I was delighted to be invited to speak to Year 6 at South Crosland CE Junior School recently, especially because Huddersfield Literature Festival awarded my visit as a prize for a schools writing competition. I discovered that the pupils are also keen illustrators when I set them a quick drawing activity and they all came up with a great array of characters. I always get a real buzz from seeing what young people can invent within a short period of time!

I didn’t know much about Huddersfield so before my event I asked teachers to set the pupils another short writing competition to describe some of the coolest and most atmospheric places in their area. Not only did I have a very enjoyable visit, but I left with a sheaf of their writings. The pupils wrote intriguing profiles of some interesting and unusual places. It was tough to choose an overall winner so I selected two top entries and four honourable mentions. And here they are!

First is Mia’s twist on the local legend of Devil’s Rock:

We’re told that the Devil jumped from there to Castle Hill but I don’t believe that. I’m sorry but it’s sooo cheesy! I mean really! The only thing is: I think my theory about Devil’s Rock is worse. I believe that it was a ship and Netherton was the coast line… The creaking boat crashed around as the wind savagely rocked it along its path. Well, almost its path. The captain had lied that they were taking a detour to avoid the worst of it but they were actually being mercilessly dragged astray from their winding path. CRASH! The boat was destroyed in one second but half of it indented the rock, lost souls of the sea forever enclosed in the dank yet treacherous rock.

Here is the beginning of a story that made me want to find out what happened next – and it was fun that Katie used my characters Sunni and Blaise:

Sunni carried on walking through the mud, the type that seeps onto your feet, soaking everything. She could feel the ancient train tracks as her wellies sunk through. Walking, walking and more walking. It took ages for Sunni and her best friend Blaise to walk through the vast woods leading to the end. To the wall. The tall dark trees arched over their heads. However, nothing was going to stop them now. The end was in sight. Eventually they were able to touch the damp, jagged wall. At the bottom there was a tiny, rusty gate. It started to rattle. The wind started to howl. There was a sharp echo. Something was coming…

Now for the honourable mentions. Lauren’s description of Devil’s Rock had a great atmosphere:

Devil’s Rock. A creepy, haunted cliff that has a scary giant’s footprint on it. Some say that hundreds of years ago a fierce giant called Hungrybones lived there! Over the years disgusting green moss has formed over the sharp rocks that stick out like pointy knives. Now and again the giant comes back to haunt his home once again…

Daisy’s story of a painting showing its artist on Devil’s Rock was intriguing:

The painting hung high above the dining room in the old house. Devils Rock. A huge rock with sharp teeth like stones sticking in odd places. Trees of ivy green stood stock still around the pointed rock, enclosing it in their branchy arms. It was clear to see the artist who painted the rock, whoever he was, was sat at the very edge of the hidden cliff. Twelve people stood with their arms around each other on the vast rock; they were all smiling. In fact some were even waving. You could not see most of the group’s feet due to the mossy green grass which had formed on the rock over time. One person was on their knees; he was pointing at a large footprint shaped mark set in front of the people. It was this foot print shaped mark that created the myth of Devil’s Rock.

I liked Callum’s description of a mysterious figure at Holmfirth Jail:

In Holmfirth, there is an old, half demolished jail house. There is a rumour that at night a mysterious figure climbs out of the bars and stands staring lifelessly at people and if they stare at him for too long they will gradually become a large rock. At morning he climbs back in and no one knows what he does in the day time…

Poppy’s description of Goblin Gorge could be the start of a spooky story:

Beaumont Park. Even the name gives me shivers down my bony spine. Nothing is more scary than an old abandoned train track called Goblin Gorge. Trees, never ending, congested the woods. The park is usually quiet at night except for the gloomy, cold, thick air that only the goblins can breathe in…

Thanks to all the Year 6 pupils for their contributions!