1723 and all that by Karen Alderson


Journey 5

The walk begins at the end of Syke Lane where it meets the A629 Keighley Road. I’m not looking forward to this bit of the journey and, although it is a Saturday morning, the traffic is busy and noisy. A speed limit of 50mph is in force, there are 3 sets of speed cameras, I stop and look at one of the cameras, it has a police notice that says “Property of Crown UK” which makes me think of the Tower of London and Anne Boleyn. It has an image of a crown inferring a medieval threat of decapitation. I quickly move on rubbing my neck.


The road is wide, there is a designated pavement, there is no litter, no dumping, possibly due to the high level of surveillance. There is a feeling of expanse, like an American freeway, the juxtaposition of a fast road in a rural environment, of being monitored alongside the wildness, a controlled speed taming the inner teenager who wants to put their foot down and tear up the road.  I walk towards Illingworth feeling disjointed, I’m the only pedestrian apart from a male jogger wearing small, tight bright pink shorts and who seems to know a lot of motorists.

I pass the Moorlands Inn that has 4 imitation trees at its entrance.


lllingworth has a plethora of parked cars, a mix of new builds and older properties, I am bursting to go to the toilet and know there is a supermarket further down the road. As I’m stomping towards Morrisons, eyes straight ahead, not in the slightest bit interested in anything, I pass St. Mary’s church. I decide to return once I’ve been to the toilet. Biological drives obliterate the capacity to slow down and appreciate beauty, a lot of people are surviving in a culture that demands they work long hours for little pay, rushing to work, to school, to the supermarket. No wonder we do not stop and really appreciate who we are, where we are, how important other people are to us, I didn’t want to.

At St. Mary’s church I climb stone steps littered with broken glass. At the top are flat grave stones dating back to 1723. Metal plates are screwed to all the windows and main door, this church is not in use, so other creatures have: a bird has made its nest in the box that encases the CCTV camera. It is strangely quiet even though it is only metres from the main road and still offers a place of reflection and stillness. I try to imagine how different this place would have been in 1723 which spurs me to go to Halifax library after the walk and acquaint myself with the reference section, the librarian is more than helpful, afterwards I bump into a long lost friend who kisses me unexpectedly on the lips, it’s a day of surprises.



I walk past Morrisons, there are a lot of people busy with their Saturday morning shopping. I look out of place with a camera around my neck, I continue walking down Keighley Road and am getting suspicious stares and decide not to do anymore filming.  I feel anxious and instead of walking the route back I catch the bus and alight at the edge of Pavement Lane. On the corner of Syke Lane I notice a metal sign that has been hit by a vehicle, across the road a wall has been rebuilt after another collision. All these hidden clues of undocumented & unmarked car crashes. I drive back to Todmorden and at the garage pass the scene of a car accident involving a cyclist, a car and a Landrover pulling a trailer. I can hear the sirens of approaching emergency vehicles. I wonder if I should change my research topic to holidays in the Bahamas.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s