Sycamore 1

Five days after the equinox, a hint of spring finally arrived!  We set off aimlessly down the road, just eager to be out in the sunshine.  At the corner, we watched a stupid man with a beard and shades manoeuvring his car dangerously until we could cross safely.  Proceeding to Old Gate, we got splattered by a power washer.

AnemoneFurther on, a kid called across the road to me: “I like your hair.  I’m ginger too!”  It crossed my mind to inform him that mine was dyed, but decided to be kind and just smiled instead.

We could hear a brass band and turning onto Saint George bridge we saw the junior band playing on the patio of the Town Hall. A neighbour appeared with a woman waving a palm.  We continued up Hangingroyd to Salem Fields.

 

On the riverside, buds and flowers had popped out everywhere (and about time too, after the cold, harsh winter).   Blooms of narcissi, anemone and the last of the snowdrops sprung from verges while catkins hung overhead.  At the bowling hut we took an upward turn and admired a cascading stream behind.  We started to clamber up an ‘animal path’.  It proved rather dodgy.

Meandering down 3Returning to the track, we took a sharp left and walked upwards, where sycamore trees were being strangled by poison ivy, to cross the top of the stream.

Hareshaw and Tinker Bank woods showed less signs of life, and Hollins as dank as ever.  Approaching the garden gate for our familiar shortcut, we heard loud barking.  A man on the other side controlled the dog – which turned out to be tiny and made us laugh.

 

We kept to the top path, emerging on Moss Lane where the moon hovered in a blue sky.  We went down Rose Grove and into town.  After a couple of errands, we returned home a different way to avoid another splattering.  I greeted a neighbour out gardening and said “Spring at last!”  He responded by saying that it would be snowing again by Wednesday (it didn’t but did the following week).

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Catkins