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

Heptonstall to Pecket Well

A dark, dank start sustaining a torrent of rain. It is like we have missed a whole season. Summer is here but I would have been more comfortable with gloves, scarf and woolly hat. I had taken the 10.02 fifty pence express to Hebden Bridge. The connecting bus E lifts you up to Heptonstall. From the bus stop return to Towngate and turn right into Northgate between the houses. Soon you will see signs on the right for Heptonstall Octagon Church built in 1764. The oldest Methodist chapel with an active congregation. John Wesley spread the gospel, bearing witness on many occasions and saving souls. Designed as an ecclesiastical symbol of regeneration where there would be no corner for the devil to stash his wares. Wesley preached to the multitude. Now a dozen older female disciples keep it ticking over.

As you proceed down Northgate the guides and maps provide few hints as to the proper course. Sheltering under an umbrella buffeting in the gale the sodden guides could not relieve the confusion. Consultations with local residents fared no better. We could not locate the Stocks Villas , the pointer to the correct route. Exasperated, soaked and bleak I took the wrong direction.

Turning right at the first footpath sign skirting the chapel. The next few hours consumed by sliding and skidding down as I traversed the wooded valley. Mesmerised by the warren of 30 miles of interlocking paths. The tight contours and congested features of our map offered no exit from the maze. Squandered energy frittered away traipsing the Gibson Mill estate. A green sustaining sanctuary alongside the beck and site of the former water mill dance hall and skating rink. By default I stumbled back on to the Calderdale Way at New Bridge. Within the site of the toilet block offering blessed relief with all functions performing. At this venue, drained and bushed the day was aborted.

I returned to Heptonstall a few days later with Carolyn, an avid map reader, navigator and all round cobber. At North Gate proceed past the Octagonal Chapel. Ignore the first public footpath sign and continue to the first public bridleway sign going down on your right. As you descend you will see Stocks Villas on the left. Carry on down past stone cottages into the woods as it opens up into a wide track. Avoid the fork track to your right and go ahead downhill until you meet the tarmac road. Proceed straight across down through the woods. It is sign-posted Calderdale Way to Midgehole but you need to search carefully to find it.

Continue over a tarmac track. Here there is a direction arrow for Hardcastle Crags. The wooded Pennine valley known as “Little Switzerland” and home to the hairy wood ant. You may spot native ramblers walking the crags. You can hear Hebble Water rushing on your right. At the side of the stream carry on beyond the weir on your right. Coming out of the woods a clearing emerges by the Blue Pig. This working men’s club has benches and picnic tables at the waterside. We lunched and bathed in sunshine alongside sleeping ramblers as they wallow in a state of post luncheon repose. Follow the track on to Horse Bridge past the house on your left christened New Bridge. Proceed beyond the built-in post box and over New Bridge to the toilet block on your left.

Immediately after the toilets turn left up a walled lane. There is a wooden sign confirming this is the Calderdale Way. After about 30 metres follow the path as directed to Pecket Well on the left. A strenuous climb leads to the track levelling off. The path is torn up by motor-bikes cutting up a soggy potage. Continue over a stream at Kitling Bridge and clamber up a cobbled way. On reaching a junction go left upwards on a stone path emerging on the Hebden Bridge – Keighley bus route (A6033). Cross over into an overgrown path with directions marked on a telegraph pole. Progress beyond the benches to the road above called Ackroyd Lane. I have the sense that this is the longest 1 ½ miles I have ever walked. Looking back you can observe the Wadsworth War Memorial for Pecket Well. It is a diminutive replica of Stoodley Pike.

A day of rural retreat concluded at Pecket Well by the descent down the highway to Hebden Bridge for the train back home. Not a good move as lack of pavements required clutching to walls as frenzied drivers rush by; their internal combustion fumes and vibrations suck out your hard earned tranquillity.