Caldercask Walk No 4 – Beacon Hill Ramble

Posted: 22nd December 2010 by admin in Caldercask, Writing

My first walk in this series took you from the top of Beacon Hill down to the valleys below, and this walk will do the same, except this time we start from the Bank Top end of the village, at the newly re-opened Cock and Bottle, before dropping down to Travellers Inn at Hipperholme, cutting back through Shibden Park down to the Ring of Bells in town via the Stump Cross. The theme for this walk is recently re-opened pubs, as 2 of the 4 pubs featured have previously been shuttered, and only recently come back into business.

The total distance is about 5 miles, and there is intermittent up hill walking at the bottom of the hill, and as you go through Shibden Park both to and from the Stump Cross. The walk takes in views from all sides of Beacon Hill. and takes place mainly on paved access roads and farm tracks as you descend the hill, and a mix of roads and well maintained footpaths as you return into town. Given the time of year, I thought it wise to moderate the terrain in case of poor weather, and return to rougher walks once spring returns.

After over a year of being shuttered and 6 months of refurbishment, the Cock and Bottle at Bank Top is now re-open for business. The refurbishment of the place has been done to a very good level and it’s initial batch of real ales shows a lot of promise, mainly from the larger breweries, they have a selection of Bombadier, Deuchers IPA and Thwaites Original on offer. Having sampled a couple of these, I can confirm that the beer is being kept well. Very much a family business with 2 members of the owning family currently working and running the place, its most welcoming. At the point of this article being written, the pub was into its 4th weekend of trading and is going from strength to strength. Weekend tea times see it close to capacity and when I popped in on a Tuesday night for the football both rooms were nicely populated.

Heading out of the here, turn right down Common Lane, and at the junction you have a choice of routes, you can turn right and head directly down Marsh Lane, or take the more scenic route up towards the Beacon on Long Lane straight ahead and returning back by heading up Marsh Delves Lane. Either route will give you great views sweeping round from Ploughcroft to Hipperholme via Northowram, but if you make the effort and head up Long Lane, then the view extends to cover Halifax, Ogden Windfarm, Illingworth and Hove Edge.

Taking the Marsh Lane route, its hard to get lost, just head down the road until you reach the junction, then carry straight on down the paved road until you reach the bottom of the hill, covering about 1.2km. If you are taking the Long Lane route, which adds about 1.5km to the route then walk directly up the track until you reach the T junction (At this point, if you want to divert to the beacon at the top of the hill and take in the views stretching from Elland to Boothtown, and as far as Stoodley Pike in the distance, take a left here, and follow the rough uphill track on your left after about 50 metres, retracing your steps after, this view is especially recommended if the hills have remaining snowfall or you can visit the hill at dusk). Take a right at the junction, before heading downhill (past the venting tunnels for the railway which runs through the hill) to a road to your right turn about 500m down. This road, Marsh Delves Lane, will take you back to the junction mentioned earlier, and follow the route for that option.

Once you reach the bottom of the hill, there will be a sharp left curve followed by a road heading off the right (this one doesn’t have a gate across it). Head down this road Norcliffe Lane (however be aware that it is a bit steep uphill at points), and keep straight on until you reach a junction at which point take a left, and about 150m up the road, you will reach the main road and ahead of you will be the Travellers Inn.

This pub is part of the Ossett Brewery estate, which is never a bad thing. Comprising of three rooms, its very much a traditional pub. The main bar area is open plan, with a small snug, the first room is also open plan, and the last being a cosy, but large snug in the far corner of the pub. Real ale wise you are spoilt with at least 7 real ales on tap at any time, at the time of writing they had 4 Ossett brews and 4 other guests. Attracting a mix of customers, both local and people from the surrounding area, its a nice place for a couple of pints, with families being made welcome during the day, and a good atmosphere being had at night.

After leaving the Travellers Inn, turn right and follow the road down through the switch back underneath the railway line, and continue for 750m (this will be up to the fourth set of buildings on your right) at which point you will reach a footpath on your right just before the Rodridge farm complex, Follow this foot path (which is narrow and can get quite muddy, but is the only path where you will have any major issues of this type) and you will head under the railway and through the gap in the wall, ignoring the steps down to the right, and emerge next to the play area at Shibden Park. From here drop down to follow the lake on its left bank, walk past the cafe and through the main car park, leaving on the far side to the short steep section up Red Back road, before taking the right turn at the junction, emerging at the main junction for Bradford and Leeds on the A58. Your next pub is just across the road, the Stump Cross.

The Stump Cross is more of a food pub, and as you are nearing the end of the walk, is an opportune time to be getting some food to soak up the beer so far. There is a main bar area for drinking, and dining area off to the right. The pub limits itself to a guest ale, which was Copper Dragons Golden Pippin when I popped in when planning this walk. So I suspect you will be able to get a good ale from one of the larger brewers when you visit. This is a lesser offering that used to be available, and although it not in the true spirit of the walk, it is the best stop off en route without going too far off the track.

Now we start the final approach into town via the New Prospect Inn, leaving the Stump Cross, you can either head straight up the A58 Godley Road into town, head down past Godfrey Branch Lane on your left just before the bend, and rejoin the main route at the bottom of the first cobbled road. However I recommend re-entering Shibden Park and taking the more scenic route. Go back to Shibden Park via the main car park, however after passing the cafe this time, you can either head directly up the hill towards Shibden Hall, or retrace your steps back to the playground (take the path to the right just before the playground) and then take the path which heads up parallel to the railway track. Either way will bring you to below the hall, there is path heading round to the right of the building or you can walk through the gardens at the rear of the building. Once past the hall, keep going uphill following the road up to the main car park.

Leave the car park and turn right, walking 500m to the bridge going over Godley Road, but instead of going over the bridge, keep straight on down the cobbled road and when you reach Godley Branch Road, turn left, and then right onto Beacon Hill Road, about 50m along the road, there is cobbled track heading to your left. Follow this track and it will take you down to the Charlestown Road / Southowram Bank junction with the Parish Church ahead of you. Head down towards the church, take a left past Matalan, and then right past the church, and next to the main gate you will find the white washed Ring O’Bells.

After a recent closure of several months, this pub, which is the oldest in Halifax, re-opened with an impressive real ale selection, both in variety and number, currently stocking 5 ales from 5 different breweries. The house bitter is from Acorn Brewery, the others a mix of brews from small and large brewers. The pub is cosy, welcomes families, dogs and walkers, with an open fire and serves food at lunchtime. The pub is split into a large-ish bar and the smaller side room. The beers are kept well and the landlord is friendly and welcoming.

This is the end of the walk here, but if you want to continue there are several ale pubs in the town centre, including the Old Post Office opposite the bus station, which recently re-opened on the site of the Old Bowling Green, and serves several real ales, with Black Sheep being the house beer when I last visited.