Now that the evenings are finally getting longer, it might be worth considering a brisk walk before or after your evening meal, writes Caroline Spalding.
This week I set out intending to do something short but sweet, but instead ended up walking 7 miles; that said; it can be completed in approx. 3.5 hours; so, as a later afternoon excursion before returning for a late supper, it would be perfect.
Beginning from the car park on Luddenden Lane [GR SE 041 257, HX2 6PE] where an honesty box asks for a donation; turn left out of the car park before turning right onto a waymarked bridleway at Greave House Fields.
Climbing along a narrow lane and crossing fields, you pass a property with an enviable view; this morning the intense spring sunlight bleached the landscape.
Join a cobbled driveway, then turn almost back on yourself continuing up the lane.
Enter a field following a waymarked path [left] alongside the wall; pass through a metal gate and then follow the tarmac lane past the childrens’ play area.
Meeting a road, turn left past the school following Jim Allen Lane. Opposite the Old Co-Op turn right at Tray Royd Lane following a path waymarked as a Calderdale Way [CW] Link Path.
Daffodils which have finally bloomed lined the edges of this track and it continues between two large cottages; over a stile [waymarked] and climbing steps up through a field, and at the very top pass between a narrow gap and tiny gate between a wall.
Turn left; cross two fields and another gate; just a little further ahead turn right to make the last climb up to meet the Calderdale Way.
Turn left again and you will follow the relatively flat CW for the next large segment of this route.
Way markers map your route and the ‘Churn Milk Joan Circular’ walk follows the CW for a short while.
You catch sight of Churn Milk Joan on the hilltop; a seven-foot-high stone pillar erected in approx. 1600 to [probably] settle a boundary dispute.
You will return to the stone later in the route for closer inspection.
Meanwhile, pass beneath the stone still following the CW. You pass Hebden Bridge Golf Course as you curve around the corner to bring into sight views of Chiserley and Heptonstall in the distance.
Here I saw a butterfly dancing among the charcoal-grey infused brown colour of the heather and I could not recall whether I had yet seen a butterfly this year.
Certainly today I was, for perhaps the first time, dressed not for a winter excursion and it felt pleasantly warm.
After some time you reach some stone steps the climb and pass through a small gate atop the wall, indicating two paths leaving to your left.
Here [SE 011 285], bear right; the path initially unclear but soon becomes a defined track climbing gently onto the open moorland.
As you reach a plateau, take the first discernible path bearing right; it joins another, continuing right and when this path splits; take the path leading off to the left.
The tracks across the moorland are very clear and easy to follow but you feel a sense of isolation on the top of this moorland; the land is flat but you are higher than the surrounding landscape and thus it is obscured from view until you cross the peak to gain a glimpse once again of the southern Calder Valley slopes [and, of course, Stoodley Pike].
You soon enough start a gentle descent towards Churn Milk Joan and as tradition has it, if you have some loose change in your pocket; leave a coin atop the stone.
Turn left away from the pillar.
Reaching a pile of stones bear right and at the corner of a walled field, turn left following the wall.
At its end I turned right and descending along a ridge; seeing the CW running alongside beneath me.
Reaching a way marker, turn left; and right at the next one; again following the edge of a walled field; a steep drop to your right has a stream coursing along the bottom.
Meeting a track at the bottom, turn left and you will from here be able to retrace your steps back to the beginning of this delightful walk.