The stunning summer weather continued with us on this dramatic return to the fabled city of Haworth. Not so much as a drop of rain threatened to upset the party.
The first question one might ask, of course, is why were we returning to Haworth so soon after visiting in the middle of last term? It isn’t something we do often, as Ben Lairig like to seek out strange new countryside and go where no abstractly named society has ever been before and all the old Star Trek stuff, and yet we found ourselves returning to familiar surroundings. Well the answer to this, as I have it, a story passed on from ancestors, is that last time we were in Haworth someone ended up speaking to a local yokel in the pub who told us of great waterfalls just west of where we had walked. As such, and because it was quite a nice place anyway, a return trip was planned by trip planner Maureen.
Personally I wanted to return because it was Brontë country and I am still keen to find Wuthering Heights which apparently does exist. Someone asked me if I’d actually read the book, but no unfortunately, I only know the song.
Steven, incidentally, who normally plans trips was away on the hugely masochistic 26 mile Three Peaks Challenge for the day so didn’t make it. There is talk that we might go for it as a club too. I should point out though that it’s a bit of a con because you get a card to check off as you do each of the peaks, having been promised a badge at the end, but then you have to send off and pay for the badge. I didn’t buy one on principle when I did it. Not that I’m bitter.
Anyway, the reason for the great return was these magnificent waterfalls. Not actually marked on the map, but apparently worth seeing.
So I arrive outside the SU centre at 8.30 on Saturday morning. A time most students don’t believe exists. Captain Ben, Jules, Ben, new recruit Paddy and Jacques were already waiting. Slowly the others turned up. Stevie and Dan drove in, prohibiting Dan from his average fifteen minutes of lateness, Mary and Arran sauntered in, Andrew dangerously wearing shorts turned up uncharacteristically late, Li (I hope that’s spelt right, though probably not) wandered over, and finally Maureen, having organised the trip was obliged to arrive last (despite the fact that her lunch had arrived some twenty minutes earlier). Quite incredibly though, we were all there by 8.50 – a new record I expect.
We piled into three cars and began the race to get to the car park at Tom Stell’s Seat first. Having notes expertly planned by Jules I successfully navigated us to the car park first, where we then waited for about 20 minutes for the others to arrive. Ben finally made it having driven round most of the car park first to find us.
Quickly we began walking. We started along the Haworth to Hebden Bridge Walk, but quickly turned off, as we didn’t really want to go to Hebden Bridge. We passed ‘Green Holes’ on the left and ‘Garden Beds’ on the right, before climbing Oxenhope Stoop Hill. It always amazes me the weird names we come across. Thinking about it I suppose that people are so desperate to name every small characteristic of the land they’re bound to run out of normal names quite soon, and as such, over the course of the walk we passed a gully called ‘Shoulder Nick’, some grass called ‘The Wage of Crow Hill’ and a hill named ‘Warcock or Peacock Hill’. Perhaps they couldn’t decide what to call it.
Anyway, I digress. We started walking, everyone adjusted clothing to the weather, and conversations started. New members and old alike recounted stories of falling in rivers, walking along knife edged ridges, getting chased by cattle and so on. Everyone was generally glad to be away from exams and work. It is actually quite difficult to think that there is any work to do when you’re hiking over fields in the middle of nowhere with the sun warming you.
So we made it to Oxenhope Stoop Hill where there was a nice stone with an “H” on it, which Captain Ben pointed out was almost certainly an h for hill. Unless possibly Steps had been out walking recently…
We carried on then to Dick Delf Hill then boshed across towards Ponden Clough, where the promised waterfalls were. It was heading towards lunchtime, and the terrain was extremely uncompromising and the sun quite warm, so part way across we stopped on some nice big rocks for an unofficial lunch break. Of course the official lunch break was to be at the waterfalls. I think we could probably have sat on those rocks for the rest of the day. It was so utterly relaxing just lying there, so far away from roads that there were only natural noises – the occasional bird and the busy hum of nature at work.
Still, eventually we carried on, knowing that there were waterfalls to come. I have to say, I was beginning to get cynical as we approached Ponden Clough as the river marked on the map was only really a trickle. It was a little hard to imagine there being a great gushing waterfall in such warm weather with such a small source.
And, sure enough, there wasn’t. There was a little waterfall, which was nice enough, but not, I presume, all that we had been told. Even Captain Ben’s curlew impression could not quite make up for the loss.
Still, we stopped for our official lunch break. As we sat on the grassy bank we found that we were out numbered by a bunch of friendly spiders. At first I was alarmed but as soon as I found one on my leg, that jumped along my leg and back to the ground as I moved to flick it off, I realised they weren’t so bad, and so we enjoyed our lunch with the jumping spiders.
Another thing I noticed that was funny about lunch was that most of us that have been a few times can now anticipate what everyone else has brought for lunch. Maureen had her traditional bag of salad and pack of penguin bars and Ben had his apple pies (but not the customary Swiss Roll), however there was great shock when Dan announced he had no large bar of fruit and nut nor did Captain Ben have his customary Jacksons flapjack. Apparently he ate too much flapjack last weekend and has been off the stuff ever since. Apart from this uproar, lunch passed smoothly and we made plans to split into three groups for the afternoon. Almost inevitably not many people could be bothered to do the long route and almost everyone wanted to do the medium route as it seemed the nicest. So, Dan, Jules and Mr Captain went off in pursuit of Lad Law (a hill), while the other ten of us battled our way across awkward terrain towards Crow Hill. The terrain of thick fern in parts, lumpy grass in parts and bogs to navigate made very slow going. The bogs also made for quite wet going in places too. Having long legs I was at the advantage of being able to jump most but really I don’t think anyone got away without at least one wet sock. Andrew in the shorts also had the lower part of his legs slightly torn to shreds by the ferns.
We made it up to Crow Hill but everyone was so knackered from fighting through the undergrowth that no-one really admired the view and we pressed on to the ridge along which we planned to head down to Walshaw Dean reservoir. Part way along here with many people’s water carriers running short, even the growing club of Platypus water carriers (as soon as one member of the committee gets a new gadget, everyone wants one) and the sun shining brightly, we decided to collapse.
And so we lay there on the cushioning ferns, basking in the sunshine for ages. Jacques tuned in his radio to hear Arsenal and Chelsea were drawing in the cup final. At that point I decided I had definitely made the right choice to miss the cup final for this. It was totally wonderful just lying there. Not a care in the world.
Heading down the ridge, we managed to upset our seventh and final grouse of the day. After the first few I decided to keep count. The thing was that the undergrowth was quite thick, so you couldn’t see them nesting on the ground. I don’t think anyone stood on one, but I reckon we came pretty close. Stupid creatures.
As we reached the edge of the ridge we looked at walking down the gully, but rather than risk our necks we took the decision to walk along a little and down to the reservoir. Without a pause to peruse the reservoir, we crossed the dam and took the Pennine Way on the other side before joining the path that returned to the car park.
Our last little excitement of the walk was nearing the end we spotted a lizard darting across the path. Disappointingly none of the biologists could tell us what it actually was. (It was a lizard [Ed.])
Shortly after the lizard we made it back to the car park at Tom Stell’s Seat. Just before this, I noticed Tom Stell’s Seat was actually a nice bench on a hillock by the side of the road. According to the inscription “he loved these moors”. Good old Tom.
After arriving back at the cars and briefly changing for those that had been sensible enough to bring spare clothes, we crammed ten people into two cars, one being a Mini – that must have been fun. Fortunately I was in the bigger car. We headed on down to The Old Hall Inn, which we remembered from last time as being excellent, and so it was again. It wasn’t quite the same, as last time we were all totally soaked and there was a huge roaring fire by which we dried ourselves and our clothes, whereas this time it was actually quite a nice day. Still, the beer was good – Cocker Hoop, which apparently was named after Cock-a-hoop which I think may have been a game or something, only it was changed to Cocker for some reason I forget. Anyway, it tasted good. We all ordered meals as well. When I ordered beef and Yorkshire puddings I was actually quite surprised when a plate came out with just a bit of beef and a Yorkshire pudding on, though I don’t suppose you could sue for false advertising. Fortunately the rest of the meal followed on separate trays.
After a days walking, a grand meal, a few drinks and some cheesy Ziggy’s style music I was quite happy to put my feet up and fall asleep. I didn’t fall asleep though, which is probably a good thing because I’d only have started dribbling or something and never have lived it down. To everyone’s amazement though, Maureen once again managed to fall sound asleep sitting upright. I don’t know how she does it.
After a while longer, and after the three amigos had returned from their long walk and got fed and drunk, we decided to make our way home. I think I dozed for most of the journey as I was really tired, but I think we may have gone the wrong way at some point. Certainly I remember pulling in somewhere and Stevie who was driving went over to Jules in front and was heard to cry “Where the feck are you going?” All the same we made it back to York, and although I still haven’t seen Wuthering Heights, it was a very successful trip, and hopefully will have served to relieve everyone of work stress and encouraged new members to come along more.