Down Shibden by Jane Kennelly: An evocative moment in time

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By Jane Kennelly

We are pleased to be able to post this wonderful evocative memory shared by Jane, who writes that her a love of landscape from this moment has been lifelong. She identifies that as children, we do not differentiate between the lie of the land, tracks, farms, walls, flora and fauna, but that we experience a moment. It helps to highlight how important childhood experiences of the countryside can be, and how they can shape a whole generation of people who care about the countryside, and provide treasured memories. Jane writes that she revisited Shibden Valley recently and experienced an elemental nature that has resisted change and development. We hope that this continues for future generations.

My father was a deep-dyed Bradfordian. When I was about eight years\’ old, he used to take off every Saturday to see his mother in Queensbury where he had lived as as a boy. His father was killed on the Somme and he had worked since he was thirteen at Black Dyke Mills. We took the 72 bus from Leeds to Forster Square where we changed to the Queensbury bus, walking through deep cliffs of blackened Victorian buildings.

After lunch at Grandma’s, the treat began. First we walked to Treacle Tree and The Mountain to chat to, and collect rent from, a tenant. We then back-tracked on the road to where the houses stopped just below Hunger Hill. The Shibden Valley unfolded as we walked down old, stone flagged tracks – the pack horse routes of the West Riding. This was wild grazing country, right on the edge of the chimneys of industrial Halifax.

We reached the valley floor and cut upwards through hedges of hawthorn, cow parsley and gentle pink roses to Scout Hall. Dad explained to me the number of windows (one for every day of the year) and we paused to listen to the gypsy children who tried to sell us wild roses for sixpence. We then cut across the main road in its deep, stone lined gorge, leading to Halifax. Our last port of call was Shibden Hall on the brow of a hill.

So our afternoon was spent walking through sparse, undisturbed country that fostered in me love of the valley, its pathways and its millstone grit walls and buildings which are so quintessentially West Yorkshire.

Shibden Valley
Shibden Valley Photo Credit: Charlesdrakew – Wikipedia
Ilkley from White Wells