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Stage 2: Sowerby Bridge to Brighouse

Setting off from Sowerby Bridge, Tuesday 31st August


Bob: Today’s River Calder walk intertwined continually with the Calder and Hebble Navigation canal. Early on we spotted this lovely portrait of a Border Collie on the side of a canal boat. We saw the boat several times more in the course of our walk, it seemed to follow us like a faithful friend. We dedicate today’s walk to the spirit of Sam and to all the other less-loved dogs who guard the multiple dodgy premises along the riverbank, pallet yards and car breakers in particular.

We were so taken by the mural on the side of the firm of screen printers that we ventured inside hoping for a chat, perhaps a bit too tentatively, as no one took any notice of us. The mural reminded me of the film company trade mark footage you get before a film, when they show off all their special effects skills.

Further out into the countryside I was surprised to find this wooden sculpture of a future rustic metropolis on the canal bank.

We enjoyed the tasty word play of the O’Crumbs take-away in Elland.

In Brighouse I thought the weft and warp of the text in Direct Carpet Company’s mural echoed the interweaving of the river and the canal on our journey today. And, more significantly, the artist’s inherited muscle memory. Carpet weaving used to be a big industry in West Yorkshire. Artists Jeremy Deller and Mark Leckey have both played with the idea that the sons and daughters of yesteryear’s industrial workers have tried to replicate the industrial machine rhythms of the factories where their parents and grandparents worked, through the rhythms and repetitive gestures of rave. I think there is something similar going on in this mural design.

After a day’s work we all need a pint, so we finished in the Commercial pub just up from the river. The music lounge is arrayed with guitars and 70s album covers. One alcove is a shrine to The Beatles. The wall next to it acts as an album of blown up photos of the senior citizen regulars. Curious as to why I was photographing all this, the landlord came over to tell us more. Sadly the pandemic has took its toll on the music lounge regulars.


Annie: For some reason today's was a bit of a slog, though it was more exciting to be out of our local area and into less familiar territory. We added some distance as the paths along the river sometime peter out and we have to double back. We found an unmarked track just outside Sowerby Bridge which was well trodden and looked promising, but then it ended abruptly at a small tributary. I collected another stone by climbing down a precarious bank, Bob bracing himself to pull me back up, as we both tried to avoid touching an electric fence.

I picked up another stone at Salterhebble, the small stream that connects the Calder and Hebble Navigation to the town of Halifax before we turned away from the river for a while, and followed the canal.

Feeling in need of tea and cake, we took a detour into Elland, but it was a confectionary desert! We must have passed eight cafe's, all closed, and ended up with a cup of hot chocolate and a packet of biscuits from a petrol station.

The last part of the walk was through the Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve where we followed the new River Path which took us almost into Brighouse with the last stretch on the canal towpath which overlooks the river below. The last stone was prised from the cobbles which line the Red Brook, which runs into one side of the canal, and then overflows on the other side into the Calder.

Ending the second stage at Brighouse

Finally, here are a selection of today's river images:


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