I’m sitting in the 700 year old Hebden Bridge Mill having tea (Yorkshire tea from Harrogate, of course) and chocolate shortbread. I’ve just hiked from my mill to the tiny village of Colden through the historic Colden Valley, a place full of evidence of man’s impact on the landscape during the industrial revolution, and the use those mills buildings, waterways, cobbled packhorse trails and stone foot tracks are being put to today. I’m now getting used to hikes that claim to be flat and are ‘suitable for any reasonable fit person.’ They are, in fact, never flat and often involve going up and down

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Lumb Mill chimney

hillsides that are so steep that they require steps. At times I found myself high above Colden Beck looking down on an almost vertical hillside where trees and ferns cling to life in places that the sun never ever reaches. I passed the two chimneys of Upper and Lower Lumb mill rising like giant monoliths to some long-forgotten god of the forest. I tried to conjure up the ghosts of the people whose clogs have worn grooves into the steps and stones on which I’m sitting. Above the mill  I passed over the dam which once held in the mill pond but now it only holds reeds. The clapper bridge was unusual in it being 2 stones wide, and lucky for me an iron rail has been added 🙂 I wasn’t too keen on the gap between the stones through which I could see the raging torrent.


Man’s impact on nature

“Brave dreams and their mortgaged walls are let rot in the rain.

And the nettle venoms into place

Like a cynical old woman in the food-queue.

And the sycamore, cut through at the neck,

Grows five or six head, depraved with life.

Before these chimneys can flower again

They must fall into the only future, into earth.”

(from Lumb Chimneys by Ted Hughes)

As I sit in the Innovation cafe I begin to look at the displays of historical photos and notes on the walls, and  . . . .there is Lumb mill pond in all its shimmering glory, the two mills and chimneys and the carter who moved in there after the mills were closed down. What a coincidence.


Old photo of Lumb Mills in the Colden valley


Coming out of the dense forest lining the valley I now found myself on ‘t tops. I’s looked up the New Delight pub, Colden’s main claim to fame, so I already knew that it was closed from 3-5 pm. I hadn’t copied down the return path directions and I didn’t much fancy the idea of trying to follow my outward direction backwards so I found a bus stop by the campsite, with a timetable, and waited 20 minutes for a zippy bus, being entertained by watching all the parents coming to pick up their children from Colden school. The bus drove along the tops with great views across to Stoodley Pike and then I suddenly recognised where I was. We were coming upon Slack Bottom, that street sign that so caught my attention the day I wandered around Heptonstall in the storm. And I STILL didn’t get a photo of the sign. It’s the first time I’ve been on the bus along the narrow cobbled street of the village but I remember well the roaring sound it made when Rachel and I stayed at The Dairy last year.


Life in the Colden Valley

Back a’th’ mill Chris had had a successful day standing in the Town Square with her placard denouncing Blair. She was wtaching the news on the Aljazeera Channel: the weather was interesting – sunny in Delhi, raining in Kathmandu.  I settled in to watch some of the men’s quarter finals at Wimbledon and keeping my fingers crossed for Wales in the UEFA semifinals.


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