Geography is awesome

I love living in the Pennines, the landscape really is stunning. Here in Hebden Bridge, beautiful sandstone mills and houses cling to the steep valley sides, while narrow, twisty roads wind impossibly between them. The valley does present a slight obstacle if, like me, you’re into cycling or running though. Basically, you have a choice between going along the canal, which is a bit dull, taking your chances on the main road with all the lorries and buses, or a brutal ascent up the valley side. If you take the third option, however, you are rewarded with fresh air, amazing views, and an excellent reminder of how the forces of nature have carved out the landscape over thousands of years.

I went for a run to Stoodley Pike this afternoon and on the return leg, saw this beautiful view (the way out was much less pleasant, running uphill into a blinding sun, but maybe that makes it more worthwhile).

Kilnshaw Lane

I love how as you travel up the valley, you can see two kinds of erosion – here to the right, above the green barn, is the side of a classic U-shaped glacial valley. During the last ice age, millions of tons of ice flowed along here, slowly grinding away at the base rock. When the ice melted, a broad,  flat valley was left behind. A slightly better defined example is shown below.

Glacial valley

You want more detail? Of course, this page should tell you everything you need to know about glaciers.

Further over to the left, the valley is cut again by fluvial erosion, as the River Calder wears a V-shaped scar into the landscape. It’s not very clear in the image above, so here is a better view, taken from Hell Hole rocks, below Heptonstall.

Calder Valley

I’ll leave The British Geographer to explain the process in detail, but you can clearly see how the straight valley sides contrast with the curved side above.

I never tire of the views up here, and think that seeing the results of these two processes next to each other always reminds me how awesome Geography is.