Looping the Loop

Looping the Loop: Crimsworth – Walshaw – Hardcastle Crags

 

 

Walkers are spoilt for choice in the countryside around Elmet Farmhouse, with its dramatic and varied landscape and the dense network of paths. On a fine clear day, there’s no better hike than the Crimsworth Walshaw Loop, a high level walk up on ‘the tops’ with glorious views of wooded valleys, hilltop hay meadows and rolling heather moors. Spring, summer, autumn or winter, if the sun is shining, this is the place to be.

These photos record an extended version of the Crimsworth Walshaw Loop in mid August when the heather moorland is in full bloom and turns a rich deep purple. The walk begins at Grain Water Bridge at the far end of Crimsworth Dean, then veers off up the hill over to Walshaw. After dropping down to Walshaw Lodge, it climbs up over Walshaw Moor to the string of reservoirs at Walshaw Dean, where it joins the Pennine Way. 

On meeting Alcomden Water, the route follows a track for several miles from Blake Dean to Shackleton Hill, with ravishing views across Hardcastle Crags towards Slack Heptonstall, with Stoodley Pike in the distance. Eventually it meets a footpath which curves back round through Crimsworth Dean. 

Inspiring and invigorating, this has got to be one of the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

© Text and images copyright Lesley Jackson

Heavenly Heather

Heavenly Heather

 

“I have fled my country and gone to the heather” 

Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë was right. August is the time to head to the hills and immerse yourself in the glorious heather moorlands. Because the hillsides of the Upper Calder Valley are so steep, the carpet of heather on the plateau-like uplands is barely visible from down in the dales. It’s only when you venture up onto ‘the tops’ beyond the hay meadows on the shoulders of the hills that you encounter the purple haze.

Good spots for heather walks are Wadsworth Moor above Pecket Well, Midgley Moor above Luddenden Dean, Heptonstall Moor above Colden, and Walshaw Dean and Widdop Reservoir above Hardcastle Crags. On a hot summer’s day with the sweet scent of the heather and the bees buzzing all around as they gather the nectar for honey, it’s an intoxicating sensory experience and a visual spectacle not to be missed.

 

High Waving Heather
Emily Brontë

High waving heather, ‘neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man’s spirit away from its drear dongeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

All down the mountain sides, wild forest lending
One mighty voice to the life-giving wind;
Rivers their banks in the jubilee rending,
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wider and deeper their waters extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.

Shining and lowering and swelling and dying,
Changing for ever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
Lightning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.

13 December 1836

High Summer on Midgley Moor

The moorland  above Luddenden Dean is carpeted with heather, which blooms throughout the month of August and into early September.  As the heather comes into flower, the moors take on a vivid purple hue, which becomes more and more intense. 

These photographs were taken on a walk from Pecket Well to Luddenden Dean over Wadsworth Moor and Midgley Moor. Perched on the hilltop overlooking the Luddenden valley are two small reservoirs where the heather grows right up to the water’s edge. 

 

Walking on the Wild Side at Widdop

 

Two hikes near Widdop above Hardcastle Crags in mid August with the heather in full bloom.

First walk along Great Edge, the ridge above Widdop Reservoir, early one sunny morning. Tramping through the heather via a series of  rocky outcrops known variously as Slack Stones, Raven Stones and The Scout that lead up to Great Edge. Beyond, a sea of heather on Widdop Moor, sliced through in the distance by the blade-like rocks of Dove Stones.

Returning along a bridlepath by the shores of Widdop Reservoir. The low water levels revealing sand and rocks give the impression of a beach. Looming above, the sheer cliffs below Great Edge. Very few humans, just a solitary buzzard and a few skylarks.

 

 

Second walk starting at Widdop Gate and climbing up to Gorple Lower Reservoir via Low Moor and King Common Rough, looking down on the narrow gorge of Graining Water. Ascending over the tussocky slopes of Flask to Cludders Slack, a fine vantage point high up above Widdop Reservoir at 390 metres, with dramatic views  towards Great Edge. 

Circling the shores of Widdop Reservoir, then cutting across to Alcomden Water and along to Blake Dean at the top end of Hardcastle Crags. A blustery afternoon which started out with dark brooding skies but culminated in bright warm sunshine. Captivating light effects on the purple hills and the steep lush heather-covered slopes of Blake Dean.

© Text copyright Lesley Jackson

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

Walk on the Wild Side at Widdop

Walking on the Wild Side at Widdop

 

Two hikes near Widdop above Hardcastle Crags in mid August with the heather in full bloom.

First walk along Great Edge, the ridge above Widdop Reservoir, early one sunny morning. Tramping through the heather via a series of  rocky outcrops known variously as Slack Stones, Raven Stones and The Scout that lead up to Great Edge. Beyond, a sea of heather on Widdop Moor, sliced through in the distance by the blade-like rocks of Dove Stones.

Returning along a bridlepath by the shores of Widdop Reservoir. The low water levels revealing sand and rocks give the impression of a beach. Looming above, the sheer cliffs below Great Edge. Very few humans, just a solitary buzzard and a few skylarks.

 

 

Second walk starting at Widdop Gate and climbing up to Gorple Lower Reservoir via Low Moor and King Common Rough, looking down on the narrow gorge of Graining Water. Ascending over the tussocky slopes of Flask to Cludders Slack, a fine vantage point high up above Widdop Reservoir at 390 metres, with dramatic views  towards Great Edge. 

Circling the shores of Widdop Reservoir, then cutting across to Alcomden Water and along to Blake Dean at the top end of Hardcastle Crags. A blustery afternoon which started out with dark brooding skies but culminated in bright warm sunshine. Captivating light effects on the purple hills and the steep lush heather-covered slopes of Blake Dean.

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

 

 

Photos of the Month 2017

Elmet Farmhouse Photos of the Month: 2017

A hand-picked selection of recent photos featuring views from Elmet Farmhouse at Pecket Well above Hebden Bridge and snapshots of the surrounding countryside in and around the Upper Calder Valley

 September 2017

View of Heptonstall from Elmet Farmhouse at 7.25am on 19 September 2017 – beautiful pinky-purple light on the hills beyond

 

Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall in the early morning sunshine, with the trees in Hardcastle Crags just starting to turn

 

Multiple pockets of early morning mist clinging to the woods in Hardcastle Crags, viewed from Crimsworth Dean

 

River of mist in the Calder Valley between Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike, photographed at 6.54am on 19 September 2017

 

The magnificent newly-restored Halifax Piece Hall, built in 1779 for merchants to trade locally-made hand-woven woollen cloth

 

Looking more like an Italian piazza than an 18th century cloth market, the impressive Grade I Listed Halifax Piece Hall now houses cafes and shops and provides a unique venue for outdoor events

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

August 2017

This month’s photos are devoted to the spectacular display of heather above Widdop Reservoir, not far from Hardcastle Crags. Seen here is a dramatic rocky outcrop called Dove Stones slicing up through the heather moorland on Widdop Moor.

 

View along Great Edge, a rocky gritstone outcrop running for a mile or so above Widdop Reservoir

 

Great Edge with heather in full bloom on Widdop Moor

 

Widdop Reservoir from Widdop Moor

 

Widdop Reservoir from Great Edge in the early morning sunshine

 

Cludders Slack above Widdop Reservoir

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

July 2017

 

Deer oh deer! A beautiful roe deer kid in the field at Elmet Farmhouse, one of pair of twins born in our hay meadow in June.

 

Double at t’mill! Gibson Mill reflected in the millpond in Hardcastle Crags on a lovely sunny July morning.

 

View of Gibson Mill with the old packhorse bridge in the heart of Hardcastle Crags

 

Hebden Water, the river running through the narrow gorge-like valley of Hardcastle Crags, with its verdant summer canopy

 

First cut: the start of this year’s haymaking in the meadow at Elmet Farmhouse, with the panoramic backdrop of Heptonstall Church and Stoodley Pike

 

Making hay while the sun shines in the meadow at Elmet Farmhouse. The grass is turned several times so that it dries out before being baled.

 

View from Elmet Farmhouse with swathes of mist rising up from Hardcastle Crags and swirling around the hilltop village of Heptonstall, taken at 7.30am on 23 July 2017

 

© Photos copyright Ian Fishwick and Lesley Jackson

 

June 2017

 

The magical hidden valley of Jumble Hole Clough, one of the numerous spurs off the Upper Calder Valley near Hebden Bridge

 

The atmospheric ruins of Staups Mill in Jumble Hole Clough

 

Golden plover chick on Wadsworth Moor above Pecket Well – listen out for the peeps

 

Curlew in Crimsworth Dean 

 

On the tops above Walshaw between Crimsworth Dean and Hardcastle Crags

 

Well-fed lambs on the lush green slopes above Hardcastle Crags with golden buttercups in the hilltop hay meadows across the valley 

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

May 2017

 

One subjects dominates this month… bluebells

 

An aurora borealis of bluebells in Hardcastle Crags

 

Close up and personal with the bluebells and stitchwort in Hardcastle Crags

 

Bluebells carpeting the earth beneath the trees in Hardcastle Crags

 

Newly-unfurled beech leaves overhanging Hebden Water in the woodland paradise of Hardcastle Crags

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

April 2017

 

Lamb piggy back in Crimsworth Dean

 

Number 1: new-born lamb in Crimsworth Dean

 

Early spring sunshine in Crimsworth Dean

 

Ramsons (aka wild garlic) in the woods in Crimsworth Dean

 

A river of ramsons rampaging down the steep slopes of Crimsworth Dean

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

March 2017

 

Mill chimney in Colden Clough near Heptonstall

 

Evocative remains from a huge complex of mills in the woods near Lumb Bank in Colden Clough

 

Elmet Farmhouse in the spring sunshine with a dazzling display of daffodils

 

View from Elmet Farmhouse at Pecket Well, looking towards Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike

 

The handsome stone mullion windows of 18th century Elmet Farmhouse, with forsythia and daffodils in the garden

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

February 2017

 

River of Mist in Hardcastle Crags below Elmet Farmhouse with Stoodley Pike on the  horizon

Mist clearing in Pecket Well Clough below Elmet Farmhouse

 

Expectant sheep at Grain Farm in Crimsworth Dean

 

Heron nest-building in the treetops above Hardcastle Crags

 

Early morning above Colden Clough near Heptonstall

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

January 2017

 

Stoodley Pike from bridleway above Horsehold, near Hebden Bridge

 

View from Pecket Well towards Heptonstall

 

View along Crimsworth Dean towards Stoodley Pike

 

Sheep in the bracken in Crimsworth Dean

 

Walshaw Lodge above Hardcastle Crags

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

Purple Haze

“I have fled my country and gone to the heather” 

Emily Brontë

Emily Brontë was right. August is the time to head to the hills and immerse yourself in the glorious heather moorlands. Because the hillsides of the Upper Calder Valley are so steep, the carpet of heather on the plateau-like uplands is barely visible from down in the dales. It’s only when you venture up onto ‘the tops’ beyond the hay meadows on the shoulders of the hills that you encounter the purple haze.

Last year the heather was late and didn’t come into the full bloom until mid August. But this year it’s early and has already come into flower by the end of July. As with the bilberries, it looks as though it’s a bumper year.

Good spots for heather walks are Wadsworth Moor above Pecket Well, Midgley Moor above Luddenden Dean, Heptonstall Moor above Colden, Walshaw Dean above Hardcastle Crags, and Great Edge above Widdop Reservoir. On a hot summer’s day with the sweet scent of the heather and the bees buzzing all around as they gather the nectar for honey, it’s an intoxicating sensory experience and a visual spectacle not to be missed.

 

 

High Waving Heather
Emily Brontë

High waving heather, ‘neath stormy blasts bending,
Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
Man’s spirit away from its drear dongeon sending,
Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

All down the mountain sides, wild forest lending
One mighty voice to the life-giving wind;
Rivers their banks in the jubilee rending,
Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
Wider and deeper their waters extending,
Leaving a desolate desert behind.

Shining and lowering and swelling and dying,
Changing for ever from midnight to noon;
Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
Lightning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.

13 December 1836

 

© Main text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

Photo Journal – August 2016

Have you had your Five a Day?

Five photos taken on walks in the countryside around Hebden Bridge and the Upper Calder Valley, interspersed with views from Elmet Farmhouse in the village of Pecket Well. Yorkshire at its finest. Enjoy!                        (Lesley Jackson)

31 August 2016

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Lumb Falls in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Packhorse bridge at Lumb Falls

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

30 August 2016

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Looking along Crimsworth Dean towards Stoodley Pike through a forest of lush green bracken

 

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Heptonstall church tower peeping over the hill at the end of Crimsworth Dean

 

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The mellow august meadows of Crimsworth Dean

 

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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

29 August 2016

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View from Great Edge towards Grey Stone Hill

 

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A shard-like outcrop cutting through the heather moorland above Widdop

 

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Great Edge above Widdop Reservoir

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Heather lapping at the rocks above Widdop Reservoir

 

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A gritty landscape softened by the tidal surge of heather each August

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

28 August 2016

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Vibrant August colours on the heather-carpeted banks of the reservoirs above Luddenden Dean

 

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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

27 August 2016

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Heather-clad reservoir above Luddenden Dean

 

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Red rowan berries

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Heather on the hillside above Luddenden Dean

 

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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

26 August 2016

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Elmet Farmhouse with shorn hay meadow

 

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View from the bottom of the field in front of Elmet Farmhouse

 

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View from Elmet Farmhouse with Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike in the distance

 

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Newly-cut hay meadow in the foreground, which will soon green up again

 

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Buddleia, veg beds and herbaceous border in front of barn next to Elmet Farmhouse

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

25 August 2016

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Moody mist in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Old Town Mill above Crimsworth Dean

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

24 August 2016

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Shafts of light and pockets of mist in Crimsworth Dean early in the morning

 

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Emerald  green grass illuminated by sunshine in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Grain Farm bathed in the dazzling early morning sun

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Looking back towards Stairs at the far end of Crimsworth Dean

 

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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

23 August 2016

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Ah, the famous River of Mist in the valley below Elmet Farmhouse…

 

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There’s nothing quite like it…

 

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Breathtaking is the only way to describe it

 

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Stoodley Pike swaddled by mist at 6.50am this morning

 

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Pecket Well War Memorial echoing Stoodley across the fields to the west

For more photos of the River of Mist at other times of year, click here

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

22 August 2016

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Looking along Great Edge above Widdop Reservoir

 

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Heather-clad rocks…

 

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…on the aptly named Great Rock

 

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Above Widdop Reservoir

 

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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

21 August 2016

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Dramatic panorama on Great Edge above Widdop Reservoir

 

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Huge lumps of sculpted rock…

 

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… cresting the hillside for miles and miles

 

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… like a giant tidal wave

 

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… with an ocean of heather on the moorland plateau behind

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

20 August 2016

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Roe deer in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Heather on the slopes of Crimsworth Dean

 

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Heather and boulders near Wheat Ing in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Scabious in abundance in this beautiful hidden dell

 

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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

19 August 2016

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View through the bracken towards Stoodley Pike from Crimsworth Dean

 

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It’s haymaking time here as well

 

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Rows of mown grass ready for silaging

 

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Herringbone pattern of mown grass in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Pinstripes on a long narrow field running horizontally on the slopes of Crimsworth Dean

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

 

18 August 2016

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The heatwave continues  – early morning mist in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Sun bathing the shoulders of the hills

 

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Long shadows and hazy early morning light…

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… As the sun rises over Crimsworth Dean

 

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It’s not even 8am but the heavy mob are already out

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

 

17 August 2016

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Hot on the heels of Jonathan…

 

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… his brother Roger Tennant arrives with the baler

 

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The rows of loose dry hay are sucked up and compacted into bales

 

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Bale being extruded in the field in front of Elmet Farmhouse

 

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Hay bales ready to be collected and taken along the road to Horse Hey Farm at Crimsworth Dean to be used as cattle feed this winter

 

©Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

16 August 2016

 

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After a week of unsettled weather, haymaking resumes at Elmet Farmhouse

 

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Jonathan Tennant at the wheel… 

 

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… gathering the mown hay into rows, ready to be baled

 

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Hand-raking a few last strays

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Hot thirsty work in the afternoon sunshine

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

15 August 2016

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Looking down from Raven Stones to Widdop Reservoir

 

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Monumental weather-sculpted boulders with heather springing up between

 

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Dramatic rocky outcrops on the hillside above Widdop Reservoir

 

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Heather amongst the rocks

 

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Looking along The Scout towards the long gritstone outcrop of Great Edge

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

14 August 2016

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Raven Stones above Widdop Reservoir

 

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Intermingled heather and bracken with the gritstone outcrop of Raven Stones in the distance

 

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Looking down from Raven Stones towards Widdop Reservoir

 

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Looking back along the rocky outcrop known as The Scout above Widdop Reservoir

 

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Heather and bracken on the moor above Widdop Reservoir beyond Hardcastle Crags

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

13 August 2016

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Heather-banked reservoir above Luddenden Dean…

 

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… an oasis on the moor’s edge

 

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The heather has crept down from the moor onto the sloping stone sides of the reservoir

 

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One of the area’s hidden gems…

 

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… and one of my favourite places in all the world

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

12 August 2016

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Swaledale sheep in their natural habitat…

 

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… on the moor above Luddenden Dean

 

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… amongst the heather and the bilberry bushes

 

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… a harmonious ensemble 

 

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Heather in full bloom above Luddenden Dean

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

11 August 2016

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Stoodley Pike from Heptonstall Moor

 

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Heather moorland near Widdop in the distance

 

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Heather on Heptonstall Moor

 

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Traditional laithe farmhouse with attached barn on Heptonstall Moor

 

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Pure unadulterated heather on Heptonstall Moor

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

10 August 2016

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Long light on the heather moorland above Hardcastle Crags

 

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Heather on Heptonstall Moor above Colden

 

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The Pennine Way cutting through the heather on Heptonstall Moor

 

 

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Hilltop farms, hay meadows and heather moorland above Hardcastle Crags

 

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Looking towards Widdop from Heptonstall Moor approaching Gorple Reservoir

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

9 August 2016

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View from Elmet Farmhouse at 7.49pm yesterday evening

 

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Early evening sunshine drying out the hay in our meadow

 

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Beautiful light effects on the grass, the hills and the drystone walls

 

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Roe deer taking their evening constitutional near Pecket Well War Memorial

 

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Sun setting in the west, casting a pinkish glow on Stoodley Pike and Pecket Well Clough

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

8 August 2016

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Haymaking at Elmet Farmhouse 

 

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Stage Two:turning the mown grass in our field so that it dries out…

 

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The man at the wheel is Roger Tennant from Horse Hey Farm at nearby Crimsworth Dean

 

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Not a bad backdrop for haymaking – Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall in the distance

 

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Looking across the fields to Higher Crimsworth

 

For more photos of haymaking at Elmet Farmhouse, click here

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

7 August 2016

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A vast expanse of heather up on Wadsworth Moor – one of the best heather habitats in the Upper Calder Valley

 

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Much appreciated by the locals – including swarthy Swaledale sheep….

 

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… and hardy hikers on Deer Stones Edge, a short walk from Elmet Farmhouse

 

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Bilberry bushes and heather above Luddenden Dean…

 

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… yellowish green and vibrant purple, a perfect pairing

 

For more photos of heather, click here

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

6 August 2016

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Start of haymaking in the field in front of Elmet Farmhouse

 

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Roger Tennant from Horse Hey Farm at Crimsworth Dean mowing our meadow

 

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Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall on the horizon

 

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Haymaking in the evening sunshine

 

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Aerial view of our felled field – stage one of haymaking completed

 

For more photos of haymaking at Elmet Farmhouse, click here

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

5 August 2016

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View from Walshaw Moor towards Hardcastle Crags…

 

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…. with heather on the slopes

 

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Heather on the hillside above Blake Dean at Hardcastle Crags

 

For more photos of heather, click here

 

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View towards Blake Dean at the top end of Hardcastle Crags

 

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Emerging out of the woods into the bracken in Hardcastle Crags

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

4 August 2016

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View from Elmet Farmhouse with schizophrenic blue / black sky

 

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Wisps of mist rising up from Hardcastle Crags after a shower

 

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Last view of our hay meadow before it gets cut

 

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Pecket Well War Memorial with patchwork of fields on the hillside at Slack, near Heptonstall

 

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Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall on the horizon with fringe of hay and wraith of mist – a view that never disappoints

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

3 August 2016

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Crimsworth Dean, near Horse Hey Wood…

 

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… just along from Wheat Ing

 

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Crimsworth Dean, view towards Abel Cote Wood from near Wheat Ing

 

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A small pool of sunshine spilling onto the grass through the trees in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Several buzzards mewing and circling overhead

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

2 August 2016

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Long shadows at Grain Farm in Crimsworth Dean

 

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Crimsworth Dean with Grain Farm in the hillside in the centre

 

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Top end of Crimsworth Dean with Haworth Old Road climbing up to Stairs

 

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Wheat Ing nestling in the valley in Crimsworth Dean

 

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View from hillside above Lumb Falls in Crimsworth Dean

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

1 August 2016

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Crimsworth Dean looking idyllic in the soft early morning light on the first day of August

 

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The landscape is constantly changing colour throughout the year….

 

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The pale pinkish meadows are those where the grass is still long, whereas the green fields have either been cut for hay or grazed

 

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Upper end of Crimsworth Dean – an oasis of tranquillity

 

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The muted palette of Crimsworth Dean in hazy early morning sunshine

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson