Tag Archives: treetops

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

 

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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

50 Shades of Green (Horsehold Wood)

Horsehold view Panorama

 

During a mainly sunny mid-September, I had been struggling with computer issues all morning which gave me a headache and put me in a bad mood.  We planned on a mid-week walk but unfortunately picked a day when the sun remained hidden in the South Pennines.  Reluctantly, I submitted to Phil’s badgering to at least leave the house but disinclined to go far, suggested going to Horsehold Wood.  A decidedly chilly wind blew as we climbed the steep road.   I cursed grumpily at the elusive sun.

Brambles 4Through the small gate onto the path edging the valley, we stood to gaze across the valley.  A plethora of greens and yellows signalling autumn was on the way.  At our feet, fading heather and rotting blackberries added contrasting splashes of red to the natural palette.

Descending into woodland,  pale beige mushrooms and bright green ferns poked up from dark earth covered with rotten leaves.  Stunted trees struggled for dear life on the north-facing slope.  Rotting trunks resembled tree spirits.  Phil suddenly stopped in an awkward spot, dealing with a camera malfunction.  I became impatient.  I told him the walk was not doing its job of improving my mood and I just wanted to get on with it.  He giggled, and I had to admit it did sound rather ridiculous when I was meant to be having fun!

Red wood 4Deeper into the wood, we marvelled anew at the red earth with optimistically green grass sprouting in clumps, and at how on earth some of the rocks had landed in such strange configurations.  We had noticed earlier how many beech nuts and acorns there were this year.  This had prompted a new obsession with collecting items and turning them into art.  On the road, we had gathered nut casings and helicopter-like seeds.  Here, we added shinier specimens untouched since they hit the ground.

A new bridge had been constructed over the stream making crossing easier although I still found the stepping-stones tricky.  On the other side we perched on a rock to watch the fast tumbling water.  I decided I did now feel a bit better for being immersed in nature; we had not yet seen a single other person.  It was worth the initial effort, however difficult.

Upper path 2Large stones serving as steps led up.  We turned right and followed the path round where it became a tiny grassy line between spindly trees.  At the ruined house we spotted lettering on a stone among the wreckage but were unable to decipher it.  We followed the path down to the canal and walked on the towpath.  I spotted a deer across the way.  Typical, I thought, having seen none when we were in the wood!

At Stubbing’s, we left the canal to walk alongside the river where we considered the final demise of the once enormous Calder Mill (we had noticed from Horsehold Road that the roof slates had disappeared).  Back home  I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee.  Although my headache had abated and my mood lifted somewhat, I was very tired. My ankle ached too as I had forgotten to wear a bandage.

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Jack Bridge Circular

 

Bridge Ahoy 3

During the the hot August bank holiday weekend we repeated a walk from two years ago, starting with a bus ride to Jack Bridge. As we walked up the lane, boisterous Scousers occupied a holiday home garden interrupting the otherwise peaceful scene.  Thistle fluff, beech nuts, and bright berries adorned the hedgerows, with glimpses of  a bright blue Colden Water beneath.

Bridge Crossing 4Now a familiar landmark, I spotted Strines Bridge quite early on and as we neared, we took the dark narrow path into private gardens to get nearer.  Infested with nettles and rather slippy in places, I trod carefully alongside the brook and managed not to get stung or fall which was quite a feat.  Passing through the small gate, the old packhorse trail was discernible as a delicate shade of green among a field of reds and pale yellows. We braved the tussocks and barbed wire to get a better view of the sparkling water.  As I crossed the bridge, a perfectly formed dandelion clock seemed to dwarf the diminuitive stone curves.  We mused about where the path led on the other side but deduced it would be quite a short walk to the village.

Pixie CastleReturning to the lane, we continued until we found the stile into the meadow.  The diagonal path was edged with tiny purple flowers and seed heads resembling pennies.

We proceeded through the woods and rickety gates and back onto tarmac near Land Farm.  What sounded like a combine turned out to be a lawnmower – what a racket! It was so distracting I almost missed the pixie castle, obscured as it was by vegetation.

I had forgotten about the climb up School Land Lane, and paced myself, picking the odd blackberry for sustenance.  At the top, posh new signs indicated local landmarks.  We turned right on Edge Lane  and chanced the grassy path to High Gate Farm.  Even more overgrown with nettles, this time I suffered several stings!  May’s Farm Shop looked  busy.  As a family ate ice creams, the holidaying Scousers turned up, chugging beer, and left with crates of the stuff.  After a lunch of pies and soft drinks, we decided to top the meal off with  lollies.  We discussed options for our return route and agreed to go via Colden Clough rather than Heptonstall.  Enjoying the cooling lollies as we walked downwards,  I observed we had never eaten ice cream on a  country walk before – a definite highlight!

Old Barn Receding 1Luckily, we located a slight detour avoiding the stingiest path and proceeded to Colden village.  Opposite an old barn, I observed the ‘junkyard’ had been cleared quite a lot.  We turned right at Smith Lane, taking us back to Jack Bridge, where we walked up to Hudson Lane and down into Hebble Hole.  New steps were framed by fading heather.  I expected the beauty spot to be packed  but only one extended family occupied the area and I realised it was teatime already.  A woman swam with a dog  hindering views downstream.  We crossed the clapper bridge onto the lower path, and stopped on the flat rock for a short rest.  Littered with beach nuts, we joked about harvesting them but they didn’t look tasty.

Mushrooms 3

Up the steps, red leaves littered the ground as sun rays beamed through tall branches.  In the ‘garlic fields,’ the rotten stump now resembled bare legs.  Unusual porcelain mushrooms grew on nearby tree trunks, where the bark had been stripped.  At Lumb Mill, I was slightly upset to see my favourite sycamore  almost bare. Blighted leaves littered the ground.  I had not noticed this elsewhere but Phil said he had and that it was not only affecting sycamores.  On the last stretch along the rough track, it started to feel very humid making me sweaty and tired.  Back home, I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee. I had now completed a walk two days’ running without an ankle bandage which was good going although it did  ache a bit prompting me to take it easy for the next couple of days.

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Sycamore 1

 

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

 

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!

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Circle