Chris Goddard and his dog Alfie, at The ruins of Staups Mill – All Photography by Mick Ryan
When I had the opportunity to spend a day walking the woodland pathways around Jumble Hole and Colden Clough with Hebden Bridge based map maker Chris Goddard and local photographer and publisher Mick Ryan, I jumped at the chance to listen in on their conversation and gain privileged insight into two very different but entirely connected perspectives of these talented and inspiring folk.
Map illustration from ‘The West Yorkshire Woods’ available from Chris Goddard’s website
The first thing I notice about going out walking with a photographer is the starting hour. I’m not great at getting out early, but Mick points out that sunrise is at 5.17am, so we compromise at an 8am start at the Fox & Goose. It is a beautiful morning; bright sunshine interspersed with enough clouds to make the light interesting. Within half an hour it is raining lightly and a rainbow forms across the valley. While I wonder about getting my waterproof out, Mick is hurriedly snapping the moment.
Until now he has been casually chatting, the camera idle by his side, but as we stand on top of Horsehold Scout, it is a perfect scene to capture with the pot of gold suspended somewhere over Rawtonstall Wood. When I am mapping, it is a constant process of checking, double-checking and recording information, but photography is all about these short intense bursts of activity when the light and elements combine for a brief moment.
The result is a completely different way of looking at the landscape, the same landscape I have been mapping for years. I always love the jumbled stone crossing over the ravine at Beaumont Clough, but this morning it is in dull shade and we barely pause for a moment before ploughing on for the bluebell pastures in Jumble Hole.
It is not by accident that Mick knows all the best places in the valley for the perfect shot and the times of the day and year to visit. It is unlikely you’ll get it just right the first time out, and some shots require dozens of visits.
The ruins of Staups Mill are obviously photogenic, but today we pass them while the cloud is over and spend our time staring into the stream, trying to work out how the mill was powered by the various goits and channels cut into the rock. But, at Beverley End, the sun returns and Mick excitedly snaps the idyllic spring scene.
I have written about the bee boles here, recesses in the stone walls where wicker skeps were kept as primitive bee hives, but I have never before appreciated what a fantastic face this bank presents when it is covered in bluebells and white garlic flowers. The sun dapples through the lush spring greenery and picks out the details in the stone walls, over which the flowers cascade. The right time, the right place, a moment worth the trip on its own.