Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A holiday at home

Me and Grandma
Me and Grandma
My amazing grandma turned 70 last Friday, and although she's not one to make a fuss, she'd planned a big party for months, and so I had to make the journey back up north. As I had quite a bit of holiday left to use (I'd saved a lot for Nepal in October, so when that got moved to May, I had a lot left over), and because I don't come back up very often, I decided to extend my stay for a week, rather than just a weekends as I normally do.

I love this little part of the world; when I'm in Brighton, the one thing I miss the most is the hills. I do like the coast, but the sea and I don't really get on (I get sea-sick, and the taste of the salt makes me sick). I've lived in the middle of the Pennines all my life, and find it very strange to not be surrounded by the countryside.

So where is home? I get asked this a lot down south, and most people have never heard of it. It's also quite tricky to explain, as a lot of the towns don't actually know where they are. I grew up in Littleborough, a quiet village that's part of Rochdale in Lancashire (or Greater Manchester - whatever it feels like at the time).

When I was 19, my Mum and Stepdad moved over the hill (about 15 minutes' drive) to Ripponden, a tiny village in the middle of the Pennines in West Yorkshire. My nan and brother are in Littleborough, my Dad and his fiancee are in Rochdale, and my grandparents are in Walsden, which can't decide whether it's in Lancashire or West Yorkshire. You see my dilemma.

Whatever you call it, this part of the world is stunning, and will always be home. There are hundreds of walks, right out of my door, and the views are beautiful. It's a pain in the backside to get anywhere (unless you have a car), but everywhere around here is worth a visit. It's full of quirky, independent shops, picturesque villages and amazing communities.

It's quite handy having a dog, as he makes me go out and explore, and no matter the weather I always love it. (I often wait for it to rain until I go out, as I love it and it means there will be fewer people around). There's nothing better for the soul, than walking through the woods, in the rain, in the autumn, with a dog. Perfect.                                                    

Countryside West Yorkshire

Littleborough isn't bad for walks either; I met my grandma for lunch the other day, and we walked to Hollingworth Lake along the canal, walked round it, then walked back to Littleborough through Ealees. Hollingworth Lake is a huge man-made body of water in Littleborough, built in Victorian times to supply water to the Rochdale Canal, and is used for a huge amount of watersports (I myself went rowing on there for around 5 years). It was a massive part of my childhood, as any walks usually meant a walk around the lake; it's not just been a part of my childhood, but also my parents' and grandparents'. My dad apparently swam across it when he was younger (mental!) and my grandad and uncle used to windsurf on it                        

Another of my favourite places is Hebden Bridge. Since I moved to Brighton, I can massively see the similarities between the two; both have a large LBGT community, are a bit odd and quirky, have a large concentration of independent shops (I think the only chain shops in Hebden are Boots and the Co-Op) and both have the same community feel.

This was particularly evident in Hebden Bridge during the Tour de France earlier this year; everywhere you went there were yellow bikes, bunting and decorations. A couple of years ago, Hebden experienced a particularly bad bout of flooding, on a few separate occasions. As it's a small town full of independent shops, it wasn't particularly well equipped for it, and more than a few were in danger of going out of business. Hebden rose to the occasion however, and with everyone helping each other, you wouldn't know now that it had happened.

So this is why I love to be home. I'd highly recommend anyone to visit the area, particularly if you like walking, watersports, climbing, and visiting lots of coffee shops! There are good transport links via train to either Leeds or Manchester, and lots of B&Bs, pubs and restaurants to make you feel at home!


Countryside West Yorkshire

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