One of my photos

I don’t want a holiday in the sun

June 1st, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 1 Comment · Life

Its always a pleasure to use an old Sex Pistols lyric for a title… anyway, the Skuds family recently returned from a short camping holiday in West Yorkshire, and one thing you can say for certain is that it was no holiday in the sun.

We were up there for the half-term break, and travelled up early on the Sunday. The idea was to avoid making the journey when everyone else was on the roads and that worked OK. The M1 was fairly quiet going up there, although by the time we got past Leicester it was very busy going South – chock full of coaches from Leeds and Doncaster heading for the League One play-off final at Wembley.

We made good time, and found the camp site we were after at about mid-day. It was on the top of a hill on the edge of the moors near Bingley, and it was windy. We had thought we were lucky with the weather: it was dry, which is always a bonus when thinking about pitching a tent. Unfortunately it was more than a little windy generally and blowing up a gale on top of that hill. In fact it was too windy to even get the tent up, and we gave up after two hours of fighting with it and considered ourselves lucky to not end up inadvertantly hang-gliding across the moors.

So we crammed the tent back in the car and headed for our second choice campsite. The sat-nav sent us up a road that you wouldn’t really want to take a 4×4 up and where we were convinced that permanent damage had been done to the car, but eventually we found the right road. The site looked fine but it turned out to be full and we had to revert to plan C – visit the sister in Queensbury, scrounge tea and phone round some other sites. Most of the sites we called were full and the ones that had room admitted that they were in windy locations. One of them said they had a static caravan that had blown off it’s blocks but we were welcome to try putting a tent up if we wanted. We didn’t.

We ended up imposing on familial hospitality and staying the night, and on Monday we headed back to our second-choice campsite. We figured it would be quite sheltered in its valley location, and would have some room with people packing up after a bank holiday weekend, and we were right on both counts.

With only a little trouble from the wind we got the tent up and got ourselves settled in. The site is very peaceful due to a policy of not allowing cars onto the field – you have to park in the car park and carry everything to the site. The website said its a one-minute walk, but didn’t mention that it was down a very steep slope. After several trips up and down we were truly knackered.

To make matters worse, the toilet block is up by the car park so a real trek just to take a leak or have a shower. Chrystal came back from a visit and said she had spoken to Fiona, which confused us. It turns out that she said “the owner”, but his nickname for the week had already been fixed. Actually we found out that he was not the owner anyway as the site is owned by the council and he is part of their forestry department and manages the site for them.

The site – Jerusalem Farm – is in a nature reserve and is on the Calderdale Way so it gets a lot of people using the car park to then go off walking. The field itself is below the car park and has a river running along the edge of it. The site is more of a weekend campsite and so fairly quiet during the week. In fact on Wednesday night ours was the only tent in the whole field.

It really is a peaceful place, with the only drawback being that huge climb up to the toilets. There are picnic tables set into the ground and some paving slabs laid down for barbecues, a couple of sets of bins and a pair of taps and that is it as far as facilities go. With the river running through and lots of woodland walks there is plenty to do and see on the site – great for younger kids and anyone who doesn’t mind the climb up to the car park. A couple of local ducks soon introduced themselves and became regular visitors, calling round to see if we had any bread for them.

The noise of the river was confusing at first. Inside the tent it sounded like there was a gale blowing, but it was just rushing water. The noise was added to by owls at night. Its quite impressive how much noise a river that is only about 3 metres wide can make and I now wonder what it must be like to visit somewhere like Niagara Falls. It looks good in the photos, but I’m now sure nothing can do justice to the noise.

We spent the rest of Monday just settling in and relaxing, but on Tuesday we set off exploring and as it was raining by this time we headed for Leeds and all the indoor attractions there, starting with the Royal Armouries. Its a great museum, and being a national collection its free entry, but it is a bit specialised. There are suits of armour, guns, swords and other weapons and thats it for several floors. A fantastic place if you are really interested in weaponry but for the more casual visitor there is a feeling of “oh look – yet another sword”.

We were all impressed by the punt gun though. These things are huge, and look like they should be used for hunting rhinos or dinosaurs or something but are just for duck hunting – except they can get up to 50 ducks in a single shot. These guns were for people hunting for a living rather than for sport.

After the Armouries we headed across the river in the drizzle and looked around the city centre. Leeds is a very up-and-coming place, but not really our sort of place. New waterfront apartments are going up everywhere. On my single previous visit to Leeds there had been a surface car park and open space outside the Armouries museum – not there is a multi-storey and several apartment blocks on that space. The shopping centre is enormous, but filled with shops like Louis Vuitton that wouldn’t interest us at all even if we could afford them.

Later in the day we went into Halifax, just up the road from where we were staying, and found it much more to our liking. In fact it was a bit of a theme to the holiday that we liked all the H places – Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Haworth, Holmfirth, and I quite liked the look of Huddersfield too.

On Wednesday it was not raining so much but was very misty. We went off to Hebden Bridge where Jayne found more ducks to feed. A nice little town, with its canal and river, and dark satanic mills now converted, like most of them to pleasant apartments or craft workshops. We spent a fair amount of time in Hebden Bridge and had some decent hot sandwiches in a pub there. The pub was the White Swan. When I went off to search for the toilets I found signs for ‘cobs’ and ‘pens’…. not being Bill Oddie I still didn’t know which way to turn until I saw a picture of a bloke on one door.

After Hebden Bridge we headed on to Haworth, but didn’t stop there, and headed off across the moors. The scenery was probably spectacular but our visibility was down to only a few metres by now so we didn’t see much of it although it did make the reservoir we passed particularly atmospheric.

At the top of one hill, at a place called Scar Top, we saw a sign to a tea room and pulled over. It was actually a furniture shop with a tea room in it – but what a furniture shop! It was a lovely old building with fantastic fireplaces and lintels and three or four floors stuffed full of oak furniture and ornaments. The tea rooms were a couple of floors up, with a balcony that would have offered fine views on any other day.

Wednesday night the drizzle and mist were clearing up, and on Thursday everything was sunny and dry. So much so that we decided to go home early. We had intended to return on Friday morning, but figured that if the tent was all dried out on Thursday evening we would pack up and go rather than risk the weather turning and us having to pack a wet tent on Friday – also a drive home at night would be quicker due to the traffic.

For our last day we headed South a bit and fetched up at Sowerby Bridge, another pleasant town with a river and canal. Jayne fancied a canal boat trip and one was about to leave in ten minutes so we hopped on it. It was a one-hour trip but only over a very short distance: the boats mov slowly and there were two locks to go through each way.

After the boat trip we walked along the towpath for a bit and it only took about ten minutes to cover the length of the tour. We timed it so that we reached the first lock just as the next trip was going through so we were able to see it all working from the outside as well as inside. It was a great experience going through the lock – especially as it was only a narrow lock, the width of one boat.

To get back from Sowerby Bridge we took the scenic route across to Holmfirth, where we got out for a walk around. Not being fans of Last of the Summer Wine we didn’t hunt out locations from the TV series and had a snack in the Riverside Cafe instead of Sid’s Cafe.

When we got back to Jerusalem Farm there was the best news of the week. We were starting to pack up when ‘Fiona’ came past and stopped for a chat. In response to various subtle hints about what soft Southerners we are he offered to cart all our stuff up to the car park when he came round in his pickup truck to collect the rubbish bins. That was a real bonus – it would have been quite a few trips up and down to carry it all up there by hand. We think he may have been taking pity on us for the dreadful weather we had all week.

When we left the site on Thursday morning ours was the only tent there. When we returned in the afternoon there were at least half a dozen there and a couple more in the process of going up . Most were probably fairly local people who had been spending the half-term waiting for the weather to change so they could take the kids camping. It made us feel a bit better about going because if we stayed there might have been queues for the shower (singular) that night.

The journey home was smooth, and we got back before midnight after a week that was more relaxing that it should have been under the circumstances. Loads more photos on Flickr.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    Of all the H’s we like Halifax best too. Huddersfield looks okay from a distance but has the mother of all one way systems and totally befuddled us before the days of Sat-nav. Now we avoid it even though it would be a good short cut for us to Derbyshire, or even to avaoid the dog-leg of the M1 by joining it south of Sheffield…