Day 38: Tuesday 30th May 2017

      Start:  DUFTON.                 Finish:  ALSTON

Wouldn’t normally have had breakfast at a Youth Hostel, no particular reason, but due to the circumstances last night at the pub in Dufton I decided I better get some food inside me before I attempted to climb over Great Fell and friends. Todays ascent is most definitely the greatest of all the days walking. After leaving Dufton the ascent starts pretty quickly. It’s not the steepest I’ve ever experienced but it was pretty hard going. The tops of the hills were still shrouded in cloud and I knew there wouldn’t be any chance of views. Once I reached the first real objective at Knock Fell the climbing seemed to ease off a little. It was fairly straightforward, the path was well worn and easy to follow. From Knock Fell you just head North West and pick off the hills one at a time, Great Dunn Fell, Little Dunn Fell and Cross Fell. There were some large monoliths approaching the summits and they seemed a bit eerie in the cloud but help with navigation. Just before I reached Little Dunn Fell it began to rain and the wind also picked, making it an unpleasant few kilometres. Didn’t even bother taking many photos, no point really, not much to see. I did sit at the magnificent shelter on Great Fell for a few minutes. After Great Fell I descended and once out of the clouds the views were magnificent. I quickly reached Gregs Hut, a mountain Bothy. I popped inside, had something to eat and drink and then read/signed the visitors book. Saw there was a JOGLE (John O’Groats to Lands End) walker, Dave who signed a couple of days ahead of me. Good luck Dave. After Gregs Hut I followed a good track all the way to Garrigill. It was typical that as I walked away the sky cleared of cloud and you could see all the hills for miles around. This really is a beautiful area. I expected there to be more at Garrigill, as it turned out there’s no facilities, the post office and pub both closed and displaying ‘For sale’ signs. I didn’t have a reason to stop, so just continued out of Garrigill and towards Alston. The next 5 kilometres simply consisted of walking through farm fields, avoiding the farm animals and climbing over stiles. I’ve had enough of this over the last few weeks and this wasn’t a great end to what was an enjoyable day. I managed to grab some provisions in Alston before heading to my Bed and Breakfast, the ‘Lyndhurst’. I would definitely recommend this to walkers for a night. This room was only £45 and consisted of a double bed, power shower, small lounge area and help yourself to the continental breakfast. Couldn’t fault the place, thank you to Tracy the owner. I’ve got to make an important decision tomorrow about my route, I’ll sleep on it.

      Walked:  19.8 miles.               Percentage completed:  53.5 %

Day 37: Monday 29th May 2017

     Start: MIDDLETON-IN-TEESDALE                Finish: DUFTON

For only about the fourth time on my LEJOG trip it had rained heavily during the night. I left my hotel about 10am and I’d arranged to meet up with a couple of friends today who were going to keep me company. Shortly after 10, Simon arrived as arranged outside the Tourist Info office. I’ve not seen Simon or Pam since we walked together in the Cuillens on the Isle of Skye last year, it’ll be great to catch up on what they’ve both been doing since then. After getting booted and suited we were off at 10.30am, which was a late start. The first few kilometres today was on the Southern side of the River Tees towards firstly Low Force and then onto High Force. Despite the drizzle the walking was pleasant and the views of the fast flowing water was spectacular. Shortly after High Force Pam and Simon needed to turn around and make their way back to Middleton. They’d spent several hours in a car to get here and needed to do likewise to get home. It was only a short fleeting visit but I really appreciated their efforts to keep me company. There was absolutely nowhere to rest out of the rain so I just kept going. Just beyond Forest-in-Teesdale the path climbed a bit before I crossed a wooden bridge and then walked through fields full of cows. Despite the persistent rain the ground was still solid and the going was quick and easy. Having gained a bit of height now meant that I was walking in the mist and the views had disappeared. I’ve walked along lots of rivers and other water features previously and in the main it’s enjoyable. Walking along Widdy Bank and then Falcon Clints towards Cauldron Snout was sometimes good grassy paths broken up by several hundred metres of walking across large boulders. It was pretty slow going. Rushing across these stretches of rocks especially when they’re wet and slippery can result in broken ankles and relaxing but today it consisted of walking over several stretches of rather large boulders and they were slippery and the going was slow. I reached Cauldron Snout and it’s both an exciting and also a scary place in the mist and rain. According to my map, the crossing of the Pennine Way is just before the bridge but with the fast flowing water I was never going out risk slipping into the water. After crossing the bridge I just following a nice stony track over Rasp Hill and then followed Maize Beck for a few kilometres. I was now approaching one of the natural highlights of the Pennine Way, namely High Cup Nick and High Cup Gill. I’d seen many photographs of this particular icon but nothing can prepare you for actually seeing it for real. Although it was covered in mist I could see enough and it’s like something I’d never seen before. I stood at ‘the Nick’ for a while before I moved off to walk along the Northern edge. I made my way down and reached Dufton youth Hostel about 6pm. After booking in I walked across to the only place in Dufton to buy food (except the YH) ‘The Stag Inn’. Now you wouldn’t think ordering food at 6.45pm was such a big deal. Well it was. I walked into the pub and there was maybe 4 people outside and 12 people inside, half of these appeared to be locals and the rest walkers. I asked if I could order food and a female behind the counter, shook her head vigorously and said “No, Sorry, we’re too busy”. I was a bit surprised and said “I just want a plate of chips” but again the response was “sorry”. I sat down with a drink feeling hungry and slightly miffed. About 10 minutes later another customer came in and tried to order a pot of tea, he too was refused and just left. As I sat for 40 minutes and watched as only 6 people were served food. I find it unbelievable that a public house in an area where the majority of customers are walkers refuses to serve food at 6.45pm. It wasn’t busy and I found the whole situation ridiculous. This was in stark contrast to the service at The Teesdale Hotel and previous day when the staff couldn’t do enough for you. Sorry for the rant but still annoyed.

 

         Walked:  20.3 miles           Percentage completed:  51.7 %

 

Day 36: Sunday 28th May 2017

REST DAY AT TEESDALE HOTEL.

Had nice full English breakfast and then did the usual, washed some clothes, did some shopping and had a wander around Middleton-in- Teesdale. It’s a pretty town. I was going to try and get a Sunday lunch as I’ve not had one for a few weeks now, it was so busy in the bar I decided against it.

Day 35: Saturday 27th May 2017

   Start: TAN HILL INN        Finish: MIDDLETONINTEESDALE

Had a terrible nights sleep, did I mentioned that it was windy at Tan Hill last night. I got stupidly paranoid about the tent, with me inside being blown away. I’m just pleased I pitched close to the rocks which afforded me a little bit of protection. I was off just after 7am and there was a bit of mist covering Sleightholme Moor. I was talking to a couple of lads in the Tan Hill Inn last night, they had told me that the moor was dry after the good weather and shouldn’t present any problems. This was good news as Sleightholme Moor has a reputation of being one of the boggiest parts of the Pennine Way. There is even a bad weather alternative route should you need it. I made good progress and didn’t encounter any of the problems that a few days of rain would have created. I don’ t want to count my chickens too early but I’ve been very fortunate with the weather over the last 5 weeks, having only experienced any real rain on two occasions. Hope writing this doesn’t cause the weather to come up and bite me on the arse. I followed close to Frumming Beck towards Sleightholme Farm. At the point where the Beck joins Dry Gill there’s a small wooden bridge to cross and then a good tarmac track towards Heugh Head. I think I lost the path just before Heugh Head and had to climb over a barbed wire fence before crossing Sleighthome Beck, that’s not the first time I’ve done that during this trip.

Sleightholme Moor

I had a quick refreshment break at Trough Head before heading off towards Gods Bridge and the A66. After crossing over the A66 the route got a bit tougher and the next few miles towards Middleton in Teesdale involved climbing over several relatively small hills but they felt steeper then they really were. On several occasions I had clearly upset the ground nesting birds, particularly the lapwings, as they attempted to distract me by screeching and flying close over my head. It was here that I realised for the second time on this trip that I had lost my baseball cap. The first one vanished somewhere on Bodmin Moor and now I’d lost another one. I really should be more careful. I hope that a Pennine Way walker behind me finds it and makes good use of it. Just after Grassholme Reservoir I caught up with four youngsters who were also walking along the Pennine Way towards Middleton. They were walking a section of the Pennine Way over the long weekend. One of the group was attempting to walk LEJOG in sections, a week at a time over a few years. The weather forecast had predicted some heavy rain storms this afternoon, but they didn’t happen, at least not whilst I was walking. There was a minor shower, the first I had experienced since walking along the Manifold  Way two weeks ago. Everybody donned there wet weather gear but thankfully the rain only lasted a few minutes. During the last 3 days I’ve drank about 4 litres of water each day. It does mean carrying some extra weight in the backpack but without sufficient fluid I can tire very quickly. I had drank a lot today and a nice lady near Grassholme kindly filled up my two bottles for me. Carrying on, I reached the B6276 and could see several herds of cows in the fields ahead. I checked the map and decided that I wasn’t interested in the extra ascent/descent plus the cows so left the Pennine Way and instead stuck to the minor road for the final two kilometres into Middleton-in-Teesdale. The streets were very busy, apparently there’s some sort of bicycle race going on in the town today. I’m not a big cycling fan so didn’t wait around to see it. I was lucky enough to get booked into ‘The Teesdale Hotel’ for the next two nights. I had spoken to Mike and Bob a few days ago in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and they said they had experienced problems trying to find accommodation in Middleton. Anyway, the cancelled rest day in Hawes will be taken here instead. I got myself booked in the hotel and ordered myself a nice cold pint of lager. I didn’t fancy eating down in the hotel tonight so instead took advantage of the excellent fish and chip shop that’s opposite the hotel, together with a tub of ice cream from the Co- Op that my tea sorted.

       Walked: 16.47 miles                Percentage completed: 50.1 %

Day 34: Friday 26th May 2017

     Start: HAWES             Finish:  TAN HILL INN

Today had originally been scheduled as a rest day but I really didn’t want to waste the good weather that was forecast to be hanging around for the next few days. We enjoyed yet another full English breakfast. I’m not really keen on overdoing the full English breakfast and today I probably would have done without, however because it is difficult to find food during the day I decided to stock up on calories. Karen dropped me off  in the centre of Hawes and I grabbed a few bits and pieces from the Spar shop for the next couple of days. It was really nice to have had a friend to walk with during the last few days and the miles definitely pass by quicker whilst chatting. Weather permitting, I’ll be meeting up with Karen again at Blair Atholl in a couple of weeks before heading through the Lairag Ghru. After goodbyes I headed out of Hawes and before too long I was out of the town, across a few fields stocked with sheep and onto the hills again. It was a really gentle climb up towards Great Shunner Fell, since leaving Lands End this is my highest point yet at 716mts. I took my time and stopped a couple of times, once again the views were fantastic all around. On reaching Great Shunner Fell I  was surprised to have once again caught up with  Mike and Bob who were sat at the cross shaped shelter and having a bite to eat. I hadn’t seen them since leaving Horton two days earlier. The wind was blowing a bit on the top so I didn’t hang around too long and began to head down towards Thwaite. As I descended down from Great Shunner Fell I kept looking back towards the hill which dominates the area. I hadn’t expected there to be a great deal in Thwaite, there wasn’t any indication on the map of there being a pub in the small village. So it was a pleasant surprise when I turned a corner and saw ‘The Kearton Hotel’ more importantly it was open. I managed to convince Mike to try a pint of local cider despite Bob’s negative comment about drinking alcohol whilst on a walk and how he never did it. From the speed it was drank I think Mike might have quite enjoyed it. Bob and Mike set off before me and I watched as they immediately crossed the bridge over the River Beck. A few minutes later whilst checking the map I realised that Bob and Mike had set off in the wrong direction, oops. I set off up Kisdon Hill and as I looked back I could see Mike and Bob behind me, they had clearly realised their mistake pretty quickly. Walking near Kisdon Hill I lost the Pennine Way a couple of times but quickly got back on track, jumping over a high wall and a barbed wire fence. I loved the walk from Kisdon towards Keld, the views were stunning and I could see others walking along the side of the River Swale below me. When I reached the river Swale near Keld I took the opportunity to remove my boots and bathe my feet in the fast flowing water, it felt wonderful. I saw a small family group heading off towards Keld. The initial walk out of Keld towards Stonedale Moor was pleasant, despite initially taking a wrong turn, then it just seemed to go on and on and on. For the first time in a while I was feeling really tired and my mood was low, I put on my headphones to try and improve things. It was such a relief when I finally saw the iconic  ‘Tan Hill Inn’. The Inn is famous for many reasons. The 17th century building is the highest Inn in the British Isles at 528mts above sea level. In the 1980’s it appeared in the Everest window advert with Ted Moult and in 1995 it became the first pub in the UK to be granted a licence to hold weddings and civil ceremonies. Later that afternoon Damian and Rosemary, my brother-in-law and his wife came to the Tan Hill Inn to keep me company for the evening. They are both keen walkers themselves and it was really nice to meet up. Thank you Damian and Rosemary for the Burger and Chips, for keeping me company for the evening and also the texts. By the time I returned to my tent behind the Tan Hill Inn the wind has picked up.

 

        Walked: 16.47 miles.           Percentage completed: 48.4 %

Day 33: Thursday 25th May 2017

     Start:  HORTON-IN-RIBBLESDALE               Finish:  HAWES

Last night we had booked ourselves a full English breakfast at the Golden Lion, so we packed up our rucksacks and headed there as arranged for 8.30am. As we approached the back of the Golden Lion I got a surprised when I saw a large pig roaming around the yard. Thankfully he was a friendly giant. Once again we bumped into Bob and Mike over breakfast. An hour later the four of us rejoined the Pennine Way. Pretty quickly Bob and Mike left us and went their own way. It turns out that they have fairly different walking speeds, younger Mike faster on the ascents and older Bob faster on descents. They might start the day walking together but they separate from each other fairly quickly and rarely walk together, instead meeting up at the end of each day.

Ling Gill Bridge.

The walk up onto Birkwith Moor unlike the two previous days was gentle and despite the now blazing sun I was still enjoying the walking. After about an hours walking we caught up with Mike near to Ling Gill. Karen narrowly avoided an embarrassing situation as Mike was relieving himself alongside the path. It must have been the running water at the Beck. This is a stunning location, there’s a beautiful little bridge and it was a nice spot to rest for a few minutes. We even took off our walking boots and soaked our feet in the cold water. We continued up the track to Cam End where the Pennine Way meets up with the Dales Way. We met several other walkers going in the opposite direction. By now the blazing sun was stinging my neck, so I started using a wet hand towel to protect myself from the burning. The back of Karen’s legs and  her arms were already red and they looked painful, she admitted they were definitely sore. Despite this and tired legs we were both still enjoying the walking. As we climbed the views opened up and the landscape around about was stunning to look at. I can’t believe that I’d never walked around this area before despite it only being a few hours drive from home and I thought to myself that Gemma would have enjoyed today’s walk. From Dodd Fell the ascent down towards Hawes was gradual and not to stressful. We reached Hawes and as we walked by Karen pointed out the Wensleydale Cheese factory which sits in the middle of the town. In case you don’t know, Wensleydale is the favourite cheese of Wallace (as in Wallace and Gromit). I really liked Hawes and it’s clearly popular as the town was bustling with tourists. The town is set in a stunning location, has plenty of facilities, several nice pubs, nice shops and a local bus service called ‘The little white bus’. This was where things got a bit complex. The bus timetable was confusing stating that the 9.57 bus and the 11.57 bus ran from Monday to Friday but that the 15.57 and the 17.57 bus ran Monday and Friday (not to Friday). However as we stood at the bus stop about 15.57 checking the timetable, not expecting a bus, it drove straight past us. Anyway, I telephoned the driver and he said he would come back and get us. That didn’t happen. We were both hungry so popped into the local chip shop and eventually boarded the bus at 15.57. It’s a voluntary bus service and I don’t want to be overly critical because they probably provide an important service to the local community. They just need to change the wording of the timetable. It turns out that the elderly male driver of the bus is the father of the lady who owns the Moorcock Inn where I’m sleeping tonight. Ten minutes later we were checked into the Moorcock Inn near Garsdale Head where Karen had left her car three days earlier. I’d originally intended taking a rest day tomorrow and so booked two nights at the Moorcock Inn but having seen the weather forecast for the next few days, I’m probably going to continue walking. Beyond that the weather is expected to take a turn for the worse.

        Walked: 13.98 miles            Percentage completed: 46.9 %

Day 32: 24th May 2017

      Start: MALHAM          Finish:  HORTONinRIBBLESDALE

The first kilometre of this walk meant walking directly towards Malham Cove and its stunning views. The cove is made up of limestone and is over 80 metres high and 300 metres wide. I could see the staircase too the left of the cove and was a little concerned about how difficult the climb to the top might be. I really didn’t need to worry, it has a good path and although it is steep it didn’t last that long. We both lingered around on the top to take in the views down the Dale towards Malham  and searched for the peregrine falcon/s that apparently nest near the cove. Didn’t see any Falcons, suspect they weren’t around today due to the high number of crows in the neighbourhood.  The walking across the top of the cove was easy with only a small herd of highland cattle for company. I wondered how they even managed to get up there. The limestone pavement soon ran out and we were walking across hills, making for Malham Tarn. We had another short break overlooking the tarn, a glacial lake, one of only 8 alkaline lakes in Europe. We skirted the tarn in an anti-clockwise direction until reaching the Malham Tarn field centre. As we approached we could hear and then see a large group of school age children. We stopped briefly at the field centre, using the toilet facilities and reading the information boards. Fountains Fell was our next target. We were walking at almost 600 metres and occasionally we’d encounter low cloud and severely reduced visibility. The only other person we encounter was a solitary fell runner on the way up towards Fountains Fell Tarn. We stayed on the well defined path, making sure to heed the signs warning people to stay on the path, avoiding the old mine workings. There were several pot holes which were fenced off. We had another short break near the top. As we descended off the hill we got our first view of Pen-y-Ghent. The top was in thick cloud. Now when I planned the original route I had fully intended to climb up onto Pen-y-ghent, but following a a brief chat with Karen we decided against it. Yes, I know it’s officially a part of the Pennine Way but as I’ve said before, the Pennine Way is not my objective on this journey. Getting from Lands End to John O’Groats in one piece is. It might have been a different story if the top had been clear and we had a chance of any views, maybe. Anyway we headed down towards Churn Milk Hole, a sink/pot hole at the foot of Pen-y-Ghent and Karen kindly took my 500 mile photo. I noted a unusually high number of dead rabbits on the track and also encountered a blind baby rabbit running across the path, confused in front of us. We reached Horton- in-Ribblesdale and ignoring the pub we headed straight to Holme Farm Campsite. On arrival the owner was riding around on his sit on lawnmower, he gave us a thumbs up so we set up our tents and showered before getting booked in. We then, not surprisingly, headed to the nearest pub, the ‘Golden Lion’. Not long after we were joined by fellow walkers Bob and Mike. I conversation I admitted to skipping Pen-y-Ghent, I could almost feel the disappointment coming from Bob The campsite at Holme Farm was busy and there were several tents occupied by 16-17 year old Army Cadets. After returning to the site from the Golden Lion we saw that all the cadets were sitting on the grass in absolute silence, watched over by their instructors. We sat and watched as they remained  completely silent for at least the next 30 minutes, no doubt some form of punishment. Earlier on we had watched as they tried to kick plastic bottles from each other’s heads. I’ve no doubt somebody got a painful kick to the head and it went too far, hence their now being punished.

       Walked: 12.74 miles                Percentage completed: 45.6%

Day 31: Tuesday 23rd May 2017

     Start: COWLING                  Finish: MALHAM

Can’t say that I was sad to be leaving Cowling, maybe I just missed it but I couldn’t find anything in the village that would encourage me to return. As is now usual this early in the day I felt a bit weary and legs were feeling stiff. I knew that after 10 minutes of walking this would ease off. As with yesterday, the initial walking meant heading steeply uphill and in the early morning heat this was energy sapping. I had a slight diversion from the Pennine Way when I reached Stubbing. There was a huge truck blocking the narrow country lane near to a large house. He was trying to reverse down the road with very little room on either side. There was no way past so I walked back the short distance and found an alternative way round. A short time later, back on the same country lane not far from where I had seen the truck I noticed that some large expensive looking flower pots outside of another house, near the road, had recently been damaged. Bet the truck driver never owned up to that. Things thankfully levelled out at Slack Moor and I stopped and grabbed myself a short break. Only a few minutes after setting off again I reached the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. This was a pleasant surprise as I hadn’t really noticed it on my map. I only followed the canal for about 15 minutes but it was such a beautiful location, with a pair of swans drifting along on the water and the occasional canal barge sitting stationery on the bank. One of the barges even had the ‘Rosie and Jim’ puppets in the window. It was now time to head into Gargrave where I had arranged to meet up with Karen, a good friend of mine. As I walked into Gargrave I got a telephone call from my brother Andrew, it was nice to speak to him. The call managed to distract me sufficiently from my walking that I ended up missing the sign post telling me to turn off for the Pennine Way. I realised after about 200mts so it wasn’t really a big deal. On arrival at Gargrave I made straight to the train station, which was only a short diversion from the Pennine Way. I had arrived early so took off my boots and just soaked up the sun. I almost dropped off inside the warm waiting room on platform 2. The train arrived just a few minutes later then scheduled and I was pleased to see Karen exiting the rear carriage soon after. I’ve walked with Karen, an American who now lives near Glasgow for a couple of years now, she’s great company, a more then competent walker and also a good friend who appreciates a good walk in a nice area. We both then headed off towards the local store, I had a

ready pre-warned Karen about the possible lack of facilities along the Pennine Way. As we turned around I saw the two American walkers, Bob and Mike that I had first met at Snake Pass the previous Friday. We wandered over and chatted for a while, before we all then headed towards the Co-Op. After stocking up on goodies we all continued out of Gargrave. The rest of the day then seemed to consist of mainly walking through fields of grass and then jumping over hundreds of stiles. I remembered commenting to Karen how narrow some of the gaps were in the walls which you needed to squeeze through, some were literally about 6inches wide and you have to turn sideways to fit yourself though. As we got to within a few kilometres of Malham it was notable how many more walkers were now out and about. As we approached Malham I could see the cove from a long way off and it really is impressive. We arrived around 5pm and quickly got ourselves booked onto the campsite at Malham Cove farm. We were both hungry so made our way back into Malham and grabbed some food at the ‘Beck Inn’. The campsite is positioned to overlook Malham Cove and the view from my tent is one of the best yet. The trouble with campsites on working farms is the risk of animal noise. Last night in Cowling the campsite was next to a farm and the noise from a solitary bull was irritant, it could clearly sense a stranger nearby. Thankful today was better, the animals were far enough away as not to cause any problem. The only animals I noticed were a mother duck and her 5 ducklings who wandered around the campsite.

        Walked: 18.77 miles              Percentage completed: 44.5 %

Day 30: Monday 22nd May 2017

     Start: JACK BRIDGE         Finish: COWLING

After leaving the campsite at Jack Bridge I managed to rejoin the Pennine Way near to Colden before the steep climb onto Heptonstall Moor. There were some pretty decent views looking over towards Walshaw Dean Reservoir. As I crossed over the dam I saw two other walkers in the distance ahead of me, I’d eventually catch them up close to Within Height. After skirting around the reservoir there’s a fairly easy climb up towards Within Heights along the paving slabs. I now approached the ruin made famous as the alleged inspiration for Emily Brontes Wuthering  Heights and saw lots of others sitting around close to the site. I sat next to the two walkers I had been following behind since the reservoirs, they were out for a days walking and told me they had done a lot of walking in this area. It was a really hot day and there seemed to be a lot of ascent and descent today, meaning my baseball cap was constantly soaked with sweat. I never bumped into another person after leaving Within Height and my legs were feeling pretty heavy after the exertions of the previous day. I crossed over Oakworth Moor which was pretty barren and I remember thinking that I was pleased that the weather had remained pleasant, this wouldn’t be a nice place in rain and low cloud. I pressed on along the paving slabs and only stopped briefly to have a bite to eat next to a stone shelter. I finally arrived in Cowling and had a choice between the two campsites in the village. To be honest, neither of them looked particularly appealing but I opted for Squirrel Wood campsite. I paid my £10 and found I was the only tent using this particular site. I would go hungry tonight. I’ll explain, when I arrived at the only place to get food,  ‘The Bay Horse’ I saw that the menu was very basic and nobody else had been brave enough to visit the pub. I ordered a drink and waited to see if any other customers would turn up for food. Not another person arrived for a drink or food and it was now 7.30pm. I decided that this was probably a sign that the food wasn’t up to very much and I left soon after. Fortunately I did manage to find a pot noodle and a bar of dairy milk chocolate from the store in Cowling. Disappointed by the facilities in Cowling, I probably wouldn’t visit the place again. Hope in the next few days to come, I find a few more facilities or I’m going to go very hungry.

       Walked: 13.67 miles               Percentage completed: 42.8 %

 

 

 

Day 29: 21st May 2017. THE LONGEST DAY

    Start: CROWDEN         Finish: JACK BRIDGE 

There was mixed emotions this morning when I set off from Crowden, I was sorry to be waving goodbye to Gemma but happy to be walking again. Gemma dropped me off near to Crowden campsite about 9am and we said our goodbyes. I’ve got plans to see Gemma again in Edinburgh in about three weeks time, in company with Ben and Ruth, something to look forward to. In the first few minutes I retraced my steps from Crowden to get back onto the Pennine Way . Soon after I met up with another Pennine Way walker, Nick Routledge. Nick, an Australian, told me about the international popularity of the Pennine Way and having bumped into two Americas on Friday and  today an Australian he’s probably right. Nick said the Pennine Way is well known to the walking community of Australia, truly amazing. We spent the morning walking together and the distance went by so quickly as we chatted. It turned out Nicks carrying over 20kgs between his backpack and a smaller pack on his chest, puts my 13 kegs in the shade. We stopped for a short break at the top of Laddow Rocks and passed by several others out on this sunny Sunday. On arrival at Wesssenden Head we visited the burger van parked up on the A635 and I had a bit of banter with Carole who was serving the coffee. She committed the ultimate insult by asking me, a Geordie if I was from Sunderland, I almost choked on my double decker.  We moved on and not too long after we reached the reservoirs on Wessenden Moor. Unfortunately Nick was going to leave me at this point, he was going to stay near Standedge tonight and he wanted to pop into Diggle first. We said our goodbyes, sure that we would bump into each other again in the next few weeks as we make our separate journeys Northwards towards Scotland. Good luck Nick and enjoy it. I stopped for something to eat not long after Standedge, enjoying one of the sausage sandwiches that I had managed to make earlier this morning. Whilst doing research into the Pennine Way over the last few months I had read many walking blogs and noted that there were several natural and man made structures that people seemed to feel inclined to photograph and often made written reference to. I was now quickly approaching one of these, the Pennine Way walkers bridge over the M62. It’s not particularly attractive and I don’t know why it gets so much attention, but it does. One of the great things about today is the fantastic views and at no time was I bored with the walking, which can happen sometimes.  There were also plenty of people out today either walking or cycling. I crossed over Blackstone Edge with views West towards Rochdale.  I could see across to the ‘White Horse’ public house on the A58 and headed straight towards it. On arrival at the pub I popped in for a pint and to rest for a while. I had considered waiting here a while and then heading off onto Chelburn Common to wild camp.  It was still only 5.30pm and far too early for that and anyway I still felt fairly fresh and wanted to continue walking. I headed off  across Chelburn Moor and telephoned ahead to ‘The Delight Inn’ at Jack Bridge, which has a small campsite. The manager said they had space for me on the campsite but that I needed to be there before 9.30pm. It was another 14 kms to Jack Bridge and I’d already walked over 30kms today, to be honest I was enjoying myself. I like walking around dusk as the sun is going down and felt in a pretty good condition to continue. As I turned towards Light Hazzles Reservoir I noted the ‘path closed’ sign, I looked along the edge of the reservoir and saw no reason to take a long diversion. I jumped the barrier which was meant to be blocking the way ahead. This wouldn’t have been an option on a weekday with the possibility of several workmen on the site. After the reservoir I got my first glimpse of Stoodley Pike (another of those iconic things people photograph a lot). My feet moved quickly along the paving stones as the sun began to disappear beyond Todmorden. I wanted to pitch my tent before it got much darker but also desperately wanted to spend a little time at Stoodley Pike. As I approached Stoodley Pike I was amazed at the views down towards Todmorden. I climbed up to the top of Stoodley Pike very carefully as it was pitch dark inside and then I stood for a few minutes just enjoying the different views. I was now under pressure to get to Jack Bridge before dark. I managed to reach the River Calder without any problems but had completely forgotten how steep the hill is on the other side. By the time I had reached Jack Bridge (9.20pm) the sweat was pouring off me. I bumped into the same 4 walkers who I had met on Friday near Crowden and they very kindly got me a pint whilst I pitched my tent. A long but enjoyable day.

          Walked: 28.33 miles          Percentage completed: 41.6 %