Wednesday and walk to the Pub!

I waved goodbye to Bill as he abandoned me in the Carpark at Stanedge.  The weather forecast was bleak.   The nice lady on the TV had cheefully said to expect heavy showers, and some of them thundery, not to worry though as later on in the week the showers would become dryer!  (Eh???? Dry Showers???? I could do with them type!).  As such, I was dressed accordingly with waterproofs and gloves on.  Northwards I set, and off I trudged.  The way crossed with the Pennine Bridleway here, and it could be a bit confusing.  I picked out where I should be and climbed up and onto the heathland.  To my dismay, I found a kissing gate to get through.   I wondered just how many I would come across.  Off Bernie came as there just was not enough room for the two of us, and he was maneouvered through.  That done, I could see back over Stanedge and beyond.   Wow, I had come a fair way.  Off I strolls again, the strong westerly wind flapping my map around, but it was still dry.  There were a lot of menacing clouds around, but no rain.

Another Kissing gate crossed my path and i decided there must be a better way of doing this without having to take Bernie off all the time.  I found, it.  If I straddled the inner sides of the gate hole so Bernie was above the fence, then opened the gate below me, it was so much easier!  Anne – 1, Gate – 0!  My joy was short lived as there before me, right on the path, all laid down looking unimpressed, were a herd of white cattle.  I couldn’t walk around them, so had to carefully tread past them.  Relief followed when none of them paid any attention, and I did not have to do a pathetic attempt at running with my pack on!  I was quite pleased to see the next kissing gate I can tell you!

The path progressed very nicely over the moors to another road, and it was such a pleasant walk with the path being easy going after yesterdays rock climbing!  Crossed the road, to climb the moor to the top of White Hill.   The moor was swathed with cotton and looked very pretty.  Although a little boggy in places, again the path was relaxing and the views were spectacular.  The only niggly little thing was that my waterproof trousers kept creeping down, to the point where i was getting really annoyed with them.  (Clearly Bernie was relieved something else was getting my wrath instead of him!)  I descended slowly to yet another road, and i could hear roar of the M62 long before I saw it.  It was like a huge moving snake across the moor.  It looked quite spectacular in the glory of the sun which now was shining!  As I crossed the road and made my way to the high footbridge which crosses the M62, I started to get texts from folk wishing me well, which was lovely to keep me spurred on and motivated.

It felt quite wierd walking across the motorway at such a height and the noise was unbelievable! I paused at the middle to take the obligatory photos, before continuing onwards.  Pause again at the end of the bridge to pull the bloody trousers up again – fear not, I did not cause any accidents by pulling any unintentional moonies on the bridge!  Another climb, this time to another notorious part of the walk – Redmires.  Apparently very boggy, and yep, it did live up to it’s reputation.  It was a bit of a quagmire, but I managed it, and continued the climb up to blackstone edge, stopping every so often to pull the trousers up.  Seriously, I may need to invest in some braces if this continues!

Now I had made a date to meet parents at the White House between 1pm and 1:30, given they stop serving meals at 2pm, I realised that my mess up with the time this morning was meaning it would be a bit of scrape to get there in time (I didn’t actually start walking until 10am – abysmal I know).  A worried Ian called as he could see where I was, and wanted to know if he should place an order.  Then I rang mum to reassure her that I wasn’t all that far away – really I wasn’t.  She called me back to say they were going to be late because the moorland road was blocked and they were following a detour.  It was a race against time, but i was feeling so confident.

This was shattered on reaching the summit of Blastone Edge.  The path just disappeared amongst the many strewn boulders, and following what i believed to be the correct path, led me partway down the side of the crag, and I was rock climbing again.  Some rock climbers nodded at me in wonderment as I jostled Bernie over rocks and along the very narrow path.  Eventually I found where i needed to be and was off at a pace again, checking my watch it was only 1:45.  I passed over a roman road – but no time for photos, well ok one of the sprawl of Littleborough below me.  Eventually the pub was in sight just around the corner, and so was the green Saab. We both made it just in time, and the landlady was expecting us, having received orders for 3 rump steaks with egg.

I plonked Bernied down on a bench in the foyer, and left waterproof jacket there and made a beeline for the wc.  Here, I discovered the problem of the falling down trousers – I had only managed to put them on back to front!  What a wally I felt!  Sorted that out, and as I approached the table, I adjusted my top to find i had put it on inside out.  There really was no hope was there!!!  It’s a good job Ian wasn’t with me, he would be so ashamed!

However, food soon arrived, and I downed half a pint of orange squash, followed by a pint of lager.  I managed the steak, but left most of the chips and veg as I was too full to eat any further.  For those who may not believe what they have just read, yes, I definately said I was too full to finish my meal – a first for me I know.  It was 15:30 before we were eventually persuaded out of the pub, and I bid farewell to mum and dad before plodding along the path by the reservoir.  My feet were definately starting to feel a little sorer than usual, and I feared I would not make it to my next destination at Badger Hill Farm at the other side of Charlestown – the other side of the gorge.  I rang to say I would not make it for 6pm for the evening meal, but would be there at some point this evening.  She asked where I was and agreed I still had a fair distance to go yet.  The clouds were menacing and actually looked as if they meant it this time.  Although the path was really good, I wasn’t really enjoying the walk as much now, in fact, rump steak probably made me feel too sleepy.  The path followed the edge of a couple of reservoirs, which seemed to expand in size as I walked along them.   The last reservoir certainly did.  I eventually got to the end, and looking at the clouds all closing in, I suddenly felt really tired and that I could not go any further today.  Spying a place where my tent could go, I phoned Ian to give him my intention, and he phoned Badger Hill for me so I could get my tent up and sort myself out.  I was releived in a way as it meant I would get a reasonably early night.  Not brilliant time when wild camping as you are supposed to camp as late as possilbe and leave as soon as possible the following morning.  However, needs must.  I gave up with trying to find somewhere dry, the moor was waterlogged – if I hear any newscaster mention water shortage or drought, I may have to resort to violence.

Lade my mat out, followed by plastic bag, followd by sleeping bag.  Arranged Bernie in a suitable place, undressed and climbed in my sac and that was it, instant sleep.  I awoke at about 8.30pm to the sound of voices who were clearly intrigued by my tent, what batty type would be on the moors at that time??? ok, what OTHER batty type would be on the moors at that time – some cyclists, I could hear the squeal of their brakes.  Eventually all went quiet after 9pm, and the wind started as did the rain.  As a comfort, I rang Ian and chatted to him for a while, taking comfort from hearing his voice.  I was cosy and I was warm, just my feet were still bothering me.

I drifted off again, and was woken at 4:30 by some cheerful little bird singing it’s heart off.  Slept for a further hour and half, then decided I should get up.  This is where things started to go downhill.  Firstly, I decided I wished I were a bloke, and blokes need to appreciate this!  I was absolutely desperate for a wee.  So I got dressed as hurridly as possible when your body is stiff and complaining.  Squeezed my painful feet into my boots, hurried outside and found relief.  The sky was very dark and very menacing.  I decided time to get the tent packed away quick before the clouds unleashed their very heavy load.

Went back in tent, undressed and freshened up, redressed and started looking for breakfast – tin of mackerel will do with some jelly beans.  Yum, that was such an enjoyable breakfast compared to yesterday ( I wonder if Bill does delivery service).   Started to pack and organise Bernie, and it happened again, desperate to wee, I had to squeeze boots on again and go outside.  I was getting a tadge frustrated and annoyed.  Ian obviously picked the wrong moment to ring me, cos I was really fed up and very tearful as I felt I wasn’t making progress.  Wrong thing to do cos Ian was now worried.  I reassured him I would persist and ring him later.

Eventually got tent down and packed away, just in time too as the heavens absolutely opened up, the torrential shower lasted ages, and I could see more heavily laden clouds waiting their turn behind.  I set off, and truly, my feet complained in a way they hadn’t before, especially my left foot.  It was utter agony.  I carried on a bit longer, but the pain was becoming unbearable, and it was then I decided that it would be fruitless and stupid to persist any longer.  I phoned Ian and told him I would be coming home and why.  He then rang my parents who wanted to pick me up, so I arranged a pick up point at a youth hostel only a couple of miles away down the moor.   I picked my way down the moorland path, incredibly and painfully slowly.  The shower just persisted and persisted.  I limped into Mankinholes, and eventually found the youth hostel.  I got in the entrance foyer which was lovely and warm.  The man inside said as it was 10am, sadly they were closing for the day, but he must have read the look of desperation on my face, and said I could wait in the foyer for my parents, he got me a chair and told me where I could put things to dry off.  That chair was relief.

That is when the impact of my decision hit me, and I cried.  I was so upset at having to give up so early in the walk.  A couple emerged from the building and gave me some solace by telling me he had started the Pennine way, and had got as far as Hebden Bridge, like me, but ended his walk in hospital with exhaustion.  That did make me feel better, and I was proud of the fact I walked or limped my way off the moor.

The walk may be off for now, but if my feet heal in time, and I am fully recovered enough, I still have time to go back and do some more.  I realise now that to expect to do the whole lot in one go would be unrealistic, and my daily expectations of the mileage to be covered were a little optimistic given the pack I was carrying.  Nevertheless, what I have acheived is more than some, and I am proud of how far I got.  I did it in some difficult conditions, the weather was not really all that kind to me.  If I go back, it will be with the intention of doing less daily mileage, with a slimmed down Bernie, and acceptance that I get as far as I get and that is it.  I miss being on the walk, I was really enjoying it, some of the climbs were tough, but were rewarding at the end, and the sense of achievement at the end of each day was overwhelming.  I still feel that to you need to be challenged sometimes, and placed out of your comfort zone once in a while.  It does wonders for the soul, not to mention your self esteem!

In the words of Arnie – I’ll be back!!!!











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