Huddersfield Chronicle (25/Aug/1894) - Dungeon Wood and Deyn Wood

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.")

Other wingless creatures are hunting in the grass among decayed or decaying matter for their subsistence, to be in turn pursued, caught, and eaten by others of greater speed or subtler cunning. All seem, however, to have a chance of liberty and the power to elude or escape their enemies, but, like careless mankind, many heedlessly rush into the jaws of danger and death. Innumerable ants are as industriously teaching the sluggard to work and be wise as they did in the days of Solomon. The blue-bottle is surfeiting itself with corruption, heedless of the approaching wasp, which alights, seizes it, deftly amputates its wings and legs, rolls it into a ball, and then flies off with the trunk to the nest not far away. Still fearless, the winged throng seem to revel in your breath, and will not be denied the closest inspection. Even in the centre of the wood some W. H. S. has cut his initials on the silvery bark of a tree, while those of another have thickened their lips with age, the carver of which has, doubtless, joined the majority long ago. If you do not watch your feet down you will go into the ravine to your hurt. Notwithstanding the recent rain there is but a trickle in the watercourse. Still the long grass on its bed holds in suspense big drops that saturate your boots as you wade through it. Decayed tree trunks are to the right and left almost at every step. If you seize one as a means of support it probably will deceive you and down you will both roll into the hollow, on looking up from which your attention may be attracted to a wondrous hiding-place beneath the rocks. There is a bewildering variety of nature’s beautiful profusion. Deep holes and gullies put you at rest as to the meaning of “Dungeon Wood.” Poppies rise gracefully and beautifully pose their bells in obeisance and in welcome to you, while tall, exquisitely spreading ferns extend their wings and rise as high as possible in order to take their summer sun-bath. The elders are also in full bloom, and are scattering their starry petals as the rounded green berries assume a fruitful shape, and beneath them you feel you could hide from your pursuers for days together, or if called away by death from your kind for years. Fairly in the centre of it all you find a well, carefully protected, which shows that man has not long since made use of it if he does not now. Even here the honey-bee is busy, in fact, the hum of industry is all around. Deeper and deeper you go till the sides of your prison rise almost perpendicularly to the zenith, overhanging you with redundant vegetation indescribably varied and fair. A woman’s voice is now heard, as it were from heaven, on the left, calling her fowls to their afternoon’s meal. So high is the sound, yet so clear is the tone, but distance softens its harmony. Again the dogs give voice, and you every moment expect them to come rushing down the steep to question your right to be where you are. Lower and lower you go, until the scene broadens and the sun smiles through it all in brilliant softness. Ages have worn off the rocks, while the shaley formations have been peeled and scattered by wind and rain, and then washed away as seasons have come and gone. Several barrels have found a resting-place in the depths, not worth the labour of being recovered, while wheels and the inevitable old hat and shoe show that mankind are not far away. The skulls of animals are scattered about, and decayed matter shows how it forms a basis and support for newer life. Here is the wild raspberry, and the high railway embankment that now blocks your way is studded with flowers of every hue, just to the right is scooped out a wonderful groove, the result of many years of sudden gushing storms as they emptied into the waiting beck below. You now feel more imprisoned than ever. To right, to left, and in front you are, as it were, caught like a rat in a hole with a tunnel outlet, 3ft. high and fully 90 yards beneath the railway, as a means of escape. You peer through, and if not afraid of a dark hole you enter the passage and tramp on as the water drops from the roof on to you, lured by the outlet in the distance, which seems little bigger than your hand, only to find when you reach it that you must either retrace your steps or wade through 2ft. of water. Possibly you will do the former, and when you emerge with your clothing more or less damaged and besmeared you will climb to the legal highway, and as you then examine the tunnel’s outlet you may conclude that it is wise to be sure of a dry means of escape before you risk yourself in such a burrow again.[1]

If you have not had enough you may then fancy Deyn Dike is at your feet, with its laughing waters bubbling and singing in front of you, and that you are making its windings your guide into and through Deyn Wood. As you wade up its crystal delight, or make its mossy, slippery boulders and rocks your stepping-stones, you will find a wonderful transformation from a dry watercourse to one that runs on for ever. You have trees to right and left, fringed with grassy slopes, while gurgling waters greet you with gladness and sparkle in the light and shade. Possibly you may be startled by the plunging of a water-rat, but that cunning creature will be out of sight in an instant, and as quickly will the common trout flash from view to its secure retreat. Life, teeming, active life, is met with at every step. So pronounced is the change from one wood to another that you must marvel at it, and conclude that water is the key that ever opens to view the living wonders of creation. As you advance, the waters dance and play, scooping out and carrying off the soft soil, and by constant running wearing the rocks away, but so slow is the process that in a lifetime you scarcely perceive the change. The fall being great the stream is rapid and has long ago carved out its rocky bed, over which it meanders or gallops with a mirthfulness that knows no rest. To the right the trees seem to reach to heaven and shake hands with the clouds. To left the sloping foliage is as pronounced but not so high. You see that mighty rocks have been hurled from the quarries on each side, and you wonder how you would fare if one came leaping down while you are there. The sturdy thistle is in full bloom and seems to delight in the rugged scene. The mushroom lifts its white dome in the meadow to the right, while fungi innumerable surround decay, and show that death is a necessity to life. In a shady nook the water is banked deep enough for a boys’ bath, and you think of the days when you stole your first baths, plunging into the running stream, and then raced in the sunshine to dry, or maybe scampered off with your clothes in your arms, now dropping a clog and then a stocking as the shouting keeper drew nearer. Although on the look-out, you are certain to be startled again by the flopping of another beautiful trout, heard but perhaps too quick for sight, whose retreat is secure enough beneath the rocks. Miniature waterfalls, cataracts, and rapids are now numerous as the gully becomes deeper and the windings more pronounced. The stream is frequently bridged by trees which lie where they have fallen, and seem likely to lie there undisturbed for an age. Then after many slippings and splashings the vista opens, the sounds of the stream die to the faintest murmur, and you enjoy a scene of perfect peace and solitude. This is a picture which paints itself in everlasting colours on your memory. The bank to the right is ablaze with the pretty eyes of flowers, others cling closely to the waters, and you now fully realise that “Many a flower is born to blush unseen,” and shed its sweetness on the babbling stream as well as on the desert air, at least unseen by the eyes of man, but I always find that where there is a flower there are hundreds of eyes to look at it; the searcher for honey will not be deterred by apparent difficulties, while nature ever makes provision for propagating life after its kind, and for turning decay and death into the means of evolving newer life and beauty. Here milkmaids, forget-me-nots, buttercups, golden marsh mallows, stately and towering ferns, poppies all round, and the persistent rush look up to the trees and smile through the lattice at the peeping sun. You may also have a delightful study of butterflies, and even if a lifelong observer of insect life you are almost certain to meet with something new and infinitely beautiful in that line. On each hand are seen the burrowed retreats of canning four-footed animals, which doubtless heard your approach and are now safely watching you from their dark holes. A stream at right-angles to the one you are wading comes leaping from the height, in a terrible hurry to find a level. It is hidden most of the way, revealing itself in feathery cascades at jutting points, tunneling the arched long grasses and brushwood, until with a gashing jump it kisses you with its welcome spray, and you bend and drink and fully feel that nature’s wine, so soft, so sweet, so pure, so cool, and so free is the best. The honeysuckle, the raspberry, the broad-leaved dock, and the wild rhubarb are near and among all this beauty. In a deep and sombre hollow a family of trout flop from sight, and you think how delightful it would be if the Holme and the Colne were pure and sweet enough to find wholesome homes for such finny happiness to disport in. After another rapid is climbed a veritable earthly Paradise presents itself, and though not anxious to leave such an Eden you see the sinking sun is ready, not far away, to give you its full rays without a shade other than a passing cloud. It is just possible as you rest here that you will be ashamed you have never fondly gazed on this grand and varied piece of nature’s handiwork before. Within a stone’s-throw of the high road, with a footpath overlooking it, when the rivulet is swollen by sudden rains, your eyes may feast on as grand water pictures here as anywhere in the district. If you are wise you will now attend to your toilet in the open air, and if so you will find that mankind can even live and be clean as they washed and were healthy before soap was invented, or advertising practised in savage or civilised lands. Then cooled and refreshed, you will tear yourself away from the place or fall into temptation again, and this time pass along the beaten track to Shady Bower, there to find yourself amid a dancing, laughing throng of children, who search out this bower, as a bee does its flower, by instinct. The highway and legality once more reached you look down the gully and feel rewarded for the struggles you have endured, and in the fulness of your heart also feel prompted to complain that your fellow-man, in present possession, should block the way to such grandeur by forbidding boards, reminding his non-possessing kind that he has selfishly made himself a law to prohibit them from sharing that which should be shared by all, and be as free of approach by man as it is by bird, by wind, by rain, and by sunshine.

(Crosland and a Church Sparrow next week.)


  1. From the description, it seems "Cid" crawled through the water culvert which emerges into Dean Wood below Nether Moor Road.