View across the hills to Stoodley Pike

Grass is bent almost horizontal by the wind

Gusting wind

I’d spent last night listing addresses close to Hebden Bridge where some of my ancestors had lived. This morning I set off on the bus to Blackshaw Head, a tiny hamlet high on the moors where Florence Sunderland, the mother-in-law of my 2nd cousin 3x removed had been born in 1883. The walk would also take me past Scammerton Farm. I knew that rain was forecast and by the time the bus had got to the tops the rain had began, but more impressive was the wind. It was blowing like crazy up there. This is, in fact, the first named storm of the season – Storm Ali, and in the usually windy areas of Slack top and Slack Bottom, the full force was bending the grasses at 90 degree angles, berries from mountain ash trees were flying through the air like red projectiles and large branches of oak and beech trees were taking flight. In the midst of the this mayhem I was sitting comfortably, chatting to the bus driver who was telling me his life story! He’d been a bus conductor at the age of 20, unable to get a HGV license until he turned 21. Then he got his license, drove big lorries up and down England, living in the cab. He’s currently enjoying tennis lessons and is looking forward to going to a week’s tennis camp in Norfolk to improve his second serve. I couldn’t help but comment, “Sounds like a busman’s holiday to me!”

As the rain threatened to shatter the windscreen with the force of the wind I wished him well and alighted at Slack Top. As I walked along the road there were occasions when I was almost blown over, but I felt totally at home in this environment. Then it struck me. No, not a branch, but the realization that I felt totally at home because of the sound of the wind in the telephone wires. This was the sound that I lived with daily at Affetside – the moaning wail of the singing wires as I crossed the field from the stile to 3rd Bungalow.

Construction at Lily Hall

Autumn ivy colour

I passed Slack Chapel that my Wrigley ancestors built in 1863, the same date as the building in which I currently live, which they built too. One of favourite road signs was perched outside the chapel today: “Cats eyes removed.” The rain was coming from the direction of Stoodley Pike which kept fading in and out of the swirling cloud. The raindrops on my face felt as though I was being pelted with tiny pebbles as I headed into Heptonstall, past the ‘Hedgehogs Crossing’ sign. I considered having a wander around the churchyard but decided to just get back into the valley. I

passed the construction work at Lily Hall where my great great grandma was born in 1842, and by the time I reached Queens Terrace that the Wrigleys also built the rain was very heavy. I bumped into a friend in town who commented that I looked like a drowned rat! Wow. What a fun – and unexpected – morning. I’ll have to save Scammerton farm for another day.




Unfortunately I can’t spell Unfortunately!


Message on Facebook’s Heptonstall page  when I got home: Large tree branches down across Lee Wood Road near the bend. Passable but single file. Reported to Calderdale.


The imposing Oxford House

The Albert

I found myself energized by the morning’s hike and so by mid afternoon I was ready for further exploration. Two major buildings close to my apartment were constructed by my Wrigley ancestors: The Albert pub, where, last week, I’d joined a young lad in a piano duet version of Hear and Soul, and Oxford House, an ornate building that’s now a vegetarian restaurant that I’ve yet to eat in. Next on the agenda was 8 Old Gate where Willie Wrigley was living in 1911 with wife Charlotte and three young children.

Site of former houses on Old Gate

Houses on Old Gate, next to Old Gate pub – the first pub I ventured into on my first night in Hebden Bridge

What he got up to is quite a good read and deserves its own post!