A Morning exploring Underbank
Surprisingly it wasn’t raining when I looked out of the window this morning. It even looked a little less gloomy than I was expecting so I wanted to take advantage of this ‘fine weather.’ I spent more than an hour planning my route – the area of steep hillside below Winters. I’d discovered more ancestors living in this area but the various maps I had seemed to have conflicting ideas about what constitutes a decent sized path. At this time of year the very steep paths are coated in slippery leaves. But even more dangerous than these are the steep cobbles of ancient roads whose moss ridden stones are a veritable nightmare, especially heading down the hillsides.
I walked along the canal to Stubbings Square where one of my ancestors lived. Though I’d passed the entrance to this little square many times I’d never actually gone in to the ‘square’ so here was my opportunity. Rather pretty old stone buildings.
Then on to Oakville Road which led up into the hills. As I turned a corner in the road I saw a train heading directly towards me which scared me for a moment. There was actually a wall between me and it, though if my arms had have been a tad longer I’m sure I could have touched it. I was to take the paved Turret Royd Road, (where another ancetsor had lived at #4) pass the last building and then continue on a footpath. Hmm – no sign of a path past the last house so I had to retrace my steps and take the lower road instead.
This eventually turned into a very, very narrow track, part path, part stream. It led past old buildings towards the main road and so I turned right over a little bridge and headed upwards again. Scattered cottages and ‘halls’ edged the path but many of them didn’t appear to have names. One fine building was built directly into the hillside, being barely 6 ft high at the back and 3 stories high at the front.
This hillside was directly opposite Stoodley Pike and the sun was trying desperately to find its way between heavy clouds. It was quite pictureque. Eventually I came across a couple heading towards me. “You seem to know where you are going” I ventured as we drew level outside Higher Underbank farm. “Yes, we live here,” came the reply. I asked for directions back down to the valley on a road that wouldn’t be too steep and slippery. “Ah, the best way would be to go through our garden, through the gate, turn right, meet a cart road and go past the mill and turn left.”
So off I went. I was very grateful for the short cut through their garden which eliminated some of the steeper, overgrown paths. I soon came to Potball. How’s that for a name? I had seen the name on my map before I’d left home. It turned out to be an imposing building directly overlooking the Calder Valley with an uninterrupted view across to Stoodley Pike. Then down past the ruins of Jumble Hole Mill. I think I’ve only been here once before and that was on a hike in the summer before I moved to Hebden Bridge. The ivy and moss soften the jagged outlines of ruined walls and broken pillars turning everything into elfin territory where everything is a brilliant vibrant green.
Soon I came to the railway tunnel and, on going under it found myself on the main road.
A little father on another tunnel was signposted Underbank House and I took a little detour to see this imposing mansion with its wrought iron gates, alarm system, cctv cameras – and trampoline! I don’t think John Gibson would have lived there in 1861. He was a plate layer for the railway – the same job as Ezra Butterworth.
It was very noisy walking along the main road back towards Hebden but I suddenly saw above me on the left three terraces and I could just make out through the trees the sign Ingle dene on the first group. Each house had a steep flight of steps going up to the front door and I went up one of those to get a better view.
The next block was Ivy Bank, and the last block was Fern Villas but that only consisted of two houses. A man was just leaving, being taken for a walk by his dog, and I asked him about a third house. He believed that one had been demolished, and, sure enough a grassy area to the right of the terrace suggested that he was correct.