Category Archives: Pennines

THE EAST COLNE WAY.

A walk through the green lungs of Colne.

I picked up this leaflet at the cafe on Beacon Fell the other day, it looked interesting. Despite my friend Sir Hugh stating  ” The ones I am not enamoured by are where some local authority has connected a lot of inferior paths around the edges of crop fields with no particular objective other than perhaps encircling their borough or domain and claiming this as The Whatevershire Way”  to discover relatively new territory I was prepared to give The East Colne Way a chance.

I’ve driven along the A6068 Nelson to Keighley road many times on my way to walks in the Bronte Country and climbs on Earl Crag and familiar landmarks which I would visit today. This another of my short walks I’ve been doing recently to fit in with the weather and other commitments. I turn off the road to a lakeside carpark at Ball Grove Nature Reserve. This was the site of an C18th water-powered cotton mill which became in 1860 Sagar’s Tannery, the largest in Europe. Production ceased in 1970 and the buildings were demolished all but the present-day cafe.

I strolled alongside the lodges, now nature reserves, and Colne Water to a weir with a fish ladder.

An unofficial scramble brought me onto the road opposite the old cottage Hospital bequeathed by the Hartley family which has been converted into retirement accommodation.

 

Hartley Hospital.

Along the road are the Hartley Almshouses donated again by the Hartley family, yes those of jam fame. Talking to two residents one was very positive the other concerned about damp.

I cut up through some rough fields with ancient boundary walls and stiles, I’m surprised to find a waymarker for my walk, these continue to guide me around the circuit. 

I pass the workers cottages at Bents without a photo and press on up Skipton road to pass the Georgian  Heyroyd House, Apparently round the back are walled gardens.

More stone stiles led across fields to a lane alongside Colne Golf Course. A clapper bridge has had rails added to it – health and safety? It opened onto a lane that looked more like a stream.

The rocky ridge visible ahead is Noyna Hill, a real ‘green lung’ of Colne.

Farm lanes followed and I was soon crossing the causeway at Foulridge Upper Reservoir. The sun was quite warm and I lingered admiring the views over to Pendle Hill, Blacko Tower and round to Noyna and the Great Edge all Pendle walking areas par excellence.

The large gated property, Lower Clough owned by the Barnsfield Construction Co, had some impressive, well-guarded grounds. An open area The Rough is what remains of Lob Common, worryingly new housing seems to be creeping up the hill. Curlew are calling as I walk through. I come out onto a surprising lane lined on one side by handloom weavers’ cottages, several three-storied. Down at the roundabout is the old Turnpike House which I’ve driven past without realising its existence. Also on the lane is Lidgett Hall dated 1749. This delightful Conservation Area backs onto the open countryside where the housing development is occurring – so much for town planning.

Turnpike House.

 

Lidgett Hall.

 

Another open field heads towards a church with the hills above Wycoller in the background. I finish the day with a coffee in the lakeside cafe at Ball Grove Mill. This turned out to be a 5mile walk through beautiful northern countryside giving an insight into the past life of this area on the edge of industrial Colne. The only sour note is the lack of protection from developers to land unchanged from the C17th. 

*****

 

THE SINGING RINGING TREE.

There aren’t many trees on the bleak Pennine Moors above Burnley but in 2006 one was planted on Crown Point south of the town. Architects Tonkin and Liu designed a structure composed of metal pipes which, as well as being a stunning visual feature, creates a musical noise from the wind playing through the pipes. The Burnley Way [which I walked in 2017] predates it and thus avoids it which is a shame, some minor re-routing would easily include this notable landmark.

JD mentioned he had never visited the ‘Tree’,  not many of our friends have either. A walk was hatched to include this site, we procrastinated on several occasions during the stormy weather but today we set forth with a better forecast.  Several suggested walks start off from Townley Hall but parking is charged there so we, or rather I, decide to park up on a street in nearby Walk Mill.

We pick our way up various bridleways, parts of The Burnley Way and The Pennine Bridleway, onto Deerplay Moor. I’m not saying it was all easy going, the farmyards were a mudbath but we got through. Views to our left are down towards the Cliviger Gorge where road and railway head for the delights of Todmorden. We come across a memorial stone to Mary Townley who was instrumental in establishing long-distance routes in the Pennines for horse riders. In 1986 she road from Hexham to Ashbourne to draw attention to the poor state of England’s bridleways. Today these improved bridleways probably benefit mountain bikers rather than those on horseback.

The quotation The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” is, in fact, an Arabian Proverb.

We had a bit of a depressing section on a road where there was evidence of fly-tipping every few hundred metres. I just cannot understand this blatant antisocial behaviour.

The ‘tree’ had been out of sight most of the walk but at last on Crown Point, we left the road on the well-trodden path across to it. Unfortunately, a Union Jack has been stuck into it diminishing the visual impact of the fine installation. There was only a light breeze today so the tubes were only murmuring. We speculated on what sounds were produced in the recent gales, there will probably be something on youtube. 

Crown Point is a fine viewpoint in itself with Burnley below and a backdrop of Pendle Hill. There had been some patches of old snow as we walked up and there was a definite white rim to Pendle Hill. Easy walking took us off the hill directly back to Walk Mill and its historical past,

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 1. BLACKBURN TO WHALLEY.

Escaping the city.

My train was full of lively pre-match Blackburn supporters. Most didn’t have tickets and exited the station somehow, I was glad I wouldn’t be on their train after the match. AW was a lifelong Rovers supporter.

Outside the station, as I gathered my bearings I was struck by the number of expensive-looking cars, with modified exhausts and booming stereos, cruising around aimlessly at high speeds. I refrain from comment.

I began the long walk up Audley Range. Mills at the lower end near the canal have gone and been replaced by budget shopping units. From the canal upwards AW would have had almost a mile of two-up, two-down terraced housing. There has been demolition in parts giving little cul-de-sac estates. a mosque and many Asian shops but the higher you get the more you are attuned into AW’s time when he trudged up and down from the centre to number 331, his birthplace and where he lived until 1931 when he married. Until 1935 a tram ran halfway up before going to Queen’s Park.

I couldn’t resist calling in at one of the little Asian ‘Sweet Shops’ to buy a couple of samosas for my lunch.

Fittingly there is a plaque on 331 to commemorate Wainwright though I wonder whether any of the Asian population hereabouts will realise the significance. Opposite his house is an open space formerly a brickworks producing the millions of bricks for the housing and mills.

I reached busy roads on the edge of town. Up here AW attended primary schools, now demolished under ring roads and Tescos. I was glad to turn down to the Leeds – Liverpool Canal at Gorse Bridge. The canal would have been lined by warehouses and mills and here is one of the last, the derelict Imperial Mill once employing 300 until closing eventually in 1958. Many of the mills diversified into minor industries after cotton had crashed.

The canalside walk took me past the Whitebirk Estate, shops and car salerooms, and under the maize of roads connecting with the motorway system. One always sees things differently from a canal and then the next time I drive around these roads I’ll reminisce to myself and try and spot the canal. I ate my samosas as I walked the towpath and realised they had quite a kick to them.

Before long I was in a more rural landscape and leaving the canal to climb steeply up onto the ridge of Harwood Moor. An old bridge is crossed, this is the line of the former Blackburn to Padiham railway. The industrial landscape is left behind and suddenly you have a view of Longridge Fell, the Bowland Hills, Yorkshire peaks and Pendle. It was these northern edges of Blackburn that AW  explored as a youngster and subsequently with work colleagues. A certain Harry Green wrote a regular walking column in the newspaper and produced some guidebooks to the area and into the Ribble Valley and Longridge Fell.  One of AW’s walking companions, Lawrence Wolstenholme, kept a diary of Harry Green inspired walks and his descendants still have a copy of Rambles by Highway, Lane and Field Path. H Green 1920. So it is certain that they walked these trails out of Blackburn.

I entered a farmyard patrolled by a bull and hesitated before rushing to the other side and safety. All the fields up here seemed to contain frisky bullocks so I did a little creative road walking to get me on my way. I was soon on a higher ridge with even more extensive views.

Looking back to Blackburn.

Longridge Fell and the distant Bowland Fells.

Down a reedy path to the Dean Clough Reservoirs with Pendle in the background and then I make my own way up above them to come out onto Moor Lane above Langho, it was only last week that I visited The  Lord Nelson Inn here for lunch. Its a very basic but friendly pub with good beer and a limited home-cooked menu,  a couple came in and asked about dining “have you a gluten-free option?”   “No!” was the simple answer.

I didn’t have time today to call in for a pint but marched off along the virtually traffic-free Moor Lane. At one point I glimpsed a deer eyeing me through the trees. Whalley Nab is at the end of the lane directly above Whalley and the River Calder. The River Calder flows through Whalley to join the Ribble, leaving behind its industrial hinterland where in the distance can be seen the Martholme Viaduct which carried the aforementioned Blackburn to Padiham railway. I had a birds-eye view of the Ribble Valley and Whalley, making out the street plan and the more famous railway viaduct over the Clitheroe – Blackburn line I travelled this morning. The Ribble Valley was one of AW’s many sketchbooks done in later life, Nick Burton has illustrated his text with some of these sketches.  It will be interesting to compare AW’s views with my own as I proceed.

A Wainwright 1980

Before I knew it I was crossing the Calder into the busy main street. The impressive 13thC church was closed. Whilst waiting for my bus I had a very short time to look round the Abbey ruins, free entry today – Heritage Week or something. They deserve more so I’ll return for a longer visit.

I’ve finished the first stage of Wainwright’s Way and I’m looking forward to the rural walking to come.

*****

NORTHING 438. OLDFIELD TO SALTAIRE.

There were several unexpected highlights on today’s walk and despite heading into the congested Aire Valley we enjoyed rural walking throughout on one of the warmest sunniest February days I remember.

Continuing our straight line walk meant once again logistics of two car parking. Sir Hugh suggested Saltaire as a finishing point so we arranged a rendezvous in the large free car park there, all went well with my journey until I became stuck in early rush hour traffic, not the best of starts for a day’s walking. With the late start and more traffic problems we drove back to our last point in the Ponden Valley.  Sir Hugh seemed to know all these intricate Pennine roads and little villages or at least the lonely Public Houses where he spent his money when living in the area as a young man. We were stunned when the lane up to our isolated parking spot was closed necessitating back tracking and finding an alternative route on what was becoming a frustrating morning.

At last we set off down a bridleway high above Ponden Reservoir only for Sir Hugh to realise he’d left his phone on the car, fortunately we hadn’t gone far. This initiated a conversation on things left behind on walks and the cut off distance where one is prepared or able to return. Poles, passports, waterproofs, cameras and particularly hats were prominent on the list. We ran into problems with unmarked, difficult to follow and blocked paths in the Oldfield area and at West House farm admitted defeat and took to the road for a while. None the less there were many interesting houses passed.

High above Ponden Reservoir.

Before he’d realised his loss.

We were concerned with our poor progress after the delayed start on what would be a long day but as often happens things suddenly improved and remained so all day. We encountered a deep gorge not apparent on the map and decided to take the old flagged path alongside down to the River Worth which was then followed for a mile or so through green fields. We reached a road at an old mill that had been restored to provide modern living accommodation. There were several pack horse type bridges on this stretch reflecting the days when the valley was thriving with small riverside mills.

On the edge of Haworth I had noticed on the map a ‘Railway Children’s Walk’. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, published in 1906, was set in Yorkshire and a 1970 film used The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway as a backdrop. I remember watching a BBC TV series back in the 50s. Thus Haworth’s tourism benefits from both the Bronte connection and the preserved steam railway.  We followed the lane across the Mytholmes railway tunnel made famous in the film …

… I regret now not going the extra few hundred yards to view the authentic Oakworth station featured prominently in the film. No trains today so we climbed up the steep hill to the busy Cross Roads and would you believe it – halfway up a steam train came into view way below us in the valley, bad timing. Up on the road the stone houses all bore that blackened look of the industrial past.

At Barcroft we reached high open countryside and enjoyed marching out with distant views to Bingley. In the fore ground was a prominent rocky tor, Catstones, and we speculated on the climbing possibilities and the height of the faces.

A bench below was perfect for lunch, I didn’t have the energy to ascend to the rocks. An inscription was dedicated to a Cllr. Ron Senior who pioneered a circular walk around Cullingworth, Senior Way. We felt well qualified to follow it.

We ended up just using the pavement through Harden but then entered St.Ives country park for a popular woodland walk to the edge of Bingley. The park is yet another old estate taken into council ownership providing a wide range of activities, we only skirted the edge.

A lane dropped down to bridges and fords at Beck Foot, a site of old mills, all very picturesque in the sun. An ecyclist proudly showed us his bike and extolled the virtues of battery powered leisure, not sure what it is doing for his fitness.

The River Aire, on its way into the industrial Leeds, was followed through fields to give another aspect to this day’s walk. Surprisingly rural although there was rubbish evident. A last stretch of woodland linked to the Leeds Liverpool Canal which took us into the heart of Salts Mill at Saltaire. Formerly a textile mill, now an arts centre, built by the philanthropic Sir Titus Salt in 1853, along with the adjoining Saltaire village in the hope of improving the conditions for working people. The whole complex is worthy of a day’s exploration. We found our car as the sun was setting and joined the heavy traffic home.

*****

NORTHING 438. NELSON TO OLDFIELD.

This was a day of two halves, first the transition from industrial Nelson to the complex field paths in its rural hinterland and then second glorious moorland walking over to Yorkshire.

We left the car in a dodgy carpark in Nelson assured by a couple of youths we wouldn’t get clamped. With nervous looks back we climbed modest streets eastwards towards Mecca or was that the local bingo hall. Views back down the streets showed a misty Pendle.

Anyhow we found ourselves in  Marsden Hall Gardens which proved fascinating. Originally owned by the Walton family [more of them later] the estate passed into Nelson Corporation ownership in 1912. The 16th century hall still stands above the gardens. We came through the ‘Egyptian Gate’ a sandstone edifice with interesting carvings, most notably it is known as ‘the wishing gate’ and to this day people place leaves in the carved holes before passing through and making a wish.

Our next goal was an iron age fort marked on the map at Castercliff, despite its obvious size and prominence there was no local signage. It was constructed maybe 500 BC and there is no evidence it was ever occupied. The views from the summit over the towns in the Pendle Valley were hazy but retained the feeling of being up high. The way kept going upwards and ahead of us on a hill in the distance was the prominent monument to the Walton Family.  A Victorian cross place atop a 9th century monolith which would warrant further close investigation.

The next hour or so found us navigating seldom used paths in rough fields between ancient farms. At one stage a Jack Russell harried us noisily for a good half mile through fields from its farm. At the time we were hopelessly lost and the farmer was shouting unclear directions. Things improved as we approached the south of Trawden, walking down a quiet lane we passed the idyllic and listed New Laith Farm. Once on the edge of town we turned off right into the narrow street of White Lee, old cottages gave way to new housing as we turned down an old mill lane to cross Trawden Brook and climb up to more Laith farms, the word meant granary or simply barn and is used a lot in northern England.

A working Will O’ Th’ Moon farm.

Residential New Laith Farm.

The way became rougher as we climbed higher. We found an enclosed track crossing the moorland to the west of Wycoller and lunch was taken high on this  ‘Forest of Trawden’ looking over the Wycoller valley.

We dropped into the valley  and made our way to Parson Lee Farm which we recognised from coming  through on The Bronte Way last year. The winding track climbed slowly up into the moors, our journey pleasantly interrupted by a lengthy conversation with two passionate fell runners enabling Sir Hugh to reminisce on his one and only fell race. A trod took us across a wilderness to reach Watersheddles Reservoir, whereas last time we walked down the dangerous road from here today we found the concessionary path alongside the water. Up here we listened to Oyster Catchers by the shimmering water and Grouse and Curlews further afield, all very evocative.

There was only a short stretch of road before we turned up the quieter side road which gave us panoramic views over the Ponden area. We crossed The Pennine Way back to our car completing a satisfying 10 miles in perfect weather. Somewhere along the way we had crossed from Lancashire into Yorkshire which we will remain in for the rest of our route, so only the two great counties coast to coast.

*****

 

THE BRONTE WAY five.

Bailiff Bridge to Oakwell Hall.

The final day of our walk on the Bronte Way. By more good luck than management there was a bus stop outside the hotel to take us back to Bailiff Bridge. After some steep uphill road and lane walking we were once more in amazing rural areas. We had joined The Kirklees Way and a Brighouse Boundary Walk. There were some vicious dogs penned up in some of the properties we passed some on a running chain which is quite scary as they charge at you. We postulated what could happen if the chain snapped!

Some time was passed in a large pristine golf course, there’s always one on any long distance walk. Fortunately no fairways had to be crossed on this one. After crossing a motorway, M62, little lanes led into Liversedge where first we came across a quaker grave yard. Way back a man, who was a Quaker, had been refused a burial at Hartshead church, so he bought a piece of land for burials of his family. This is still being used today and there are four 17th century graves. It was on Hartshead Common that Luddites congregated in early 19th century to march on Arkwright’s Mill at Rawfolds with disastrous results. Could something similar happen in the future as robots take over workers jobs?   We are also sharing The Luddite Trail now, oh and did I mention The Spen Valley Trail. there must be a lot of keen walkers hereabouts.

A little further was a plant hire depot with some interesting old tractors, two looked as though they had come straight off the American prairie. And another aggressive guard dog going nuts as we stopped to take pictures.

We were now in the Spen Valley area which was the backdrop to Charlotte’s novel Shirley enacted at the time of the Luddites. This novel sounds interesting and will get a copy for holiday reading. On our route was a farm cafe which turned out to be an excellent stop for coffee and toasted tea cakes. The waitress was interested in our route and was clearly enthusiastic about Oakwell Hall. On leaving the cafe we spotted the resident cat waiting patiently on the back step.

Up the road was an old house, Clough House, bearing a plaque to the Rev. Patrick Bronte who lived here before moving to Thornton.

Some rather messy navigating through lanes and parks, all very rural though, brought us into the honest looking Shirley Estate, Gomersal. We wandered into the local church bazar hoping to find an old copy of The Bronte Way guidebook. On mentioning we were on the Bronte Way we were escorted to the grave of Mary Taylor a lifelong friend of Charlotte. Mary apparently was a Women’s Rights advocate who incidentally led a women’s group to climb Mont Blanc in 1875.

Open fields should have led us down to an entrance to Orwell Hall but probably distracted by females we took the wrong field. All was not lost and I think we had a better way into the grounds of this beautiful and obviously popular property. Oakwell Hall may have been the inspiration for ‘Fieldhead’  in Charlotte’s novel Shirley. This is the last of our Bronte associations but I wonder how many we have missed. We came out on the way we should have gone in, a far inferior way. A bus stop was on the main road and eventually a bus full of friendly locals delivered us to the efficient Bradford Interchange.

The end to a really varied and interesting five days of walking.  Sir Hugh’s new knee just about stood up to the whole trial.  We’ve seen a lot and learnt a lot.

Sign in the cafe.

*****

THE BRONTE WAY four.

Denholme Gate to Bailiff Bridge.

The train got us to Halifax almost on time despite having to make toilet stops at various stations en route, the train toilet being nonfunctional. The toilet stop at Hebden Bridge was cut short when it was realised that the station toilet was also nonfunctional, all very strange and can’t all be Northern Rail’s fault. Of course our bus waited for us and we were soon walking from the moorland Denholme Gate. Enclosed rough fields with ancient wall stiles took us eastwards into what looked like an urban setting but the route cleverly kept us mostly on green ways. Paths wandered past houses and barking dogs. We were heading to Thornton the birthplace of the Bronte sisters. Little streams added interest and then the largest cemetery I’ve been in for years. A moorland ridge above was home to Sir Hugh’s first house, as there was no plaque to commemorate this event we didn’t divert. Then we were in the main street of Thornton full off characterful houses off the beaten track and not a Japanese tourist in sight. No 74, was heralded as the Bronte sisters’  birthplace, their father Patrick being curate at the Chapel. A cafe-cum-museum here gave us a rest, coffee and entertainment listening in to the local ladies’ Yorkshire conversation.

A deep valley had now to be crossed but to be honest we seemed to be cruising along despite the long grass in parts. There were distant, if hazy, views down into Bradford city centre. My memory is of fields and lanes going nowhere, stone walls, buttercups and dog walkers eager to converse. The hidden world of West Yorkshire.

Somewhere we joined The Calderdale Way in a wild valley and eventually emerged into the affluent Norwood Green. More of the same took us down to the suburbs at Bailff Bridge and thankfully a bus into Brighouse for a night on the tiles – well not really – an early supper in our hotel by the canal followed by an early night.

Check out Sir Hugh for another version of today’s walk.

*****