Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 6 - Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Started walking 10.20am
Distance walked 13 miles
Arrived 5.45pm

My feet were bad in the night. Going out to the YH loo in the early hours, I couldn't put my left foot flat to the floor because of blister discomfort.

At breakfast, I told Mike to go on without me and I would make my own way at my own speed. I went online and ordered a pair of Inov8 trail runners which I hope will be OK. They are to be delivered to Hawes. The Merrell Moab Ventilators I am wearing have not proved successful. I have always been impressed with Inov8s.

I set off late but the weather was reasonable for the laborious climb up the side of Malham Cove. Having dosed myself up with Neurofen, I was very surprised at how OK my feet were although I had taken care with the dressings.

I took my time but kept up a reasonable pace. The path was clear all day and I met no-one after Malham Tarn.

Most swept across the path and rain started as I began the descent from Fountains Fell but I made good progress. I missed out the ascent of Pen-y-Ghent and took the path down to Horton where, as I opened the gate, I was hit my an absolute hooly of a wind. This continued for quite a while as I made my way down for the first mile or so but the wind then gradually dropped and the rain stopped. Not a bad day, considering. Am camped at Holme Farm campsite.

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Monday, 29 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 5 - Ickornshaw to Malham

Started walking 7am
Walked 18 miles
Arrived 5pm

Off early; the rain from overnight had stopped. We passed through Lothersdae, noting that the Hare and Hounds was shut, although it was only 8.30. Coffee would have been nice.

We climbed up to cross Carleton and Elslack Moors, both easy walking. Our snack stop was in Thornton-in-Craven but it had nothing else to offer. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was joined for a short stretch at East Marton, but we pressed on to Gargrave. In the absence of an open cafe, we had a bite to eat at The Old Swan.

Double arched bridge at East Marton
We then had six miles to cover to reach Malham. The forecast the day before yesterday had been for heavy rain today so we had booked in to Malham YH. The rain didn't materialise but we have proper beds for a change. Here was Frank who I met last week on Sheffield station.

Painkillers have been helpful today for the blisters.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 4 - Callis Bridge to Ickornshaw

Started walking 7.15am
Walked 15 miles
Arrived 5.30pm

Woke to a light rain at 5am but it had cleared by the time we left. We were able to take a short cut back to the PW. The somewhat overgrown narrow walled path dropped down to cross Colden Water over a "clapper" bridge.

Clapper bridge
A steep climb brought us to the amazing May's Shop at Highgate Farm where bought a few essential foody bits and bobs. The Way then went over a clear moorland path to Gorple Lower Reservoir, past two other reservoirs and then past the ruin of Top Withins where had a lunch break. Being Sunday, there were a fair number of folk walking up from Haworth.

There was a steep climb up from Ponden Reservoir to more moorland. The path across Ickornshaw Moor was stone slabbed - what a change from my last visit in 1975 when the weather was foul and my companion and I floundered across - it was plain awful.

Ickornshaw Moor

We are camped at Squirrel Wood Camping - in a large garden, excellent facilities and the company of the larger than life owner, Ady.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 3 - Standedge to Callis Bridge

Started walking 7am
Distance walked 15 miles
Arrived 6pm

Stirring at our now usual 5am, all was quiet but there was a thick fog, cool but still quite mild.

We took the path a little way up the road by the Great Western Inn, although I was reminded later that there is an unofficial path that avoids a road walk just opposite the Carriage House.

Cotton grass

After half a mile or so, we rejoined the Pennine Way, also for a while the Oldham Way as well, as they follow the same route. We were on a clear high level path, passing over Millstone Edge with lovely clear views westwards, small villages and the odd reservoir. Crossing the A640 Huddersfield Road, the views continued until we dropped down to cross over the M62 bridge.

Climbing again, we reached the Aiggin Stone, an old guide post for travellers 600 years old - the plaque alongside it was somewhat ambiguous.

We stopped for refreshment at the White House. Here, we met Darren from Cheshire, also walking a section of the PW. He had also been camping at our previous two nights locations.

We then had a long stretch of level walking alongside reservoirs, being diverted around Warland Reservoir, which had been drained and works were going on. Stoodley Pike monument came into view in the distance. Along the way, we met Peg and John from Iowa, B&B-ing the PW. We shall doubtless see more of them. We went up the 39 unlit steps of Stoodley Pike. Views all round from the viewing balcony were superb but we needed to move on for the long descent to the Calder Valley just outside Hebden Bridge. The ascent the other side was steep, winding and long and we were glad to reach our planned camp at Badger Fields Farm. Rain is coming on and it is quite blustery. I have made good use of the extra guys I made for the tent!

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Friday, 26 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 2 - Crowden to Standedge

Started walking 7.15am
Distance walked 13 miles
Arrived 4pm

Another fine morning with the promise of heat and an absolutely clear sky. It was a long gradual haul, although with some steep sections, up to Laddow Rocks. Here the path was narrow and cut into the hillside with some dramatic drops to our right. Care was needed. We stopped for second breakfast and coffee at Crowden Great Brook.

The view at second breakfast
After that, much of the Way was paved as it wound its way over moorland up to Black Hill, which is no longer black. Over the years, it has been replanted and is now very pleasant, although it would be pretty wild at other times of the year.

Black Hill

We went on to the A635 at Wessenden Head but were disappointed that the expected snack van wasn't there. We stopped for lunch by Wessenden Head Reservoir when we came across a wooden bench seat - not to be passed up.

There was a steep descent and immediate ascent near the southern end of Butterley Reservoir.

Then it was quite level walking, paved in parts, alongside Black Moss Reservoir to meet the Standedge Trail where we went left to the A62. A verge walk brought us to the Carriage House where we are camped at the rear. We have enjoyed some Turkish food. I camped and ate here on my LEJOG in 2009.

I have some rather painful blisters but these have been dealt with for the second night running. Let's hope they improve tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 1 - Edale to Crowden

Started walking 7.30am
Distance walked 16 miles
Arrived 6.30pm

Ready for the off - note the hair - shorn to a no 3
At the foot of Jacob's Ladder

Today was clear and sunny all day, quite hot at times. It started gently with a level walk across fields, passing through the little hamlet of Barber Booth before arriving at the foot of Jacob's Ladder, a stone stepped path, man made. The ascent wasn't difficult, just a steady ascent, quite steep. We stopped at the top in the only bit of shade available for a snack and I brewed some coffee.

Once we were on the Kinder plateau, the walking was quite easy to Kinder Downfall. There was very little water there and we were able to take a little shortcut across the stream. The clear path continued along the edge of the plateau before arriving at a steep stony descent and immediate ascent to Mill Hill. Here the PW turned right along a clear slabbed path over Featherbed Moss to cross the A57. We stopped for lunch just past Doctor's Gate, the course of a Roman Road.

The way to Bleaklow Head, unmistakeable with its large cairn and pole sticking out, was quite long and we stopped for a brief photo shoot before pressing on and then bearing west.

The long descent to Torside and its reservoir seemed to go on forever. We had some lovely clear views but the narrow path was quite rocky and undulating. Once across the end of the reservoir the path entered some woodland and then a narrow road to the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Crowden. Excellent showers. Today has been long and we were quite tired but a good day nonetheless. There were a fair number of other walkers, mainly just out for the day.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Pennine Way Day 0 and a half at Edale

Having brought my Wainwright Pennine Way Companion vintage 1975 with me, I decided on a walk this morning along the old course of the PW. This involved a rocky clamber up Grindslow Clough to the Kinder plateau. It certainly got the leg muscles working. The day being sunny and clear, the views were pretty good. There was a stone slab path and so I assumed that the old PW route to Kinder Downfall had been made easier but this isn't the case. The old route continued unpaved and although it was tempting to follow it, time didn't allow. Instead, the stone slabs took me up to Grindslow Knoll and it was then a long descent back to Edale for lunch and a lazy afternoon. I found I had a phone signal on the descent and ascertained that Mike is at Castleton, in the neighbouring valley.

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Pennine Way Day 0 - Home to Edale

I caught the 488 bus to Banbury which gave me 30 minutes to wait at Banbury station. The bus station is less than five minutes walk from the rail station. The train arrived just a couple of minutes late. I made my way to my seat and immediately a head came round from the seat in front with a perky "Hello Geoff". It was Howard Kelly, fellow Backpackers Club member, travelling up from further south with his lady friend, Audrey, to walk St. Cuthbert's Way. The journey passed in no time. I got off at Sheffield. The last time I had been here was 1975 when I started the Pennine Way for my first ever backpack.

On the station, also waiting for the train to Edale, I got into conversation with Frank, also planning to walk the Pennine Way, but with two packs, the larger one (and it was massive) was being transported for him each day by Brigantes. Neither pack had any food in them, nor means of cooking, so I really don't know what he had packed. Anyway, he was good company and no doubt our paths will cross from time to time during the next three weeks.

I pitched at Cooper's Farm campsite where other BPC members had arrived for a mid week meet so it was nice to be with friends. I now have to wait until Mike turns up either tomorrow or Thursday. There is no phone signal here so I have no way of making contact with him.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Pennine Way 2017

A long held plan has been to backpack the Pennine Way in one trip. My first ever multi-day backpacks were over 1975, 1976 and 1977 when, with a friend, I did the PW. I described these in an earlier post.

Since then, I have covered sections of the PW but now I have a great opportunity coming up next week when I join Mike Menzel at Edale. He is currently walking from Lands End to John o'Groats and blogging at http://off4ahike.wordpress.com. I shall wait until he reaches Edale and we shall then set off together. I have just about everything packed/ready to pack. There are still a few decisions to make regarding kit. I had planned to use a Laser Competition 1 tent without the inner but I am now wavering and thinking I shall take the inner. It was fine last month for the few nights I had in the Peak District but I am now thinking of windy nights when I could get showered with condensation and my down quilt wouldn't like it. On the other hand, maybe I should take a bivy bag instead of the inner (an Alpkit Hunka). It's a little heavier than the inner but it would double up as an survival bag.

Food - I shall take five days of food and pick up a resupply parcel at Hawes. For the last week or so, I shall rely on buying food as I go. Food can be heavy, even though much of what I will be carrying has been dehydrated. My food bag for the first five days weighs 2.5kg and this is not insignificant. However, I will be eating the food I want and I know, largely, what has gone into it. My pack, including 500ml of meths, but minus food and water, will be just over 6kg or 13.5lb so that's not too bad. Given that there are shops regularly along the way, I could do it differently and maybe I should on a future trip. It really comes down to personal choice.

I've got some last minute tweaking to do!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Backpackers Club Annual Gathering 2017

After an uneventful train journey to Manchester and then changing for the Manchester - Sheffield train, I arrived at Edale mid afternoon. I debated whether to immediately start walking south and eventually find somewhere to wild camp overnight. In the end, laziness triumphed and I booked in at Coopers Campsite. I went for a wander a mile or so up the old Pennine Way route towards Grindsbrook Clough and back again. It was a lovely sunny afternoon. After supper, I turned in early to get a good night's sleep.

Setting off at 6.15 next morning, I took the lane, and then track, up the side of Mam Tor. There was no-one else around which suited me just fine. After a couple of miles, I joined the Limestone Way, which I was to follow for the next two days. Signposts made the going easy and the countryside was very pleasant. I stopped for breakfast just into Hay Dale.

At Millers Dale I stopped to pass the time of day with Grace, who was following a round Derbyshire route, over ten days, being picked up by her husband each afternoon and being delivered back the next day. she obviously thought I looked in need of nourishment and gave me a back of nuts & raisins and some dried figs.

I arrived at the Bull i' th' Thorn pub in the afternoon to pitch for the night. Here, I met George Crawforth, a fellow BPC member as another club member, Dave Longden, had arranged a walk-in the the Summer Gathering from here. Other backpackers turned up as time went on.

Next morning, Howard Kelly and I set off together, going through Monyash (of course, stopping at the café there for coffee and a bacon and egg roll) and then making our way to Youlgrave where we found the Peak Feast Bakery. We sat outside scoffing a homity pie each. Really delicious.

We then walked on to our night's stop at the Miners Standard at Winster. I'd stayed here a couple of times before and it is popular with the Backpackers Club. Yet more Club members had arrived.

Howard and I continued along the Limestone Way the next day, chatting as we went and arrived at Parwich (Foufinside Farm) for the BPC Summer Gathering. Quite a few tents had already been pitched and many more appeared as the day went on and yet more came the next day. It was good to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. A couple of traders put in a welcome appearance, Backpackinglight and Mountain Trails

The weekend as a whole was excellent. On the Sunday, Sean Putnam and I walked over to Tissington and enjoyed sitting outside with a pot of tea watching the world go by. This was a good trial run for the Pennine Way next month. Carrying a full pack for the first time since the op was fine, although to cut down weight, I shall be using just the fly of my Laser Competition tent.