Tag Archives: valley

Return to Willow Gate

River art 1Mid July, the intermittent summer returned bringing a bright, sunny day but with a breeze making conditions bearable.  Phil and I took the same walk.   As we ambled along the river, we noticed the sun falling between the trees made arty reflections on the water’s surface.  Our photos looked like impressionist masterpieces without the need for any digital trickery!.

At Hardcastle Crags, we walked through the full car park, trying to locate the path I’d found instinctively in March but this time it eluded me.  Confused, I asked a man in an NT hut.  After he tried to flog me a map, I eventually garnered from him the way to the Willow Gate path.  I just about recognised the leafy lane now overgrown with summer vegetation.  At the field, I suggested a rest but the gate was not attached and required too much heft to lift so we perched on the wall.  I pointed out a huge rabbit in the rough field opposite.  Phil captured it on camera but I failed.  As we climbed up the stone path, I indicated various rock features remembered from my previous visit.

 

Continuing to the top of the wood, we crossed a stile and went up the ‘green lane’ to emerge at Shackleton.  Spotting another rabbit, this time I managed to get it in shot.  At the bottom of Shackleton Hill, we debated options.  Phil said he needed to rest and I thought going into the dean might be too much for me anyway.  We started down the track on the lookout for a stopping place, settling on a clump of rocks amidst the trees.  We ate a small picnic before walking the short distance back to Midgehole Road.  With 10 minutes till the 906 bus was due, we waited to enjoy a lovely quick ride back to town.  As we walked home, the sky became cloudier and the air cooler.

 

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Jumble Hole (eventually)

Sloping stream 2

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

ii   Pennine Bridleway

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Slow Autumn in Crow Nest

valley-view-1

Early October brought slow changes to the woods.  On a changeable Sunday, we headed up to Palace House Road and took the first path into Crow Nest woods.  As we climbed, we picked a few remaining blackberries and popped balsam pods.  We paused to admire the gradually altering autumnal colours across the valley before coming to a fork in the path.

tree-with-balletic-armsThis time we chose to go westwards, a path we had not walked for some years.  The path was ill-maintained and tricky in places, littered with sticks and stones.  We zig-zagged to the top of the wood and figured it must be an ancient route-way as cliff-like sides and exposed tree roots suggested it had sunk a few feet over time.

 

tree-like-an-elephant-2We remarked on how different the wood looked to our last visit in May.  Patches of straw-like grass stood in the place of the earlier bluebells; multi-coloured beech leaves littered the route; half-eaten mushrooms poked out from the ground.

We carried on eastwards along the top path as it became made for elves and noticed a tree that looked like Groot (or an elephant depending on the angle).

 

mushrooms-on-a-dead-tree-2

 

On reaching the apex, we crossed the small stream and continued down into the quarry.  Greeted by the remains of a fire, more balsam, (although dying off some still clung on), and fallen trees riddled with fungi.  I said that if it was cleaned up a bit it could be Malham Cove.

Doubling back, we came onto a narrow path behind the road.  Turning eastwards once more, we found ourselves on another old road, this time paved with cobbles, becoming slippery concrete further down.

As we emerged just north of the train station, we saw evidence of work being undertaken in the stone yard.   We picked our way through piles of stones and interesting junk to investigate. It appeared that the old watermill was being made to work again (very heartening).  From there, we walked onto Station road, across the main road and up Commercial Street.  We reached the Sunday market just in time to catch Craggs Cakes for a tasty treat.

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waterfall-down-the-cliffside-1

Pennine Bridle Way to Knott Wood

PBW 2g - Looking back  3

On a bright mid-August Thursday, my partner had a free afternoon allowing us to take a rare mid-week outing.   We set off for the bus stop intending to travel up to Slack.  The buses’ tardiness made us impatient and eventually we got the next bus that came and alighted at Callis figuring we could walk up from there.

A Lacy UnderbridgeWhilst crossing the road, we decided to make a change to our now-normal route and went up Underbank laughing anew at ‘Lacy Underbridge’ and onto the Pennine bridleway (PBW).

As we climbed the steep overgrown cobbled path (signifying not many other people did), we noted that whilst we sometimes came back down this way, it had been our original route up before we discovered the alternatives.

PBW 3b - Stone wall 1

We paused occasionally to admire views and catch our breath.  Soon after Mount Olive Chapel, we came to a junction.  Considering a small path through the tops of the woods, we elected instead to stay on the PBW as we had never walked that section before.

The path became much easier, with setts edged by well-maintained stone walls behind which fields and hay bales lay.

Reaching the top of that section we bought home-made jam at the entrance of a farm, placing payment in the honesty box.  We then rested on a wall at the corner of the farm track.

A woman and a small dog with a sock appeared coming along a smaller path that emerged at a gap in the wall.  I asked her where the path went and she told me ‘Marsh Farm’.  We had a short chat and it turned out she had made the jam.  She and her husband who had appeared at the farm gate, thanked us.

We continued on the route up and I told Phil he would recognise it soon.  He was distracted by crows flying around the fields and telegraph wires, but as we proceeded, it suddenly dawned on him: we were at the corner of Winter’s Lane.  We turned right along the lane and down into Rawtenstall.

Rawtenstall - Magical tree 1As we descended, we noted the deliberately twee features created by trees and rocks, the old stone gate post, and old ruined buildings from long-gone settlements (that I had failed to notice on our visit the previous autumn).

Phil joked about turning them into ‘ye olde village’ on his photo blog.

Winding down Turret Hall Road, we spotted a path leading off through Knott Wood and thought it would just cut the corner off.  This proved not to be the case.

We were led up and down, via tiny steps and narrow paths, through gates and over styals, and eventually emerged in a builder’s yard now occupying a disused quarry.  We admired the raised beds where onions and other veg grew, and strange large balls.

Knott Wood - Old quarryFinding no way through the yard, we doubled backed slightly and had a choice of following the overgrown path westwards, or going eastwards for a time.  We chose the latter, surmising that it must end up back on the road soon.  Thankfully, this time we were right.  We emerged down another flight of small stone steps onto Oakville Road.  I enjoyed walking alongside the railway lines as trains whizzed by.

Back on Burnley Road, we looked for the talking bird but couldn’t see it.  I did, however, discover more ruins and stone steps at the side of Woodbine Terrace.  A little way down, we crossed the busy road and entered Stubbings pub.  We ordered pints and food.  As we lingered canalside with a second drink, the air became chilly with the setting sun and the other tables emptied of punters.  We walked home along the canal and said what a nice time we’d had – which was just as well as the weather turned miserable for the next few days!

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Knott Wood - Path and gate 1

From Ginnel to Crow Path

Nutclough Swamp 4

On the last Sunday of July, we sought respite from our troubles and headed out in search of greenery.  Deciding on Nutclough, for some reason we found ourselves walking up Hangingroyd to the little park rather than taking the normal route up Keighley Road.  At the corner of Victoria road, we took the small steps between houses onto Foster Lane, noticing the old backs of buildings as we did so.

Ginnel 5

We then spotted an unfamiliar ginnel on the opposite side of the road.  As we climbed the steep cobbles, we imagined hob nail boots clumping the path, amidst the tightly-packed terraced ‘top and bottom’ houses.  The cobbles were replaced by modern concrete steps.

At the top, we were rewarded with a vertiginous view of the narrow passageway. We emerged onto Unity Street, looking unfamiliar from our different perspective.  At the corner, a black and white cat kindly posed for us.

We headed to the traffic lights and across the road and into the familiar clough.

 

 

 

Crow path 1

Crossing onto the island we tarried on the sunken metal bench, enjoying the tranquillity as we eyed bobbing birds and a plethora of new plant life including large bulrushes.

We stayed on the east side of the clough aiming for town, when we noticed the ‘Crow path’.  We headed up, utilising the wooden steps made for the purpose and contemplating the views looking down from the treetops on the climb up to Sandy Gate.

 

 

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Heptonstall to Hardcastle Crags

 

Meadow Flowers 2

Having failed in an earlier attempt to reach Hardcastle Crags from Heptonstall, we tried again during the fine weather of the late May bank holiday weekend.  We caught the bus up to the village to ease our ascent.

Heptonstall NorthfieldWe walked the short walk up Towngate , passing the two pubs.  We paused at Top O’ The Town before turning right up Townfield and along to Northfield.

Notable for never being enclosed and still containing common land, this attractive area includes traditional stone-built houses and pre-fabs with attractive gardens.

 

 

Above Town - view with open gateWe emerged onto a truly stunning path!  Views overlooking three valleys confronted us, with Lee Wood directly below and Pecket Well and Old Town in the distance.

The hedgerows and meadows were resplendent with flowers of all colours.  Cows with their babies grazed peacefully in the fields.

 

I paused to consult the map and determined that we could either go straight down to Midgehole or hang a left and head further along the crags.  We plumped for the latter.  This took us across a wildflower meadow, where we dawdled to take close-up nature shots.

We exited via a tiny stone gate onto Draper Lane.  We then continued on the footpath on the opposite side of the road along the top of the crags.

Barbed wire 1Several interesting features lined the way as we walked through the woods: very arty barbed wire, sheep wool, a busy anthill, and seasonal curly ferns.

Eventually we came to another junction and chose the route heading downwards.  Large stones took the place of earth underfoot as we wound down to the ‘scout hut’.

 

We entered the crags near a grassy riverbank.  Finding a convenient rock ‘on the beach’, we settled down intending to eat pies we had brought with us, when dogs and children appeared.  We shooed them off and waited until they were out of sight before having our picnic.  We lingered awhile, contemplating the sparkling water and marvelled at a tree growing from a tiny island in the middle of the river.  Phil found some pieces of quartz which I washed in the river.

Hardcastle Crags - Hebden Water 2We walked round a very fine rock and onto small stepping stones across Hebden Water.  The other side proved crowded with more kids and dogs.

I remarked that this popularity was why we usually avoided the lower crags although it is a lovely spot.

 

 

At this point it is necessary to make a short climb in order to continue down to the lower entrance of the crags.  But we kept as close to the river as possible, with the cool water and trees providing respite from the hot sun. Amongst other things we noticed prominent tree roots underfoot, a variety of woodland flowers, a clay pit and the old weir.

At Midgehole, we laughed at the ‘New Bridge Hall – no parking’ sign.  It’s alright for some!  But to be fair, it is the original name of the property.

We visited the Blue Pig and sat on a bench by the river, enjoying our beer and the intermittent sun and watching the antics of yet more dogs and escapees from town centre bars.

As it turned chilly, we departed, taking the riverside path into town.  We had a second pint in The Oldgate.  Perched on the low part of the wall, I warned Phil not to drop his phone in the river this time.  As the sun inevitably disappeared behind a chimney, we made our way home.

A year on, we repeated the walk with one minor detour – we veered off the slippery stone path just above the scout hut, navigating carefully through grass and pine trees.

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Hardcastle Crags - Tree roots

The Neglected Wood

Neglected Wood - Trees with sky behindEarly May, signs of spring finally emerged.  We took a fast route upwards through Eaves Wood in the bright sunlight, barely stopping to admire tiny flowers and catkins along the dry path.  At Hell Hole Rock, we saw a group of campers around the embers of a dying fire.  One of them waved to us.  Phil laughed at them having a festival.  I remarked it wasn’t a festival but they had probably been there all weekend.

Eaves Wood - Trees with catkins

When we reached photographer’s corner, I braved the ‘desire path’ to the overhanging crag in pursuit of good shots across the valley.  However, my efforts were thwarted by haze.

 

I felt very hot and tired from climbing up the steep steps.  I decided that my original plan to reach Hardcastle Crags via an untried route was too much in the heat.

We sat awhile on one of the flat rocks, sipping coffee and enjoying the scenery.  We then proceeded into the neglected part of the wood (Slater Ing Wood according to Phil’s phone app).  It looked less dank than on our previous visits with lush green vegetation, bluebells and other woodland flowers amongst the dead trees.

Neglected Wood - Moss with pale green lineWe ventured off the main path to find a suitable rock for a picnic.  Two dogs rushed by and we kept our food hidden until they had gone.

Whilst eating, we examined the features around us including tiny detritus from the nearby trees and the patterns in the rock we were sat on.  Lighter stripes could be seen where fallen sticks had been dislodged, exposing fresher greenery underneath.

 

Heptonstall - GatewayWe then continued on the usual route to Heptonstall and noticed a posh new sign proclaiming the entrance to the village.  In The Cross Inn beer garden, all the sunny spots had been taken.  The main attraction was eating burgers off the grill, although kids playing in a toy taxi provided amusement.

 

 

Tinker Bank Lane - DeadwoodWe walked out the side gate and down the path at the side of the octagonal chapel onto Tinker Bank Lane.  Guinea fowl on the path scattered as we approached.  I spotted a fallen tree branch forming a low arch (which I had not noticed last time).  At the end of the lane, more bluebells were found.

 

We crossed Lee Mill Road into Tinker Bank Wood to admire yet more bluebells and a strange branch on the ground with apparently seven trees growing from it.  We proceeded through Hollins, down onto Foster Mill Bridge and into town.

It was still too nice to go home so we stopped at Oldgate for a second pint.  As I went to the bar, Phil sat at the end of the wall opposite by the riverside.  We enjoyed the evening sun soon to disappear behind the rooftops. I was just polishing off my beer when I heard a splash and Phil exclaimed ‘oh bugger!’  He had dropped his phone in the river!

After some consideration, he decided he had to get it.  He walked to the packhorse bridge, over to the other side, down into the water and waded across to retrieve it.  He looked very calm and relaxed about it.  I gestured to him to indicate the location of the dropped phone and suggested he took a shorter route back.  Miraculously, the phone still worked!  A fine recommendation for the British Wiley Fox company. We laughed about it all the way home.

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Tinker Bank Wood - Seven in one