Tag Archives: weekend

Heritage, Tea and Cake in Sowerby

Valley view pano

Mid-September heritage open day events provided an opportunity to investigate something new.  We agreed that St. Peter’s Church in Sowerby looked interesting.  I checked public transport routes to discover it involved a bit of a walk from the nearest station.  We set off in the soft late summer sun, along the towpath and through the park.  The slightly-delayed train soon arrived at Sowerby Bridge where the subway stank strongly of cat pee.  We headed down Station Road and briefly perused interesting artefacts outside the junk shop.  At the bottom, we found a crazily busy junction where motorists tore past yellow stone edifices.  With no pedestrian crossing, getting to the other side of West Street proved hairy.

Terrace 1Sowerby Street led uphill.  An incongruent concrete block was fronted by a small parade of shops, most seemingly shut.  Upper floors housed maisonettes.  Ahead of us, a faded sign on the side of The Royal Oak made us wonder if the pub still served Whitaker’s ales and stout.

Across the street, we turned right onto Sowerby New Road and climbed ever higher.  On the left-hand side, industrial buildings and a dilapidated telephone exchange interspersed residential properties.  A whole row had been demolished leaving a pile of rubble reminiscent of a bomb site.  Stunted side streets proclaimed private land.  To the right, sloping terraces clung to the valley sides.  We remarked on the juxtaposition of the urban and rural in the Lower Calder Valley.

Further up, Phil asked if we were going the right way to which I replied there was no other (apart from crossing the valley near Luddenden Foot).  He seemed sceptical so I suggested he look it up before our return.

Sowerby village 2A bend eventually marked the start of Sowerby Village with the Church Stile Inn the first sign we had reached our destination.  The imposingly dark church stood proudly on the opposite corner.   A side gate led into the graveyard.  Going round to the unlocked front door, we entered to find St. Peter’s looking quite busy but soon surmised the occupants were all church people, with us the sole visitors who’d come on spec.  Undaunted, we explored the interior.  Sunbeams shone through amazing stained-glass windows.  Ornate plasterwork decorated the wall above the altar.  An intriguing balcony was unfortunately out of bounds. Display boards showed stills of film scenes from the BBC drama Gentleman Jack  – the church had stood in for St. Martin’s in the Field.

The lovely trendy vicar offered me a cuppa.  As I settled down with my drink, I fell into conversation with two other women munching cake, one of whom was also a writer.  She fetched me a copy of the church newsletter containing articles she’d written about the church and its historyi.  In turn, I told her about my column in Valley Life magazine.  When Phil  joined us, the vicar made him a coffee and I succumbed to the proffered cake.

Surprised at how long we had spent inside, we said we ought to make a move and bade goodbye.  Walking round the church exterior, our attempt to do a complete circuit was thwarted by tangled overgrowth at the back.

ParkingWe explored the immediate vicinity of St. Peter’s Square where the primary school had been turned into a church hall.   Phil checked google for a different way to Sowerby Bridge.  As I expected, there was none.  We returned the way we’d come.  Obviously quicker downhill, we occasionally  stopped to admire valley views, picking out landmarks and peculiarities.  Lone cats stalked about in long grass. Tall towers loomed in the distance.  A line of toy cars had been parked neatly beneath a garden swing. Upper Gaukroger sounded unusual; the name turned out to be idiosyncratically Yorkshirei i.

At the bottom of Sowerby New Road, we took a slight detour down Foundry Road and noted that some of the Victorian mills had been converted into apartments, rather over-furbished in places.

Town hallTowards  the town centre, a makeshift campsite had been constructed near the weir.   We wondered at the ostentatious architecture, particularly the odd shape of the town hall and the fake art deco defunct cinema.  We ducked into a wharfside pub to use facilities but were not tempted to stay.  Narrow alleys provided a shortcut to the station.  In the subway again, Phil this time noticed the stink and surmised there must be a station cat.

The next  due train was severely delayed.  The announcements helpfully informed us that it was late due to being late leaving the depot!  As we loitered in the car park,  one of the women from the church appeared, on her way  to Manchester where she now lived.

We chatted until our train eventually arrived, leaving her to catch the next one;  not far behind due to the huge delay.  Out of earshot, Phil said the woman reminded him of the ‘lovely Debbie McGee’.  I was glad he had not mentioned that earlier or I might have struggled to keep a straight face!

Notes

i.  https://st-peters.ryburnbenefice.org/

ii. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Gaukroger

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti85ShF7iT8-DfaEScg?e=zXgwoe

St Peters Church exterior 9

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.

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti8RzSgdxfsO7cHxeig?e=sKDY6t

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.

 

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti8F79NjMPwOJ-eADkw?e=hCKpef

Path Via Field 1

 

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

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.

New Road with River 3August 2019 brought copious rain.  Tributaries poured from fields and bled from underground springs.  New Road looked more like New River!  We paused at the crest where bright pink and orange flowers dotted the verge and took in panoramic views before continuing to Old Chamber.  This time the ‘honesty box’  was unoccupied.

I hoped it might supply lunchtime butties but alas not.  I eschewed the tea and cake, settling instead for a cup of water on the bench outside.  A gentle breeze ruffled grass in the meadows as small birds swooped between hedges and poles.

RestingProceeding to Spencer Lane, fat sheep grazed peacefully.  A butterfly landed on the cobbles in front of us.  It was hard to convince Phil, who claims to have only ever seen four species of butterfly in his life, to admit it was a different one, (even when I later identified it from a recently-acquired book as a ‘speckled wood’)

Hungry, we opted for a quick route into town via Wood Top, past the station and through the park.  We took a table outside Rendezvous, ensuring full coverage from the awning in case of the predicted rain.  As we finished our drinks, a downpour arrived on cue and we prepared for a drenching.   But it stopped as we left (to return with more force later – story of the summer!)

More photos at: https://1drv.ms/f/s!AjkK19zVvfQti5t8WfxIrGFAg9r5UQ;

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti74yJxkMhCavj3KtTw?e=oWCewC

View Panorama