Monday 20 May 2024

RIPPONDEN, clearing bridleway

 Lynda, Linda, Graham and Jerry began clearing a very neglected bridleway that runs parallel to the A58.

Today's task was to clear some of the overgrown trees and shrubs that were completely obliterating the path.

Much clearer now

The work was funded by Ripponden Parish Council and donations to CROWS.  Many thanks.

Saturday 18 May 2024


 A morning which started with light drizzle and low cloud transformed into a beautiful May day. We were so lucky to be out!

There were four teams working from Todmorden today:

1    Ken and Gareth: improving a stile on the Todmorden Centenary Way below Bearnshaw Tower.

2    RJ and David: strimming the Pennine Bridleway (PBW) near to 'The Top Brink'.

3    Mick and Neil: surveying and measuring up for future jobs and seeking permission for a number of essential stile repairs, see separate blog.

4    Catherine and Kasher: stile repairs near Sourhall (where we were serenaded by a very vocal cuckoo and a loudly yaffling Green Woodpecker) and then putting in replacement marker posts, and waymarkers, on the paths near to Great Rock.

Today's work has been funded by Lancashire County Council (for the work on the PBW) with all other activities funded by Todmorden Town Council. Many thanks.

Many thanks too to the Top Brink for allowing us to park in their car park whilst strimming in the area.

Team 1: 

This gate on the TCW above Frostholme Mill and below Bearnshaw Tower has seen many iterations. However this stile was extremely hard to use if you were less than 6 feet tall.... the top rail was just too high (or the second step was just too low). Hopefully today's amendments to the stile will make things easier. 

The stile originally had three steps...but
was still hard to use.

Ken removing one of the redundant 
"legs" of the stile. This was replaced with a
much longer "leg".

Gareth testing the new version of this stile.

Team 2:

CROWS have again been 'contracted' to strim sections of the Pennine Bridleway in the Upper Calder Valley. Today was the second major strimming session of the season. 

The strimming team on the PCW
near Mankinholes. Note the warning sign 
and flag.

The cleared bridleway.

Team 4:

A treadboard replaced. However this stile may 
need a rebuild very soon, see post on LHS.

Marker post replaced near Great Rock.

Catherine, tamping home the stones
which are packing the final marker post
of the day.

Friday 17 May 2024

TODMORDEN Inspection work

 As they say in the Army . . .“time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted” and that’s what the peripatetic pair of Mick and Neil M. spent today doing. We went to inspect possible CROWS tasks at: Obadiah Wood above Cornholme (surface improvement); Bottomley (bridge) - near where we planned to fit a marker post; Knoll Top Farm (stiles) near Warland; and Royd House (stile) at the top of Ashenhurst.


1. Obadiah Wood (see 12 April). On footpath TOD 060 at the problematic location, on each side of a near-vertical grassy strip we see a strip of mud and stone. At the present, neither offers a good walking surface and we thought the solution would be to level the section immediately below the grass and fit a boardwalk (approx. 9 m) together with three steps to lead diagonally up the grass near the W. end.

 2. Bottomley waymarking Where footpath TOD 145 leaves the motor track south of Bottomley, we fitted the marker post to clarify the downward route, and waymarked a telegraph pole a little way below.

 3. Stone House Clough This bridge is a little further S. down this same footpath TOD 145. The upper, E. side handrail is missing and the middle E. upright is detached. Some of the other uprights are loose at the bottom joint which makes the whole superstructure wobbly to grasp. A few cross- treads could also do with replacing, and the top cross-rail at each end could well be removed now that there is no livestock in the vicinity. Tree growth also needs cutting back on the steep slope just N. of the bridge.

4. Knoll Top Farm On footpath TOD 148 leading NW. from the farmhouse we identified problems with two stiles. Firstly, on the N. side of the first field the treadboard is missing completely, and the adjacent gate is wired shut!


Secondly, on the N. side of the third field the top rail of the stile is broken, the treadboards have worked loose, and the remains of the small gate that used to surmount the stile was found nearby! Immediately after this stile there’s a wooden gate which is roped shut and looks difficult to untie!

5. Top of Royd Road Leading up from the buildings, footpath TOD 028 crosses a sloping garden, at the upper end of which the stile is leaning badly and will need a complete rebuild. Vegetation needs cutting back on the approach to this stile from below. 

Wednesday 15 May 2024

SOWERBY: Haven Farm Stiles

 Haven Farm: Two stiles

On a day when the threatened rain held off until late afternoon, Jerry, Neil D, Kasher and Frank H formed two teams to work on stiles near Haven Farm.

The first stile (Team 1: Jerry and Neil) is at the start of the right-of-way (Sowerby 098) that goes from The Long Causeway down towards Haven Farm. The second stile (Team 2: Kasher and Frank) allows access through a stock fence, near Haven Farm, to meet the continuation of Sowerby 098 that leads down towards Sands Farm.

This work is being funded by donations to CROWS

The Detail

Team 1.

There are two tasks here; one to improve the step-down towards the stile and the other to convert a two-rail climb-over stile into a two-rail one-step stile

1. Jerry, standing where a wooden step will
be inserted, viewing the part progress of
a new step-leg being positioned on the
down-side of the existing stile structure. 

2. Additional step to improve access
down to and up from the stile.

3. Downward view of the new step
and the improved stile which now
has a replacement top rail and a
handy yellow-topped grab pole.

4. Up-slope view of the new arrangement.

Following this, Jerry and Neil briefly joined Kasher and Frank before walking further down the field below Haven Farm to survey next week's job  - a two-step stile over a stock fence. It will give walkers a less swampy route in the general direction of Sands Farm.

Team 2.

Kasher (determined worker and photographer) and Frank H (photographer's model . . . unpaid!) worked just below Haven Farm where a temporary, narrow, two-rail, climb-over stile already provided a route through a stock fence near a semi- ruined drystone wall. The plan for the day was to construct a more substantial one-step stile that would facilitate access to the onward path.

1. Frank contemplating the task. Mmm!
Digging stile post-holes near old
drystone walls might be a problem!

2. Old stock fence peeled back, old stile out and
a start being made with holes for the side-posts.

3. Side-posts, temporarily cross-braced,
in position and being checked for alignment. 

4. There's a trick of perspective here. The side-posts
are vertical and parallel! Holes for the step-legs
are being prepared in the very rocky ground.

5. Stock fencing (very fragile!) 
being re-tensioned.

6. More fence work and a protector
fitted over the top strand of barbed
wire near the side-post.

7. Basics of a stile: posts, step-legs and treadboard.

8. Just when Kasher thought she'd never get in
a photograph, along comes a guest photographer.!

9. Grab-pole being hammered into position prior
to screwing to side-post and cross-rails

10. Suitable waymark disks being attached. 

11. Completed job . . . and here comes
that threatening storm!

We were pleased with the end result. Creating deep enough post and leg holes was an energy sapping task relying on battering the very rocky ground with heaviest bar (and equally heavy lump hammer) from the depot. There might be some aching shoulders tomorrow!

The continuation job (probably next week) will involved the construction of a two-step stile and the improvement of the waymarking of this footpath network.

LUDDENDENFOOT - below Kershaw Estate

This path was closed over ten years ago due to the stone steps from Burnley Road collapsing. Calderdale Highways are now repairing the steps and have asked CROWS to improve the rest of the path to Kershaw Crescent. The path provides a useful shortcut from the estate down to the bus stop on Burnley Road and was very well used.

Rich, Ian S and Jan went up to make a start on clearing the line of the path, do some cutting back and some path widening. It will take several session to sort, but we hope the path will be open by the end of June.

The details

We started by clearing the top entrance to the path - long grass, shrubs, overhanging branches and dumped rubbish!

Before we started clearing the path

 The next stage was to clear some steps that we guessed were there. 

Looks like there are steps under there

Steps all cleared but will need replacing

 Lower down we widened and levelled the path and cut back brambles and cleared more rubbish off the path.

Much easier to walk on

Next was cutting broom that had grown over and completely obscured the path


Ian making the way through the broom

The path coming out below the broom

Next session

  • Putting in new steps
  • More path widening including through the lower wooded section
  • Clearing a way through the Snowberry
  • Clearing vegetation off the stone steps to Burnley Road
Some of the path is quite overgrown with Snowberry!