Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The 589 bus route

Living in the bottom of a narrow valley I sometimes feel a need to expand my horizons, and so today I took a bus up to Burnley. I did so just for the pleasure of the ride, for the 589 bus route is one of the most beautiful in England. I've driven it too, but if it's views you're after, you can see higher and further from a bus. 

Cliviger Gorge, a sinister-looking glacial outcrop of millstone grit, is Todmorden's back wall. Even in high summer the blackness of the boulders is threatening, and I can well believe the old folk tale of a ghostly huntsman sending his hounds on ahead of him at Halloween;  when I come through in October, I will listen out for his horn. 

The gorge opens out through a series of narrow wooded cloughs into broad sweeps of moorland, with Pendle Hill away in the distance. This is livestock country - Todmorden Market sells lamb and beef from the farms around here - and the fields on the lower slopes are full of flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, the sheep recently sheared, the calves still young enough to graze close to their mothers. Higher up, and in the hanging valleys, heather is coming into bloom, but it's struggling against the drought, and is pale and straggly. 

The valley has many listed buildings and monuments, from old boundary stones, to lovely old inns and farmhouses, and even an ice-house - perhaps they had hot summers back in the 19th century too. I can remember as a child being taken to the Ram Inn for 'high tea', a feast of local ham and chicken and home grown tomatoes, followed by a pot of good strong tea and a slice of date and walnut loaf. Now it's scones and Prosecco, and somehow, that doesn't feel like progress! 

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