Walks and Thoughts

of Michael Simes

An old Man's Tale:



West Vale

Clay House


Cragg Vale



Pecket Well

Luddenden Dean

Jerusalem Farm

Catherine Slack

Stone Chair

It's Just Like Home:

Hong Kong





Marlborough Sounds


Milford Sound



Blue Mountains

Northern Beaches


A City Of Revolution:




Notre Dame

Calderdale Way Walks

An Old Man's Tale

Catherine Slack to Stone Chair

The final chapter: Started in spring and finished on the brink of winter. We have ambled at the pace of a snail. The hare is nowhere to be seen. A reverie is not a race.

Carolyn dropped me off at Catherine Slack by way of Queensbury, originally known as Queensland. Worth a saunter to the highest village at 1150 feet. You could have a peek at three National Parks. There is little remaining of the unique triangular function rail station over 430 feet below. This alpine route closed in 1963 and now forms part of the Great Northern Trail for walkers, cyclists and horses. You could have boarded the daily train to London. Queensbury is now most famous for the Black Dyke Mills and the 150 year history of its brass band. To its enduring shame it has retained its fascist tribune.

I was hankering for Carolyn to join me on the last lap, passing the finishing line together with hands clasped. The slopes disturb her rhythm.

Walk along Swales Moor Road for about 150 metres. Turn left opposite the house at Slack End. Climb over the wooden stile with the Calderdale Way symbol and down the walled track towards the woods. You are often trudging in muddy terrain as running water seeps down here. Continue through the stile by the gate with CW sign on the stone pillar. Keep going and enter the subway of holly bushes.

Follow the part flagged path gently downhill past a stone gate pillar with a worn Calderdale Way sign and arrow. You can now enjoy the topography of Shibden Valley, the valley of sheep. Head towards the side of the holly trees. Carry on into the trees and over the wooden stile, down the steps and through a wall stile. Continue through the narrow fenced path. Enclosed with barbed wire on each side requires cautious approach to tackle the bumpy, sliding terra firma. Proceed through a stile with a Calderdale Way sign, over another wooden stile and follow the path with the wall on your right. At points a slipping, tripping and waterlogged route. Between the trees on your right you can pinch glimpses of Scout Hall. Built in 1680 for John Mitchell who organised horse racing on Swales Moor. After the stone stile it becomes a flagged path down to the stone bridge over Shibden Brook. Carry on over the bridge, up the steps and through the gate on to the tarmac road, Simm Carr Lane. Turn right and proceed past Simm Carr Farm. After about 50 metres turn left and over a gate stile with a Calderdale Way sign. Over the years this route has been amended. You could continue on the lane to Shibden Mill Inn, site of a water powered corn mill. Now a secluded, refreshing hostelry for the consumption of refined beers and cuisine.

Continue by the side of the wall, go over a wooden stile on the left and take the path along the top side of the field. Swing round through a wall stile towards the walled lane and farm above. The young bulls seemed rather wary and coiled for action. Enter the walled lane and turn right to the farm at Adders Gate.

Look back for clear views of Scout Hall and the Ski slope at the Sportsman InnThe Shibden Valley shields us from sight and sound of the urban spread.

Passing through the farmyard beware of salivating dogs. We have had to flinch our way through packs of snarling dogs. Today there is a solitary shepherd dog on the lookout. If you’ve got one, go armed with your Dazer.

Carry on up Addersgate Lane past a house called High Bank with Clough Royd barn on your right. The lane becomes a metalled road on to Paddock Road. At the corner of a line of houses you can see a water trough by the wall. Bear left up a rough track. After 20 metres from the Cowling Lane sign go over a makeshift stile on the right and climb the field by the side of the wall. This section is not well signposted so care is needed to keep to the proper course.

Over the wall stile and turn right on to a concrete track called Cut Lane. Almost straight across after 30 metres is the entrance into a canopy of holly trees. Go between the big boulders and past a Calderdale Way post on the right. In this shadowed funnel the muddy track has no chance to dry out. After a few 100 metres the path merges into a wider bridleway. Bear left as directed by the yellow arrow on the wooden post.

Below on your right is the site of the former psychiatric hospital at Northowram. I visited on a couple of occasions. I have recollections of being feted in their mansion amidst faded Victorian opulence. Now a compact enclosure of new dwellings in a gated community. Just above is the mast of Emley Moor on the skyline.

Rising up, walk beyond the house on your right to a track junction. Turn right and on to Tan House Lane. A yellow direction arrow painted on the wall confirms the way. Cross the road and through a wall stile. Follow the path by the side of the farm. After 100 metres there is a notice to keep to the path and that barking dogs are restrained by a leash.

There is a Calderdale Way sign and direction post here. Proceed through the wall stile by the stone gate pillar with an arrow keeping you to the top of the field with the wire fence to your left. Through another wall stile by a triangle of trees and carry on by standing stone slabs. This site has an aura of sacred and ancient Pagan spirits. Continue along the path to emerge on to the road at Hud Hill opposite Burnley Hill Cottages. For years you could come here for the acid baths at the Big Dipper.

Turn left and after about 40 metres go left again along Storr Hill and into the main road, the Brighouse and Denholme Gate Road A644. Turn right and down to the Duke of York Inn with the Stone Chair opposite.

We have now circumnavigated the Calderdale Way. From here I can stroll home replete in the accomplishment. It has taken only six months. A course of 50 miles doubled by wayward wandering. Another box ticked on the calendar of achievements. As the future stretches in front it is time now for hibernation in readiness for the revival of spring.