Rooted in the Land – Home from Holme

P1110655We headed for Buxton, passing through the town with its mixture of architectural styles reflecting its rise to popularity as a spa. The waters of Buxton have been thought to have curative properties since at least the time of the Roman invaders who named the place Aquae Arnemetiae, the spa of the goddess of the grove. There is a huge limestone cave complex too, Poole’s cavern, that I would like to visit one of these days, where evidence of human occupation goes back beyond recorded history. For now though, we simply needed to get through it.

heather 2015 derbyshire, higger tor, beeley circle, edensor, bak 057“Are we going via the Snake?”
“Not exactly.” I was disappointed. I like Snake Pass. The road winds through spectacular hills and a few miles can take hours, if you are lucky enough to have time. “We’ll just touch the end of it at Glossop.” Oh well… I wasn’t about to complain. We were in Derbyshire, after all, and heading for Yorkshire. There’s not a lot more I could ask for. “We’ll go on the Woodhead instead.” I perked up immediately. “But not for long.” Was my navigator doing this on purpose? I would wait. If we were going on any part of either pass, there would be hills.

sheffield book weekend 022And hills there were. We came through Chapel-en-le Frith, a town that bears its Norman heritage in its name, not stopping to look at the faded carvings of the Saxon cross in the churchyard, or even pausing at Dove Holes to walk the Neolithic henge. They would still be there another day. I had seen something that wouldn’t, though… To my utter delight, the heather was still in bloom. Whole hillsides painted purple… nowhere to stop on the narrow roads to take pictures, of course, but even so… Heather. I may have squeaked.

SE Ilkley 2015 alveley fenny bentley ironbridge (94)That was it. I was in heaven. The clouds struggled to crest the hills, laying an iron-grey blanket over the world, the russet and olive of autumn vied with summer green and late flowers. Michaelmas daisies counted the days to the Feast of St Michael and All Angels … and many north-facing hillsides were still purple. As soon as I see that colour, my heart lifts, my throat closes and my eyes fill… every time. And I began to hope… perhaps the moors around Ilkley, ‘my’ moors, would still wear their inner heart as a royal robe too.

SE Ilkley 2015 alveley fenny bentley ironbridge (92)We left the narrow road of the Woodhead Pass for an even narrower lane that started, almost immediately, to climb. I found a place to pull over, surrounded by hills that rose about us. Even as I raised the camera I knew that the sheer majesty of the hills would never look right on a picture. There is no sense of scale unless you, yourself, are the tiny dot at the centre of that vast panorama. When you are, nothing else matters.

SE Ilkley 2015 alveley fenny bentley ironbridge (95)We continued, up to Holme Moss, some 1,719ft above sea level. The border between Derbyshire and West Yorkshire lies across the desolate summit. I stood between the two signs looking back and pointed the camera towards the road just travelled… then towards my home county… smiling at the signs. Where else would motorists get both a warning of a 1 in 10 descent on a winding road at the same time as a warning that they would almost certainly meet a sheep on the road there too? Ten miles away, Emley Moor mast cuts the skyline, a slender, concrete obelisk rising 1,084ft above the hills… the tallest freestanding structure in the UK, one of the tallest in Europe still. Again I had to smile. There had been protest enough at its building, the usual ‘blot on the landscape’ stuff, yet it had quickly become an accepted landmark. We used to release my father’s racing pigeons from below the mast to train them. No-one likes the idea of wind turbines on their stretch of horizon either, yet they would be dwarfed by Emley Moor and serve a far better purpose.

SE Ilkley 2015 alveley fenny bentley ironbridge (98)We descended the long, winding road into the valley, passing a valiant cyclist riding up the hill and a heroic photographer dangling out of the back of a preceding transit van to record the mission. There is a pub, the Fleece Inn, just as you come into the village of Holme. I turned into the car park… it had to be lunchtime. We ordered drinks and just a sandwich apiece, not being hugely hungry after the pasty that morning. Had I been in any doubt of where we were, that sandwich would have convinced me… the filling of the ‘doorstep’ being layered thick with home-cured ham and cheese, we couldn’t have been anywhere else but home. The village was well named.

moorssm 014Though I didn’t know the way, I knew the familiar golden stone of the landscape. The slabbed roofs, the Victorian civic pride and the industrial architecture that placed fanciful finials atop mill chimneys… these things are home and speak to me of childhood, just as much as the moors sing to my heart, calling up something older, younger and deeper. Holmfirth, Huddersfield, Halifax, Haworth and Keighley. A sign for Mytholmroyd, a place-name that would convince me that at least part of Tolkien’s Shire was based on Yorkshire, if I needed any convincing. Bingley, where my great grandfather was born, then round the moor to Silsden… and on to Ilkley. There is a point where the outline of the Cow and Calf rocks is visible on the skyline as you come into the town that way. That is the point when a heart already high feels as if it will burst. The weekend was about to begin, and we would spend it here. On the moors.

SE Ilkley 2015 alveley fenny bentley ironbridge (106)

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in adventure, History, Landscape, Photography, Rooted in the Land, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Rooted in the Land – Home from Holme

  1. C.E.Robinson says:

    Sue, what beautiful land! You photos are clear and lovely! Chryssa


  2. Glee Sparkle says:

    Beatiful…..i love your photos. ….and good writing
    Keep simling☺,
    -glee sparkle💖💖


  3. joey says:

    I so enjoy your photos. I’d comment more, but it would just be me typing I so enjoy your photos. 🙂


  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Your photos are so beautiful and yet you say it is even better in person! I can feel your love of this place and see from your photos why you do!


  5. It is wonderful to look at the brilliant colors. Isn’t it marvelous how Mother Nature mixes her paints and the most perfect breathtaking landscapes appear. It leaves us breathless no matter how many times we see it. You have captured the beauty in the eye of your camera and the love you feel flows gently from your words.
    I am so enjoying this weekend even though over a thousand miles separate me from your glorious country. Well done :o)


  6. jenanita01 says:

    Once again, we are right there with you, Sue. I can smell the heather and feel the breeze in my hair… Oh I do so love going out with you…


  7. Mary Smith says:

    Lovely, as always, Sue. Really enjoying this trip.


  8. Meredith says:

    Reblogged this on Covey View and commented:
    Let’s go a hike with Sue Vincent.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Dream On | Meredith's Musings

  10. Widdershins says:

    My heart fills like that when I see my mountains. That first glimpse of them in the distance at the end of our trip brought me to tears. 😀


  11. macjam47 says:

    Sue, I could feel your excitement as I looked at the photos and read your words. How wonderful that you were there when the heather was in bloom. How lucky to lunch at what looks like a charming inn, and to visit the place your great grandfather called home. Hugs, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I have been so very lucky with the heather this year. We don’t have it where I live now, so I can only see it when I go north. It was just starting in July when I left and I was afraid I would miss it by the time I was back there in August… but it was perfect. For the heather to have lingered into September was such a beautiful gift.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ali Isaac says:

    Gosh, Sue your writing is so beautiful, and so passionate! I got a lump in my throat just reading it. I get that feeling sometimes about the land, such a deep, wild joy. Makes you feel great, but not quite in control of your emotions. I love purple, too, its everywhere around my home, including the dressing gown I am wearing on top of my clothes right now! 😁


  13. noelleg44 says:

    A lovely way to begin MY weekend! Thanks for taking me along!


  14. reocochran says:

    The last two photos of the stone village inn or houses and the beautiful moor were ever so lovely.


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