Tag Archives: wildlife

Confined walks 4 – Canalside Medley

Bridge view

Early May, we struggled to leave the house before later afternoon.  Thus we did not get further than the canal.

At the start of the week, Phil cast about for an excuse to go out.  With no shop requirements, he suggested going to look for goslings, snapped by a fellow photographer on the marina.  Hoping they’d still be there we set off late Wednesday afternoon. We waited for a neighbour coming up the steps.  “It’s so strange walking round (town) now, she remarked, “but I quite like it.  Apart from missing the charity shops. I’ve got no summer clothes.” I sympathised as I also missed them.  As she reached the top step, a slipper-wearing man with a mini dog rudely overtook us.  The usual hippies milled about on the main road.

Chapel AquilegiaWe paused at the chapel where cultivated purple aquilegia competed for space with yellow wild poppies and dandelions in the untended garden.  At the marina, we spotted geese, pigeons, a wagtail, a pile of pallets and a small family squatting on the cobbles, but no goslings.  Walking back to the park entrance, a man sat on the cinema steps.  Still talking into his phone, he abruptly stood and strode in our direction necessitating a sudden dodge.

In the memorial gardens, displaced pub-goers socialised on benches while in the park, children weaved about on bikes.  The ‘wild flower’ patch was a riot of dandelions.  On the less-trod playing field, they sprouted alongside daisies, heedless of dogs chasing balls.

Towpath SignExiting onto the towpath, signs redolent of Royston Vasey proclaimed ‘local use only’.  Fish swam beneath bright ripples in the canal, but still no sign of goslings. Turning towards Mayroyd, we climbed onto the lock, avoiding another small family.  A layer of scum and fallen blossom coated the water, blocking any view of wild life.  The way ahead seemed rather busy.  We retreated and stayed on the left side hoping to avoid busier stretches, taking the steps up to Palace House Road.  Peeking over the wall  down onto the canal at Hebble End, there were still no pesky goslings!

Friday (VE Day), jolly laughter, bursts of terrible music and milling about implied people on the street below were actually having a party. On our street, neighbours of the adjacent terrace socialised in their own self-created ‘bubble’.  Mr. Fast n Furious raced up and parked in the middle of the thoroughfare for no apparent reason, stood there a few minutes with engine idling, then reversed out with equal speed.

Bunting 1We gave all a wide berth and walked through clouds of floating dandelion seeds and upon the fading chalk art, to the end of the street, giggling at pathetic bunting in ‘Brexit Close’.  We took The Buttress down to the Packhorse Bridge, and into the square where a solitary figured occupied a bench.  I discovered later that an anti-lockdown demo, consisting of 8 sociopathic hippies had taken place.  Getting a few errands, we popped in the fancy wine shop to smirk at the exorbitant prices and dance to Sister Sledge and purchased the fabled goat meat from the very local butchers.

We wandered towards Holme Street where more half-hearted bunting adorned the school.  The smoky wood smell of the people’s pizza van was a big draw, but competed with the stink of draw towards the aqueduct.

DippingWe crossed to the other side of the lock again, evading the idiotic bank holiday smokers and drinkers, and enjoying a quiet patch of sunlight until the coast cleared.  Continuing past Hebble End, the angry white geese noisily defended their territory against half-breed ducks.  One, a mix of mallard and runner duck, swam in an ungainly fashion, struggling to keep its long neck up .  At the next exit point, we walked down a dirt track housing half-demolished vans, to the river and spotted a wagtail hopping from rock to rock.

Around the corner, we hailed a couple of friends in their garden, chatting safely from the other side of the wall.  He had been furloughed and she’d sensibly given up work as a self-employed painter for the duration, enjoying the rest.  That made at least two other people liking the slower pace of life! By coincidence, she had painted the red windows reflected in the canal waters that I had shot a couple of days before (and subject of the next Monday Morning Haiga).

Towpath reflections 1

On Spring Bank holiday Monday, we set off slightly earlier hoping to find lunch in town.  Heaving with day-trippers, carparks and bins overflowed, people queued for café take-a-ways, and benches outside the pub were fully occupied (although still not offering take-outs themselves).  It appeared as if the square had become a makeshift food court.  In search of pies, we found the bakers shut.  The local convenience stores supplied meagre pickings.  We waited ages while a family who looked like they’d already eaten all the pies, hovered round the instant food section.  The staff complained about the tourists “There are at least 300 people in the square”, one of them exaggerated.  Navigating the busy street, almost mowed down by a motorbike, we crossed over to the park to find a suitable patch of grass amidst the small groups populating the green spaces, in front of the shut café.  I said they could at least be selling ice cream.

Calder Holmes Park 2We enjoyed a long overdue picnic lunch in the warm sunshine, realising it was the first time since early March we had bought ‘lunch out’.  Discussing the recent Cummings farrago, we agreed the cat was out of the bag now.  Although physical distancing was not being totally ignored, friendship groups had definitely formed.  I learnt the art beloved of Daily Mail photographers, misleading the viewer into thinking small clumps of people were actually one seething mass.  An infamous local character staggered from one group to another, wearing a mask round his chin.  Phil suggested his keyworker probably put a stack in his house to protect the rest of us!

After eating, we walked along the canal to Mytholmroyd.  Delicate white flowers and common orchids resembling bottle brushes swayed gently at the water’s edge, dwarfed by Margarites.

Canal Whites 1At the boundary, more Margarites grew in hard gravel also home to a smattering of clover and trefoil.  We crossed the main road to the ancient hamlet of Hawksclough and walked home  via the Sustrans cycle path.  As the habitat changed, so did the flora.   Bright kingcups dazzled beside grey granite while fading wild garlic and miniscule blooms stretched upwards in the shade of riverside trees.

I popped in the co-op while Phil waited outside.  The halfwit serving me spoke into his headset: “we appear to have a stalker at the window.“  I turned round to see Phil doing funny faces behind my back!

Field of dreams

Colden Forage

Marble water

At the start of spring, a variety of factors mitigated against walking for several weeks, including stringent ‘social distancing’ measures imposed due to the Coronavirus crisis.  I had planned to go garlic-picking with a friend a few days before the lockdown, but as I felt unwell, I went into self-isolation for a week.  Thankfully, it was the usual sinusitis, not Covid-19.ii

Bridleway rock artPhil and I eventually managed a foraging trip to Colden Clough on a gloriously sunny first Sunday of April.  Approaching the Fox and Goose, we danced in the street, revelling in the novelty of hardly any traffic.  We walked directly up Church Lane to the bridleway to avoid the playpark.  From the higher vantage point, I could see that kids were using the swings although they were meant to be cordoned off.  Now devoid of puddles, arid dust whirled beneath our feet as moss clung to saplings overhanging the edge.  We encountered very few others enjoying their allotted outdoor exercise.  A kind family stood back so we could overtake them.  A couple waited patiently while we took photos of the rock art, now augmented to resemble a cairn.

Clough flowerNear Lumb Mill, vibrant yellow flowers glinted in the sunlight.  The low level of Colden Water enabled Phil to clamber down to the sands for risky shots under the bridge – such a contrast to our visit only a month ago.

Checking the coast was clear, we scooted along the large paving stones and continued upwards onto rugged paths, stopping only briefly to admire clumps of white anemones, knobbly tree roots and the marble-effect tumbling waters below us.

On reaching the ‘garlic fields’, the unmistakeable smell of ransoms mingled with the ridiculously fresh air.  Keeping well away from the path while picking, we soon filled two carrier bags with fresh green leaves.  When two more foragers arrived, I took extra care to remain at a very safe distance.  Alone again, we perched on rocks for a short rest as dry branches alarmingly crackled and thumped to the ground from the beech trees overhead.

Signpost 1We climbed the dry slope up to the top causeway, devoid of humans and animals apart from crows and curlews with their distinctive calls.  Looking back, I spotted them swooping low in adjoining fields.  At the familiar three-way junction, we rounded the ‘public garden’ and came to a lovely path, lined with twisty trees.

A picturesque wooden signpost confirmed the route down to Lumb Bank.  Returning to the site of the mill, we found it slightly more populous, with some people harder to dodge than others.  One family in particular obviously didn’t know what 2 metres looked like as they strolled along the path, oblivious to our attempts at avoidance; turning our backs and not breathing might have been a clue!

On Bridge Lanes, Phil nipped to the shop while I sped up the Cuckoo Steps.  I managed a preliminary sort of the pungent garlic leaves and a hasty snack before totally flagging.  While glad of the walk in proper fresh air further than the shop for the first time in weeks, it left me exhausted and achy for the rest of the day.  Later that evening, the health minister threatened to ban outdoor exercise if people didn’t behave – I’d like to see how that pans out!

Reference:

  1. My Journal of the Coronavirus: https://corvusdiaries.wordpress.com/

Variant path 1

From Buttress to Riverside

Buttress moss 1

In the gloomy last days of December 2019, we became slightly stir-crazy.  We headed aimlessly out on the Saturday, to the top of the street and round onto The Buttress.  Phil started climbing.  I reluctantly followed, not sure I would scale the whole length.  We ascended slowly, stopping to examine interesting detritus atop the stone wall, miniscule moss flowers and mushrooms that resembled jelly.  Majestic sycamore towered above us.

Lee Wood fungi

The top proved within easier reach than I’d imagined.  We turned right along the road overlooking the valley before descending into Lee Wood.  To our right, damp copper leaves carpeted the ground.  A variety of fungi and lichen covering felled trunks added splashes of bright green and yellow.  Grey squirrels scampered among rocks and trees.  My attempts at wildlife photography were predictably dire.

Following the track all the way down to the posh horse farm, we wound down to the river and stayed on the right side of path for a change, passing the bowling hut.

Riverside stumpFast water dotted with iron-rich foam gushed downstream.  Further on, cushions of moss adorned chopped trees.  The rotten stump I’d been documenting for years had all but gone.

We crossed Foster Mill Bridge and giggled at a garishly orange paper lantern hanging from a tee above a collection of random items, suggesting that interest in the ‘community garden’ had lapsed somewhat.

We proceeded down Valley Road and noted the re-appearance of an antiques centre.  Curious, we entered for a nosey to find a random selection of oddities.  I wondered if it was the guy who had a stall on the weekly tat market.  By the time we reached town, it was almost dark.  We eschewed the overcrowded Oldgate Inn in favour of a late lunch back home.

The leftovers

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

 

Seasons in Common Bank Wood

Common Bank Wood 7

Red lichen on tree 1A short walk up to Birchcliffe takes us into Common Bank wood.

Interesting at various times of the year, I love witnessing the seasonal changes; from autumn when the beech and birch are resplendent with an array of colours, through winter when it becomes a dark, damp land of lichen, and into spring as the flora bursts into life once more.

 

 

On a visit last April, we traversed the small woods at a leisurely pace. At the stream, we considered a choice of routes including going uphill towards Dod Naze. We crossed the stream and walked along a small cliff edge.

Ooh a dearThis led us into a clearing and on into another woods. Markers pointed to a path uphill but we preferred to stay lower down and followed animal paths, which proved tricky in places.

After an hour of not getting very far over rough ground we stopped to rest on a tree stump. We spotted a deer. I could tell by its alert stance that it could hear us but as we were hidden behind the tree, it couldn’t see us. Hence we were able to capture wildlife photos for once!

 

We carried on walking until our way was blocked by barbed wire and we retraced our steps back to the clearing. This time on reaching the stream, we took a path downwards. A flight of stone steps brought us out on the main road just opposite the station.

More photos at: http://1drv.ms/1KmuzaO; http://1drv.ms/1QkR5G1