I will always remember that feeling of being in the car, sat in the back next to my sister Katy. The Ford Escort Dad was driving struggled up the hill a little out of Oxenhope, onto the moor beyond, and my belly would flip when we left the last of the houses behind. We’d drive on tarmac sandwiched between brown earth, sometimes peppered with a purple haze when the heather was in bloom. The twists in the road hugged the moor. There was the corner that became treacherous in winter with the snow drifting, the corner where the radio would cut out, and then the corner that I waited for with anticipation. The corner that revealed a view over Calderdale that gave me my first rushes of a sense of place.
I grew up in Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales, all chocolate box picturesque scenes, bright limestone and rolling hills. My cousins grew up in Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, only 30 miles away, but in an entirely different landscape. Those steep valley sides, chimney stacks and big skies seemed so far removed from where I was. This landscape felt exciting, so different to the one I was part of. We were lucky enough to have lots of family get togethers growing up, so us cousins saw quite a lot of each other. Many of these gatherings would happen at my Aunty and Uncle’s over in Hebden Bridge. The first view of Stoodley Pike piercing the sky, was always my marker. At 37 metres tall, the monument can be seen for miles, and it was always my first indication we were nearing a place, and people I loved. Now the wind turbines have joined the view too.
It seemed to go so much deeper than just on our way to see family though. This landscape had somehow claimed me. All those years ago I knew I wanted to live in Hebden Bridge ‘when I grew up’. And after a couple of stints in London, a few years in Liverpool and a bit of travelling, I made it!
The other morning, I drove up onto the moor road to photograph that corner, and some of the views along the way.
We sometimes went swimming in the stream that forges its way down this valley. Sitting in innertubes, our bodies lathered in suncream, we shared many a picnic here. It’s a place I love to come to now and have a dip.
The blistering summer heat often caused those mirages. The wobbly vapour lines rising from hot tarmac, and Dad woud pull down the sun visor above the steering wheel to shield his eyes.
We always called this the mini monument and my sister would often confuse it with Stoodley that towered over the valley. It sits close to the village of Peckett Well. The last one before you drop down into Hebden Bridge. This memorial commemorates the residents of the Wadsworth area who were killed or missing in World War I and II.
This is the pub before you drop down through the trees into Hebden Bridge. I can’t remember which one of my relatives drove into the car park thinking it was the turn off to my Aunty and Uncle’s house, but I do remember the laughs when the story was retold.
And this view is so pertinent now. Through the cow parsley, over the fields and across a valley to Heptonstall, the village we live in now that’s perched just above Hebden Bridge.
Some of the mills have now given way to flats. I guess maybe they were derelict when we were passing by in the Ford Escort.
There have been a couple of places since then. I’m inspired by how landscape can affect us. I’ve spoken before about when Suzi took me to Suffolk for the first time to meet her parents. The flat lands made me feel so restless and uneasy. I think that’s one of the reasons I took the North Coast 500 trip around the tip of Scotland. I wanted to test myself, to see how I was in these remote landscapes. The landscape that both excites and scares me. It sometimes feels that there is a re-wild reset button inside me and I’m dancing around the edges.
Me and Suzi have talked about where we’d like to live in the future if we leave Hebden Bridge. We both would love to be by the sea. Maybe when we’re older and Olive has left home, we might live in a little house that overlooks the ocean. I’m sure my Hebden Bridge sense of place feeling won’t mind sharing with a big sea view!
We’d love to hear about your places too, and this month’s Stories of the Everyday theme is all about these places that are part of us. The June hashtag is #storiesoftheeveryday_place. We’ll share a collection of photos and words in a blog post at the end of June.