Tag Archives: treetops

Hollins to Midgehole

Lee Wood Road 6

After an unseasonably cold and wet start, mid-June brought some improvement.  I suggested a wander up Tinker Bank, but ended up walking rather further than planned.

Crossing Hebden Water at Foster Mill Bridge, we paused for fellow walkers coming the opposite way.  Below us, laden branches all but obscured the stream, hanging heavy above the silvery torrent.

Dog rose 4On the steps to Hollins, the majestic sycamore presided over an enchanting scene.  Geometric foxgloves had survived a battering from the previous night’s thunderstorm.  Bees buzzed round dog roses.  One disappeared inside a flower.  As I waited patiently for it to re-emerge, a second one landed.  After some fumbling that too vanished.  Turning right on the small path, we past the gloomy hamlet and proceeded up through the wood, mildly reeking of dankness.

 

Just Passing 4Here, bees focused on bramble blossom, so pretty I initially mistook them for another kind of rose.  Reaching Lee Wood Road, we followed signs to ‘Hebden Hey/Hardcastle Crags’.  Picturesque twisty trees and well-curated rocks soon made it apparent this was yet another Victorian construction.  Amazed at still discovering new parts of the vast National Trust estate, I wondered why we had never taken this route before.  I then recalled a foray in our early walking days, and thought maybe we had, albeit from the other direction and not quite as far.

We became hungry and weary.  Reluctant to end up in the middle of the crags, we back-tracked to a stony footpath.  As predicted, we arrived at The Blue Pig.  The outside seating area was packed!  At first, we wondered if it was illegally open.  But as the doors looked firmly shut, we concluded the regulars congregated out of habit.  I refused to sit anywhere near the flouters.  Instead, we took the snicket at the side of the small bridge into the lower reaches of the crags.  The first bench occupied by a family, I stopped in the verge.  Phil marched on.  “Where are you going!” I called after him.  He indicated a further bench that I hadn’t seen due to the tall grass.

Vergeside 1Breathless and sweaty, we collapsed with cold drinks, wishing we’d brought lunch with us.  We mustered the strength to walk back via the flattest route.  On Midgehole Road, the deep purple foxgloves contrasted with golden poppies against grey drystone walls.

Descending to the riverside, kids played on the makeshift beach. We took the less populous left-hand Foster Mill Dam path.  ‘The swamp’ exuded a strong smell of wild garlic, severely past it at this time of year.

Further on, we traced the remains of the old mill ponds and dam wall, envisioning the location of the erstwhile mill buildings.

Towards Windsor View, a dog blocked the path.  I hailed a woman gardening close by, asking her to call her mutt away so we could pass unimpeded.  Back on tarmac, I felt uncomfortably hot.  As I stripped off a layer of clothing, I heard my camera hit the pavement.  Thankfully, with firm hold of the strap, it survived unscathed.   Towards town, we returned to the riverside path.  We held our breath hurrying past a bunch of itinerant drinkers.  Phil said hello as one recognised us but I refused to open my gob until well clear.  Aware they would never change their behaviour, I really wished they wouldn’t move round so much- they were much easier to avoid in the park!  In search of instant fodder, we perused the shops to little avail.  I exited One Stop pretty sharpish as people crowded round the ice cream freezer and a massive queue for the till snaked round the aisles.  Back home, we were absolutely desperate for food and rest. I hastily assembled cheese and crackers and slumped on the sofa.

Ye olde dam wall 1

Bar Cliff to Crow Nest

Looking around

At the end of May, sinusitis returned rendering me bedridden on the hottest and most dazzling of days so far. Sunday, I felt much better and up for a short walk to stretch my unused legs.  The blazing sun and heat was tempered by a bit of a breeze and cloudy spells.  This made the walk up ‘Bar Cliff’ more bearable.

Curly Ferns 4A resplendent rhododendron marked the start of the path.  Curly ferns provided highlights of yellow against green verges.  Small groups of children clutched picnic blankets on their way up to grassy fields.  We followed the curves of New Road towards Old Chamber, laughing at local signs telling motorists to ‘turn back’ – very local!  At the bridge, we stopped to take in the pastoral scenes.  Lambs quickly scarpered across a small field, spooked by a family obviously not used to walking, yelping as they picked their way down the stony path below.  “Something tells me that’s a new hobby for them.”  I commented.  Phil sniggered but I reminded him “there was a time when you considered going to the pub on the canal ‘a walk’.  We all have to start somewhere!”  At the far end of the field, a brave lamb stared at me curiously over the wall.

Munching goats 3At Old Chamber, more lambs were penned into a small triangle.  Were they in quarantine?  Nearby, a mountain of hardcore was dumped in front of a ruined farm building.  On the other side of the valley, a bright yellow air ambulance flew above Midgeley Moor.  The honesty box remained open with signs instructing users to enter one at a time.  We peered in to see only eggs for sale; sensible to not offer cups of tea right now, I guess.

Continuing to Spencer Lane, house martins flitted between eaves and a pair of kestrels took turns surveying the landscape from treetops before swooping down to unseen prey.  Larger fields contained larger flocks of sheep and goats too, with offspring.  Close up, I noticed the small kids had tiny horns like little demons!

Underneath are starsWe skirted Wood Top Farm and turned left onto the beautiful grassy lane to the old quarry.  Glade-like in the arid conditions, a variety of implements suggested recent gardening activity.  Entering Crow Nest Wood, dappled lighting created a restful ambience.  We rested on the almost-dry waterfall where barely a trickle flowed in the brook.  Miniscule flowers of white and yellow bloomed beneath fading bluebells.  We marvelled anew at the trees simultaneously dead and alive.  Probably the case in all woodland, it always struck us particularly in this one; maybe because we knew it so well.  Mouldy mushrooms inhabited the rotten lower trunks while new oak leaves sprouted from higher branches. One such tree resembled a wraith performing a dance macabre in the wispy air.

Taking the short way home, we waited for a small family to ascend the dry path, made tricky by a thick layer of last years’ tinder-dry beech nuts.  On palace House Road, we noted new traffic lights, explaining the roadworks a few weeks back.  The updated controls enabled us to safely navigate the single-file bridge.  Phil larked about, insisting we had to pointlessly cross the road.  Back home, I headed straight for the bathroom.   The dusty dry paths had turned my sandal-clad feet black.   We had been saving small pies in the fridge for a longer outing,  but justified eating them after the walk – an indoor picnic!

Restful 3

The First Picnic (Oakville circular)

Roadside poppies 8

A week after lockdown easing allowed picnics, we took sandwiches on a slightly longer walk.  Initially making our way to the canal again, we walked on the towpath to Stubbings only to find the route blocked.  Quickly coming up with Plan B, we crossed the main drag and took the second left turning.  Heady scents of pine assailed us.  Phil said it smelt of holidays!   Oakville Road resembled a poppy field.  Dazzling golds and oranges crowded the hedgerows, dancing in the stark sunlight.  Arriving at a junction, we continued upwards on Turret Hall Road, becoming  hot on the steep switchbacks.  We stopped by a patch of bluebells to rest and drink water.  Phil looked as though he needed it more than me which was unusual and I rued not bringing more.

Wood Farm 1Cooler in Rawtenstall Wood, we noted ‘Wood Farm’ seemed to have grown.  Just off the track, a dappled clearing housed palettes and rickety lean-tos with tarpaulin draped atop indeterminate piles.  I joked the farm actually made wood like in the old PC video game ‘Transport Tycoon’!

We detoured onto a magical-looking small path, scented by more bluebells with smaller flowers studded between the rough hardcore.  Reaching what I deduced was Dark Lane, we perched on a wall opposite the pike to eat the packed lunch, enjoying a light breeze and the beautiful scenes.

Roadside garlicComing down Marsh Lane, the views ahead of us omitted the road hidden deep in the valley, suggesting a clear run to the pike.  Twisty trees and barbed wire decorated the descent.  As  signs indicated the Pennine Way, the path became uncomfortably stony underfoot, reminding me that several years ago I’d arrived at the bottom footsore and vowed never to come this way again!  The towpath also blocked at Callis, I suggested it was nothing to do with flood repairs but to contain the hippies!

Not quite remembering the best way back to Oakville Road, we eventually found it behind Stoney Bridge.  Away from the dusty main road, the scent of wild garlic replaced that of traffic.  Crossing back to Stubbing’s we returned to the towpath and rested briefly on lock number 10.  To quench the still burning thirst, we popped in the co-op for ice cream.  Normally immune to advertising, I had to admit the new magnum ruby red lollies were rather yummy.

 

Stoodley view 2

Confined walks 2 – Slater Ings

 

Dark shadows 1With the return of bright sunshine on Sunday, we ventured a little further to walk up the Cuckoo Steps, across Heptonstall Road to the path leading to our favourite ridge. On the climb, black shadows of twisty thin trees criss-crossed the dusty pink shingle. Two women with dogs stopped for us, but although they stood aside, the dogs still blocked the path.  As I hesitated they assured us that their fur harboured no germs as they had been in isolation for 2 weeks.  Passing cautiously, Phil noted they were nice friendly dogs.  I agreed, but told the women I was wary as this is not always the case.  They sympathised saying “We’ll put the leads on if we run into us again”.  “That’s kind but it’s fine.”  Next, it was our turn to wait for a small family crouched on the verge.  We side-stepped into the old quarry until they had finished doing selfies.

Hell Hole 1As we rounded the corner, we saw unsightly scribbles on Hell Hole Rocks.  At first glance it appeared to be made with chalk, but on closer inspection turned out to be painted graffiti, thus likely permanent and a real shame.  We checked the coast was clear and climbed the small steps up to ‘photographer’s corner’.

Wavering about whether to clamber onto the ‘viewing platform’, quite a few people approached form the opposite direction, making the decision for us.  We gazed down at a more pleasing aspect of the big rock, without scrawls, and across the valley until it was clear to continue.

Heading for Slater Ings, an ageing hippie couple sat on a large flat rock right near it.  They could easily have moved further away, but as they didn’t, we side-stepped as far as possible to the other side.  The man greeted us to which I responded “that’s not 6 feet”.  He said “Don’t worry about it.”  “I do, it’s because of morons like you that the stupid lockdown will last forever.”  As we hurried on past, he shouted  “Stay indoors then… You’re out walking!” “Yes, but when I want a rest, I don’t just plonk down; I move away from the path!”  “Do you remember the Nazis?” to which Phil retorted “No, I’m not old enough.  Are you?”  Tempted to go back and clatter him, I said it wasn’t worth it and anyway, it couldn’t be done at a safe distance!

Slater Ings stony detour 3Luckily, the wood was less populous.  We soon spotted a patch of wild garlic and climbed down a slippery dry slope where deadwood crackled beneath our shoes – the feeble brook having dried to a trickle in the warm April weather.

A few people past on the path above as we gathered the pungent leaves.  Taking a while to come back up, we spotted several pieces of broken pottery, indicating this was once a popular picnic spot.

Hitherto considering Slater Ings the wilder part of  the woodlands, now I looked properly, it became obvious it had also been part of the Victorian ‘job creation scheme’.  Why else would the large rocks be so picturesquely placed along the walking path?

Making our way between said rocks, bluebells and primroses lined the grassy edges.  A woman with several kids in tow kindly took a detour for us and a second pair of women with dogs waited for us at a gap in the wall leading out to the lane.

Wayside primroses 3Chancing a return via Heptonstall, we saw more people in one place than in the last 3 weeks.  Locals stood chatting in small groups in their gardens while visitors lounged in fields and on benches, and walked, cycled, and drove along the road in both directions.  The small community had rallied round with the post office offering a distribution service for local businesses and the pub doing ‘order and collect’ Sunday lunch.

Managing to keep at a safe distance we rested  very briefly in Weaver’s Square and re-enacted a scene from the Pace Egg – sadly cancelled this year along with everything else during lockdown.

We continued on Heptonstall Road, down the steps to Lee Wood Road and onto The Buttress, where we made further waits a  for slower elderly people coming up the punishingly steep cobbles.

Slater Ings path 2

Confined Walks 1 – Crow Nest and Environs

Post with wood

Breaking the confines of the town centre, we took two small walks on successive sunny Wednesdays, in and around Crow Nest.  On the first of these, we set off quite a bit later than planned, due to mislaid keys.  Ambling down quiet streets to the main road, we waited to cross at the zebra.  An impatient driver beeped us; obviously frustrated at having to slow down from 100 mph on the clear stretch!

Dandelion clocks

On reaching the canal, we turned left.  Some waiting and weaving was required to avoid loiterers and cyclists.  In the almost-empty park, Japanese cherry trees blossomed pink beneath a blue sky.  Towards the station, dandelion clocks dominated the verge. Men loitered around roadworks on the access road and clambered noisily on the roof as refurbishment continued.  We had to wait again for people coming the other way, detouring onto undergrowth as a man dithered with his phone on the Sustrans path.

Finally, he shifted leaving us free to examine mysterious signs on posts, small white and yellow flowers, and sandy stretches near the water from which stunted garlic grew.

Surrounded by greenery, we continued at a leisurely pace to the end of the path, noting long shadows cast by tall trees on the tarmac and further ruination of the shipping containers.

Rusty container 5Moss continued its relentless quest to obliterate the graffiti, with artistic effect.  Just before the site of the old Walkleys Mill (Still odd to see flattened), we turned sharp right up to the green railway bridge and followed the path skirting the bottom of Crow Nest wood.

At the station again, large dislodged stones had scattered on the flood-damaged road.  Past the stoneyard, the towpath looked clear when a pair of joggers almost ran into us under the next bridge.  I was annoyed they hadn’t stopped for us.  The next stretch housed several moored barges.  We waited for a woman strolling with a pram on other side of the gate so we could re-enter the park.  We made for the central pitch to avoid weed smokers huddled on benches, not adhering to ‘social distancing’.  At Blackpit Lock, we ran past more loiterers, deciding it might be less hazardous to return home via Holme Street.

 

Going up

The following Wednesday, lattice-like clouds scattered across a deep blue sky in the bright afternoon light.  I had become anxious about socialising between different households on the street below, with children running interminably hither and thither.  To avoid them, we took the larger steps down to the road, greeting a neighbour at the end of the terrace over her garden wall.  On the other side of the main road, we climbed straight to the top of Crow Nest wood.  On the way up, we stood aside a couple of times, first for a couple then for a straggling family group.  As we passed the noxious dead tree, on the steep climb, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my bad ankle, making me keen to reach the flat.

 

New sheepAt the top, sheep with lambs so brand new they shone white, grazed in a meadow, fenced with barbed wire. Further on, last year’s beech nut husks clung onto spindly twigs.  Bluebells had started to emerge while the brook had almost totally dried up.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  From the top we could see the quarry was equally arid.  A pair of women waited for us and I thanked them heartily; it made a change for us not to be the ones who paused.

A rather steep end section of path led down onto the wider track.  As we turned right to Wood Top farm, we heard bleating and hoped to see more lambs.  Instead, we came across a field of goats with offspring – no kidding!

No kidding 1On Wood Top Road, we again had  to stand on the verge a couple of times for other walkers, using the opportunity to take pleasure in a squirrel jumping between high branches and resplendent native white cherry blossom.

After the episode of the previous week, we deemed the park safer than the towpath.  However, the plethora of non-essential activity made me wonder if we’d chosen wisely.  Several people sat around on benches and grass; kids skateboarded and cycled with gay abandon; teenage girls made videos for tick-tock.  Near the lock, a dog rushed canal-side making the geese scatter and squawk with fear.  It made me jump too!

Hanging on

 

Puddling in Colden Clough

Bridle way puddle 3

A bright but breezy start to March prompted us to re-visit another familiar haunt.  Getting ready seemed to take ages, making me quite impatient.  Finally, we left the house and walked westwards up the main road.   Several cars parked on the pavement at Bridge Lanes made me wonder if they had different laws in those parts.  Seeing a woman come out of one, I was about to have a go when she said hello.  It was an ex-neighbour, laden with groceries, poised to cross the road. On enquiring about the pavement parking, she suggested it was for unloading purposes.

Chimney from the back 1Past the Fox and Goose, the cold wind blew straight in our faces.  Feeling buffeted, we wondered how long we would be out.  But it eased off as we turned into Church Lane.  We took the easy way up to Eaves, via the play park and steps to the bridle track.  Already, my legs began to tire.  Hearing me sigh, Phil said “don’t start getting grumpy.”  To which I retorted, “what do you mean start? I already am grumpy! I haven’t even taken any photos yet!”  He chuckled and challenged my claim that I had not yet seen anything inspiring.  Then, I noticed reflections in the puddles occupying every pothole.  In small watery worlds of black and blue, branches and sky appeared trapped, framed by displaced hardcore.

Cheered somewhat, we continued to Lumb Mill and explored the ceaseless torrents, almost full-to-bursting streams and derelict ponds. Underground gurgling indicated yet more water beneath our feet.  We started to climb up to the higher path.  Pausing at the top of the small arch, I  spotted a smaller path behind the chimney.  Having tried it from the top end in autumn, I wondered if we may have more luck from this end.  I stepped in the stream without thinking, making the bottom of my jeans sopping wet.  The path came to an abrupt end just beyond the chimney where a chunk of earth had fallen.  Thwarted, we at least gained a different perspective.  Tall thin trees stretching up to the sun way overhead created ebony shadows on the yellow stone.

Red and green 2We returned to the standard route which  proved hard going.  Large rough stones were replaced further up by the remains of dead trees and deep patches of sticky mud, requiring several small detours off the path.  above the glade, we climbed a strange mound which Phil comedically named ‘the ‘escarpment’, for a higher vantage point.  Square stones,  that had tumbled from the raggedy cliffs opposite, so long ago that they were now adorned with thick green moss, lay stranded amidst a permanent carpet of scrunched copper beech leaves and discarded nut husks.

Proceeding, we descended the steep wooden steps to land in the worst patch of mud so far.  Carefully picking our way through the earth and debris, we stopped on the flat rock to fend off dogs while we ate the wraps we’d brought with us.

As it had taken almost ninety minutes to get that far,  I guessed we only had an hour of daylight left.  We called it a day to get home before dark.  It was only then that I noticed that as well as being soaked through, the bottom of my jeans also had gravel caught up in them!

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9tvFGnnr5q8QZCxXw?e=Fsf6pZ

Cascade force 3

 

Nutclough in Flood

Branch and foam 1

Storms and floods wreaked havoc last month.  We had hardly ventured out, not least because the situation raised my depression and anxiety levels.  However, on the last Sunday of February, we walked to Nutclough to witness the effects on one of our favourite locations.  As predicted,  we found a very watery scene.  Foamy torrents teemed from the weir.  The firepit had been inundated.  The stepping-stones had been swept away.

But strangely, the deluge actually made some areas more accessible.  I bravely followed Phil up the muddy slope that I had refused to scale on our last visit, grasping at flimsy branches to prevent slipping.  I clambered onto the fallen tree serving as a bridge at the higher end of the old mil ponds.  Initially I tried to slide across without standing.

Streaming 4However, this proved impractical.  Taking a deep breath, I stood upright and almost ran across the horizontal trunk.  I had almost made it when I was startled by loud whooping ( the sound of children on the top path), triggering panic.  Phil had stopped near the far end of the trunk to take photos.  I pleaded with him to move so I could get back on firmer ground.  It struck me that he had not commented on my courage in undertaking the crossing in the first place.

Below the waterfall, we discovered that due to scouring from the swelled waters, we could venture quite a bit further up than usual.  This is  normally only possible during a extended dry spells.  Small copper beech, the leaves long-dried since autumn, reached towards the glinting water.

Orange fungi 3

We precariously picked our way across a jumble of sticks and branches, adorned with unappetising fungi of ochre and black. The sunken bench was all but marooned on the flooded path.  Phil daringly leapt over the swollen stream to a patch of shingle, practically the only part of the ‘islands’ that were not submerged.  This was a step too far for me.  I pottered on the water’s edge to examine pot fragments.

We took the path up to Birchcliffe, and walked down, pausing to admire tiny flowering moss atop stone walls.  In the town centre, we found the streets and marketplace weirdly depopulated for a Sunday.  Making our way homeward, we bumped into a friend and chatted as we walked.  Her house being canal side, I was relieved to hear that she had escaped largely unscathed during the recent terrible weather.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9sw2im4qloAhpqL9g?e=ujqbz3

Tiny moss 2

Domesday (Cruttenstall via Pinnacle Lane)

 

On Pinnacle Lane 1

A glimmer of sunlight in early January prompted me to suggest a mission to find Cruttenstall – an ancient settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book.  On a list of sites to investigate as part of background research for Cool Places, I’d not actively followed this up for some time although we did chance across one or two last year.

We set off at lunchtime, bought pasties from the bakers and proceeded up Palace House Road to the familiar path towards Crow Nest.  Taking the diagonal path on the right, views of the north side of the valley provided an opportunity to use my film camera for the first time, pre-loaded with black and white film.  Past Weasel Hall, we continued on New Road, where grey cobbles glistened in patchy sunlight, round the bend to the TV mast.  We had considered a detour for a cuppa at Old Chamber but due to short daylight hours at this time of year, we headed straight up instead.

Sheep and treeA signed path on the right led us through steep, muddy fields.  The climb proved much harder going than I’d anticipated. Out of breath, I stopped to sip water allowing another couple, garbed in proper hiking gear, to overtake us.  I then noticed sheep calmly grazing on the other side of the drystone wall.  Behind a winding dirt path, black branches appeared stark against a pale blue sky.

At the top of the field, a gate led out onto a paved lane I recognised as our return route from Stoodley Pike in May 2018 (the juncture of Broad Lane and Horsehold Lane).  Straight across, signs proclaimed access to Pinnacle Farm only.  Deducing the signs were aimed at vehicles, we strode onto a delightfully grassy Pinnacle Lane.

As we approached the farmhouse, a man disappeared round the back.  I had not expected the downward path so soon but to be sure, I checked with a woman who happened to be in front of the house. “No, that’s our garden” she replied, not unpleasantly.  She then proceeded to give directions to the pike and looked bemused when I informed her that was not our objective.  “We’re trying to find Cruttenstall” I said, then added, “for historical research” (In case she wondered what on earth for!)

PBW gate 2The woman told us to continue to a line of trees further on.  I had already guessed from the map that this would lead down to the Pennine Way but thanked her for the confirmation.  continuing, we eschewed a smaller footpath which would also have led to our destination as looking rather dodgy, and arrived at the line of trees indicating an intersection with the national trail.  Again, I recognised it from visiting the pike.

Through a large wooden gate, the path sloped downwards.  An azure haze dominated the view eastward with Heptonstall church tower appearing ethereal on the opposite side of the valley.  On our right, bright green lichens, dotted with small red flowers, carpeted sturdy stone walls.  To the left, a brook tripped down the slope.  Phil noticed that rocks had been deliberately thrown in to determine its course.  This evidence, coupled with the fact that further down it had gouged out a deep valley, suggested it was an old waterway.  Although the scene was not new to us, I remarked that having a historical objective in mind gave a new perspective to the landscape.  Hungry, we clambered over deep tractor ruts to stop among stones away from any traffic (not that we saw any), quickly ate the pasties then continued.

Tiny bridge

At the bottom of a dip,  the familiar cute arched bridge traversed the brook.  We took a moment to admire its small but perfectly-formed dimensions with shimmering water reflecting thin trees in the fading light.  We then crossed to climb another steep incline up to the fabled Cruttenstall.  Today just a farm, we saw no point getting closer.  As I had suspected, we’d passed nearby several times but gained a better picture of its context thanks to a specific quest.

We continued to follow the steepening valley, now with the brook on our right.   Loud barking emanated from a large house and instead of testing the ferocity of the hounds, we opted for a path through Callis wood, indicated by an acorn sign.  Happily, it was also a shorter route.

Arriving at a very familiar junction, we had a choice of turning right through Horsehold Wood or left down to Callis.  We chose the latter as a safer bet in the darkening afternoon.   We walked quickly westwards on the towpath, except for a short wait while a workman moved dredging machinery to let us through.  Back home, we removed our shoes  at the doorstep.  Along with our jeans, they were clarted in mud.

 

 

Eaves Wood to the Corpse Road

Afternoon shadows 2

Right at the end of December 2019, the grey lifted somewhat.  We decided to go up Eaves Wood to catch the sun on the ridge.  Never disappointing, we discovered amazing tree shadows striating the path beneath a clear blue sky. At Hell Hole Rocks, a man clambered about, apparently practicing falling!

Glimpses 2Behind, Stoodley Pike peeked spookily between black tree branches.  We  waited for a couple dawdling with a tiny dog on the steep stone steps until we could ascend.  A rowdy crowd of kids, this time with a boisterous dogs, almost knocked us off the precipice.

That ordeal over, I was left breathless at the top and stopped for a much-needed break.  To stay in sunlight, we turned right along the ridge-top path and paused at the gate to the newly planted wood.  A delicate white flower fluttered in the light breeze.  We meandered through onto Southfield.  Then the clouds gathered, obliterating the warmth and brightness. In the churchyard, we discovered it infested  with tourists, including a crowd round the grave of Sylvia Plath.

Lone flower 1We retreated to the bench behind the yew tree to eat clementines then wandered slowly among the gravestones and within the ruin.  For once, I actually stopped at the resting place of David Hartley where a scattering of coins had been left by admirers.  I joked they should be clipped!

Through the village, we started down the road when I suggested we take the corpse road.  I was quite pleased to find the right entrance to the path,  but for the second time, we mistakenly took the upward path to the right of houses, leading back to Southfield.  Back on the correct path, twisty trees edged  the narrow route, incredibly muddy in places.  Back in Eaves Wood, I searched in vain for the engraved stone.

 

Returning 3

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.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti9RkfZatqiLCPQD4XQ?e=3ctubM

 

Upstream 8