Tag Archives: weekend

Spring Alive

Trunks and Bluebells 1

The last Sunday in April, the weather looked changeable but we really needed to get out for some air and exercise.  We walked aimlessly towards town, and stopped to chat to a neighbour on her doorstep on the way.  The town square was almost as lively as the Easter weekend.  As we emerged with pies from the baker’s, Phil reckoned he heard a peacock.  A sighting had recently been made in Old town and wondering if it had descended from there, we walked down Albert Street.  With no sign of it, I proposed it was a dog yelping.

Dandelion Flower 3At the main road, we walked on to cross near the rail station and took the track down past the stoneyard.  We stopped on the bridge, where a small bird swooped down, apparently washing something in the river.  It then flew under the arch.  We climbed up broken steps and peered precariously from the edge, but the bird eluded us.

Continuing up Wood Top Road, lush greenery surrounded on all sides.  We followed the curves to skirt farm buildings and reach Carr Lane.

Revelling in having the place to ourselves, we dawdled to examine the hedgerows.  Delicate white and purple flowers contrasted with deep green grass. Dazzlingly yellow dandelions started going to seed forming perfect clock circles.

Birdsong of myriad species made the only sound.  A very loud chaffinch dominated the chorus.  At the next group of buildings, we searched for a way through but could discern none apart from down to the railway bridge.

Grassy Lane 3

Returning to Wood Top Farm, we took the beautiful grassy lane towards Crow Nest Wood.  As we headed down, tiny forget-me-nots lay in a clump at the corner.  Oak trees sported shiny leaves and pendulous blossoms.   A mouldy stump had become almost dust in places, the culprit an iridescent turquoise.  At the quarry, we stayed on the top path into the wood.  Afternoon sun filtered through leafy boughs, making soft shadows on carpets of bluebells.

I suggested a customary stop near the stream, but as the air cooled, thought better of it.  However, a bit further down, we started flagging and rested on a moss-covered rock.

Phil tried to persuade me that stones had moved uphill since his last visit.  I was sceptical about the idea of inanimate objects having a life of their own.

Roe Deer 1We then took the shortest route down, noting trees looking even more dead and rotten than a few months ago.

As we approached the path behind Palace House Road, a roebuck grazed on shrubs.  It stared right at me, enabling a good shot.

Verges displayed a variety of life, different from the dark woodland.  Insects and spiders waited patiently for prey.  Golden Welsh poppies escaped from nearby gardens.  A cacophony of tits hopped between treetops.

Back home, we ate the re-heated pies with coffee and agreed it was much easier than picnicking perched on a rock in the woods.  I felt very tired, my legs ached and an Achilles tendon issue flared up.  But I was glad we had been out.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti6cACS87vPUo7HaryQ

Waiting 1

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Early Spring in Common Bank and Nutclough

Common Bank Trees 3

The mild weather continued into late February.  On the last Sunday, we took one of our familiar circular walks, starting out along Oldgate, over the packhorse bridge, up Bridge Gate and across Commercial Street onto the historic cobbled route towards Birchcliffe.  At the top of the steps, we proceeded upwards on School Street to the start of Common Bank Wood.

Common Bank Bark Close Up 4We could hear a dog barking from within a house when a woman with a dog came past.  She thought we were spooked by her hound, put it on a lead and walked ahead which was considerate.  However, the dog kept stopping to sniff interesting things!  We made the most of being held back on the narrow path to examine the interesting shapes and shadows.

Sycamore bark reflected filtered sunlight.  Shadows of tree trunks fell on the ground still littered with autumnal leaves.  A flawless blue sky framed tightly-packed twisty branches.

At the top, the bridge over the stream looked more precarious than ever but fortunately the water level was low thus not difficult to navigate.  Up the path between the fields, a jay (aka pink crow!) flitted from tree top to post.  We crept along to try and capture it on camera but we had more luck with the magpies and jackdaws.

Blooming 6Opposite the residential area of Dod Naze, low-hanging catkins swayed gently in the breeze.  We paused briefly on the corner where a smattering of spring flowers grew behind the bench before turning up onto Rowland Lane.  Mist topping the uplands created eerie scenes with the church towers of Heptonstall emerging ethereally from a grey landscape.

At the end of the lane, we waited for a group of walkers accompanied by a dog with stick to pass by then curved round sharp left down Sandy Gate.  Buds adorned small trees and shrubs, some appearing like miniature flowers.

Budding 6Part-way down, Phil had problems with his camera and I had a bit of tummy ache so we took a breather on the low wall.  A passing driver shouted through his open window at us as he raced up the hill, which made me jump.  Both feeling irritated, I decided to remove myself from the situation and marched off.  I had calmed down somewhat as he caught up with me.

Among the low springtime growth, I easily located the path descending into Nutclough and spotted a dead shrew under a tree– fluffy on the top, mouldy on the bottom!  As we crossed the stone bridge, fading afternoon sun glinted on the water’s surface making silvery patterns. The air became noticeably cooler as we followed the well-trodden route through the clough. Feeling disinclined to traverse to the ‘islands’, we rested instead on the top bench before a brisk walk homewards via Keighley Road.  Removing my boots to rest on the sofa, I reflected that I did not feel as tired as I would have a few weeks ago.  Although not a massive walk, it would usually be more than enough for me.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5xgZ-49clE15sZOIg

Misty Field 2

 

Stones and Rocks – Bridestones to Great Rock

Causeway Vista

Late February 2019 brought unseasonably warm weather and an early spring (hard to believe this time last year we were ravaged by the Beast from the East!).  During half term, we enjoyed a rare Friday outing – further afield than usual to Bridestones Moor.

We began the journey by bus, calling at the bakers for pasties before crossing over to the stop.  The service to Blackshaw Head seemed very late and I almost gave up but it eventually arrived.  Typically, we were the only passengers left after Heptonstall.  We alighted at Blackshaw Head chapel and sat in the sun to eat our pasty lunch before trekking up The Long Causeway.

Causeway KestrelFrom the OS map, I knew it would be 2 or 3 miles so maintained a steady pace.  After the village, the straight road rose gently between fields of sheep.  Many looked fit to burst they were so fat.  Others appeared incredibly scruffy with straggly wool hanging off them.  Overhead wires provided lookouts for crows and a kestrel which considerately stayed still for several minutes.

Possible shortcuts took the form of dodgy-looking paths across ill-kempt farmland scattered with ramshackle buildings.

We kept to tarmac until we reached the corner of Eastwood Road, marked by a milepost. On re-checking the map, we plumped for the more well-trodden route up to the stones.  Down Eastwood Road we found a ridiculously narrow gate (what M&M would call an obesity check!)  On the other side a lovely track headed up across moorland to the rocks with sponge-like moss keeping the bog at bay.  A smattering of fellow visitors populated the site, most of whom had driven judging by the cars parked in the lay by opposite.

Bridestones Trig Point 1The wind picked up as we climbed up to the trig point where I risked being blown off.  We examined stark groove lines on the stones where weathering over millennia had resulted in amazing features, and marvelled at the power of wind and water.

We then rested in the lee of the rocks before walking further behind to survey the alternative paths we could have used.  The ground became boggier as we approached a steep drop – I was glad we had opted for the easier route.

Bridestones Main Event 5Curving round to the front of the stones, smooth erosion left triangular holes between rocks and chair-like hollows in grey boulders.  A stretch of sturdy brown rock resembled a castle wall.  Cubed stones tumbling down the slope evoked memories of archaeological sites.  We felt as if we were on holiday!

Approaching the Bridestones themselves, we waited for families with dogs to move out of shot.  Majestic pillars of solid granite stood curiously grouped as though surveying the landscape. The base of one had been so worn away that it appeared precariously balanced.

No wonder they have inspired legends and folk tales!  We were astonished at how it had taken us so long to visit (and later discovered we had only seen the half of it.  I vowed it would not be another twenty years before returning).

The Great Rock 2We returned to the daft gate and turned right, continuing down Eastwood Road to Great Rock.  It didn’t look so great now!  I had hoped to easily find a straight way down to Eastwood but it eluded me.  Again, we eschewed uncertain paths heading towards Jumble Hole.  We checked the map once more and decided to stay on the road back up to Blackshaw Head.

Overcome with fatigue and with less than an hour of daylight remaining, we rested briefly at Hippins Bridge (a road bridge not a footbridge as I used to think) to look up bus times on google.  With one due in half an hour, we made the final climb back up to The Long Causeway.  As we waited, dusk fell.  A menagerie serenaded us; I could only identify a couple of the several species of bird amongst the cacophony of the twilight chorus.  Inevitably late again, it was almost dark when the bus finally made it up the hill, turned and picked us up.  During the descent, a man from Bolton amused us with his tales of drinking around Calderdale.  The driver stopped right opposite the Fox and Goose for him!

more photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5w1vQuMmnaT_7lR1Q

Bridestones Frontage 2

New Road to Crow Nest

High roadIt is very rare for me to suggest a walk in Crow Nest Wood during the winter months.  But in mid-February, spring made an early appearance.  Setting off in early afternoon sun, we initially embarked on our usual route: across Market Street, up to Palace House Road and up the signed path towards Crow Nest.  I then spontaneously suggested turning up the next switchback.  The attractive path was no longer signed ‘bar cliff’ as it had been in summer 2017.  As we climbed steadily upwards, we paused for scenic views of the busy town centre below and over to Midgeley Moor and villages ‘up tops’.  The sun disappeared and a few spots of rain fell.  With no protection, I hesitated to continue until Phil lent me his cap.  A few minutes later, the rain stopped.

Field with ridgesAt the top of the path, we passed through the metal gate, skirted Weasel Hall and followed the road round onto the lovely cobbled part of New Road.  Behind stone walls dotted with holes, mysterious ridges lay in a field.  We could only guess at their meaning.

We followed the line of the road west then east, to the TV transmitter.  The grey steel structure keyed in perfectly with the steel grey sky.

Gushing water 1Continuing to Old Chamber, a noisy family inhabited the ‘honesty shed’ outing paid to the idea of stopping for a cuppa.  Water gushed down gutters, splashing into stone troughs.  Bright primroses poked out of ceramic pots.  Further on, we noted several changes.  Among the farm buildings and fields containing very pregnant-looking sheep, some of the old buildings had been demolished with others converted into holiday lets.

Descending the steep incline proved hard work as the square grey cobbles made my toes hurt.  At the bottom we looked back.  The view up towards the line of trees at the top of the hill was marred somewhat by the clouds of smoke.  We kept to the left of Wood Top Farm and turned left, to climb up once more.

Sunlit laneThe sun re-appeared, infusing the scene with a lovely yellow glow. We rested on the edge of a broken wall to enjoy some rays.  On the ridge behind us, a tree covered in flaky green mould looked ready to fall – not the first rotted casualty of the afternoon.  We continued on the grassy lane, sloping gently downwards to Crow Nest Wood.

The old quarry was totally dry – very uncharacteristic, especially in winter.  We then climbed up again, along the rocky path to the top of the wood.  I did not recall ever doing the journey this way round before.   Phil strode ahead with absolute certainty of the route.

Trees within treesHe made me laugh as he used familiar trees as landmarks, many of which he had given funny names such as ‘stone tree’ ‘smelly tree’ – the latter having rotten and collapsed, emitting a distinct stink of sulphur which followed us for some time.  Others sported stripped bark, and desiccated branches hanging precariously and crashing into their neighbours.

We crossed the stream and commented that plants were already poking through the ground in the area resplendent with flowers during spring.   I wondered if the garlic might actually be ready in March for once.  Still unsure of the way down we soon spotted a small gate, marking both the place where the path straight down from Old Chamber emerges and the point where we could descend.

The mixture of loose stones and sticky mud was even worse on the toes than the Spencer Lane cobbles!  Still, at least the dearth of water after a dry winter did not add to the discomfiture and made for a short easy stretch back to Palace House Road.

Before leaving the track, I stopped to admire pussy willows when I heard the sound of tits twittering.  They flitted about so fast they were difficult to keep track of.  I was still trying to follow them from branch to branch when midget dogs barked ferociously at us.  Not even I was scared by them as the owners laughed, although I observed some training would not go amiss.

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Spencer Lane 5b

 

Freaky Nutclough

Bright trees 1

Following a week in bed with sinusitis, we managed one more walk before the end of October.  As it was the day the clocks reverted to GMT and as usual, we did not leave the house until mid-afternoon, we agreed on a short jaunt to Nutclough.  We used the shortcut to the buttress and down towards town.  Discordant music could be heard, prompting speculation as to what event might be occurring but concluded it might just be a busker.  We walked the familiar route via Hangingroyd road, up the steps opposite the Little Park onto Foster Lane, turned right and crossed Keighley Road into Nutclough Wood.  Beautiful colours greeted us immediately; many trees still sported green leaves while browns and oranges littered the path.

Evil pixie 2Finding the large iron gate padlocked, we entered via side gate.  It squeaked ominously as I lifted the latch and went through.  I joked about recording the sound to scare young children on Halloween!  The freaky theme continued as Phil cavorted like an evil pixie – obviously influenced by the film we’d watched the night before featuring fantastically crap demons.i

We continued up leaf-strewn steps and through the gap onto the edge of ‘the swamp’.  Braving snagging brambles and biting insects, I ventured further towards the edge than ever before.

Colourful reflections 6The colours reflected in the water were stunning!  A cyan sky provided a backdrop for dark horizontal shadows of tree trunks.  Bright green ferns were reflected beneath curled-up leaves floating gently on the surface.  Ripples produced surreal effects with undulations of red and yellow.  On returning to the gap in the wall I spotted a small swarm of flies glinting in the sunlight; they gave the impression of fairies dancing in a magical woodland.

Continuing down towards the stream, a couple with two small boys strolled around ‘the island’.  The man chatted to us about the local environment and good weather, making comparisons with his home county of Kent.  The elder of the two boys asked Phil if he could use his camera.  Phil understandably said no and I added that he probably wouldn’t even be able to lift it.  In spite of the shallow water, I cautiously used the stepping stones to cross.

Flourish of fungiAt the top end of the island, we clambered over the felled branches.  More cutting had occurred – evidenced by sawdust on the ground – and sadly obliterated the black mushrooms.    However, a flourish of pale pink fungi grew in its stead.  Due to the low water level, the waterfall had become a tinkling trickle.  Above us, the sun glinted on the uppermost leaves of tall beeches, quietly rustling in the softest of breezes.

We rested briefly on the now even more sunken bench, somewhat bemused by the elder boy bashing everything in sight with a stick.  I remarked that he obviously didn’t get out in the countryside much (urban kids being well known for a fear of the great outdoors!)

Proceeding to the other end of the swamp, my attempts to capture a group of paddling ducks on camera were distinctly blurry.  We turned sharp left to climb the steep path up to the treetops looking down on the kaleidoscope of colours.  Behind the terrace of houses, we nosed around and discovered another path leading back down to the clough.   Phil considered it but I felt it would be too much for me.  After my latest illness, I had just wanted an hour or two of sun and exercise which I had achieved.  Instead, we carried on up to Sandy Gate and down to Birchcliffe.

Picturesque chair 1Taking the steep buttress-like ginnel, tall houses framed a narrow slither of sky in front of us was.  Halfway down, a picturesque chair had been left outside a garden gate, while at the bottom., lichen and small ferns created textured wallpaper against grey stone.  On reaching School Street, we proceeded onto Bridge Gate, noting that Calan’s did not seem popular.

Along Market street, we found amusement in a horrifying display of pumpkins accompanied by a terrible painting of Frida Kahlo – which someone obviously considered an appropriate homage to the late artist – probably the freakiest thing we had seen all day!

Pumpkin helli The excellent Basque film, ‘Errementari’ (the Blacksmith and the Devil)

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5M9vQfFZIzbqPZvHg

 

 

Finding Ted and Sylvia (Lumb Bank to Heptonstall)

Bend and boughs

The period mid-October to late November proved incredibly difficult.  Dealings with the DWP had left me with no income and wading through an infuriating Kafkaesque process.  Not only did my mental health suffer with heightened stress and anxiety, but the time it consumed left very little space for anything else, particularly the activities that help me to cope with depression.  The ordeal took place over the most remarkably mild autumn we had ever experienced, and I missed being able to go out on the numerous sunny days perfect for walking and photography.

Amongst the crap, we did manage a few short walks.  On Sunday 21st October, we were determined to get out in the glorious sunshine.  After a slow start, we managed to leave the house at 2.45 p.m.  We walked westwards towards the Fox and Goose pub where dried leaves crunched underfoot.  They looked blighted and as though they had dropped prematurely.  We turned right up the small path before Mytholm Close and wended round fenced-off gardens that local landowners had craftily erected to re-direct walkers away from their property.  At the first junction, we glanced down towards Mytholm where colours in trees overhanging the road appeared outstandingly picturesque.

Colourful trees revisitedWe turned right again and started the ascent into woodland.  It was so long since I had done such a steep uphill climb and had to stop often to catch my breath.   A Scottie dog with a persistent bark could be heard before it emerged on the end of a very long lead, eyeing us in an irate fashion.  I wondered why the owner did not reel the lead in as they walked in our wake.  Eventually she did, relieving my added anxiety.

Faced with another choice of routes, we kept to the lower path admiring the golds and browns surrounding the dappled path.  A flat stretch allowed me to breathe easier, until arriving at another fork.  This time, we opted for the upper path, following the line of ‘Old Gate’ to Lumb Bank.

Lumb Bank garden 4

Finding the lower gate to the writer’s garden open, we snuck in. Bees and small copper butterflies flitted amongst shrubs to feed on large flowers.   As we gazed down into Colden Clough, crows wheeled overhead.

I said they were paying homage to Ted Hughes which led to us discussing the great poet.  Despite the (some would say undeserved) bad press, he obviously made enough money scribing to buy a large house.

We skirted the building and on reaching the main drive, double- backed to follow the lane towards Heptonstall, taking the recently discover cut-through on the ‘loop path’ and walked down into the village.  We headed for the churchyard to rest and discuss what to do next.  Although I had not wanted a very long walk, I had overestimated how long it would take us and calculated that we still had two hours of daylight left.  We sat on a flat gravestone and shared a can of pop.

Churchyard selfieAmongst the conifers, I noticed the long shadows created by the late afternoon sun and took a rare ‘selfie’.

A few other people wandered past, including a woman looking a bit lost.  She came over to ask the location of Sylvia Plath’s grave.  Phil directed her across to the newer plot, saying “You can’t miss it.  There are usually pens and stuff on it”.  Then adding to me: “I knew she would be looking for Sylvia Plath.  She looked the type”.  I eschewed the suggestion to do likewise having taken visitors there on previous occasions.

We considered visiting a friend for a cup of tea but Phil realised he didn’t have his phone and panicked.  He thought he might have left it at home.  I suggested we had better go back in case he’d dropped it somewhere, allowing time to retrace his steps before dark.  Consequently, we walked quickly straight down Heptonstall Road, snatching a few blackberries still hanging on in the hedgerows amongst the mould as we passed.

We took the steps down to Lee Wood Road, crossed and decided to walk down the buttress, strewn with very large leaves.  We had not taken this route for ages and it seemed longer than we recalled. “Are we there yet?” I joked.   I left him near the bottom to take the shortest way home while he popped to the shop.  On entering the living room, I spied his phone straight away, where he’d left it.  We had observed earlier how odd it was that we had hardly seen any other walkers on such a gorgeous day, surmising everyone had gone to the boozer.  When Phil got home, he confirmed this suspicion; the town centre was “rammed with people in shorts and tiny dresses like it’s Ibiza!”  Not for the first time, we marvelled at the phenomena of hordes suddenly descending in summer gear as soon as the sun comes out – it’s like a superpower!

More pictures at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5MOEgjdfTeeeTetXg

Lumb Bank view 1

Down from Crimsworth into the Dean

Crimsworth view 1

The first Sunday of September started out dull but warm.  It became sunnier early afternoon and decided to get the bus up to Crimsworth and walk back via the dean.  We had just enough time to buy pies from the bakers in the square on the way to Commercial Street, with two minutes to spare till the next bus.  A walking friend who got on at the same stop, suggested an alternative walk up High Brow Knoll but I didn’t fancy it right then.

Grass verge blooms 8The bus emptied at Old Town, leaving us alone to travel to the terminus.   Awe-struck by the moorland landscape, we lingered to take photos.  My camera strap broke again and Phil fixed it for me (I was not having much luck doing it myself).

We made our way back down the road, cringing when fast motorcycles whizzed by, seeking refuge in the lush verge.  It seemed remarkable how different the plants were here, on the moorland edge.  Fluffy thistles looked ready to fly off; pale pink flowers wafted in the breeze; seed heads gave the impression of tiny trees emerging behind granite stone walls; marooned gate posts leaned precariously in the soft ground.

A couple of signs indicated footpaths going off to the right but we were put off trying them by a combination of boggy fields and large cows.

Howarth Old Road 1We continued to Haworth Old Road where an old waymarker had been attractively re-painted; the writing picked out in bold lack against a stark white background.  We turned sharp right onto the road, then left.   Grassy Small Shaw Lane zig-zagged downwards, edged by tall evergreens and punctuated by signs declaring the land private and forbidding cycling.  At the bottom we were confronted by a large house.  A sign directed us left onto a small path.  As a couple with a dog exited a gate, we checked with them that the route was passable.

As soon as we passed through the gate into a field, I recognised the area from our last visit to the area some years agoi.  Small paving helped us navigate marshy meadow where a small copper butterfly sat on a flower.

Small copper butterflyWe soon emerged in the moor-like field which I remembered, particularly the ruins and a good large rock, ideal for a lunch stop.  We made our way up to eat our pies, finding it had become much more overgrown in the intervening years, with heather, moss, lichen and pixie cups.

I could hear a dog barking loudly in the distance as soon as I took a bite of pie, convinced myself it was coming nearer and felt a bit jumpy.  I knew I was being paranoid but I ate quickly nonetheless.

Woodland fungi 3We continued, through the next gate into dark woodland where the red floor contrasted with deep green foliage.  At the start of the old mill ponds, felled trees thwarted our attempts to find a downward path.

I surmised that severe floods since our last visit had caused significant alterations to the landscape.  We followed the route marked, upwards, noting a variety of fungi clinging to rotted trunks.  Some looked curiously metallic.

I recognised the corner of the dam wall – a huge testament to the region’s industrial heritage – and the gorgeous tree down to our right.

After some investigation, we located a ‘desire path’ through pocked grass land to get back onto the Old Road (where more grass replaced paving).  From there, it was a short stretch to Midgehole Road.  An exodus from the nearby Blue Pig confirmed that a bus was due and we opted for the easy way home.  Although the walk had not been too taxing, the weather had become clammy and I felt tired and overheated.  Back in town, we chatted briefly to another friend on his way to the pub.  We eschewed the prospect of drinking in favour of coffee and cake at home.

i  See: https://hepdenerose.wordpress.com/2015/05/07/changing-landscapes-in-crimsworth-dean/

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti4kS20m5dNz6qZdWmg

Haworth Old Road 5