Tag Archives: trees

Mud and Mushrooms (Autumn in Crow Nest)

Valley view 6

Early October, we both had flu.  On the second Saturday, sunlight glimpsed through leaden clouds after overnight rain.  We agreed a short walk in the fresh air would do us good.  After two weeks of inactivity I thought it judicious to put a bandage on my foot and wear proper walking boots before venturing  up to Crow Nest Wood.  Almost immediately on hitting the first steep part of the path, my bad foot gave way, with a sharp pain – not in my ankle but on the top part.  I hobbled on to reach a low wall where I could squat to tighten the bandage.  I was able to proceed, with care, but I rued the decision to wear the boots which I suspected had caused the problem.  A little further up, we found a gap in the large garden hedges allowing us to admire trees across the valley displaying autumnal splendour.

Fungi of black 1At the corner we took the left-hand path, remembering this was usually the quickest route to the top of the wood.  But the stony surface and wet leaves compounded by several days’ worth of overnight rain, made it arduous and extremely slippy at times.  Soon, our noses were assaulted by the stink of sulfur from rotten trees.  Disgusting-looking black fungi resembling tyres sprouted from one decayed trunk.  Phil slid dangerously off the path to investigate.   I had to laugh when he asked “How do I get back up now?”  “That’s your problem!”

Elsewhere, fungi appeared in more appealing shades of ochre and white.  Small caps topped slender stems sprouting among sodden leaves at the edge of the path.  An ivory puffball had become covered in green mould –  Fungi on fungi as it were.

Quarry 1

Among the twisty trees on the top path, green faded slowly from leaves to be replaced by a spectrum of yellows and russets.  We continued to the babbling brook and perched on a rock to listen to the gushing waterfall.  In search of more we continued towards the old quarry.  Here, large patches of deep, squelching mud at last made me glad I had my proper boots on.  As predicted,  a cascade plummeted down the cliff-face of the quarry creating new streams and yet more deep mud patches.  We zig-zagged up and down small paths to avoid them and return to the main route.

Mushrooms grew from a felled birch.  White flecked with black, they almost merged with the monochrome stripes of the tree trunk.  We mused on the weirdness of the woodland where things appeared dead and alive at the same time.  I wondered why it was not a popular spot for witches!

We continued to Wood Top, turned left down to the  station and into town for lunchtime pies.  I stopped to chat to an old schoolfriend on the way.  Back home, I had to immediately take off my muddy boots and jeans…

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Fungi of stripes 4

 

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

A Mystery Solved? (Heptonstall and Northwell Lane)

Northwell Panorama

In the heat of July, Marisa and I took the bus up to Heptonstall for lunch at The Towngate Tearooms.  We discussed options for walking back to Hebden and I asked her to confirm for me which path was Tinker Bank Lane and see if I could determine if there was another path between that and Northwell Lane.

FleecedShe led me through the old co-op yard into a carpark and up a grassy path parallel to Northgate.  I noted a washing line being used to hang sheep fleeces and the pinfold.  Now a picnic area, this little enclave was once used communally to house livestock.  At the end of the path we turned immediately right, onto Tinker Bank Lane.   With no apparent right of way ahead of us, I still wondered if I had imagined the middle path and resolved to clear up the mystery at some future date.  We descended to Draper Lane and crossed into the wood, through Hollins and into town.

The days leading up to the autumn equinox brought a resurgence of summer.  Still tired from an outing earlier in the week, I consented to a short hike through Eaves Wood.  We walked along the ridge slowly, pausing to examine details close up.  Tall grassed framed the hamlet below.  Fat spiders lay in wait on delicate webs.  Baby oak trees sprouted from the ground, their tiny red leaves bright amidst the grass.

At Hell Hole Rock, we waited as a dorky-looking couple descended the steep stone staircase, carrying mattresses on their backs.  I joked they planned on camping but obviously they were climbers.  Steps clear,  we went up to ‘photographer’s corner’ and clambered onto the dodgy ledge overlooking the rock, the climbing couple hampering attempts to take good shots.

Lit ruin 1Back on the proper path, we turned right to Southfield.  Loud bellringing emanated from the church where the afternoon sun glinted yellow on the stonework.  We had the ruin to ourselves for a spell, enjoying seeing it in a different light, until a few other walkers appeared.  A woman with young boy in tow enquired as to the location of ‘King David’s’ grave (aka David Hartley of the Cragg Vale coiners).  She was horrified that we had never made a point of seeking it out.  Phil commented it made a change from women asking about Sylvia Plath’s resting place.  I suggested she may well end up there but was probably trying to make the visit more engaging for her son.

Normally we would tarry awhile in  the churchyard but the persistent bell-ringing played havoc with my tinnitus.  We retreated onto West Laithe and walked down the road to a snicket into the old co-op yard.  Dismayed at the apparent lack of maintenance , I joked  they should get the stocks back out.  A man stood in front of the adjacent garage.  Imposingly large, with a bushy beard and arms crossed, he regarded us suspiciously. Unperturbed, I bade him a cheery “hello!”.  He reluctantly returned the greeting.  At a side door, an even surlier-looking fellow eyed us warily.

Tinker Bank chickensWe stifled sniggers as we continued up the small path to the pinfold which I had wanted to explore since discovering in July.  Through the small square doorway, worn picnic tables inhabited an oasis of dappled shade.  We agreed it was a good spot for a rest although we ended up covered in particles raining down on us from the nearby trees.  As we chatted, I expressed amazement that in spite of  gentrification,  real yokels still existed in little enclaves.  Phil said he was not in the least bit surprised.  He regaled me with tales of Dick the ‘beech nut god’ and the ‘bramble spirit’, claiming people round here still believed in these pagan deities.

We continued to Tinker Bank Lane, being chased by chickens as we went back up a short way onto Northgate and turned right to the top of Northwell Lane.  We took in the views and my eyes were drawn to the private garden immediately below us.  A distinctly wide section with stone walls on either side, seemed to solve the mystery of the middle path; seemingly once a lane joining Tinker Bank with Northwell but now repurposed.

Northwell HouseBrightness at the top of the lane gave way dramatically to darkness as we walked down Northwell to Draper Lane.  Crossing, we followed the footpath towards Lee Wood, even darker and decidedly cool.  I picked up the pace as we headed down to a junction.  Of three routes, we chose one leading to Hebden Water in the hope of returning to warmth.  Snaking round bends, we noted the horsey holiday farm had become even bigger, though the military vehicles we had spotted a couple of years ago were no longer in evidence

On the riverside, a woman walking purposefully ahead f us and game of croquet underway at the bowling club were the only signs of life.  Disappointingly still in shade, we finally regained sunlight on Valley Road.  We dawdled into town and considered staying out for a pint to make the most of it.  Inevitably though, hordes of after-work drinkers had descended.  With barely a scrap of outdoor seating to be had. We went for coffee instead.

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Pinfold 2

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

 

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

 

Lumb Falls and Crimsworth

Lumb Falls Panorama

Plagued by tendonitis for a couple of months, I had been hesitant to embark on longer walks, despite the longer late spring days.  Recent outings had been confined to familiar territory with minimal climbing.  By mid-May I decided to be pre-active and embarked on a self-treatment programme involving special Achilles heel exercises, massage and the use of a bandage when necessary.

Suitably prepared, I agreed to a more adventurous jaunt to Lumb Falls in the mid-week sunshine.  This started with a ride on the 595 bus. The few other passengers alighted at Dod Naze or Old Town leaving us alone on the rest of the journey onto Keighley Road.  The driver stopped for us at the junction of Haworth old Road, with a cheery farewell.

Haworth Old Road 2We walked upon the patchy tarmac of the single track, almost silent apart from bleating sheep, a handful of birds flitting between telegraph wires, and the odd passing vehicle.  Roadwork signs indicating that the road narrowed ahead made us chuckle; narrowed to what?   Grassy verges lined the route, interspersed with bright flowers, rickety gates and defunct signposts.

A sole walker overtook us, striding purposefully and disappeared behind a wall.  Guessing his destination, we then saw a helpful sign indicating ‘Lumb Falls’.  We paused at the top of the path for a couple with a trio of panting dogs to come up and get straight in a car.

Dean Descent 7

The steep path proved absolutely stunning!  Square grey cobbles shone underfoot, rising into bridge-like structures over springs.  Overgrown grasses, tall flowers and curly ferns made arty shadows on the ground.  Leafy boughs formed shady arches, framing a bright blue sky.  Across the dean, a grassy track rose steeply with a trio of sheep seemingly teetering on the slope.

Arriving at Lumb Falls, we discovered a variety of wonders.  A tree trunk resembled an elephant’s head; tributaries tumbled picturesquely into Crimsworth Brook; sturdy stone gate posts stood amongst the debris of a long-gone wall.  A smattering of people occupied the beauty spot including two men hogging the prime rock.

Lumb Falls 5We explored the scene from all angles witnessing a yellow dipper swooping over the water as insects buzzed beneath the arched bridge.  Picking a spot to rest, we ate a small packed lunch and gazed at the gushing falls, mesmerised by the babbling sounds and popping bubbles.

It became quite hot in the direct sun prompting us to eventually stir.  Climbing up the opposite side of the dean, I was very glad of the bandage on my bad ankle!  We soon spotted a sign pointing to Midgehole.  I immediately recognised the path, from our only other visit to this particular stretch several years ago.

Path Going Up 1Along the ridge, dry pale brown bracken covered the slope to our left.   Large stones littered the landscape, which may or may not have been from ancient buildings.  A tree gripping onto a mound with exposed roots suggested dramatic soil erosion. Enormous sheep grazed on the right.  Further on, we recognised landmarks across the way from previous, less-adventurous treks in Crimsworth Dean.

Presently, a large black stone wall impeded the path.  Due to the light, I didn’t immediately see how to cross it but realised a stile had been integrated.  The steps were so dark and far apart that great care was required in clambering to the other side.

From here, signs marked out private land from permissive paths.  We greeted a grumpy farmer who managed a curt ‘hello’ as we were directed back down into a field and across a rudimentary bridge into a pine forest where we spotted the next bridge.  We considered crossing back towards Pecket Well but opted instead to continue.  The path wound up another steep incline.

Wayside Flowers 2Aching, tired and thirsty, we eventually reached the main track and scanned for a suitable resting place.  Planning to perch on a rotting tree trunk, the sight of a wood cockroach put us off.  We settled on a nearby patch of grass to recover with a drink of sarsaparilla.  Further down, clumps of flowers lined the verges with white garlic under the shady pines to our left, and poppies, bluebells and forget-me-nots on the right.

Soon enough, we reached the edge of Hardcastle Crags carpark and easily found the small path leading straight down alongside the brook and onto Midgehole Road.  We headed over to the Blue Pig for a comfort break.

We found a vacant riverside bench to enjoy welcome pints.  From the corner of my eye, I spotted a selection of bird species skimming Hebden Water.   Standing for a closer look, I could not see any of them – typical!  We took yet another upward route homeward, rouxing the decision as we ascended the wide stony steps until we reached the paved stretch to Lee Wood.  A shortcut part-way down the Buttress led quickly home.  As I rested my legs and supped coffee, I realised it had been my longest day out for quite some time.  I was tired of course but thankfully, my ankle did not cause too much grief.

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Path Through the Wood 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