There & Back

There & Back

There & Back - Walk 9

There & Back - Walk 15

There & Back -Walk 12

Geoff Boswell deserves a medal, and no two ways about it. His book describes walks between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, in both directions. There are eight walks - X 2 for each direction = 16. The magical thing about the walks is that they use old 'rights of way' and 'permissive paths', which would not be obvious to the casual walker. Well, not obvious to the likes of me anyway. That means you walk across fields of sheep and cattle, through farms, over ancient bridges and into valleys that time seems to have forgotten. That you hardly ever see anyone else following the same trail is a bonus (if you do chances are they'll have a copy of There & Back in their mitts as well). It's a wonderful book.

I bought my copy of his book in a newsagents in Todmorden, having just devised my own route there from Hebden Bridge. I was so inspired by what he wrote (ok, a few pints may have helped) that I then walked back to Hebden Bridge along one of his routes. His enthusiasm is a bit infectious, and the knowledge he adds about the local history - being 70 when he wrote it he must have lived through some of it - adds to the enjoyment.

A few provisos before you set off. The walks are described in words, with no useful maps or photos, so you'll need an Ordinance Survey map and a rough idea how to use it. I have the map but not much idea how to use it, which means more exercise for me (aka getting lost). Also, some of the pubs he describes en route are either closed or being refurbished, which is not good news. Finally, don't be afraid to ask directions to the next landmark. The popular image of 'Get off my land' farmers doesn't, in my experience so far, seem to apply in this part of the world.

There is a sense of achievement in completing one of the walks which is hard to describe. I'm addicted, that's for sure.

As the other 'walks' pages are a bit heavy on the photos, I've only shown the ones that I think are worth seeing. It can't compare to being there, but I hope it comes close.

There & Back - Walk 9

  1. Most of Mr Boswell's walks out of Todmorden seem to leave via this bridge over the railway. You then walk uphill. For about an hour. That'll blow the cobwebs away, then.


  2. If the church at Cross Stone looks like this in sunlight, I wouldn't like to be up here on a dark and stormy night.


  3. The same church from the other side. Note the stocks in the wall to the right of the speed limit sign. Not, it has to be said, that they were a bit strict about religion around here - the stocks were associated with the jail next door.


  4. The (now closed) Berghof Brandstatter. I can't help imagining it in its heyday - late 60's early 70's? - with a line of Capris and Jags in the car park and the clientele in their flares and velour being oh so sophisticated. Maybe the latest James Last 8-track playing in the bar area. Wonder what it was really like?

    [ I've since learnt that it was only renamed - from the Bay Horse Inn - in the 80's. There goes my imaginary scene then. What were they think of, opening a place like that up here? And what sort of food did it serve? Have they left a community in withdrawal, bereft of their fix of stewed cabbage and warm wine with mixed herbs? ]


  5. Further along the walk, and this is fairly typical of Mr Boswell's routes. Path, anyone? To be fair, it's not really that difficult and the result is always worth it.


  6. No page on the walks site would be complete without a picture of Stoodley Pike Monument. This page is no exception.


There & Back - Walk 15

  1. The Calderdale Way, after the long climb out of Todmorden.


  2. The ruins of the West Whirlaw ale house. Damn. Could do with an ale after that uphill walk. Unfortunately I'm 250 years too late and they called time a while ago.


  3. In its day, this would've been the equivalent of a motorway. With packhorses instead of Vectras, and ale houses rather than motorway services. We've come so far, haven't we ...


  4. A long section of this walk is along this old road. 650-year old road, to be more accurate, and called the Dukes Cut. More importantly, I get caught in a hail storm along here. Thanks, God.

    Hail storms are quite common when walking along the tops in winter. A while back I thought it would be interesting to see what it was like on the top of the moors in a strong wind. So I walked up there. Stupid boy. The wind makes walking almost impossible and the hail is arriving at right angles, like being sandblasted. You can't walk, you can't - dare not - try to see, and you're miles from the nearest houses. What a great day out! I won't be trying that one again.


  5. On the other side of the valley is a house, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.


  6. The walk to the other side of the valley is along one of those old routes where you feel like the first person to walk there in a hundred years.


  7. Looks almost like a dry-stone bridge, doesn't it? Must have been well built to survive the centuries with no obvious maintenance.


  8. The same house shown earlier, a bit closer up and obviously abandoned. Off to one side is a another one, now a ruin. There are no 'keep out' notices around and no other signs of any ownership.


  9. From the other side. Is it one house, or a small terrace? If it was a farm I suppose the bit to the right may have been a barn.

    It really is a bit spooky around here, like 'The Valley that Time Forgot' or something. To see these houses with nothing around them - no road, no telegraph poles, no contact with the rest of the world - is more evocative in imagining what life was like in the past than anything else I can remember. It's a special place.


  10. The road down the valley. It may not look too bad in the photo, but I don't think even a Land Rover would make it up here now given the depth of the ruts.


  11. Further down the valley is this - obviously once quite grand - place. Overlooking the river, as well. I'm sure if it were more accessible it would have been restored by now.


  12. On the other side of the valley are more abandoned farms. This walk - and it's a long one - has other attractions along the way but nothing sticks in the mind quite like this valley. I think I'll be walking back there sooner rather than later.


There & Back - Walk 12

  1. Another long walk out of Todmorden. The roadsign reads 17%, which would be fine if it were a tot of something but is not so welcome when walking up it.


  2. I suppose if you must thwack a small ball with a stick then there are worse places to do so. Wonder why they chose to call it 'Todmorden Golf Club' rather than, after the village it's actually in, 'Hole Bottom Golf Club'? Golfers are a funny lot, aren't they?


  3. Just can't seem to avoid Scimitars, no matter how I try. This was actually the third I'd seen that day, though most didn't have quite so nice a view.


  4. The little ones look quite cute, but why is Mom doing a moonie? Lots of wee lambs up on the hills this time of year.


  5. And a long way from Kansas, too. Maybe someone had designs on a job in the capital, and wanted to let his employers know where he'd gone.