Stories from the soil: Self-guided walks

A series of natural history walks from Calderdale Libraries

A field

Calderdale is a fascinating place, full of history, with stunning landscapes and a wealth of wildlife that can be experienced by everyone. There are wild heather moorlands, steep-sided valleys and wooded cloughs with rocky streams. There are flower meadows and canal sides, miles of dry-stone walls, of bog and cotton-grass, and of course there is the River Calder itself. This landscape, these habitats have been shaped not only by time and natural forces such as by climate and topography - but also by people, over thousands of years. There are towns, villages and parks, long abandoned barns high on the hills, and huge chimneys tucked away in valley bottoms shrouded by trees. The unique set of interactions between human activity, geology, climate, vegetation and wildlife has combined to make Calderdale an extraordinarily distinctive place.

Canal and towpath

Stories from the Soil started as a series of guided walks that explored these themes, by looking at the natural environment accessible from all of Calderdale’s libraries. Each walk took in a variety of habitats, urban and rural, large and small, from a beech-covered hillside to the tiny mosses growing on the bark of a single tree and asked why these things are where they are. Sometimes the answers are surprising and can tell us something new about not only the ground beneath our feet but also the people who have trod it before ourselves and even the very air we breathe.

The beech-covered hillside that looks so natural might have been planted by an enterprising Victorian industrialist to supply wood for his mill - but technology made them obsolete and they have survived and maybe out-lived the mill. That moss on the tree probably couldn’t have survived the polluted air of most of the 19th and 20th centuries, but has returned with the cleaner air we now enjoy in the valley. The stories are there in the landscape.

Heather in bloom

If you would like to explore your local area and find out more about its history, heritage, landscape and wildlife, why not try a Stories from the Soil walk for your self?

Further information

All Calderdale Libraries hold a huge amount of information on a wide range of subjects, from local history to guides to help you identify the trees, flowers, birds, insects and other wildlife you might encounter on your walk. You can also use the Library’s computers and tap into online identification resources.

If you want to find out more about Calderdale’s special habitats and species and what Calderdale Council is doing to help them, you can view the Calderdale Biodiversity Action Plan.

Stories from the Soil walks are covered by Ordnance Survey Explorer maps OL21 South Pennines and OS Explorer Map 288 Bradford and Huddersfield. OS Maps can can be viewed or borrowed from your local library.

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Last Updated: 25/09/2013