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Home / Windypics Walks / Rambles around Calderdale / The Pole Hill Plod [86]


The title of this collection of images might sound a bit like it's referring to some sort of skit about the local Police Force, but it actually refers to a place called 'Pole Hill', which is a hilltop in Calderdale, West Yorkshire at around 1400ft asl, where an important navigation aid called a 'VOR' (VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range) used by aircraft has been situated for many years. I recently got informed that this was off air, and after doing some checking discovered that it was having some major reconstruction work. Being interested in such things I thought it would be a good time to visit the site again (my last visit was back in 2013), and get some shots of the work that is currently taking place there.

When I last visited the site I was able to travel there by bus, as in spite of its remote location, there was a bus service that ran past there twice a week, but only on Saturday afternoons. Sadly that had recently gone the way of many other services and had been axed due to the austerity cuts to bail out the thieving bankers, so my only alternative was to travel to the nearest location that still has a service, which in this case was the village of Blackshaw Head, which is about 2 miles from the site. Since I was doing this I thought I might as well turn it into another walk, and so I decided to make the return journey via the village of Cross Stones, and into the town of Todmorden, which is around 3 miles from the VOR, and all downhill. Now walking downhill sounds like it's a nice easy option, but as this particular one involved a descent of around 1000 ft, it did prove quite uncomfortable, especially as it involved using a group of muscles that hadn't been worked much in recent years, and I must admit to having felt a bit sore by the time I reached the bus station in Todmorden. I'm sure a few more good walks will sort things out, but it's little wonder that I'm not yet anywhere near to my old fitness after such a long lay-off from hiking following a painful back injury.

The walk itself was very enjoyable, and after the having had a winter that seemed to go on forever, the day I chose for my walk felt almost summer like, with sunshine and blue skies most of the time. That proved to be a bit of a mixed blessing but knowing just how wild it can get up on those hilltops, it was probably a lot better than I could have hoped for had I done the walk during the previous weeks. I did have one slight mishap though, and one that served me right for not taking my hiking pole along with me. Usually if I'm going off road I never go without it, as it's very useful to have an extra point of contact with the ground, especially when walking over unstable peat surfaces. As 90% of the walk was on tarmac surfaces I didn't bother this time, but on the one section that was off road the ground seemed fairly stable, yet in spite of that I suddenly found my left leg disappearing down about 3 feet into a very wet hole, and I can only be thankful that my walking boot and extra layer of blister socks prevented any water from getting inside, otherwise I would have been in for a very long and uncomfortable walk back afterwards, not to mention a few blisters. Never again will I complain about the cost of my walking boots, and as any hiker will tell you, cheap boots are false economy, and a decent, if somewhat expensive pair, will always be a great investment. My trousers didn't fair quite so well though, but at least it was only rainwater and not peat this time (yes it has happened to me before and I ended up with a black leg that time), and in the warm air and with a slight breeze blowing I was fully dried out again within the hour, though I did feel like a bit of a charlie walking down the road with one wet leg and one dry one! :-)

The walk down through Cross Stones is quite picturesque, though the area seems to have become a bit gentrified now compared to how I remembered it. Back in the early 1970s we used to travel up that way every Friday evening to a pub called 'The Shoulder of Mutton' in Blackshaw Head, which always had live rock groups on there, sadly that is now gone and has been turned into a house as is the case with so many moorland pubs. I'd often tried to remember the exact route I used to drive up to get there, but a mixture of darkness, unlit roads and concentration, meant that I didn't really take in much of the scenery back then, and of course it was well over 40 years ago, so my memory of it isn’t that clear now. As I was walking down that section I did eventually realise that this was the same route, and that triggered off certain feelings of nostalgia for what had been a very enjoyable time in my life. Some of the moorland pubs around that area were quite legendary, and great places to take your wife (or someone elses), but sadly nearly all of them are gone now, and many of the current younger generation seem to prefer sitting at home talking to each other on their Chinese made smart phones and drinking cheap cans of beer from the local supermarket or Bargain Booze shop rather than going out for live entertainment and talking to each other face to face as earlier generations did. It's amazing that many of these places managed to survive two World Wars and the Great Depression, but couldn't cope with the Internet, hundreds of TV channels, the smoking ban and Smartphones. What a strange society we seem to have created with all this damn consumerism. Sorry, I'm getting on my soap box yet again, hope you enjoy my little photo documentary of my second photo hike of the year.

NOTE# once the work is completed on the VOR I will be making a return journey, but I’ll be using a slightly different route next time, and I will check out a few of the other attractions in that area, especially the Bride Stones.