On Saturday morning I walked along the Calder & Hebble Navigation, which is the canal that follows the River Calder from Wakefield to my home town of Sowerby Bridge, although I only did the last three miles starting at Sowerby Bridge Wharf (where it meets the Rochdale Canal) and Salterhebble where the small branch from Halifax joins. There’s a series of six geocaches along here, with a bonus cache around Salterhebble – to get its location, you have to find the other six first and use a number that’s printed on the cache log. I managed to find 5 out of the 6 – although as I’d previously found the first one in August only four of these were new. The sixth one eluded me – the co-ordinates pointed to the wrong side of the canal and there wasn’t anything obvious so I missed it out. Despite this, I found the approximate location of the bonus – and the object mentioned in the clue – but almost half an hour of searching proved sadly fruitless.
On Sunday, I took the bus to Wainhouse Tower, said to be the tallest folly structure in the world and certainly the tallest structure in the Calderdale district. Originally intended to be a chimney for a nearby factory, the factory was closed before the chimney was completed and it was therefore modified to become an ornate tower. It was renovated in 2008 and is now illuminated at night, and visible from our apartment.
There was a geocache nearby, so I sought it out, and then moved on to the People’s Park – a park designed by Joseph Paxton (who also designed the Crystal Palace in London) and paid for by Sir Francis Crossley; Crossley was part of the family who owned the Crossley’s Carpets company at the enormous Dean Clough mill complex. This was one I was a little apprehensive about searching for, as there hadn’t been any logs since July, but, thanks to a generous hint and photo clue, I found it and moved on.
Next stop was the Halifax Gibbet – a mock-up of a 16th century guillotine which originally stood on the site. It’s thankfully non-functional but as recently as 1650 people were beheaded for theft if the value of the stolen goods met or exceeded 13½ pence.
After this point, my luck ran out, although in looking for caches I did trek out to the aforementioned Dean Clough complex. Industrial production at the mills ceased in 1983 but the site was subsequently bought and redeveloped, and is now home to over 100 businesses, an art gallery, a theatre, a Travelodge hotel and offices for the local NHS trust, amongst others. There’s a couple of interesting sculptures too.
I also grabbed a few photos of the Burdock Way – Halifax’s useful but incredibly invasive town centre bypass that shoves a dual carriageway over and through several areas bordering the town centre. It’s a good example of brutal 1960s town planning. It could have been worse – the present structures were only phase one; subsequent extensions were never built.
Using my iPhone’s GPS, I managed to walk around 3 miles doing all of this. It was nice to learn more about the town’s history, and actually explore places I’d previously passed by but never investigated. Geocaching is very good at getting you to visit places you may have previously overlooked and can help you see things in a different light.