Adding to Steve’s account of this walk, I have gleaned some info from ‘Flora of Todmorden’ published 1911. This flora was compiled decades after the deaths of Stansfield and Nowell, from records gathered by them in the early to mid 19thC.
But before I go on and in case the following article is not of interest, can I arrest your attention by mentioning a reference to a book by Mr. Stackhouse — Map of Rocks published 1831, in which there are large lithographs and descriptions of many of the major named Rocks in the valley. I can find no reference to this book anywhere and I have searched the internet. If anyone has any knowledge of it I would love to hear.
For the aficionados; please read-on
The Flora of Tod states there is a calcareous grit outcrop in Harley Wood Scout (near to our walk) and “This stratum arrested our attention many years ago, in consequence of finding several calcareous plants growing upon it. These were Wall Rue, Maiden Hair Spleenwort, Carline Thistle and Wood Melic and some others” (pity they weren’t listed). (I have never seen Wood Melic in that area).
On our walk it was mentioned that Frank Murgatroyd had a record for a Filmy Fern; but it seems no one had ever found it and doubts was expressed about the suitability of the habitat where Frank said it was.
I wonder if he was bringing to mind this early record from the Flora of Todmorden where there is a record of Tunbridge filmy-fern being common above Springs at Harley Wood (Lydgate). The book goes on to say this filmy fern was destroyed by the getting of stones for building the Burnley Railway (built in 1840’s). Maybe Frank was passing on this record and perpetuating the plants existence? Although the site he mentioned was not near the stone quarry. Perhaps not all plants were destroyed? “The gametophyte is likely to be inconspicuous with a narrow ribbon-like thallus” –Wikipedia.
The walk went past the Orchan rocks. The Flora of Tod gives this info “We come now to the Orken, or Orchan stone: or as spelt in a deed of 1491 Ork-ndstone. The name as pronounced by the inhabitants is none other than the Gaelic word meaning incantation; or in the Irish dialect of the Celtic, ‘Orcain’, a murder or killing. In the ordnance survey the word is spelt Hearkenstone but we apprehend this is wrong. Though the name is applied to the whole group of rocks, the real Orchan Stone is the large, square, isolated block which stands nearly in situ, whilst the others around it have been tumbled down in the utmost confusion. The stratum a few yards to the north of the Orchan Stone, remains in situ and has only been disturbed here and there.”
“Some years ago a number of masons and quarrymen laid siege to this fine mass of rocks, and it was at our earnest request , and from the good sense of the proprietor (the amiable T. Ramsbotham) that this piece of reckless destruction was prevented.”
Mr, Stansfield also refers to ludicrous names given to these stones in the “History of the Parish of Halifax”. Mr. Stansfield has the riposte “His informant must have been some ignoramus of the lowest grade, totally unfamiliar with the district”. (Todmordians have always been expressive in their opinions)!!