Posts Tagged ‘experience’


Or more specifically why does the Upper Calder Valley which is the area around Luddenden, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, feel like the place of dreams and mystery to me? This is something I’ve been wondering about ever since I discovered the Upper Calder Valley a couple of years ago and now I’ll try and answer my question.

How did I discover this stunning place? It came by chance when I get into running a couple of years ago. I started out on the roads, pounding the tarmac 2 or 3 times a week, gradually building up my distance and venturing further afield. Soon though I started to feel limited by where I could go. The roads were stunting my development as a runner and person and I realised that I was running past places when I could be running through them.

I started out running round Ogden Water a local reservoir and quickly progressed to running to the Top Withens of Bronte fame high above Haworth. I still remember my first run up there on a calm April evening. It was hard work going up but on the down to the Bronte waterfalls it was as if I was flying. Running was effortless and I flowed from one footstep to the next. I was free at last. No one around to hinder my progress the only limit was my imagination and my bravery in where I went. Out here there are no limits apart from you.

I started to explore Haworth Moor and the surrounding area and soon I wanted somewhere new to go and I discovered the Upper Calder Valley.

I can’t remember my first run round there or even my first walk. I wish I could. I’d been to Hebden Bridge before but that was many years ago and it was a far away place to me. I began going back to Hebden Bridge when I went to a writing group there and maybe it was the drive over the moors that sparked my interest in running around there. Seeing the vast expanse of wild, untamed moorland, inviting me to explore its insides and spit me out the other side, made me went to do so. Me against nature at its best and worse. Nature doesn’t care if I don’t try because someone else will but try and nature will reward you with beauty and adventures beyond your imagination.

And so somewhere the area around Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden slowly drew me into it’s fabric, it’s heart and soul, constantly challenging me as a runner and a person to come in and experience a little bit more before sending me away to reflect and digest on what I have just seen and heard before I go back for more.

It’s not just the landscapes that seem to stretch for miles that inspire me and give me food for thought. Nor the fact that you can go 100 yards and you are in a different village, another 100 yards and it’s somewhere else, but it’s the history of the place that you can feel seeping through the ground under every footstep, the history of men, women and children who walked these footpaths and packhorse trails going to work in the mills, going to try and sell cloth and bread to feed their families in all weathers, hot, draining summer sunshine and knee deep snow with bitter, cold winds blowing in their faces. It is said a lot these days that people back then were made of sterner stuff, hardy souls who went about their business without complaining.

Maybe they did complain but it’s just not recorded and maybe they had no choice but to just get on with it and not worry about what may happen to them if they undertook these arduous journeys but worry about what would happen if they didn’t. But now when I walk or run around this area I can only imagine how it must have been for these hardy people who did these journeys day after day because they had to not because they wanted to. At times it must have been soul destroying, other times they must have felt as I do that they have entered the Garden of Eden.

And maybe it is this that keeps drawing me back, this feeling of history down every footpath and trail that I run up and down, a wonderment of how people survived in what at times will have been an incredibly harsh environment but survive they did and when the sun is shining through the clouds on the valley below I can only hope that at least some of those people experienced the same view I did and felt at peace with themselves and the world even if only for a few minutes, taking in the natural beauty that is the Upper Calder Valley.


It starts with a run on a familiar road, a road I’ve run before. I approach a stile, the stile I glance at as I run past. But this time I turn, approach the turn stile and climb over it. Wild, open moorland stretches out before me, a narrow, baked, mud track, twist and turning its way through the moor and over the horizon. I follow the track cautiously. Experience has taught me to respect the moors with hidden dangers underfoot ready to catch out the unwary and over confident.

Past a farmhouse on my left I send sheep scurrying in all directions, my movement and noise enough to scare them. Down a ditch, over a plastic bridge, I step over and round stones and rocks that have lain there long before I set foot on this moor.

And then the horizon changes as I begin to descend and the valley before me opens up. Fields of straw burnt from the heat of the sun, the tops of trees motionless in the warm air punctuated by the greyness of tiles made from Yorkshire slate, for now the only sign that man has made his mark on this land.

Down I go, through an old wooden gate, across a road, through a garden and past a sign that says beware of the bull. Warily, cautiously I look around before picking up speed to clear the danger zone as quickly as possible. The thought of two tons of bone and muscle terrifies me.

The field ends and the track goes through some woods, this is harder, more technical, more rocks to be careful around as nettles and thorns sting and cut my skin. They remind me that I’m human ant there will be only one winner if I fall.

I reach another road, one I did not expect and run to another stile where the hard work really begins. Up and up and up through reeds almost as tall as me, obscuring the ground below me which despite being a hard baked mud trail has steps made of wood laid into it at irregular intervals. I slow to a walking pace, it is more important to be careful then fast. I leave speed for another day.

Up and up the steps I go as they get steeper and harder to see. Every horizon is false revealing yet more steps to climb. In my mind I start to believe that this climb will never end and I will end up at the gates of heaven, but then it does and as I stop to get my breath back I turn round and take in the beauty of my surroundings. If this is heaven I can stay here for all eternity. Mile after mile of valleys and moorland. For me this is perfection.

And in the distance at the top of the moor is my destination, the white pillar signifying the trig point of the moor, the high point. There’s still some climbing to do, but with the trig point in sight it makes it a bit easier. The path has returned to dusty, dry trail. Still with stones and rocks to watch for but now with no reeds to obscure the view.

At the trig point I stop to take in my surroundings. The views are far reaching. I recognise places that down on the valley floor would seem miles away. I see a church steeple and know what church it is. So high up when down below. For now  am higher that it. I see other landmarks through different eyes, reservoirs of shining water, tower blocks sprouting from the earth and the folly that dominates this landscape. With the folly always in view you can never get lost in this glorious land of valleys and moors.

And then it’s the run for home. Down the path I have just come up but this time with a turn to the left at the bottom and along the conduit that should carry water to the reservoir but has nothing but warm, hard stone showing its face for the first time in years to a clear blue sky.

Down to my right is the forbidden land of Castle Carr, resplendent in a tree leaves and grass of the deepest green that stands out like a lake on mars. I wonder if all the water has been diverted here to keep this small patch of moorland alive at the expense of other parts…

But I need to concentrate on the path before me or  may fall in the conduit and give it an unwanted kiss. I plough on pushing myself as hard as I dare, wanting this flatness to end and be back on the ups and downs of the hills that I love and inspire me to better myself, push myself and be the best I can.

And after what seems like hundreds of miles I turn and I am faced with the final run in to home. A reservoir that shines like molten silver under the gaze of the brightest star I know. My eyes are temporarily blinded by the brilliance of its beauty as it reflects he suns rays into my eyes and I have to gather my thoughts and push on to the other side.

A short climb, a stretch of sticky tarmac and I am back at my car. It’s been hard work but worthwhile just to experience the sensation of running in some of the most beautiful land in the world.


After last Thursdays fourteen miler I’m feeling confident so decide to go for a run over the Calderdale Way Relay Leg 4, with runners from a local running club. Sunday morning comes round and I’m not feeling as confident.

Most of the runners who were going to run aren’t now because of the reputation of the guy leading the run as a hard and fast runner and it is bitterly cold with a layer of snow covering the high ground of Yorkshire.

My nerves aren’t helped when on arriving at the meeting point I am greeted by six runners who all look like they know what they are doing and I feel out of my depth and worry that I will be left behind in the middle of the moors somewhere!

We begin from Blackshaw Edge and immediately I am trailing behind the others. I am struggling badly on the downhills today which seem to be covered in either wet leaves or snow. Either way I’m not in a downhill mood today and this sets the theme for the rest of the run.

We go down and up some small climbs before we go through woods on narrow trails which connect the small villages around this area. We begin the big descent to the bottom of the valley and I am left behind struggling to get a decent pace going on the wet cobbles and leaves.

I get to the bottom and soon I am beginning the first major ascent a brutal climb of around 700ft to the top of the moors. On the climb I find some decent form at last and manage to keep the other runners in sight for a change!
At the top of the moors the landscape changes.

We go from paths covered in leaves and mud to a vast open expense of snow covered moorland. There is a trig point for us to aim for but the paths have disappeared under the snow and it is easy to take a wrong path as we find out a couple of times!

It is at once stunningly beautiful with a raw harshness and you know you could easily take a wrong turn or twist an ankle and nature would chew you up and leave you in no doubt who was in charge.

The only paths to follow are the occasional trail that pokes through the snow or the stream that run down to the valley below. After five minutes my feet have turned to blocks of ice. I have no feeling below my ankles, every step feels like I am running on bricks, jarring my shins and making it difficult to run. This is a new experience for me and one I may need to get used to.

Strange thoughts go through my mind, will I ever regain any feeling in my feet? Will they turn black? Will they fall off? Can I run 21 miles with this feeling in my feet if I need to?

This lack of feeling in my feet continues for around four miles. It’s a massive relief when we finally start to come off the moors and see green fields and know I will be warm again.

After another downhill on which I again struggle embarrassingly the final climb comes into view and I find my stride and manage to save some face.

All in all it’s been a very good days running with new running friends and a new route too. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, where I am strong and where I need to improve, but most of all despite struggling on the downhills and thinking my feet were going to drop off because they were so cold I’ve really enjoyed myself and hope to do it again soon.


searching for a key
yet to be cut
to fit a lock
rusted by time
to open a door
that leads nowhere


One of the biggest problems I face in my daily life living with Asperger’s is not only understanding the facial expressions and non-verbal communications of others but understanding how my own facial and non-verbal expressions ae interpreted and understood by others. I spend a lot of time wondering and worrying if I come across to others the way I intend or if I’m misunderstood, misinterpreted and come across in a completely different way. This last one could be a possibility as I have been surprised and confused by the reactions of others when I have looked at them and they have responded completely differently to how I expected.


does the key to life, to living
come not from the concrete
maze encasing society
in a man made prison
but from wide open spaces
of grass, heather, trees, mud,
rolling hills that go on forever
and release humanity
from the mad made
shackles of modern life
if only for a short time


anticipation builds
excitement intense
grains of sand
pass through hands
nothing left
but faded faces

poem for today

Posted: September 23, 2016 in poem, poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

furtive glances
lives in eyes
tell stories
without words
no more is said


conversation goes
words flow
voices stop
silent world


pounding of hearts
sweating of hands
shuffling of feet
hands held
lives connect
never seen again