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

 

 

Hiking in Hardcastle Crags

A Summer Saunter through Hardcastle Crags

 

 

A summer saunter through the woodland paradise of Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Dale near Hebden Bridge on 22 July 2017. Starting at Widdop Gate, looping around via Blake Dean, then climbing up to the Crags before dropping down to Gibson Mill.

Returning back through the woods along the banks of Hebden Water, criss-crossing the river over the three footbridges, then ascending to the top of the woods, looking across to Walshaw Lodge before climbing back up the steep steps to Widdop Gate.

 

© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson

Making Hay while the Sun Shines

Making hay while the sun shines

 

 

The fields surrounding Elmet Farmhouse are grown for hay each summer. As well as feathery grasses, they are full of wild flowers, including buttercups and sorrel. During the spring they turn from bright green to golden yellow tinged with red, providing a wonderful backdrop to the cottage garden. Watching the meadows grow to their full height is one of the pleasures of midsummer.

 

 

Hay-making normally takes place at Elmet from mid July to early August, depending on the weather. Roger and William Tennant from Horse Hey Farm just along the road at Crimsworth Dean cut and bale the hay for use as winter feed by their cattle. Their brother Jonathan, who delivers milk to the farmhouse, also lends a hand.

After the grass has been cut, it is left to dry for a day or two, then turned so it dries out more. The cut grass is then gathered up into long rows so that it can be sucked up and compacted into bales. The bales are stacked up in the field, before being loaded onto trailers and driven off to the farm.

That’s it for another year. All that’s left behind is pale stubble. But the grass is so lush that it soon starts growing again. Within a week or two the fields are green once more.

 

 

Haymaking August 2016

 

 

Silaging July 2017

 

 

© Text and images 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

Snow-Capped Pennine Hills

Snow-Capped Pennine Hills

 

 

Last week we had our first dusting of snow overnight up here at Pecket Well above Hebden Bridge, but by the following day it had all disappeared. Yesterday we had our second dose, with blizzards for most of the day up on ‘the tops’. Today we’ve had alternating snow and rain, so it’s pretty slushy underfoot.

These photos show a snow-clad Elmet Farmhouse and wintry views of Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike. Below are the steep wooded valleys of Hardcastle Crags and Crimsworth Dean, with swathes of mist rising up from the trees.

 

November 2016

 

© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

Autumn Glory

 

Autumn Glory

Wow! Just look at these astonishing colours in Hardcastle Crags and Crimsworth Dean. Autumn came late to the Upper Calder Valley this year. It wasn’t until mid to late October that the trees really began to turn because of the unseasonably warm weather. But when Autumn finally arrived, it was worth waiting for. Truly glorious! An explosion of russet, auburn and gold.

The woods in the deep, plunging steep-sided valleys around Hebden Bridge are amongst the best in Yorkshire. On a sunny October afternoon or a misty early November morning, there’s no greater pleasure than wandering along the riverside paths by Hebden Water and Crimsworth Dean Beck, drinking in the intoxicating colours.

Even now, in mid November, there are still leaves on the trees. Enjoy them while you can! All just a short walk from Elmet Farmhouse at Pecket Well, which has a bird’s eye view of this breathtaking panorama…

 

p1110056

 

© Text and 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

 

Bluebellerama!

The bluebells have been spectacular this year in Hardcastle Crags and Crimsworth Dean. These two beautiful National Trust woodlands – just a short walk from Elmet Farmhouse – are amongst the best bluebell woods in England. Mid May is the best time to see the bluebells, although they start flowering in late April and last through until early June.

As well as Crimsworth Dean and Hardcastle Crags, there are bluebells in Pecket Well Clough, Colden Clough, Luddenden Dean, Cragg Vale and many of the other narrow steep-sided wooded valleys around Hebden Bridge. These woods are beautiful are stunningly beautiful throughout the year, but you want to immerse yourself in bluebell heaven, come and stay at Elmet Farmhouse next May….

For more information about the woods of the Calder Valley, click here

© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson