A walk from Littleborough to Todmorden

For my second walk during the hot and sunny Bank Holiday weekend, not wanting to endure the inevitably busy traffic, I decided to take the train over to Littleborough. I’d worked out a route that would take me over to Todmorden, taking in a stretch of the Pennine Way. It was a long walk but doable. As it happens I ended up extending it a little.

Arriving at the station, a short walk along the road I was on a minor road that crossed the canal and then became a track that was soon out into the fields. A path then took me through some woods, past a farm and then past the golf course with views of the hills opening up.

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The low cloud that was hanging over Wigan and Manchester had cleared by the time I reached Littleborough. It was sunny and becoming hot and there was barely a breeze. The wind turbines on the hills were completely still.

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The line of pylons carrying power cables that stretch out over the moors brought to mind a poem by Stephen Spender that I’d studied for my O Level in English Literature. Here’s an extract

The Pylons

The secret of these hills was stone, and cottages
Of that stone made,
And crumbling roads
That turned on sudden hidden villages

Now over these small hills, they have built the concrete
That trails black wire
Pylons, those pillars
Bare like nude giant girls that have no secret.

by Stephen Spender (extract)
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Can’t say I’ve seen many nude girls that look quite like that, mind!

I guess that the modern day equivalent are the Wind Turbines of which I could see plenty on the nearby hills during my walk.

I’d originally planned to climb up the “Roman road”, that would let me join the Pennine Way to the north of Blackstone Edge. As it happens as I reached the path that would lead me to the start of the ascent, looking up to Blackstone Edge I decided to divert and climb the edge, taking the path up to the south of the summit, adding 2 or 3 miles to my planned route.

Looking down to Hollingworth Lake as I climbed

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A couple of curious locals ahead

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The top of Blackstone Edge ahead

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It didn’t take too long to reach the top of the hill with it’s jumble of millstone grit bolders

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I stopped by the trig point for a short break and a bite to eat. Just like on Friday, long range visibility wasn’t so great but the views over the moors were still OK.

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I was now on the Pennine way so followed the path heading northwards. Looking back to the Edge.

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I reached the Aiggin stone

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The Pennine Way then descended down the “Roman road”

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before turning north by the drain – a waterway taking water from one of the reservoirs that feed the Rochdale canal

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It wasn’t too long before I reached the White Horse pub on the A58 which runs over the Pennines from Littleborough to Halifax.

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Crossing over there’s a short walk stretch of road before the Pennine way continues along a gravel path that’s used a a service road for a string of reservoirs.

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This path extends for a few miles and is pretty flat. It’s reputedly the easiest stretch of the Pennine Way. The lack of inclines means it’s also one of the least interesting stretches, but on a fine day there were good views over the moors and the water in the reservoirs was a lovely bright blue.

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About a mile along the track I reached this little bridge, which I crossed and then walked along to an outcrop of millstone grit in a former quarry

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Inscribed on the rock is a poem

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This one of the Stanza Stones – poems by Simon Armitage (the new Poet Laureate) inscribed on rocks on the moors between Marsden (his home town) and Ilkley, all about an aspect of the water which frequently falls on these moors. This is the Rain Stone

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Unusually (!) it wasn’t raining today, but it had been a few days before and the moors off the path were wet and boggy.

Rejoining the path I carried on heading north passing a string of small reservoirs.

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After passing the last of the reservoirs, the path continued over the boggy moor. Fortunately flagstones have been laid down over the boggiest section other it would have meant walking through a quagmire. There’s a reason why Simon Armitage located his Stanza Stones up here!

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Soon, Stoodley Pike came into view

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It didn’t look so far off, but sometimes your eyes can deceive you!

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Carrying on, Todmorden and the nearby villages came into view down in the valley

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and looking in the opposite direction towards Cragg Vale, home of the Coiners

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My plan was to descend down the Calderdale Way and follow it to Todmorden where I’d catch the train back to Wigan. Looking north along the Pennine Way, Stoodley Pike didn’t look so far off and I was tempted to continue onwards.

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But I’d extended my walk by a few miles already by tackling Blackstone Edge so I decided to stick to my original intention.

The path was an old packhorse trail and had been paved, making the walking relatively easy.

I was greeted by a couple of sheep as I entered the small village of Mankinholes

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It’s small village of old traditional Pennine houses, an ancient settlement, going back to the 13th century, and some of the houses were built in the 17 th century. They would probably have been originally occupied by textile workers, weavers and spinners, who worked from home, so the houses have the typical rows of mullioned windows that allowed maximum light into the first floor work rooms.

I reckon that later on, after the Industrial Revolution had killed off the domestic textile industry, the occupants probably went to work in the mill in nearby Lumbutts – there’s an old path across the fields between the two villages and that was what I followed.

Lumbutts isn’t as old, coming into existence along with the mill in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Reaching Lumbutts I passed the local pub which, on a Bank Holiday afternoon, was busy with customers enjoying a meal and a pint.

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Time was getting on so I didn’t stop but carried on to have a look at the village chapel

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It’s rather a large chapel for a small village but probably served the surrounding area. It was only constructed in 1911, replacing an earlier building. The ground floor was used for the Sunday School with the main chapel above it.

I rejoined the Calderdale way which carried on along the road and down the hill towards the old mill. The only thing left is the unusual old tower.

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The mill was water powered and the tower contained three water wheels, one on top of the other, powered from lodges on the hills above.

I carried on along the road for a while passing the rows of terraced workers’ houses

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A short while further on the Calderdale Way turned off the road to start crossing some fields. Looking across to Stoodley Pike

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I passed a number of old, traditional houses which are now expensive, desirable residences

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Soon I could see Todmordem, but it was still a way off

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I carried on along the Calderdale way through fields and along a country lane, eventually arriving at the small former textile town down in the bottom of the narrow valley.

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Todmorden used to split by the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire and the neo-Classical Town Hall actually straddles the border.

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Since Local Government reorganisation it’s been entirely in West Yorkshire, but remnants of the old loyalties remain. My walk had taken me from Littleborough in Lancashire (well, Greater Manchester these days) and across the border into West Yorkshire. But it would be difficult to tell the difference as the landscape and architecture across the South Pennines is essentially the same.

I’d run out of water a couple of miles before reaching the town (should have stopped at that pub!) so needed to get some cold liquid. It was nearly 5 o’clock and everything seemed shut but I managed to find an off licence were I was able to buy a couple of bottles of diet coke from the fridge for a couple of quid. The cold liquid and caffeine were more than welcome and I quickly downed the contents of one of the bottles saving the second for the journey home.

I didn’t have too much time to look round before the next train was due so I made my way to the station. It was running 10 minutes late and I might have otherwise missed it (although they run every half hour). Just over an hour later I was back in Wigan.

Another grand walk on what was probably going to be the last sunny day for a while. I also feel that September is the beginning of Autumn, so this was my last walk during this year’s summer. But Autumn can be a good time for walks too – so fingers crossed!

Ingleborough – So good I climbed it twice!

(Title inspired by a comment by Mark)

Almost a couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, I decided I’d drive over to the Yorkshire Dales and walk up Ingleborough. I’d been up there before, a couple of years ago, from Ingleton, but this time I wanted to try another popular route, up from Clapham (no, not the district of London, but a small village in Yorkshire).

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Clapham is an attractive linear village which lies along both sides of Clapham Beck. Although there’s been a settlement here right back to at least Anglo Saxon times, the village we see today is largely the work of the Farrars, a local farming family who became Lords of the Manor in the 18th Century after accumulating wealth as London Lawyers. They remodelled the village, which became an ‘estate village’ where almost all the residents were tenants, many of whom worked on the estate.  They built Ingleborough Hall and created the Lake and gardens on their estate.

I set out from the village and took the path up through the Estate Gardens alongside the lake – after paying the £1 toll.

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Lots of wild garlic in bloom

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The path took me past Ingleborough Cave, but I didn’t stop to have a look (and pay another fee).

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The path started to climb and I was soon in Trow Gill, a narrow limestone gorge.

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It’s likely that at one time this was an underground passage carved out through the limestone, like the many caves in the area. The gorge was created when the roof of the cave collapsed.

Carrying on I turned on to open moorland. I’d noticed quite a few other people walking up through the Estate and the Gill and talking to a few of them discovered that they were only going as far as Gaping Gill, a a 98-metre (322 ft) deep pothole just below Ingleborough, which has one of the largest known underground chambers in Britain. The Bradford caving club “opens” Gaping Gill to the public for a couple of weeks in May, lowering people down on a bosun’s chair. This was the start of the two weeks.

As I got closer I couldn’t help but notice the “tent city” which had been errected close to the entrance to the system. I diverted slightly off the path to take a look.

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But I hadn’t planned to get lowered down a deep hole in the ground – I much prefer the open skies – so carried on towards Ingleborough which was covered with cloud.

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I carried on, climbing up the path towards the subsidiary summit of Little Ingleborough, walking into the low cloud.

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The path flattened off for a short distance but the climb up to the summit of Littleborough itself.

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It was still covered with cloud and was quite cold and windy on top. I made my way to the summit cairn and the stone shelter where I stopped for a coffee from my flask and a bite to eat. There were quite a few others arriving on the summit from different directions, many of them attempting the “Three Peaks Challenge“.

I had hoped the cloud would clear as the last time I came up here we’d started out at Ingleton on a warm day under a sunny blue sky, but by the time we reached the summit it was cold, windy and covered with cloud. Just the same as on this occasion.

I walked across the summit to start my descent on the path that leads towards Horton in Ribblesdale. The cloud was swirling in the wind and through a gap that appeared I glimpsed the rather magnificent Ribblehead Viaduct. But the cloud soon swirled back in.

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I descended down the steep path and soon reached flatter moorland.

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Carrying on walking there were good views towards Penyghent, the smaller of the Three Peaks.

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After a short while, looking back I could see that the cloud had cleared. If only I’d set out a couple of hours later I’d have had a view. That seems to be the story of my life at the moment (see my post about my trip up Great Gable). I could have turned around and climbed back up to the summit, but thought it best to carry on.

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After a few miles, after a ruined shooting hut, at Nick Pot , I turned off on the path that headed south, which would take me back to Clapham. Initially walking over moorland, I soon came to an area of Limestone pavement and “shake holes“.

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I carried on across the moorland towards Clapham, and looking across the moors there were good views towards the cloudless summit of Ingleborough.

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The path continued above the beck, on the opposite side to my route up through the Estate and Trow Gill. No toll payable on this side!

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The path descended steeply down hill and then passed under two tunnels, which had been built by the Farrers to prevent travellers along what was a major route wouldn’t have to cross the Ingleborough Hall Estate.

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I was soon back in the village

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and stopped for a brew and fruit cake with a slice of Wensleydale cheese in the cafe located in a very old building.. The cup was even in Wigan Warrieors colours!

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After a short wander round the village, I went back to the car and headed back towards home.

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It had been an enjoyable walk but I was a little disappointed that, yet again, when I was on top of the hill it was covered with cloud and I missed out on the view over the Dales.

The next Wednesday promised to be a sunny day and chance had it I was able to finish work early. I wanted to make the most of the sunshine and get out for a walk and had my boots in the car. It was a little late to drive up to the Lakes but as I was only about an hour’s drive away I decided to chance a climb up Ingleborough.

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Looking up towards Ingleborough – on a sunny day!

I parked up in Ingleton and set off in bright sunshine up the path towards Ingleborough. It took me a couple of hours to reach the summit.

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I was lucky this time – the cloud kept away, although it was windy and quite chilly. bUt I’d brought my soft shell and that kept me nice and snug. I stopped at the shelter for a while, chatting with a couple of retired walkers from Leyland and a Yorkshireman who was part of a group tackling the Three Peaks.

I took the opportunity to soak in the view which extended over to Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland Fells,

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Pendle Hill and the Bowland Fells in the west and over the Dales to the east. And, at the third attempt, I got a great view over towards the Ribblehaead Viaduct standing below Whernside, the highest of the Three Peaks.

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Satisfied that I’d eventually managed to climb the hill when it wasn’t covered in cloud, I made my way back down to the village, passing some curious locals on the way.

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Ingleborough is a grand mountain. A good climb in pretty countryside that’s quite different to that of the Lake District, which is not so far away. It’s certainly worth the effort to climb to the top even when the summit is covered with cloud. But I was glad I’d found the time to get up there when it wasn’t!

“Do you have some Blues in you?”

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I came across this gentlemen at his stall on Hebden Bridge market when I was there a few weeks ago. He made up cigar box guitars and after spotting them I had to have a closer look.

He greeted me by asking me “have you got some blues in you?” Well I have – a little anyway! He spotted my Lancashire accent but despite this (!) I got chatting with him about how he made his hand built guitars and I had a go at playing one – they’re meant for playing slide or “bottleneck” style and it’s not something I’d really attempted before.

He told me that he had Parkinson’s disease (he had the characteristic hand tremor) but still persevered in building the instruments. I thought they were quite reasonably priced (probably worth more) and would have been tempted to buy one if I wasn’t just about to set out for a walk on the moors.

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A walk up Stoodley Pike

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After looking around Heptonstall and grabbing a bite to eat I set off on my walk up to Stoodley Pike, a 1,300-foot (400 m) hill topped with a monument, which lies on the Pennine way in the South Pennines close to Todmorden and Hebden Bridge. I’d decided to follow a route published by the AA, although I did vary a little from it.

Setting out from Hebden Bridge, passing the train station, I was soon climbing up a quiet country lane.

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As I climber up through the woods I could look down on Hebden Bridge at the bottom of the narrow Calderdale valley

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Coming out of the woods by a telecoms mast,

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the route continued up hill through the open fields

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with the sun beating down with no cloud cover and now out of the shade for most of the route I was glad I’d decided to wear my wide rimmed Aussie hat !

Looking back I could see Heptonstall village on the other side of the valley

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and looking ahead my objective came into view, silhouetted by the bright sky

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After a while I turned off the path through the fields to continue on along some quiet country lanes

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passing a number of r traditional buildings, some working farms but many had been converted into (no doubt expensive) homes

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There weren’t many other people about on this stretch of the walk and no noise other than the bleating of sheep and the call of curlews and other birds.

Getting closer to the Pike now

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which was quite busy with other walkers, most of whom seemed to have come up from Todmorden. (I angle my photos to avoid the “crowds”)

Good views from the top

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The 121 foot (37 m) high Monument  on the top of the hill commemorates the Napoleonic wars. It’s actually the second structure, completed in 1815 and paid for by public subscription, which collapsed in 1854 after a lightning strike.

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After a short stop to take in the views and refuel, I decided to continue along the ridge for another mile. The peat is quite eroded. It’s a busy path, popular with people coming up from Todmorden but also part of the Pennine Way

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Having had quite a long dry spell I didn’t have to wade through a muddy morass.

I thought about descending the hill taking the path down towards Todmorden and then following the bridleway that traverses the foot of the hill, but it was sunny, with hardly a breath of wind and very pleasant on the top of the hill, so I turned round and retraced my steps back towards the monument

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I retraced my steps back down the hill,

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turning off to follow the Pennine Bridleway in the direction of Hebden Bridge

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after a while turning off the bridleway to take a path through some pleasant woodland towards the town

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before hitting a cobbled track

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and being watched by some curious locals

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It was the day after Good Friday!

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I was getting close to Hebden Bridge now

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After descending the steep hill I was back on the Rochdale canal

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I picked up some cold drinks from the Co-op, then carried on along the towpath back towards the station

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I only had short wait before my train arrived that would take me back to Wigan. 90 minutes later, I was back home.

Another good day out. The train is making this area very accessible without a car, avoiding an awkward drive across the busy M62 and down narrow roads, and also avoiding the bother have finding somewhere to park. I think I’m going to be spending more time exploring the area in the near future.

Heptonstall

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On Easter Saturday I decided to take advantage of the good weather and get out for another walk. I’d enjoyed my walk over Blackstone Edge the previous Saturday so thought I’d take the train back over to the South Pennines, this time to Hebden Bridge for a walk over to Stoodley Pike. I arrived in the former mill town in the bottom of the narrow Calder Valley, which has now become rather trendy and “Bohemian”. I didn’t stop long, I’d been a couple of times before, but decided to gead up to the small community of Heptonstall, just up the hill from Hebden Bridge. And what a hill it is!

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I took the VERY steep cobbled lane up from the centre of Hebden Bridge

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and then up a steep road that took me into the village.

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There’s been a settlement here as far back as at least 1253 and it was even the site of a battle during the Civil War. Historically, it was a centre for hand-loom weaving, The work was done in the worker’s own homes, usually on the top floor and the old cottages and houses have long rows of stone mullioned windows on the first-floor which were meant to allow in plenty of light for the weavers.

High up on the hill it was away from the dark and damp valley floor. However, during the early Industrial Revolution, with the advent of water power, the new factories were built by the source of their power, the river, so Heptonstall went into decline. As a consequence, it’s almost as if it’s been frozen in time. I guess that for many years the buildings would have fallen into disrepair, but with the resurgence of Hebden Bridge, Heptonstall has also become a desirable location and the old houses and other buildings have been renovated.

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The former Cloth Hall, which is now a private house,was built between 1545-58. Finished cloth produced in the town and nearby area used to be traded here.

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The Octagonal Methodist Chapel was built in 1764 and the design and construction of were overseen by John Wesley, who frequently preached here. It’s one of the oldest Methodist churches in continuous use today.

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No visit to Heptonstall would be complete without a visit to the churchyard. There’s actually two churches there, one of them a ruined shell. The original church, dedicated to St Thomas a Becket, was founded c.1260, but was damaged by a gale in 1847. The new church which replaced it, dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle, was built just across the churchyard. 

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A large proportion of visitors come up the hill to see the grave of Sylvia Plath who is buried in the new graveyard, just across a narrow lane from the church.

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There’s a lot of old graves in the old churchyard

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The most notable “resident” is David Hartley, the KIng of the Crag Vale Coiners, who was executed in York on 28 April 1770 This is his gravestone

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Some consider the coiners to be local heroes, Calderdale “Robin Hoods”. Others consider them as a bunch of vicious rogues. In either case, they are the subject of a rather excellent prize winning novel, The Gallows Pole by Ben Myers, who lives in the area

Just by the graveyard there’s a rather excellent little museum, housed in the old grammar school building that was constructed in 1642

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There are exhibits about the history of the village, its industry, the Civil War battle and, of course, the coiners.

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Partway back down, the view over Hebden Bridge

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and then down the steep, cobbled lane

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back to Hebden Bridge where I took a break by the old packhorse bridge for a bite to eat before setting off on my walk up Stoodley Pike

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A walk along the cliffs from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby

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We’d been wanting to walk along the cliffs from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby during our recent holiday. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t been particularly promising. But on the Friday the forecast was for sunshine until the evening, so we laced up our boots and took the bus the few miles to Robin Hood’s Bay and set out along the coastal path. It was easy walking at first but we soon had to negociate a series of “ups and downs” along the cliffs.

Looking back shortly after setting out.

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A short distance along the route we came across this “rocket post”. Devices similar to this were used by the coastguard to practice rescuing shipwrecked sailors. Rockets were used to fire ropes across to stranded ships.

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It was a beautiful day, if a little windy. There were great views of the cliffs ahead and the sea was a beautiful shade of blue.

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“Scars” could be seen under the water. It was high tide but these rocky selves that make this stretch of coastline potentially treacherous for shipping would soon be revealed as the tide receded.

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Looking out to sea.

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Moving along the coast

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This must be the shortest lighthouse I’ve seen.

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A cliff face of Kittiwakes

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A short distance after the lighthouse we passed this disused foghorn station. I wouldn’t have liked to be walking past when this was blasting out.

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Carrying on the cliffs

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Getting closer to Whitby. We passed the bay where we’d been foddiling earlier that week.

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The Abbey came into view

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Looking down to the ship wreck we’d walked past during the fossiling trip

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Whitby harbour came into view.

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Getting closer to the Abbey

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We finished the walk with tea and cake in the YHA café next to the Abbey.

An enjoyable walk of about 8 miles. 

Evening walks around Whitby Harbour

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One of the things we enjoyed during our stay in Whitby was taking an evening walk along the harbour. Two evenings were particularly pleasant for a stroll down to the pier.

On the way down to the town centre we passed the pleasure boats moored in the harbour

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Looking out from the west pier

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Looking along the west pier

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A coble crew, no doubt practicing for the Whitby Regatta

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Looking over to the East Cliff

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As the sun began to sink it lit up the east cliff which looked particualrly dramatic with the grey cloud behind.

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The lifeboat returning to port – the crew had been out on a training run

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We climbed up the west cliff. Looking down to the piers

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The whalebone arch

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The sun was starting to set and Captain Cook’s statue was silhouetted against the sky

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Looking back as we walked past the harbour returning to our holiday home

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The next evening we went out again. Starting with a stroll along the east pier

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Jurassic cliffs to the east

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Looking across to the west pier

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and the West Cliff

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The sea in the bay was a beautiful shade of milky blue

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Along the west pier

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A rain shower came in and created a rainbow over the east cliff

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