The Seasons

Spring

 

Fifty shades of green – Crimsworth Dean in Spring

Spring is a spectacular time of year in this part of the world. The landscape is completely transformed as the leaves come out on the trees, the bracken unfurls and the new grass shoots up in the fields. The lushness of the foliage and the vividness of the colours is breathtaking: fifty shades of green.

Spring flowers infuse the countryside with other amazing hues. In May the woods are carpeted with a haze of bluebells and the buttercups give the meadows a golden glow.

The photographs above record an early morning walk around the top end of Crimsworth Dean via Lumb Falls on 15 June 2015.

Bluebellerama – Hardcastle Crags in Spring

 

A perambulation around Hardcastle Crags on 10 June 2015 at the height of the bluebell season, starting and finishing at Blake Dean.

 

© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

Summer

 

Making hay while the sun shines – Pecket Well in Summer

Hay-making is one of the highlights of the summer at Elmet Farmhouse. It normally takes place 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 for their cattle. Their brother Jonathan, who delivers milk to the farmhouse, also helps out.

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.

© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

Heavenly heather – Midgley Moor in High Summer

 

The moorland hills above Luddenden Dean are 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. The scent from the heather is intoxicating and attracts lots of butterflies and bees.

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. 

© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

Autumn

 

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – Luddenden in Late Autumn

Autumn is particularly beautiful in the countryside around Elmet Farmhouse because of the profusion of steep wooded valleys, known as cloughs or deans, branching off into the hills from main Upper Calder Valley. As the leaves begin to turn in October, the woods take on rich gold and chestnut hues. The beech trees are particularly vibrant, creating a canopy of burnished gold, while the silver birch and larch turn an arresting shade of bright yellow.

Whether you’re up on the hillside looking down onto the woods in the valley below, or standing under the trees looking up to the sky through the golden canopy, it’s a glorious sight. 

These photographs record a late autumn walk around the  idyllic Luddenden Dean valley on a wonderfully sunny afternoon on 1 November 2015,  starting at Jerusalem Farm and looping round via the impressive crenellated gatehouses of Castle Carr.

 

© Text and images copyright Lesley Jackson

Winter

 

Winter wonderland – Snow in Crimsworth Dean

The countryside around Elmet Farmhouse is a fabulous area for walking all year round. When the snow arrives, it transforms the landscape  into a Winter Wonderland.

The photos above were taken on a circular walk from Crimsworth Dean to Walshaw on 1 February 2015. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and there were stunning views of Hardcastle Crags, Heptonstall and Stoodley Pike. The  setting sun turned the snow pink and a huge moon rose in the vivid blue sky at the end of the day.

 

February frosts – Hardcastle Crags in Winter

 

Even in the middle of winter, there is a stark beauty to the landscape of the Upper Calder Valley.  The photos above record an early morning walk around the top end of Hardcastle Crags on a crisp frosty day on 16 February 2016.

The walk starts at Widdop Gate, near Lower Gorple Reservoir and crosses Graining Water at Blake Dean, just before it merges with Alcomden Water to form Hebden Water, which runs down through Hebden Dale towards Hebden Bridge. The valley is initially open countryside with bracken and heather-covered slopes. Lower down it is densely wooded and the hillsides become craggier and more gorge-like as the path descends to Gibson Mill.

After crossing the old toll bridge at the mill, there is a walkway by the side of the millpond – a good place to see herons fishing. The path then climbs up through the beech trees on to an embankment running along the top edge of the wood, with arresting views down the precipitous slopes to the river and across the valley to Walshaw Moor and Walshaw Lodge. 

 

Striding up Stoodley Pike – Mysterious mists at Mankinholes

An early morning walk from Mankinholes to Stoodley Pike on 18 February 2016. At 8 am it was cold and sunny with a heavy frost. An hour later, swathes of mist appeared on the hills above Todmorden, clinging to the hillside near the village of Lumbutts.

 

A whiter shade of pale – Crimsworth Walshaw Loop in winter

A horsehoe-shaped walk from Crimsworth Dean over the moor to Walshaw, then looping back on a high track above Hardcastle Crags to Crimsworth. Perfect clear frosty morning on 23 February 2016 between 7.30 and 9.30 am.

 

Colden by name, cold by nature – The Colden Loop in February

An early morning walk along a stretch of the Pennine Way on a sparkling winter’s day on 25 February 2016, starting and finishing at the delightful May’s Aladdin’s Cave, a fabulously well-stocked farm shop tucked away on Edge Lane above the village of Colden, near Heptonstall. 

Overnight the temperature had dipped several degrees below freezing so there was an extremely hard frost at the start of the walk at 7.45 am. The fields below Stoodley Pike were so white that it looked as if it had snowed. Up on the Pennine Way crossing Heptonstall Moor above Hardcastle Crags, the heather and grasses were laden with glistening ice crystals. The low winter sunshine reflecting off the frosty Pennine hills created wonderful hues ranging from pale orange to pinkish purple.

On the crest of the hill heading back over Colden, the distant cries of curlews and golden plovers and the first lapwings of the season, dipping and diving erratically in their inimitable way. Next to the lane along to Colden, a large of flock of fieldfares grazing on the meadows.

Back at May’s Farm Shop, a cheery smile from the tireless proprietor and a huge sticky slab of delicious Yorkshire Parkin. The perfect end to the walk and the perfect start to the day.

© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson

 

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