Many thanks to Treesponsibility and their energetic band of helpers from Old Earth Primary School at Elland and Savile Park Primary School in Halifax for their heroic treeplanting achievements here in Pecket Well during October 2016. Thanks to them, the steep slopes below the hay meadows at Elmet Farmhouse are now planted with several hundred saplings.

Interspersed with oak, birch, alder and field maple are numerous hazel saplings, which will be coppiced in years to come. The trees will stabilise the hillside and help to alleviate the risk of flooding lower down the valley. Because trees turn CO2 into oxygen, they help to offset carbon emissions, thereby countering the impact of global warming.

Each sapling is staked and covered with a translucent plastic tube to prevent them being nibbled by deer. Straw is used as a mulch around the base of the trees to help them get established. In a few years’ time the previously bare slope will become a productive woodland, enhancing the beauty of the existing trees in Pecket Well Clough and nearby Hardcastle Crags.

Many thanks to Dongria, Christina, Bear, Gavin, Jem, Billy and the whole team at Treesponsibility for organising and carrying out this tree-planting session, and to the Woodland Trust for providing the trees.

Tree-planting is very hard work, especially on such a steep slope in the rain! We’re extremely to all the children and staff from Old Earth and Savile Park Schools for their Tree-Mendous work. We hope you enjoyed your visit to Pecket Well this autumn. We look forward to meeting more of you next spring for tree-planting phase two.


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More Tree-mendous Work!

And a big thank you to the pupils of Ash Green Community Primary School in Mixenden for two days of hard work during March 2017 to complete the tree-planting scheme begun in October 2016 – ably organised once again by Treesponsibility




We also planted 6 apple trees and 2 damson trees in the field near Elmet Farmhouse in January 2017 with help from our friends Daru and Stu. We plan to share the fruit with them – and our guests at Elmet – in future years. It was a beautiful sunny day and our mini-orchard has a spectacular view, so we hope the trees will thrive. 


@ Text and images 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


Bilberry Stories

Bilberry Bonanza

2016 has been a bumper year for bilberries. These small wild blueberries thrive on the acid soil of the Upper Calder Valley. Bilberry bushes are widespread on the steep wooded hillsides and up on the moors. The berries ripen during mid to late July. We’ve been busy picking over the last few weeks in Luddenden Dean and Hardcastle Crags.

Although the bushes are laden with berries, it’s still a slow process gathering them as the berries are so small. You can easily tell a bilberry picker by the colour of their hands, stained by the dark purplish-black juice.

Bilberries need to be cooked to bring out their subtly perfumed flavour. They make delicious pies and divine bilberry jam, perfect for home-made scones. 


© Images copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

Whoosh! Castle Carr Fountain

Castle Carr Fountain

Castle Carr is a private estate in Luddenden Dean which is opened up to the public several times of year. The principal attraction is the magnificent fountain in the ornamental water gardens, developed in the grounds of Castle Carr during the early 1870s. Funded by Halifax Water Corporation as compensation for building the nearby reservoirs, the water garden was designed by Halifax architect John Hogg, who also contributed to the design of the Castle Carr mansion. 

The single jet fountain is in the centre of a circular pool, known as the Compensation Basin, surrounded by rhododendrons and woods. Gravity fed with over 60 metres of fall from a huge tank above Deep Clough Farm, the force of the water is so powerful that the fountain can reach heights of over 100ft, second only to the fountain at Chatsworth in Derbyshire.

These photos show the fountain in action on a sunny summer afternoon on Sunday 3 July 2016. A huge crowd gathered to watch the spectacle at 2pm in a charity event organised by Halifax Rotary Club. Following the countdown to the switch-on, the fountain shoots up extremely quickly, rising higher and higher above the trees. The spray is cast far and wide in the wind, creating rainbow effects as it catches the light. 

Originally there were four other fountains at the corners of the pool, but these no longer function as the cast iron pipes that supplied them with water were damaged by flooding in 1989.  Thankfully the main fountain is still in good working order and this year’s display was as spectacular as ever.


The Ruins of Castle Carr


En route to the fountain are the atmospheric ruins of Castle Carr, a huge Victorian mansion constructed in a prominent position towards the top of Luddenden Dean. Designed by Thomas Risley, it was built for Captain Joseph Priestly Edwards between 1859 and 1867 , but demolished just over a century later. Edwards himself never actually inhabited Castle Carr as he and his eldest son were killed in a railway accident before the house was finished. The building was completed during the early 1870s by his younger son Lea Priestley Edwards, with later additions by Halifax architect John Hogg, who also developed the water gardens.

Although Lea Priestley Edwards lived at Castle Carr from 1875-6, its vast scale and damp location made the house impractical as a permanent residence, although it was later used as a hunting lodge. Latterly owned by the Murgatroyds, the wealthy textile family who built the Oats Royd Mill complex lower down the Luddenden valley, Castle Carr was used for parties during the 1930s but fell into disrepair during the Second World War. Following the sale of the estate in 1961, most  of the house was demolished and the building materials auctioned.

The only section of the building still standing (albeit precariously) is the portcullis entrance tower, originally the main gateway to a large courtyard around which the house was built. Part of the kitchen block also remains and the vaulted ovens are still visible in the foundations. Lower down the valley are the castellated lodge houses bridging the lane. Whereas the rest of the estate is only accessible a few days each year when the fountain is in operation, the lodges can be viewed from a public track. 


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© Photos copyright Lesley Jackson and Ian Fishwick

Lovely Little Lambs

Lovely Little Lambs



It’s been a busy time in the Crimsworth crèche over the last couple of months. These photos record some of the new arrivals in hilltop meadows in and around Pecket Well and Crimsworth Dean during April 2016.

Crimsworth Dean is a short walk from Elmet Farmhouse, so if you want to see lots of lovely lambs, come and visit us next April.


© All photos copyright Lesley Jackson



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


River of Mist

Magical River of Mist

If you’re lucky you might see the famous River of Mist during your stay at Elmet Farmhouse, a remarkable phenomenon unique to this area. Usually it forms early in the morning as the sun rises and fog starts to lift, but sometimes  it appears later in the day after heavy rain.

Moisture is trapped in the steep-sided wooded valleys. Swathes of mist swirl around clinging to the hills, with Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall church peeping through on the tops.

There is nothing quite like the magical River of Mist – and Elmet Farmhouse gives you a bird’s eye view.


© All photos copyright Lesley Jackson

Delve into the Dales

Delve into the Dales



Elmet Farmhouse provides the perfect ‘base camp’ for exploring the Yorkshire Dales National Park, renowned for its spectacular geological features, its beautiful rivers and its lush rolling hills and dales.

Click here to watch a short film about the Yorkshire Dales


Malham Cove and Gordale Scar



The dramatic white limestone cliffs, screes, gorges and limestone pavements of Malham Cove and Gordale Scar are particularly compelling in winter when the rivers and waterfalls are in spate


Bolton Abbey and Wharfedale


The woodland paths along River Wharfe between the picturesque ruins of Bolton Abbey and Barden Tower are especially beautiful in the autumn. One of the highlights is the Strid, where the river is forced through a deep narrow gorge


Heather moorland with rocky outcrops at Simon’s Seat above Wharfedale, a great place for a hike in August when the heather is in bloom


Linton and Grassington


A summer hike along the Dales Way near Grassington. Typical Yorkshire Dales landscape with undulating hills, limestone outcrops, Swaledale sheep and small fields bounded by snaking drystone walls


Linton in Craven, a delightful Dales village hidden away near Grassington. The village green is dominated by the magnificent Grade II* Listed Fountaine’s Hospital: a group of alms houses with a chapel in the centre. Built in the 1720s, the architect is believed to be Sir John Vanbrugh (who designed Castle Howard) or his associate Nicholas Hawksmoor. The Fountaine Inn in the centre of Linton is a characterful pub  with open fires serving excellent food.


Three Peaks and Ribblesdale


The Three Peaks – Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent – are the best-known hills in the Yorkshire. Each has a different shape and character. The surrounding countryside is characterised by limestone outcrops and screes.



The monumental Ribblehead Viaduct with a steam train crossing Ribblesdale on the famous Settle – Carlisle railway line 




Although Swaledale is the northerly of the Yorkshire Dales, it is also the lushest and greenest. Renowned for its wild flower-rich hay meadows and for its numerous stone-built barns, it is an idyllic landscape capped by heather moors.

Dales on the Doorstep 



Calderdale – the southernmost of Yorkshire’s Dales – is a unique landscape with infinite variety in the Heart of the Pennines. Characterised by its steep wooded hillsides, hilltop hay meadows and rolling heather moors, the Upper Calder Valley has numerous spurs, known as cloughs and deans, each one a hidden gem. The area around Hebden Bridge is particularly dramatic with its bluebell woods, converging rivers, cascading waterfalls, gritstone outcrops and rocky gorges. 

Step out of the door at Elmet Farmhouse and discover the Dales on your Doorstep: Hebden Dale and Hardcastle Crags, Crimsworth Dean and Pecket Well Clough, Heptonstall and Colden CloughLuddenden Dean and MidgleyStoodley PikeCragg Vale and Jumble Hole Clough….



Left: Hebden Water in Hardcastle Crags  Right: Bluebells in Hardcastle Crags

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Left: Blake Dean from Walshaw Moor  Right: Reservoir above Luddenden Dean

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Left: Crimsworth Dean and Old Town.   Right: Hardcastle Crags


Left: Stoodley Pike from Crimsworth Dean  Right: Crimsworth Dean



© Photos copyright Ian Fishwick and Lesley Jackson


It’s Cold in Colden!

It’s Cold in Colden… but cosy in May’s Farm Shop


The Colden Loop – 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

10 Facts about Hebden Bridge

10 Fascinating Facts about Funky Hebden Bridge



1. Hebden Bridge used to be known as Fustianopolis because many of its textile mills specialised in fustian – the generic name for corduroy and moleskin. Hebden Bridge has also been described as Trouser Town because it became an important centre for garment-making, especially working mens’ trousers made from fustian cloth.

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Left: Canalside mill in Hebden Bridge.  Right: Fustian cutter’s blade sculpture in St George’s Square

2. Hebden Bridge was one of the earliest towns to embrace the Co-operative Movement, just a few years after the Rochdale Pioneers. The Hebden Bridge Fustian Manufacturing Society, based in Nutclough Mill, was the first co-operative mill in the UK. Community spirit and co-operative principles still characterise the town. Hebweb was the first community website in the UK.


Left: Tower of Nutclough Mill.  Right: Workers’ housing in Hebden Bridge

3. Until the 19th century Hebden Bridge was much smaller and more insignificant than Heptonstall, the small village on the top of the hill. Whereas Heptonstall had been a flourishing cloth-making centre for centuries, Hebden Bridge was little more than a bridging point over Hebden Water for packhorses en route to Heptonstall via the Buttress (an incredibly steep stone-paved track). But following the industrial revolution, everything changed. Hebden Bridge expanded rapidly and the Calder Valley became a hub for large water-powered and steam-powered textile factories.


Left: 16th century bridge crossing Hebden Water.  Right: The Buttress

4. Because the Upper Calder Valley is so steep-sided, there’s very little space on the valley bottom for housing. When Hebden Bridge expanded during the 19th century, double-decker terraces were developed, consisting of underdwellings and overdwellings, running along the contours of the valley and up and down the slopes ‘Flying freeholds’ – another Hebden Bridge novelty – were introduced as a result.


Double-decker terraces in Hebden Bridge

5. Hebden Bridge boasts the highest proportion of independent shops per capita in the country, a distinction it shares with Totnes in Devon. From butchers and bakers to designer-makers, Hebden Bridge combines traditional businesses, such as ironmongers, haberdashery and and florists, with craft lighting, jewellery and organic food. It’s no surprise the town was crowned Best Small Market Town in the Great British High Street Awards in 2016.



Independent shops in Hebden Bridge

6. Hebden Bridge’s thriving food and general market, held each thursday, recently won the national award for Best Small Outdoor Market in the UK. It sells everything from fresh fish, local cheese and sourdough bread to toiletries, plants and fruit and veg. Hebden Bridge also has a flea market each friday, an artisan’s market on saturday and a local produce market on sunday.


Hebden Bridge Market

7. Mytholmroyd-born poet Ted Hughes retained life-long connections with Hebden Bridge. His book Remains of Elmet (1979), a collaboration with photographer Fay Godwin, is all about the Upper Calder Valley. Hughes’s parents lived in a house called The Beacon at Slack, near Heptonstall. His wife, the American poet Sylvia Plathwho committed suicide in 1963, is buried in Heptonstall Churchyard. Lumb Bank, an 18th century millowner’s house in Colden Clough formerly owned by Ted Hughes, is now a flourishing creative writing centre run by the Arvon Foundation.

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Left: Remains of Elmet.  Right: Lumb Bank

8. Internationally renowned photographer Martin Parr lived and worked in Hebden Bridge during the mid 1970s at the start of his career. His photographs from this period, focusing on the non-conformist chapels that once dominated this area, were recently published in a book called The Non-Conformists.  

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Left: Hope Chapel, Hebden Bridge.  Right: Birchcliffe Chapel, Hebden Bridge


Left: Providence Chapel, Midgley.  Right: Heptonstall Methodist Chapel

9. World-famous singer songwriter Ed Sheeran spent his formative early childhood years in Hebden Bridge and seems to have absorbed its quirky, independent spirit. His parents lived in a house on Birchcliffe Road in Hebden Bridge at the time. Ed’s father  was a curator at Cartwright Hall in Bradford and his mother worked at Manchester City Art Gallery.

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Left: West Royd (left), Ed Sheeran’s early childhood home on Birchcliffe Road, Hebden Bridge. Right: Eiffel Tower opposite West Royd

10. Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley are popular locations for film and TV dramas, both historical and contemporary. The picturesque village of Heptonstall recently appeared in Jericho and Swallows and Amazons, while Holdsworth House, a 17th century house in Halifax, was an important location in Last Tango in Halifax. Hebden Bridge features prominently in Happy Valley, which, like Last Tango, was written by BAFTA award-winning screenwriter Sally Wainwright, who grew up in Calderdale. Catherine Cawood, the feisty police officer in Happy Valley played by Sarah Lancashire, lives in a house on Hangingroyd Road in the centre of Hebden Bridge.


Hebden Bridge – key location for Happy Valley. Left: Bridge Gate.  Right: Bridge Mill. 


Heptonstall – key location for ITV’s series Jericho and the film Swallows and Amazons


© Text and photos copyright Lesley Jackson