Huddersfield Chronicle (18/Aug/1894) - Butternab, Dungeon Wood, Deyn Wood, Crosland, and a Church Sparrow

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.


(From Our Correspondent "Cid.")

Let me roam in the woodlands o’er hill and down dale,
Through meadows and uplands, where fresh breezes sail;
Where waters gush forth, and where flowers array
The earth with their beauty as bursts forth the day.
Let me wander by brooklets, or rest in the shade,
With ripe fields in prospect, then pass through fair glade;
Let me bask in the sunshine, or bathe in pure streams,
Then take my siestas in happiest dreams.
Let me watch the great clouds unendingly rove,
Like angels enshrouded by white robes of love;
Let me face where the sun sets till ebbs the twilight,
And I’ll reverently bend and thank God for sight.

Beaumont Park at the latter part of July is a revelation of beauty, a marvel of variety, and a charm from every point of view. I feel sure there is no place in this locality that will be more generally visited in the time to come, and none that will better repay a visit. In it there are flowers innumerable, plants in vast quantities, rocks open earth’s book and reveal its interior, miniature caves are outlined, the cracks and crevices of the disturbed strata show what a dreadful commotion there must have been to rend them so, while man’s skill so blends with nature’s handiwork that a thing of beauty is the result, which must be a joy to Huddersfield and district for all time. As the butterflies glisten in the sun or take their ease in the shade, as the honeysuckles shed their nectared fragrance all around, as ten thousand flowers open their full eyes to the sunshine, and hold the pearly tears of joyous showers just past, as the rhododendrons let fall their scarlet petals on the well-cared grass, as the gnarled roots of the trees point out how irresistible they are in splitting enormous rocks that they may take a firmer grip and bold their trunks intact in the wildest storm, as the birds take their ease, well fed and secure, and hesitate whether to sing or take a further rest, I pass from Butternab to Dungeon Wood, and behold a choice bit of scenery that should be missed by none. I have long since found that of all the days of the week Saturday is the best for enjoying, alone, the beauties of nature. Mankind in general seem to be either at home, at work, in the game fields, or maybe hiding and hugging one another in smoke and foul fumes. Be that as it may, I can on that day walk miles in this locality without seeing a human face divine, unless I catch my double in some pelucid stream, and I often wonder where they are and what they are doing. Perhaps the habit of riding is taking away the use of their legs, and that those once useful limbs of locomotion are, by atrophy, becoming of less and less importance as a means of carrying their trunks through fields, down dales, over hills, amid fine woodlands, and on the moors. A quiet day in the country is to me the essence of an earthly paradise. To be surrounded by the fascinating eyes of birds, beasts, insects, and flowers has charms that never surfeit. To pass from meadow to woodland as the shimmering sunshine falls aslant through the lattice-like arches of the trees begets a calm satisfaction that is ineffable. To see the placid waters, framed by delightful foliage, mirror the boughs as they sway languidly or dip their bending arms and refresh themselves, and thus let through bright shafts of golden or silvern light, or when the breeze stiffens and they fight each other above and below, real and reflected, is marvellously fine. To rest on the green bank with the river or brooklet at my feet, and watch it roll over its deep bed, or murmur over and around its pebbly windings, each speaking of the ages it has taken to carve out its hollow way, to listen to its gambols over the rocks, now a cascade, then a racing serpentine, now a struggling, broken, scattered, foamy throng, then a sleepy, dreamy stream, is ever more than welcome. Then, when rested, to climb the grassy slopes and emerge from the shade into a country lane, hedged with the wild rose, trimmed by the woodbine, and studded by scarlet fox-gloves peering through or over to greet me; to move on through cornfields that are shedding their green garlands to put on those of silver and gold; to note the oats wave and tremble in the breeze, while the heavy-headed wheat makes obeisance to me in battalions and sways like a yellow ocean; to see the tasseled barley hold up its plumes and sweep the air as if fanning it for my sole delight; to sit on the stile as the hare gambols in the field, or jumps from its bed and is lost to view in a moment, while the goodly kine crop their food or chew their cud in the open or in the shade; to take in the picture of the hills, the gradually rising slopes, the towering trees that surround the stately homes of England, and again, when rested, to enter the first bye-path I come to, all but untrodden by human feet, bordered by the bramble and wild rose, which climb the walls or grace the hedgerows, and then pass through extensive fields into the marsh, and enter the woods again, is an experience that makes one think less of the heaven to be in the enjoyment of the paradise that is.

Dungeon Wood. What a name! In its deepest gullies it has that appearance, but its slopes and general surroundings are anything but dungeon-looking. Further, that its name is not repellent is shown by the numerous boards on the trees notifying that trespassers will be prosecuted as the law directs. There are, however, sufficient footpaths to enjoy the place without trespassing, but instead of legally and severely restricting such footpaths to one bald, beaten tract, such beauty spots should be freer, and destructive wrong-doers left to punishment by wholesome public opinion. To right and left there is a profusion of rich and dainty colouring and of happy fruitfulness. The stunted oak, the silvery birch, the upright fir, and the trembling maple, with here and there a wiggin tree, look on in sweet gladsomeness. “Cuckoo-spit,” innumerably enshrouding its naked insect, clings to the grass in white frothiness. Turnips and potatoes in the open bespeak plenteousness for man and beast. The sun plays on the leaves and is reflected from myriad pearls that hang like earrings on the grass and gem both herb and tree. In the quarry to the left half-a-dozen sleek, well-fed rats are busily pursuing their natural instincts, ever ready to vanish at the sight or sound of human or other beings. The white-washed keeper’s house just peeps out of the hollow and you feel there is force behind the words on the notice boards to trespassers, while the dogs bay ominously out of sight. Anon a sudden gust makes the trees tremble from roots to topmost boughs, the leaves of which meanwhile turn the rays of the sun into pointers that are cooled in transit. You pass up a pathway, flagged by nature as evenly as if man had laid it by line and rule, while the loamy, decayed vegetable matter to right and left speak of ages and centuries long past. Truly, this is a retreat for lovers, and there is little wonder that you often all but stumble over them in the hidden bowers around. Nor is it only a place for the young, to love and be loved in, parents with their bounding offspring may be seen disporting themselves, taking their ease, or joining the birds in song, while some vanish like gazelles into the brushwood only to emerge like elfins in the distance, enjoying the confusion of their pursuers as they peer through the boughs with nought visible but their laughing faces. The bilberries have passed their bloom, and now present their luscious black-brown ripefulness in tempting array. As you proceed you emerge into the open, where ferns carpet the earth in serried greens, encircled by trees, the whole making a veritable picture of fairyland. The birds are too restful to sing as they did a month ago, their notes now being short or plaintiff, too satisfied are they for continuous harmony. If you examine the scabbed barks of the trees you will find they lose much of their ugliness on a closer inspection. A rabbit now bobs in front of you like a flash of running light. Shortly a hound will pantingly cross and re-cross your path, hunting on its own account, too wise to give voice for fear of being called back to its kennel. As you examine a wiggin tree you are reminded of the improvised bagpipes of your youth, while the spotless leaves of some of the oaks contrast beautifully with those that were seared and withered in the cold spring. There can be no prettier sight than is Dungeon Wood at the end of July, unless it be when the spring rises from the dead winter, or when autumn changes its greens to all the captivating colours the sun is capable of painting, or maybe when winter gems everything with the brilliant eyes of frost, or clothes everything with the gentle snow. Just now the “broom, fair broom” holds its spear-like points aloft. Haymakers are cutting the grass, turning, mounding and cocking the hay, while some are garnering it in abundance. Insect life is hastening to enjoy as much of summer and sunshine as it can. Life seems to spring from every leaf and blade of grass. My friend the cock-robin is hopping from bough to bough safely in front of me, uttering its note of warning or recognition. Of course I rest on the stile where all lovers sit, and feel the younger for it. Passing into the fields the prospect widens and deepens, and heaven and earth vie with each other in smiling on man and beast. It is needless to say I meet the inevitable pigeon trainer. If there be a man on earth with an object in view it is this man or boy. The Huddersfield Rifles are firing at and, of course, hitting the targets at every shot, indeed they are so busy that you might readily fancy a little war is being fought to the right. On the left I examine a quarry, and see enough to suggest a line of thought as to the history of the earth that will take weeks, months, yea, even years to half reason out. Dungeon Wood again tempts me to its bowers, notwithstanding the “notice boards,” and I will now ask you to accompany me in imagination down the all but dry watercourse through to Big Valley. Though you may have ever present the fear of being prosecuted, you no sooner get among the trees than you feel the breath of freedom in the calm and quiet retreats. The grass is mossy and springs to your footsteps. There is an open encircled by trees, where fairies must dance and elfins play in the twilight and in the dawn. Myriads of insects surround and pursue you. There is a struggle for life everywhere. The wily spider spins its wondrous web and then waits, ready to dart from its lair along its ærial line and make a prisoner and a meal of its giddy, struggling prey.

(Dungeon Wood and Deyn Wood next week.)