Archive for July, 2011

Ponden to Cowling

I have to admit, I was not sorry to see the campsite at Pondon behind me, although it was a pretty spot, the many campfire remains spoilt it completely.  Climbed back up the hill, up the road and down on to the major road at the bottom, along which I had traversed many times on a motorbike before!  It seemed quite imposing now as there was no footpaths on either side, and the traffic was really very fast.  With relief, I soon found myself climbing over a style to access a field full of sheep, which in itself was a little amusing as all on its own, was one completely black sheep.  I felt so sorry for it.  The climb up this hill was pretty steep and the path a little uncertain until I emerged onto an access track for a dwelling which was under renovation, and was really pretty.  I was met by the biggest dogs with the biggest curly covering of hair I ever did see, they were so friendly, and must have felt very hot in the now increasing heat of the day.  The track swung to the left over a bit of rough land, which had sheep dotted about, and all of a sudden they made a beeline to a man behind me, who clearly was the food bearer!  I stopped for a wee rest and a drink, and as I took Bernie off, two particularly large but cute lambs came over to investigate my bag, and were happy to let me pet them and stroke them.  I named them Ronnie and Reggie, clearly, one was distracting me whilst the other was trying to raid Bernie – he was disappointed to find only my solar panel!

 

The climb up onto Oakworth Moor was a little tedious to begin with, but as height was gained, it became more pleasurable as the moor opened up and became less farmland type.  Solitude at last and the views as always, just stunning.

As I traversed the moor further – heading for ‘the sea’ – Ian told me if i could see the sea at any point of the walk, then I had gone wrong.  Not to worry, why it had been named the sea is anybody’s guess, but I thought it looked like an oversized puddle!

Looking back south east from this view, and I could see for miles.  (the photos really do not do justice).  The landscape did seem familiar somehow, and utilising my camera zoom to good effect, I could pick out the moble phone mast on the top of Beacon Rd hill.  That’s a bit specific i hear you say, well I spent a lot of time going over that road in my youth, and the views from there are pretty phenominal, as are the views from the end of Sheep Hill Lane in Clayton Heights where I used to live, which I think I could also make out, I know that behind me to the north north east lay Ingleborough hill, and on a very clear day, that was visible from my parents house, so it would only follow that i would be able to see their house from where i was now, approximately 30 – 40 miles away.  I did try waving, but I’m not sure i was seen.

 

 

 

 

The top of Ikornshaw moor was deceptively pretty with masses of cotton in bloom –

 

The bliss was going to be short lived as the decent off the moor started to deteriorate.  The lovely paved track deteriorated to a small muddy track barely discernable among the reeds and rushes, following a stone wall around the outskirts of a field.  Occaisionally, i came across little wonders which lightened the soul –

 

I wonder what it was like to live here???  Further down the path were a number of wooden huts, all in perfect condition and well maintained, with some kind of outhouse outside.  Not sure what they were, or what their purpose were, but they were rather intriguing and cute.  The path continued to be difficult and very boggy in places, and I was so glad it was a very hot dry day that i was traversing this section as i can imagine it being very difficult if very wet.  The ultimate obstacle came when the path traversed a 5 ft wall via a ladder style, only it was so delapidated, only the top few rungs were present, and they looked very dodgy.  My only hope was the large metal gate to the left of me, which was securely chained and locked, and the gate itself was encased in barbed wire.  Anyone would think the farmer had something against walkers traversing his land, but still, it was a right of way, and quite a famous one at that!  So up and over the gate I gingerly climbed, together with Bernie, we managed not to get snagged on the barbed wire.

I could see Cowling in the bottom, and it was tatilizingly close, but so far away!  the moorland came to an abrupt end, and grazing land began.  I traversed a couple of fields, and a footbridge or two, to climb back up onto a farm track in the middle of a field full of sheep.  Happily I trod, admiring the view, until I came to a bend in the track by a wall, when I realise  there are also cows and calves in the field too.  I carefully and quietly trod on, trying to show the cows that I really did not want to tread on their hooves by going as far away from them without actually falling over the edge of the gorge that had suddenly appeared.  Once around the wall, all was ok, and there was no thundering of hooves.  The track went around a very pretty little waterfall which was so sweet.

 

Eventually, I followed the track down to a very overgrown steep path into a field, and finally across someones access road and back into a field before dropping onto the main Cowling road, which was a bit of a culture shock as buses and trucks thundered by.  I paused by a field and watched a sheepdog preparing to round up a labrador as I phoned my campsite to ensure there was still room, I asked what to look out for.  As she asked me what was near, I started to read the sign on a building just next to me, realising I was outside the entrance to the campsite, and the dog I was watching belonged to the campsite owner.  What joy!  I was there early, and it was so sunny.  She came out to welcome me, show me the facilities – at least they were on the same bit of land this time, be it they were very primitive.  She then showed me where I could pitch my tent – among the chickens.  She did warn me I would be spending the night with some school children, and I so prayed it would not be the same ones as last night.  However, I bagged the flattest spot, put tent up, did a bit of laundry and laid over tent to dry feeling sure in the hot sun it would soon dry.  I donned my sandals, and decided to go a wandering into the village on the hunt for food.  I had been advised there was a pub, a shop and an indian restaurant.

I had already googled the pub, and the one and only review was appalling. Still, thirst, heat and sheer desperation led me to give it the benefit of the doubt, and go in and try.  My initial question of do we serve food was met with a stern no, but my obvious reaction to this, along with my obvious needy look meant the owner then apologised profusely stating she had run out of sandwhiches which she had served to the local cricket team, and could only offer crisps.  I then got her life story, and discovered she had retaken the pub over after the last landlord had led everything to ruin.  She did recommend the local indian restuarant, which I thought I would give a try.  I was waiting at their door at 5:30 – not trying to seem too desperate of course.

The meal I had was lovely, and I got 2 courses, a beer and a glass of wine for 2 thirds of the price of the cost of the meal at the old silent inn.  Hmmmm, something to be said there.   I was pleasantly satisfied, and waddled my way back to the tent for an early night.

Hebden Bridge to Ponden

The I looked back and bid farewell to Studley Pike and set off across the hills.  It was off through a few overgrown and tricky paths to begin with, which eventually opened out over sheep grazing pastures overlooking Colden.  The path descended into a steep grough to reach Colden water with a charming stone footbridge.

 The Climb back up was a bit tedious, and I was faced with a field full of cows with the biggest bull I ever did see, luckily for me, the path followed the field on the other side of the bulls fence!  Phew!  It was starting to get a bit hot, and the lady at the bed and breakfast had mentioned a small farm shop along the road at the top which sold everything.  She wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t called Aladdins Cave for nothing!  Wow, what she did not sell wasn’t worth selling, she even stocked various bottles of  whisky, including one I had not heard of – Sheep Dip!  I purchased a couple of toiletry items, some choccy and took advantage of the conveniences on site.  It really was like stepping back in time, the toilets were in an outhouse, and consisted of a simple wood bench with a lid over the hole to and elsan toilet.  I know I may seem to be very descriptive, but everything was impeccably clean, and she was obviously very proud of her establishment.  It turns out she also catered for the odd camper, and offered this facility free to Pennine Way walkers – a truly lovely lady!

After sitting outside and enjoying a drink, I reluctantly left the tranquility and went back to the trail.  I then started the climb up to Heptenstall Moor, and reaching the start of the moorland, I looked back and was rewarded with a view of Badger Field Farm and Studley Pike in the background.

 The climb up onto Heptonstall Moor was a bit of a grind in the now increasing heat, but was well worth it with views to the East.  There were some derelict properties dotted around the moor, one large one which I can only imagine must have been a very fine house for a wealthy land owner once in it’s lifetime.  It’s position being very remote, I can imagine now it would be a wild place to live if you enjoyed solitude!  Over the other side of the moor, I was rewarded with views of Gorple reservoir, and the Pack Horse Pub.  Now came the dilemma, it was getting near lunchtime, and I know the pub does lovely meals and nice beer (yep, have visited before with parents as one of their ”local’ haunts), or do I make use of the packed lunch with possibly squashed sandwiches?  Reluctantly, but with relief, I press on past Gorple reservoir, down and up the small but pretty grough, and along the access track to Walshaw Dean Reservoir, where it still being very hot, the boots and socks came off and squashed sandwiches were enjoyed with a view to the Pub!  How about that for discipline!?!

 Boots back on, feeling refreshed, I follow the reservoir edge for a while, before picking up the path over Haworth moor, and it really is a beautiful moor.  There are such stunning views, and somehow do not seem to be bleak but welcoming, with cotton making the moorland look really pretty.  On the approach to Ponden, the views got really big.  In the distance, the ruins of Withins house could be seen, allegedly the inspiration for the house used in Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights.

 

 

The walk down from the moor was a bit of a plod as it had become very hot.  I passed a farmstead that did offer campsite facilities but were closed at the moment, undergoing improvements.  Shame as it looked a lovely site, but never mind.  It was a pretty steep descent to Ponden reservoir, with a further plod along the access road to the few dwellings at the end – including Ponden House – my goal.  It seemed a cruel twist to have a bit of a steep climb up to the house, but I was there.  Having paid my fee, I followed my instructions to the campsite – up the road a bit further, through a gate and down a steep grassy path to the campfield by a stream and pick somewhere flat by the stream (duh – I was thinking of pitching on the hill!!!) – to access the ‘facilities’, I had to climb the steep grassy track up to the road again, and then continue up the road a bit to a private house, on which there was an outhouse with the one toilet/shower/sink inside, and drinking water tap outside!  Oh goody, when one is desperate in the morning, the hurridly having to get dressed is further agonised by the dash up the very steep and long grassy path and through an awkward gate to the outhouse!  Never mind, the lady said I would have the campfield to myself, which was brilliant, and I looked forward to dangling my hot feet in the cool stream.

WRONG!  The peace was shattered by a small party of school boys and their teacher who arrived on site, and teacher promptly announced they would be camping here, and to go and find firewood.  My only happiness was when I discovered the optimum (and in my opinion – the only viable spot) in the field where it was flat, and not near the several abandoned campfires at the bottom – had been taken by me!! This was loudly pointed out by the teacher, but never mind heh?  Celebrations were shortlived as I realised that despite the incredibly dry conditions, they were actually going to light a campfire??  I know that having a responsible adult around should mean it would be ok, but surely the purpose of the responsible adult would be to highlight when it is INAPPROPRIATE to light a campfire, ie when the surrounding ground and vegetation is extremely dry!

Time to scarper and let blissful ignorance be my solace, I hot footed it (literally) to the pub, a mere 20 minute walk, at the other end of the reservoir.  Despite being very expensive, the Old Silent Inn was lovely refuge, and I enjoyed my expensive meal and very expensive one drink, even managed vague conversation with Ian despite the dodgy signal.

I spent a very tense evening, sprawled in the tent, listening to the menagerie outside deciding what could and could not be put on the fire, exhaustion eventually giving way to sleep.  Thankfully, the morning was aided by the entertainment provided by the group as they discussed their plan of action, and struggled to get it together as some members of the group were clearly more enthusiastic at getting up out of their tent than others.  Having enjoyed my dish of beans, pot of coffee, and done the climbing of the hill to the toilet thing, I was packed and setting off just as they were getting their tents down!

 

Attempt part duex

Well hello there.  I know I failed first time round, and having decided feet are feeling ok, I went for a second attempt, but with far more realistic goals.  Just a few days of hiking, and a definite finishing day regardless of where I am.  I made provisions to finish possibly at Horton in Ribblesdale, but accepted if I needed to finish earlier, then so be it.  It would be totally feet dependent!  (Can’t get very far without them).

So with Bernie packed, and train tickets purchased, I caught train back to Hebden Bridge, and then the local bus service to a rendevous point at a known public house in Heptenstall – the Cross Inn.  Here I would meet with parents to enjoy a celebratory meal – well it was the day of the big 40!  I have to say, it is the first time I have done a three point turn in a bus, and hats off to the drivers, they have to negotiate their buses in places where I would really think twice about taking a car!  They must have the patience of a saint, and were very friendly!  Having fed full of roast lamb and beer, and ginger sponge, I was dropped off at the Badger Field Farm where I would spend the night bed and breakfast.  It was really nice, and the views from the garden were spectacular, as they were from my bedroom window.  I had to share the garden bench with the farm’s barn cat, who apparently, was extremely friendly for a barn cat.  I spent the evening enjoying the views, Studley Pike was across the valley looking splendid in the evening sun.  I declined evening dinner as I was still pretty full from lunch, so sat it in the wonderful little lounge, reading a book on the pennine way.

I was introduced to another house guest, Ross, who was also on an ambitious trek – a wee bit more ambitious than mine.  Although staying at Bed and Breakfast thoughout the 3 month trip, he was hiking from Lands End to John o Groats.  He had taken a 3 month sebatical from work, with a rest day every 7 days, his wife arranging his night stays a couple of days in advance.    Well done to him!  I found it reassuring to find that he had also struggled with navigation on Bleaklow head, and was humbled to think that as the Pennine Way required 9 Explorer maps, his expedition required 52 explorer maps!  Good luck to him anyway, and what an awesome thing to do!  It was really nice talking to him and we wished each other luck following our lovely breakfast.  I collected my packed lunch which had been kindly prepared for me, told Bernie to behave and off we set.