Tuesday – mixture of terrain and weather

Although I felt absolutely shattered and really not in the mood to walk again, Bernie and I trudged our way back to the Pennine way – a short meander up a steep farm track.  There was truly no regrets leaving Torside as I found it unbearably noisy, and not really a quiet retreat.  I crossed some fields to the chorusing of sheep bleating their warnings to me – not that I was in the least bit bothered, I just shouted mint sauce at them and trudged on.  The path then followed a small copse of conifers, which was oh so pretty.  My spirits were starting to lift as the sun came out.  As I climbed higher and looked back on Torside, and was able to see the edge of the clough on which I wearily picked my way down in the rain last night.  Blimey, it was a bit high, but it did not bother me, it was now behind me, I was craving to know what was ahead.

Along the way I passed what was obviously school children on an adventure trip, readying themselves for a climb up Black Tor rocks, at least that is what I could only guess as they were all wearing climbing gear and helmets.  They all very childishly and amusingly felt the need to ‘caw’ at me as I passed.  I did have to give my feet and legs a good talking to as they felt they were running out of steam and were stubbornly wanting to rest.  Bernie was deposited on a handy rock so I could get to jelly beans and have a five minute respite, and he tumbled over falling to the ground, taking my camera with him.  I warned him that any further behaviour of that kind would end up with some severe reprimand of some kind – when i could think of what that might be.  I hoisted him back on the rock and sternly told him to stay – anyone witnessing me would really think I had lost the plot!  They would probably be right as well!!!!

Respite over, off we trudged again, this time with a bit more bounce, and that was despite the looming ascent to Laddow Rocks.   It was quite a tough ascent, rocky and awkward in places, then boggy and then rocky again.  I managed to get to the top in one piece, and it was quite a precarious walk along the edge as the path got quite narrow in places and boulders sometimes made progress very challenging.  I regret not getting a photo at the time, but I was determined to get across the precipice.  I could see directly opposite a comunications mast of some kind.  A good opportunity I thought to let Ian know I was ok.  However, no matter how many times I showed my phone the mast, it stubbornly refused to find a signal.  Ok thought I, I will try later on.  Off I carefully trod, picking my way along the path, waving at the sheep below.  Just as I was rounding a particuarly awkward bit, my phone mockingly decided to go bong, indicating I had a signal.  I stopped and found a safe and secure place to sit, fumbled for my phone and yep, there was a text from Ian asking how I was, but come to reply and yep, you guessed, the signal fairy had come and pinched the signal again!  Annoyed, I shoved the phone back in pocket, and carried on.  Got safely to the end of the precarious bit, stumbled and fell on my camera!  Luckily, it was ok and despite being wet, still worked!  Well done Fuji, you built a very sturdy camera which was getting very thoroughly tested!  Picked myself up, adjusted Bernie and off I trudged again, along the grough.  Another Bong, this time, there was a smidging of a signal, so I took the opportunity, to find the battery was very low.  I spoke to Ian and told him I would swap sim card to back up phone but it would mean the tracker would not work.  Sadly, in apple’s wisdom and consideration for ease of use, they had made access to the sim only possible with the aid of a special tool – of course I did not carry this tool with me.  Grrrrr, phone was nearly hurled into the grough, but I reasoned with myself and texted Ian that I was unable to swap phones so only phone me if there was a real need.

Off I continued, and the heavens opened – this time not just power shower, no – mixed in was some hail just to cheer me up!!!  Luckily I had my waterproofs on and I was warm and cosy.  It was easily heard how much water had come down recently as the stream at the bottom of the grough was quite loud.  This was confirmed by two women coming the other way, who cheerily said they walked this path often and had never seen the stream levels so high, and hoped I could swim as the stream had to be crossed several times and it was quite deep in places, but as I had poles, I would be ok.  Nice.  Thanks for that, I could not contain my excitement at the thought of what was to come.  I tried to curb my enthusiasm by eating some more jelly beans.

Sure enough, the path following the grough was very boggy and difficult in places, but I trudged on, not really caring how muddy my trousers were getting.  My spirits were lifted by a man walking his black labrador, who was wearing a rain coat – which was obviously soaked through.  I jokingly pointed out his coat seemed a bit pointless, the man nodded in agreement and said that it really didn’t help when the dog went swimming in it!  I just laughed and sympathised telling him I had a hound equally silly for doing exactly the same kind of thing.   I did come across the stream crossings quite regularly, too many to keep count, and whilst they were obviously higher than normal, they were by no means all that deep.   There was only one that was particularly tricky as the stream mingled with bog, so inevitably I got muddier and wetter than I already was.  Despite this, I was enjoying myself, the sun was coming out, and I could finally see the path starting to climb out of the grough and onto the moors towards the notorious Black Hill.

I reached a stile onto the moor, where I took the opportunity to deposit Bernie onto the step to rest my shoulders for a few minutes, and he obliged by falling over again.  He got another ticking off, and again when I realised my bag of phone chargers had been ejected at the same time.  It was also at this point that I realised that as the sun had emerged again, my sunglasses had last been seen on the top of Luddow Rocks – and that is exactly where they would stay I decided, anyhow, the sun was behind me.  With Bernie securely attached, I climbed the stile, and started across the paved path, which was surrounded by bogs and clumps of cotton.  It really was very pretty.

Black Hill was one of the places I was a little nervous about having read about it in different guide books.  Indeed Wainright despised it, describing it as a boggy mire where men had died getting stuck in the peat, and should be navigated carefully while watching for other unfortunate walkers who may be stuck!!  Another guide book warned that if the weather was wet (was he really trying to be funny???) that you should detour around Black Hill so as not to get stuck in the bog.  With trepidation, I plodded onwards and upwards.  I could see large mounds of peat, which reminded me a little of Bleaklow Head, and as I got to the summit, the path became paved, and although in some places a little submerged in water, absolutely no problem at all.  I reached the triganomitry point at the summit, known as Soldiers Lump.  I am not sure why it got this name, but there was no military reference to it.  There was plenty of boggy ponds around, but as long as you stuck to the paved path, it was really ok.  In fact, I felt it was much safer than Bleaklow Head which I knew had bad boggy patches which you had to traverse, and no warnings about that in any of the guides!!!!  The view from the other side of the hill were absolutely astounding.  I could see Holme Moss, and Rochdale, Manchester – it was gorgeous.  I was a little sad to leave Black Hill, I felt it had been given a hard time,  I am sure without the paving stones it would have been a different matter, but I quite liked it.

The path down from the hill was quite steep and long, but this was eased by the awesome views.  Getting across to the road was a different story.  the path seemed endless, and I was starting to get tired and weary.  It’s funny, no matter how far I plodded, it seemed like someone was building the path further on, making it seem as though the road was not getting any nearer.  Just as I thought it was within reach, there was another grough to navigate down and up.  Oh man I thought, what do I tell my knees???  Whilst the path was very evident, it was more or less made up of large boulders which you had to climb down.  My short legs were certainly getting their work out today, especially after fording the slightly swollen and fast running stream.   The path back out was equally challenging, and I felt like I was rock climbing.  I was now finding it quite tough, but the road was eventually in sight.  I was really exhausted and had to succumb to ringing Ian for some help.  Bless him, he found a taxi service, who quickly found where i was and he had sorted some accomodation out in Diggle.  The taxi driver was brilliant, despite his dodgy three point turn on a major moorland road, which he chose to carry out in a dip – we were narrowly missed by a speeding Audi who was using some colourfull language and hand gestures!  Still he got me to the B&B, which I have to say was a lovely warm and friendly place.  The owner, Bill, had a lovely sense of humour, and could not offer enough assistance.  He apologised for not doing evening meals, but pointed me in the direction of the local pub.  I dumped my bag and made a beeline for the pub – hobbling down with what Ian would describe as having Beer Goggles on.

The pub was delightful, with real ales, and food that was simple and realistically priced, folks were friendly too.  I had assistance from two elderly gentlemen to choose an appropriate ale.  Meal choice made, I went to find a table.  Who should I discover, but the young man who passed me at the beginning of the walk.  I joined him at his table, and we compared experiences.  It was a relief to hear someone with the same difficulties as myself, he was telling me how he  was discarding things from his pack to lighten his load, and he worried when he ran out of clothes!!  He did not carry any maps, but relied entirely on his guide book.  He did not book accommodation in advance, but took pot luck every night, and was staying close to the pub.  He agreed that the last two days had been tough, and he was worried he may have to abandon his walk due to a weak ankle from an old injury, and the paths had been unkind to his feet as they hurt.  This was such a relief to hear as I worried my feet were starting to hurt a little  and was feeling a bit of a wuss about it.

We talked whisky talk with the two elderly gentlemen, and I enjoyed steak and ale pie, followed by summer fruits crumble.  It felt so good!  Looking at the time, I decided an early night was in order, and meandered back to the digs.  I caught up with a little laundry work, and covered all the radiators with various items of clothing.  Then tried to get a signal, but nope, it wasn’t happening.  So out with the penknife, and eventually managed to get the sim card out of the iphone and into the back up phone.  Wey hey, a small signal, but one all the same.  I chatted to Ian, then rang mum and dad to make arrangements about a possible meet at the White House.  This done, the bed felt so comfy, and using the back up phone, I set the alarm for 7am, having told Bill that 8:30 would be a nice time for breakfast.

I awoke early, too early, and feeling pleasantly releived, enjoyed another hour and half in bed thinking of breakfast.  I switched the tv on to check the news out, and to my horror, the time on the tv read 08:10.  No way!!! I checked the phone again, only to find that it was still set to winter times!  Bloody hell.  Trying to rush when your legs are doing a John Wayne impression is not easy, or funny!  I got dressed as quickly as my body would allow, packed Bernie as much as I could, leaving out a tin of Chille Con Carne which I had bought at Torside the night before, I felt it unecessary weight, especially as I would be eating at a pub today, and I still had pasta meals.

Breakfast was lovely, and Bill was charming and looked after me very well.  It was a lovely place to stay, and at £35, was very good value!  I could have stayed longer!  After breakfast, I gave Bill his gift – which he was really enthralled at!! Made sure I had everything packed, including the semi dry laundry which had not quite dried properly.  He then very kindly loaded his car, and drove me to where I needed to be, a service which he said he gave to many walkers who stayed with him.  He did point out I was doing well, especially with the pack as he more often took fed up walkers to the station to go home!  That bucked me up loads, and gave me renewed energy.






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