Sometimes you've just got to peek your head above the clouds to see clearly. I find that feelings of depression can be driven by a sense of being trapped, or feeling ineffectual in changing something you see as negative. This is where getting out into the wide open spaces of the countryside, and particularly up high where the land meets the sky, can bring clarity and perspective. When the world is laid out below you - a tapestry of forest, towns and fields stretching as far as the eye can see - an awareness of the insignificant nature of most of your worries naturally arises. When the city starts to weigh me down, I always try to get out to the countryside when the opportunity arises.
Recently, I got that opportunity just at a point when it was really needed. A friend of my parents put a shout out to see if anyone wanted to look after their cat while they were away on holiday. This is the beauty of being brought up by hippies, things like this just happen. One person needs someone to help them to make their holiday easier, and another person gets a free holiday. Don't tell me 'peace and love' is just a crock 😆
The Stoodly Pike Hike
This walk is a moderately difficult hike, dependent on experience. Some hikers might look at this as an easy one, but if you aren't in the best of shape like myself, it is quite challenging due to some steep gradients. The route is approximately 13.5 km and there are sections that are at 45* angle. Below you can find a few screenshots of the exact location in the UK and a closer view of the route created using http://www.wandermap.net. I created a basic route map using this website for anyone who finds themselves in the area and wants to recreate the journey to the pike.
Unfortunately, the website above wasn't sending my confirmation email so I was unable to save the route to the site 😞
The area of Calder Valley is slap bang in the middle of England located in the peak district.
As can be seen on the map, the starting point is at Cragg vale. To get to the vale from Hebden Bridge, take the 900 or 901 bus and get off at the stop just before the infant school. Then walk down the hill a short distance and take a small road on your left called Church Bank Road. This road will be signposted with the name of a popular local pub called 'The Hinchliffe Arms'.
You will cross a bridge and pass a church, then you will see the pub and continue on up a moderately steep road past my dream house.
Seriously, when I become a millionaire this is the house I'm buying as my place in the country 😉
Follow a small farm track called Rudd lane upwards. This is a long road with some beautiful views on the way to Withens Clough Reservoir. It really is something else up on the moors at this time of year. The heather buzzes with bees bumbling busily in the short British summer. Heather erupts in waves of purple across the hills and fens.
As you near the top of the hill you will see a car park for the reservoir and then after a short 5 minute walk you will crest the hill and be greeted with this sight.
Follow the the path that runs along the right hand side of the reservoir until you reach a sign for a public footpath on your right. A few snippets of information are essential here. First off, there is strictly no swimming in the reservoir, although from the signs I suspect that this is because to many locals were using it in the summer as a free pool. The sign says some clap-trap about the water being dangerous because it remains at a cold 8 degree Celsius temperature even in summer. To be honest, I would have loved a dip in an 8 degree pool at that point. The other thing to note is that at this point the path becomes a field/moor footpath.
There is a well-worn grass path leading upwards skirting a dry stone wall to your right. The wall eventually gives way to a wider field as you pass through a gate. Simply follow the worn ground upwards and watch out for boggy ground. Eventually you will reach the top and can clearly see stooly pike in the distance across a relatively flat plateau of moorland.
A faint path can be seen leading toward the pike. Eventually you will join the Pennine Way which stretches right along the back bone of England, approximately 268 miles (431 km) from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District, ending at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border. The Pennine Way will lead you toward stoodly pike to the right. It is here that you'll probably meet some other friendly walkers. A thing to remember is that Brit hikers nearly always nod or say hello. It seems to be a quirk of a normally reserved clan of people to let go of all the fussiness when they get out into the countryside. I love hiking for the solitude and chance to work through my thoughts, but I equally enjoy that point when you converge with other pilgrims of the country trails. It kind of feels like a coming home.
The hill of stoodly pike sits above the Calder valley in the south Pennines in West Yorkshire in northern England. The hill rises to roughly 1,300-feet elevation, while the monument at the top dominates the surrounding moors. Designed in 1854 by local architect James Green, and completed in 1856, the stoodly pike monument commemorates the surrender of Paris after the Battle of Waterloo (Napoleonic Wars) in 1814.
This is the perfect spot for sandwiches, although there was a swarm of flying ants causing havoc when I arrived, so I didn't hang around too long. The tower has a spiral staircase leading to a viewing balcony but be careful as you ascend as there is no light until you reach the top. The wind up here was keeping a lot of the ants away so chilled for a while, watching a lone falcon coasting on the thermals above the hill. It was just a speck, but when I used my phone to zoom in I could just about make out the shape as a bird of prey.
I drifted for a while in imagination, taking those thermals with the falcon... visualizing the lift of warm wind beneath me and the rush of freedom's breath. Death focused in a finite moment, the thoughts of a falcon. I love this type of meditation out in the wild, somehow it seems more honest to me. Even with the chatter of excited children running all around the viewing balcony, I just lay on the edge and watched the falcon through the window of my sun shades.
Lol, I think at one point I heard a child ask her mother "What is the crazy man doing." 😎.... what indeed.
The main path down from stooly pike cuts steeply to the left passing the cliff face of the bluff.
Follow this path down until you reach a gate at the bottom and veer right to follow a long farm road which eventually meets up with a tarmacked road called Lee Bottom Road. Turn left here and walk for a short while until you see a footpath cutting into some woods on your right.
Shaw woods were cool after the baking heat of the hillside and after walking for some time I could hear the chatter of water in the distance.
The path follows a stream for about a mile before reaching the canal and the final section of the hike. As you exit the woodland path next to some houses on your right, cross a bridge directly opposite and cut down the tow path to your right.
This last section (around 3 miles) of the walk is the easiest and really very idyllic. Barge boats drift on by and there is a pub where you can stop about half way to Hebdon Bridge called Stubbing Wharf with tables right next to the canal.
Just keep walking and you will eventually make it back to Hebden Bridge with plenty to see on the way. The great thing about this walk is that it takes you through so many varied environments of this beautiful part of the English countryside. From hills to woods, moors to canals... finally finishing up in the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge. If you're ever in this neck of the woods, I can't recommend it enough.
I'm pretty much done with the politics on steem, I've been getting riled up by things I can't change, I came here 2 years ago to create good content, that's what I'm going to focus on doing. If you have enjoyed this travel article, I hope you will check out my upcoming work on my homepage @raj808. Thanks for reading.