Shelf Footpaths - May 2020

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Tue, 2nd Jun 2020, 9:45pm

Even with all its restrictions, lockdown affords us opportunities.  For me it has been the time to explore the network of footpaths that lie behind my house.  To my eternal shame, in the 6 years I have lived here, I have never set foot on any of them and this has been my chance to rectify that.  In under a minute from locking my house door, I am in open fields.  These have been cut recently and I have been watching flocks of starlings and sparrows feasting on the fallen seeds.  Crossing the fields, I come to Blackshaw Beck which marks the boundary between Calderdale and Bradford.  As I approached the bridge one day I happened to look up and my attention was drawn to the tree that stands at this point - or should I say trees.  Elm branches overhang the bridge but the top of the tree showed an ash in flower.  Closer inspection revealed that the trunks of the trees had fused together making a striking feature.

Further on the banking by the side of the footpath has had a glorious display of cow parsley, which I absolutely love.  A small wooded copse is next with plenty of fallen trees on which fungi grow and there is one dead tree still standing which has numerous holes, possible nesting sites or bat roosts.  I now join the Bronte Way with open fields again.  One was reseeded at the start of lockdown and in spite of virtually no rainfall is greening up nicely.  Past Bobby Green Farm I come to a tree lined lane where on one morning I watched numerous swallows and house martins swooping low taking advantage of the insects collecting beneath the canopy.  Another field leads me into Littlemoor Park at Queensbury.  What a revelation this place is.  Obviously well cared for by its Friends Group, this large park has a delightful perimeter woodland walk.  This has had bird boxes fixed to some of the trees and the early morning chorus has been a joy to listen to.  There is plenty here for our botanists to enjoy - ramsoms have put on a fine display as has pink purslane.  Campion has been in flower and the wildflower meadow at the centre of the park is just beginning to hit its stride.

The path that runs alongside the outer wall of the park has given me an opportunity to watch orange tip, small white and green-veined white in the spring sunshine.  As I leave the park and cross the road, passing Queensbury Golf Club I pass a hedgerow lined with cuckoo flower at its base.  From here I walk part way down Corporal Lane where I have glorious views in all directions.  Meadow pipits are in evidence and I hear my first skylark of the year.  Down a quiet track leading to Northowram I pass a large pond with some Canada geese and their young.  Now joining the Calderdale Way I climb the hill that leads to Cut Lane, a lovely holly lined avenue.  Through fields once more I come out at Score Hill just above Stone Chair - and yes at the corner there is a stone chair!  More  built up now unfortunately as I reach Shelf.  Nearly home and a welcome cup of coffee awaits.  5 miles - a good leg stretch.

See photos here

Sally Tetlow

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