After 16 summers and winters living on Huddersfield Road Holmfirth we’ve recently moved all of 3 quarters of a mile to an 1880′s mill workers house on Dunford Road. The change has given an unexpectedly fresh perspective on these Pennine folds. Out the back the River Ribble bubbles away on it’s way down to the Nook and a long Pennine finger taps on the back door.
The other day we followed the dank setted path to the Ribble where a small but rather grand mossy bridge takes you across. Woodland of birch and sycamore where blackbirds yellow beak sneak away at your leafy footsteps has one side of the valley. Stone houses stacked under and over each other cling steeply to the sunny side. There’s even a bald as a coot millpond in the woods thick with black mud and tree roots like some Northern everglade amongst the millstone.
That long Pennine finger tapping on our back door is Cartworth Moor and with a little huffing and puffing we emerged from the woods and overgrown lane onto it’s rocky knuckle where views of Holmfirth, Castle Hill and the Cliff open up. From our old house we looked up to Cartworth Moor and Wards End the ruined hamlet which is now being “developed”. For years a lone light shone all winter long from up here like a lost star above Holmfirth. Little Owls live amongst the beamed but roofless ruins and are no doubt in the housing market themselves as their home is gradually repossessed by the developers.
Cartworth Moor is the quickest way up and out of the valley and into the peaty wastes on foot. Soon we were up at Hades peat pits where the wind blew warm on cut peat. Sat in the heather on Ramsden Edge a swallow all but combed my hair with a low sweep. Ramsden Clough cuts deep and steep into the hills outdoing Google Earth for perspective. The walk along it’s edge weaves in and out along a thread of contour.
The scent of heather arrived on the warm breeze minutes before we came upon the pin cushion blooms themselves and I wondered if it’s maybe time to put the clocks forward a month to re calibrate the seasons. Back end of August and early September is the time of Ling heather. The bilberries have been and gone before you’d expect to pick them too.
A brace of Holmfirth Harriers past us at pace in the clough their yellow club vests visible long after they’d overtaken us. Way too athletic for a summer afternoon like this. The meagerest of peaty trickles flowed off the moors and was barely enough to give the dog a good drink. July cracks had opened up in the peat so it was dry walking and for once no bog hopping.
Having set off late afternoon we were well into the evening by Red Cabin and so the sun was low highlighting every fold and contour in the patchwork quilt landscape below. Golden grasses shook in the breeze as we sat there looking down the length of our reservoir buttoned valley all the way from Holme Moss to Castle Hill. I wished I’d a sleeping bag!
Our path continued along the edge of moorland escarpment weaving a way through hags and small cloughs towards Holme Moss. A pair of Curlews took flight and called to each other. Their song less territorial now breeding is done for the year. We set off a flurry of beautiful young grouse at our feet and they wheeled away comically like only grouse can.
The change in my pocket reminded me we had a bus to catch at Holme and we really needed to put a few quick steps in and perhaps not dawdle so much over the next hour. We crossed Woodhead Road where a few weeks earlier I’d shared a day up here with 40 odd thousand others for Le Tour Grand Depart. But for a bit of trampling you’d hardly guess such an event had taken place.
With the wind picking up and rain in the air we walked on. Again sticking to the very edge of the escarpment following a pencil line path as it traced a route towards Issue Road, Holme and the 314 down to Holmfirth.