Today started out much like any other Sunday, having prepared a plan for a route. The weather as I got off the bus in West Vale was glorious. Real blue sky for a change.
I grew up in the Calder Valley, only a few miles from Huddersfield. Strange how it never crossed my mind to come back. It still wouldn’t, but for a comment from Mum. She said she didn’t really know Huddersfield, and was at a point of overload with the images. I can see how it might be so. Well, how about somewhere she does know? The Calder Valley, and what better than the Calder Way.
The Calder Way is about 50 miles long, too much for me to tackle as a single walk at the moment, so I will attempt this in pieces. Today is West Vale to Todmorden.
I will give a more detailed description of the path elsewhere. This post is about the memories a long unvisited place brought back.
For a short time, I actually lived in West Vale, just after I left the Royal Navy. It was at a dance here that I had my nose broken, giving it its odd sideways shift. But with a warm sun in my face it was not a day for thinking anything negative. Before long I was on Norland Moor, a place we visited as children with parents and Grand parents. There used to be good bilberry picking, and I still remember Grandad P having a special stick to grab the best blackberries. I miss my grandad. The view from here looked down on Sowerby Bridge and although I couldn’t see it, I know his old barbers shop is down there (now a tattooist).
I could have stayed longer, maybe I should have done, but the rain had started and I had a long way to go.
Each little village seemed to hold a memory of a girl long since forgotten, I smile at a past long since faded. My cousins, Caroline and Christopher used to live in Ripponden. Christopher is no longer with us, and so, when I found myself at the Church here, I went in. There was a service in progress, so I didn’t enter, I sat in the porch and listened to the congregation sing and thought of happy days playing hide and seek in Grandma Mally’s big garden.
Even the smells seem different here. Back when I helped the milkman, getting up at dawn I would walk up to his farm. I’m not sure I was much help, but at the time, I was indispensable. Right here, in this valley, the aroma pulls my mind back through 35 years in the blink of an eye.
Eventually getting a bus from Todmorden back to Halifax, I travelled past my old school, the cross country route, Walkley’s the clogg factory, which I saw burn to the ground. Past the chip shop where we spent our bus fares on lunchtime treats and had to walk home because of it. As the bus drove through Luddenden foot I came close to tears as the memories assailed me. I had a good childhood, and this was a good place to have it.
I wonder how I will be affected next week as the walk takes in Luddenden Dene. I may have to detour and revisit Jerry Farm, where in my memory I nearly drowned.