English Customs, General/Journal

May Day Day Out

May Day Day Out

It is the May Day Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK, traditionally a day for “odd”, “traditional”, “quintessentially English”, “madcap” activities.

In the past we have been camping over this weekend and our favourite place is Clun, a little village on the Welsh border where each year they hold a Green Man Festival. It’s a great festival with lots of folky things going on – music, dancing, traditional arts and crafts etc – and they have a fight on the bridge on the Monday where Winter is overcome by Summer and the Green Man vanquishes his enemy. It’s great fun and a great experience but unfortunately this year we weren’t able to go, largely because of me being unwell. Again.

To be honest, I have not been well for quite some time and I’ve tried not to moan about it in my blog posts because apart from it getting boring for my readers, it does nothing for me to concentrate on it and to wallow in self-pity as I type. So, suffice to say that these past 6 weeks or so have been horrible for me and I hit rock bottom this weekend.

Kevin suggested that we go out for the day today and to be honest I was dreading it. I couldn’t predict my pain levels and I didn’t know how uncomfortable I would be so we compromised and instead of going out for the whole day, we just went for a little drive locally.

And it was fantastic!

The break away from these four walls has done me the power of good. To see open skies, green fields and open water has been the best medicine I could have asked for.

We drove up onto the moors between Manchester and West Yorkshire and beyond. Kevin has always had a fascination with a particular bridge over the M62 between Milnrow and Huddersfield (don’t ask me why, it’s just been a bugbear of his for as long as I’ve known him!) and he suggested we go and try and find it.

He found it on the map and we figured our way up using a combination of Reader’s Digest roadmap, Google Maps and satnav. Along the way, we passed through the outskirts of Manchester and before too long were in proper countryside. This is a view that lifted my spirits more than I can describe to you:

Saddleworth Moor, near Denshaw

The openness, the big sky, the moors that go on for miles and miles, the comfort of those dry stone walls that have stood for generations…. oh boy it’s a great soul soother, especially to a city girl like me!

Before long we found ourselves on Marsden Moor and I just couldn’t take a photograph that would do the bleakness of the landscape any sort of justice at all. I did manage to take this picture when Kevin had to jack up the car to dislodge a stone from the brake pads on the car (don’t even ASK how we managed to pick that up…)

Marsden Moor sign – until today I hadn’t realised it was under the control of the National Trust

We turned left on the top of the moor onto the road that would take us over Kevin’s bridge. The views were absolutely breathtaking in their blankness. That high up on top of the moors nothing much grows except grass and heather, and the occasional sheep. The ground is peaty, and the wind blows constantly. We got pretty cold and as you can see from the sky in the picture above, the sun was not for making an appearance today!

Here’s a couple of pictures from the top of the bridge over the motorway….it’s pretty high.

Kevin’s bridge over the M62 looking west towards Manchester.

If you look closely enough you might just be able to make out the split in the motorway where it goes around “the little house on the prairie”. It’s a legendary farmhouse because when the m62 was being built the owners refused to give in the compulsory purchase order and wouldn’t move, so the construction company just built the motorway around them! You can also see Hollingworth Lake on the horizon. I’ll do another post about that place another day.

I’m not sure if it’s sad or a comfort, but as you approach this bridge there are signs on either side and at either end of it for the Samaritans with a phone number. One can only imagine the reasons why they put them there.

Viewing east towards Huddersfield

This is looking towards Huddersfield. I hope it doesn’t rain too much tonight or else there might be a bit of flooding from that reservoir on the right!

When we’d had our fill of the bridge, we decided to carry on instead of heading back home so we carried on.

The boys – my “little” one on the right is nearly as tall as his dad at age 13. Gulp…!

The sun very nearly made an appearance, and I managed to get a quick photograph of some greenery further down the valley as we headed towards Hebden Bridge.

Green valley

Unfortunately the weather closed in as we got to Hebden Bridge and there wasn’t really much I could take pictures of. We went into a Flea market in the local hall and treated ourselves to some chips from the chippy for dinner. Whilst it was lovely to be out and about, I was getting a bit uncomfortable and my pain was breaking through so we made our way back home.

So, we didn’t see any Green Man festivities this year, and we didn’t see any folk music or folk art but I’m sure you’ll agree that we did have a cracking medicinal dose of England. I feel so much better for it and I hope I managed to convey a little of the countryside that is a stones throw away from my front door.


9 thoughts on “May Day Day Out”

  1. Great day out but I’m sorry you tired so much.
    Hebden Bridge was an old stomping ground of mine. Very artsy in the 90’s, haven’t been there for years.
    I love the story about the split motorway. I tell it to my kids whenever we go that way.
    Hollingworth Lake. Love it. Many day trips with the kids.
    You are brave going up there, the weather’s been awful all day!


    1. We came back past Hollingworth Lake (good old satnav took us out of Hebden Bridge on a B road I’d never been on before and brought us out at the White House on Blackstone Edge). I love it there too, and yes, the weather was awful today! By the time we got back I was frozen solid. I can’t believe I toyed with the idea of taking my coat and decided to leave it at home because “it can’t be that bad can it?”. Brrrr!!!!


  2. Thank goodness for Kevin. What a thoughtful guy to encourage the outing. You should hang on to him. Being out in nature does give the ole spirits a boost, doesn’t it. You live in a pretty area.


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