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.
The 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 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’.
A 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.
We 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!
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti7wIAdhqdIdkUOipvA?e=vboOK1