Tag Archives: Victorian

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

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Woodland Mist

Mistical 1

As the mild weather continued well into November, we enjoyed a mid-week stroll.  We planned to catch a bus up to Colden for lunch at May’s but missed one by minutes.  With a short window of afternoon sun, we bought pasties from the local bakers and strode rapidly towards town.  I remarked we were going at a fair lick considering we had no aim in mind.  I suggested going to Hareshaw Wood and we made our way up to Salem Fields.  After crossing Foster Mill Bridge, we climbed the large cobbled steps and paused by the majestic sycamore to contemplate the glorious sunny scene.

Majestic 2A friend descended the steps towards us and stopped for a chat.  She asked if we were going to Heptonstall.  I replied that we had no definite plans but “’All roads lead to Heptonstall’ (as it says in my book)”.

She laughed, and invited us to call in for a cuppa next time we ended a walk there.

We turned right at the top to pass through Hollins.  A rustling sound near my feet did not alarm me at first, assuming it was my boots treading fallen leaves. However, the noise did not match my pace.  I looked down to find a daft dog sniffing at my heels, threatening to jump onto me.  The owner seemed oblivious: strolling some paces back, busy gassing on her phone.  I shouted repeatedly at the mutt until the owner overheard and called the animal off.

Leaves with drops

We chose to go upwards through the wood which we rarely do.  Interesting colours strew the path, with lichens and fungi dotted amongst the autumn foliage, some sprinkled with perfectly round dewdrops.

At the top, we crossed Lee Wood Road and looked for the gap on the other side.  Having thought we had spotted it, we made our way up worn shallow steps barely discernible beneath a thick carpet of brown leaves, indicating an ancient route.  We crossed the road to continue, where more worn steps and a crumbling waymarker post gave further clues to its history.  Hesitating briefly as it was not Tinker Bank Lane as we had expected, we reasoned that it must be nearby.

Tiny mushroomsI found the last part of steep climb very hard work.  We caught our breath near the top where a fowl enclosure stood to our right.  Disgruntled geese flapped their wings, perturbed by our presence.  Tiny orange mushrooms grew in a clump from a hollow in a tree.  A wooden signpost gave directions to various locales from which I guessed we had somehow come up a parallel path to Tinker Bank Lane.  This assumption was confirmed as we made the last bit of the climb alongside the octagonal chapel.

Yellow sign

Now in Heptonstall (which, as I pointed out to our friend earlier, was inevitable), we continued along Northfield.

An almost blank yellow sign amused us with only the word ‘Please’ discernible, albeit faded.  We guessed it had once warned against parking before the letters had peeled off.

Over in the churchyard we sought a patch of sunlight to sit in and settled on the church steps facing south.  After eating my pasty, I foraged for interesting leaves that had collected round the Victorian gravestones.

With only an hour till dusk, we made a quick return via Eaves Wood.  At ‘photographer’s corner’, the Stoodley Pike monument and wind turbines rose from a blanket of grey, topped by artily-arranged lenticular clouds.  We joked about the ‘mistical valley’ (which became the subject for the next Monday Morning haigai.  Descending the steps at Hell Hole Rocks, a man waited at the bottom and asked us if he was on the right track for Heptonstall.  I confirmed that he was.  Further down, we watched squirrels scampering amidst the tree branches, gathering nuts.  My wildlife photography proved as pathetic as ever!  Back home, I felt pleased that we had got out for some fresh air and exercise, in spite of my extreme tiredness and achy legs necessitating a lie down.

Squirrel 2

Note:

i. https://mondaymorninghaiga.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/mistical-valley/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5UdBvKs2GfEYdikRA

 

A Rare Visit to Gibson Mill

Tree tops 3

It is a rare thing indeed for us to purposefully visit Hardcastle Crags in summer.  Almost as rare (apart from holidays), we set off at 1 p.m. on a mid-July Sunday to catch Gibson Mill’s opening hours.

River rock art 2We took the most direct route via Hangingroyd Lane and the riverside path.  New rock art stood in the centre of Hebden Water, where the banks were adorned with green and white flourishes.

At the bottom of the steps up to Midgehole Road, loud barking caused me to jump out of my skin.   A large dog leapt up from behind tall grasses.

Phil let out an involuntary shout.  Two women appeared, along with a smaller dog causing more commotion.  The women apologised, saying it was a rescue dog responding to our fear.  That sounded reasonable, except I hadn’t even seen the mutt, so how could I be fearful in advance?  Later, Phil felt sorry for shouting at a rescue dog but I said (not for the first time) that dog owners should control their charges when they are likely to come into contact with other walkers.

Gibson Mill interior 3On Midgehole Road, signs declared the Crags car park full.  We weaved between parked cars and clumps of irritatingly slow people to the main gate.  Staying on the top track, we walked speedily to Gibson Mill.  We immediately entered the building and climbed to the top floor to be met by the sight of a Victorian-era kitchen.  An iron range arrayed with a selection of contemporaneous cooking vessels stood against the back wall. To the right, a shallow Belfast sink perched on brick legs.  Around the cracked windowsill, peeling whitewash revealed fading yellow paint.

Through a door on the left we found a larger room with tungsten bulbs suspended from a high ceiling.  The ample space was occupied by Yan Wang-Preston’s ‘Forest’ exhibition, the main object of our visit.  I had expected arty photos of trees.  It turned out to be a project documenting the uprooting of mature trees in China and transplanting them to concrete cities where of course they die.  Utter madness!  Why can’t they grow new trees?

Gibson Mill window viewDownstairs, we made our way to the café for freshly-made sandwiches and tea.  We chose a table on the terrace and got a different view of the mill pond.

From the upper floor, I had noticed small splashes hitting the water’s surface.  What had looked like raindrops, I now realised, were being made by small fish.

After eating, we went out front to finish our drinks.  On the surrounding tables, yet more barking dogs threatened to cause alarm but thankfully, they were kept at bay.  I spotted an acquaintance sitting nearby with a friend.  We exchanged greetings before they entered the mill to peruse the exhibition.

Rock with shadowsWe took the slower, but less populous and pleasanter riverside route back to the main entrance.  Tall pines stretched into the summer sky, the canopy giving respite from the muggy afternoon heat.  Impossibly large stones punctuated the paths and stream, some sporting strange holes.  Foliage made attractive greyscale patterns on eroding surfaces.  At the almost-dry weir, dippers dived among square paving rendered visible by the low water level.

As we rested on a nearby bench, I heard something drop to the ground.  At first, we could see nothing.  Then Phil realised it was his phone.  The screen had cracked (For the third time.  Luckily, he has since discovered he can buy the parts to fix it himself).

Behind bars 2On reaching the end of the crags, we continued on the riverside as much as possible, staying on the left-hand side towards town, foraging a few raspberries from sporadic bushes.

We paused briefly on Victoria Road where a tractor seemed imprisoned.  Headlights gleamed wide-eyed behind an iron gate fastened with rusty iron chains.  Polished blue paintwork reflected blue sky.  Getting ready for the local show, no doubt.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4JrYWA4b2_1LeHp3w

Weir 6

Archaeology in Cross Stone

Stoodley View

A rare Friday outing began with a speedy bus journey to Todmorden.  Having no firm plans about what to do when we got there, Phil suggested going up to Cross Stone to re-examine a prehistoric site, previously visited during an archaeology trip some time ago.  I agreed, with the proviso that we had food first.  Alighting at the bus station, we entered the classic market hall to be tempted by an all-day breakfast at the cheap ‘n’ cheerful Market Hall Café.

Red and yellow 4

From the town centre, we took a back route eastward, stopping briefly in the community garden.

Bees buzzed amidst colourful flower beds. Young green apples hung from low branches.  Juvenile jackdaws searched for worms on the moist grass.  A small tent pitched close to the bins, suggesting someone lived there.

Proceeding down back streets we noted the familiar northern town grid-pattern terraces. We walked the length of the unmistakably Victorian-named Industrial Street, and turned right onto Anchor Street.

At the corner of Halifax Road, I cut through the grounds of Roomfiled Baptist Church to re-join Phil on Halifax Road.  We paused on the bridge over the River Calder to watch dippers hopping among the stones as small fish created concentric ripples on the water’s surface.

Street sign 4The second turning on the left marked the start of our climb up Cross Stone Road.  Urban landscapes quickly gave way to a more rural aspect.  Steep curves led us past dark green verges, almost submerging large stones and unkempt benches.  An old toll house had been converted into a twee cottage.

At the top, we felt overheated layer and rested awhile by a clump of dog roses. We turned up Hey Head Lane toward the golf club.  Unsure of where the earthworks lay, we followed the drive into the car park, and started heading upwards across the green to a likely ridge. Phil asked a helpful golfer if he knew where the site was and he directed us to the top of the course.

Golf course 5On a further ridge, we tried to differentiate between ancient markings and modern bunkers.  A second golfer shouted sarcastically “take your time!”  before informing us about a public footpath along the top edge of the green.  This turned out to be quite pleasant.  Edged with small shrubs, grasses and willow herbs, we discovered what looked like a grave marked by a standing stone in a boggy patch.

Eventually, Phil reckoned we had located the ‘earthwork’.  Having been told in archaeology class that it was a long barrow, we were sceptical.  Clearly visible markings that appeared to be field boundaries, lay atop the undulating mound, suggesting this had been a settlement. Views of the valley across to Stoodley Pike seemed to confirm our theory.i

Up the laneQuest over, we returned to the marked path.  A gap in a lovely stone wall led back onto the lane.  I developed indigestion as a result of eating just before embarking on the climb.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pleasant walk down.  In places, hedgerows of hawthorns were fronted by stone walls suggesting that Medieval hedges had then been added to later.

Back in the village, we rested on a wall by the now-defunct church.  Ignoring the curtain-twitchers, we looked round for the stocks then realised they were by our feet, almost totally overgrown with weeds.  We had noticed a footpath down the west side of the churchyard and guessed it might cut out the first big bend on Cross Stone Road.

Carr Lane Farm 2The extremely narrow path soon arrived at some steps.  A woman gardening informed us of the way to go, but it seemed to be leading in the wrong direction.  The untrodden path took on a spooky aspect, until we reached another ‘junction’.

I suggested taking a lane back to the road rather than following the path (signed ‘Calderdale way link path’) as I didn’t want to end up walking along the tops all the way home.  We past an impossibly cute row of houses, followed by a row of posh parked cars.

Later, I discovered it was marked on the map as ‘Carr Lane Farm’, but the clues implied this was now a des res.  Carr Lane became grassy as it led us down to Cross Stone Road.  From there, it was an easy stroll down to the main road where we caught a bus straight away and were soon home.

Note

i For more information on the bronze age ‘Blackheath long barrow’ see:

https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/leisure-and-culture/local-history-and-heritage/glimpse-past/archaeology

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4IqLoyglWjabVfbvg

Golf course 2

Through the Woods and down the Corpse Road

Heptonstall ascending loop path 1

The last week in June brought a series of travails and despite the gorgeous sunny weather, life felt hard.  On the Thursday afternoon, we thought that one of our favourite wood walks might cheer us up and cool us down.  At the top of the cuckoo steps, I needed to catch my breath before crossing the road and taking the path into Eaves Wood.  A felled tree obstructed us.  Momentarily thwarted, we managed to navigate through the jumble of branches.  As we climbed the ridge, the sun beat down. “It’s like being on holiday in the Med” I commented.  Phil casually mentioned that he’d always said it was the hottest spot in Hebden – now he tells me!

Eaves Wood stone seatWe noted that the views down into the valley were obscured by profuse growth.  I needed to rest and drink water but the lack of shade and prolific bracken meant my usual spot was not an option.  I slogged on until we reached the trees.

After resting awhile on the path edge, we continued and I realised that if I’d waited a little longer I could have sat on the seat-like stone a short way up.

At Hell Hole rocks we explored the disused quarry.  Normally dank, twigs and leaves on the parched earth crunched beneath my sandals.  Today deserted apart from crows high in the treetops, we had fun guessing the pastimes of recent visitors from the evidence they had left behind including a tent peg and sweet wrappers.

Eaves Wood fern shadow 2Past the rocks, we decided to stay down in the woodland rather than climbing straight up to Heptonstall.  Descending a flight of twee steps, we noted almost impossible greenery.  Small dapples of sunlight and fern shadows fell artily on the stone treads.  The landscape became like pixie land as the myriad paths from the Victorian job creation scheme led in all directions.  Small birds flitted through trees and a squirrel scampered into the undergrowth.

Finding it hard to choose the best route, we kept to the middle route until we reached a more significant-looking fork, thinking we would soon reach the top wall and thus the lane up to the village.  However, we ended up in what we realised was the lower end of Slater Ings.  The path became indiscernible in places.  Large square boulders lay higgledy piggledy (most likely a result of quarry dumping).   We had a tricky climb through huge ferns, stopping often to locate the best way through.  Even so, Phil banged his head on a tree branch.

Slater Ings square rocksEventually, I spotted what I assumed was the top wall above us but could not see an obvious access point.  Then Phil noticed that it was not the wall I’d thought it was.  Nevertheless, we had to go upwards to reach civilisation.  I saw a gap in the wall and clambered over large stones towards it.  On reaching the top, we realised there had once been a proper path and crossing point – apparently eroded since our last trek through this neglected lower part of the wood.

We came onto the lovely rocky path that we knew quite well at the top of Slater Ings, albeit not as far along as expected.  But it was easy enough from there to reach the lane up to Heptonstall.  On the corner of Green Lane, I noticed a styal into fields which I knew would cut a corner out.  This turned out to be part of the Hebden Loopi. We crossed a beautiful meadow with attractive paving underfoot, heading for a picturesque treeline to emerge onto the road.  In the village, we entered The first pub for refreshments.

At the bar, we exchanged a few words with an acquaintance, ordered pints, grabbed menus and headed for the beer garden.  Whilst enjoying the indirect sunlight, we prevaricated about ordering food as we were not super hungry.  And then we saw the chips and that settled it!  After eating, we realised the football was underway and considered going to the other pub to watch it.  I nipped in to check the score and noted their TV was smaller than the one at home.

Taking the Corpse Road wooden gateOpting for the Corpse Road back, we initially had trouble finding the entrance.  On finding it a little way down the road, a footpath sign indicated two different routes.  We mistakenly took the upward path and arrived at the edge of Southfield.  Returning to the sign, the other path started out as gravel path as it led past houses.  It then became narrow and overgrown.  We were repeatedly stung by nettles and brambles snagged at our clothes.

The vegetation thinned alongside a low stone wall.  Just after a rickety shed, we were led downwards.  I remembered continuing in a straight line last time a rope barred our way.  Forced to turn left and then right onto Heptonstall Road, the final stretch home was very quick.  As I settled down with a coffee to watch the end of the football match, I felt boiling hot and had in urgent need of a cold shower.

Note:

  1. The Hebden Bridge Loop: http://hbwalkersaction.org.uk/pennine-way-loop/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4EJ_MuwABD_5kPtPQ

Valley view

Walks in Colden Clough

Tree stump with bluebells

We never tire of walking in Colden Clough. Due to the seasonal changes, it is impossible to have the same experience twice.

Spring walks are rewarded by a riot of bluebells and garlic, which we can smell before we see it (we pick young leaves away from the path for ace soups and pesto). Summer brings the trees out in full bloom – beech and birch, oak and rowan are the most common. This is also usually (but not always!) the time when the lower paths are driest allowing navigation of routes otherwise too muddy and wet.

Colden Clough April - Lumb Mill Archaeology - Mill Floor 4

Autumn brings out the true majesty of the trees in their golds, oranges, reds and browns. We may forage for beech nuts if the squirrels haven’t beaten us to it!

And in winter, the Clough becomes a wonderland, when blanketed with snow or hoar frost.

Despite the interest of organisations such as the AA i and the BBC ii, it is not unusual if you choose the less-trodden paths, to barely see another soul all day. Start by walking west out of town along the main road to the Fox and Goose pub. Then either turn right up the next path you come to or up Church Lane passed the parish church and keep going up.

Red path 5

From here, there are numerous paths to choose, some of which take you very quickly to Lumb Bank. Others will lead you on a series of adventures via woods, rocky outcrops, up and down steps, and numerous examples of industrial archaeology.

These latter two are Victorian creations: many of the small paths were built as a part of a job creation scheme in the early 1900’s.

If you keep to the route of the river, you will eventually come to Hebble Bridge. In good weather, the river and clearing on the other side is busy with people picnicking, children paddling and dogs optimistically waiting for someone to play with them.

Many of these may be staying at the campsite, just a little further up in the New Delight pub (known affectionately by locals as ‘The Newdy’).

Meaningless signs

This can be reached by climbing either of the steep sets of steps in front of you as you come over the bridge. Turn right at the top and go along the lane.

You then have choices to make: follow the packhorse trailii or the modern road to Heptonstall, go back into the Clough and keep heading down, or just get the bus back to town.

 

 

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References:

i http://www.theaa.com/walks/jumble-hole-and-colden-clough-421306

i i http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2008/04/09/colden_clough_walk_feature.shtml