Posts Tagged ‘Hebden Bridge’


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.


Another good week at university. The main focus this week has been the dreaded dissertation. I must admit I have been very worried about it as most students are and with good reason. Doing your dissertation is one of the most daunting experiences you can face at university. It’s your final year and you have the choice of what to do for your dissertation. There is so much choice in what to do and then so many other parts of it to think about such as your research methods, ethical considerations and how you are actually going to write it up it can be very overwhelming and take over your life.

But somehow I have managed to navigate all of this successfully so far. What I have done is to think small and focus on just one small part of a larger structure. I am doing my dissertation on disability but I am focusing my research on contemporary attitudes to people with a physical disability post 2012 Paralympics. By doing this I have a focal point from which I can start from and end and an area I can breakdown into its various component parts and decide which part I am going to concentrate on.

Attitudes to disability, is a very important area to many people and for society in general because it can affect a person’s quality of life and how they view others around them. If people with disabilities are treated fairly their outlook and attitude to life will improve and have an effect on their overall wellbeing. If however they are treated badly this can destroy a person’s confidence and have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. This is why attitudes to disability is so important to me.

The reason I’m doing physical disabilities is because I feel it is an easier area to research because it is more in the open than mental health issues and hopefully I will get more responses for me to draw my conclusions from. Also whilst 9,000 words sounds a lot in practice it isn’t that many when you take into consideration I have to do sections on my abstract, introduction, research methods, ethics and conclusion. All of these sections eat up the word count and for that reason I feel it is vitally important to focus on one small area of a much larger picture and stay focus on it or you run the risk of going over your word count and more crucially not getting your point across and losing marks.

Not a lot has happened this week on the poetry front. The open mic sessions are usually one a week but last week was an exception with two in one week followed by none. I did go to a workshop run by the renowned and immensely talented Kim Moore. The subject was the body and Kim had some great exercises for us all to get our minds thinking about how we use our bodies and all the stresses we put them thorough. It was a time of reflection for something we take for granted and only notice when something goes wrong, we break a bone or have an infection. It’s always lovely to hear what everybody else has written from the same prompts and everybody writes something very different. Another writing friend of mine Keith Hutson writes some very funny and witty material and always makes everybody laugh. Keith has a gift for taking a serious subject and finding the humour in it without devaluing or demeaning the subject in any way.

 

Afterwards I went for a walk around Ilkley with my follow Igniting the Spark writer Louella Ramsden and ended up buying Ted Hughes Collected Poems and Simon Armitage Paper Aeroplane. Something for me to read when I’m not doing my university work. It’s always good to have a distraction from the pressure of a degree.

This upcoming week is very busy. On Wednesday I visit the eye doctor to see what damage has been done to my right eye. I will admit I’m not looking forward to it but these things come along in life and we have to face up to them and see what the outcome is. Hopefully the news won’t be too bad and all I’ll need is a stronger prescription!

Tuesday I’m back at Igniting the Spark for one night only as I have no lecture this week at that time and I’m looking forward to catching up with everybody there and seeing what Gaia has in store for us to get our imaginations working. I’m looking forward to Friday immensely as there is a special event at Hebden Bridge Town Hall celebrating the poetry of Ted Hughes and a special open mic Shindig where as long as I get a spot I will be reading some of my favourite Ted Hughes poetry. If your around Hebden Bridge on Friday night get yourselves to the town hall for what promises to be a great evening of poetry.

Have a great week everybody and take care.