Bleak Hey Nook to Hebden Bridge
After struggling to write yesterday’s update, and then to upload the photos to Flickr, I ended up having a very late night, followed swiftly by a not very good sleep. Still, I woke up feeling ok this morning and not hurting too much.
Luckily, the rain from yesterday looked to have passed and over breakfast I enjoyed some very nice views over the hills through the dining room window. I’d checked the weather and the forecast was looking ok for the day, and knowing that the route was supposed to be a bit easier than the previous two days I was hopeful for a good walk.
Fully fed I thanked Eric for the stay, got my gear on and headed out the door to make my way over the valley – yes, down hill and back up again even before I’d really started the day’s walk – to get back on the Pennine Way.
It didn’t take me too long to get back to the path and as I made my way to the gate I noticed someone standing there, another walker. When I got there I realised it was the same guy I’d seen the previous two days at the places I’d been staying at; Colin so I finally found out today .
We had a little chat about the previous day and, as we were both about to do the same walk for the vast majority of the day, we decided it would be nice to have some company for a change.
The walk started out reasonably flat with just the odd incline but nothing like the previous few days that’s for sure. The path still meant you had to concentrate on where you were putting your feet but that wasn’t too much of a problem.
It wasn’t long before we were crossing the A640 and making our way towards the M62. Collin said there was a food van there, so his guide book said, so we were both looking forward to a refreshing drink when we got there.
There was a bit of a hill on the way to the M62 and it was around this point in the walk when the rain started to fall for the first time. It wasn’t too bad but the clouds didn’t look as though they were going anywhere fast and we were both hoping that it wouldn’t be wet all day…not fun. Reaching the brow of the hill we spotted the food van, parked in a layby on the A672, which spurred us on through the rain.
While we were stopped enjoying a drink and a chat with the guy in the food van I decided that it would be a good idea to put my waterproof trousers on and to get my gloves out of my pack. The wind was getting quite cold now and I was a little concerned that this was going to make my cold – the one I’ve had for over a month now – even worse.
While we were talking to the guy on the van he mentioned the marines training in this area. He said they used to carry telegraph poles, in teams of six, over the Pennine Way starting there. I bet they don’t do that any more because of health and safety?!
Drinks drunk we said goodbye and headed onwards to cross the M62. All the other motorways I’ve crossed so far on the walk I’ve crossed using a road but this one was different. There was a small footbridge over the motorway and I must admit, I found it a little disconcerting while walking across it, especially with the wind whipping down the motorway. We didn’t hang around on there very long that’s for sure, just long enough to get a photo.
From the M62 we headed up to Blackstone Edge, a bleak rocky outcrop overlooking Hollingworth Lake and the Lancashire towns of Rochdale and Littleborough. There were some great views – the rain had stopped for a bit by now – but the walking was a little tough going.
The path had all but disappeared by this point, as Collin’s guide book pointed out. We had to keep a good look out for posts and cairns to see where we should be going. Yes, the GPS helped but you couldn’t keep an eye on it and walk at the same time as it was very rugged up there and there were lots of rocks to get over, slowing the pace considerably.
We made it through though and started to head down towards the A58 On our way down we came across the Aiggin Stone. The stone may have been a way-marker, around 600 years old, and is situated near the route over Blackstone Edge that some say is an old Roman road. It was first “discovered” lying prone alongside a pile of stones, with a large cross and the letters I and T incised into it. This irregular block of gritstone was re-erected in 1933, and now stands about 3ft 6in (1m) above the ground.
When I left the B & B this morning Eric told me that the walk after lunch was a bit boring. There were a number of reservoirs to walk along and it was all a bit samey.I wasn’t too worried about this as this inevitably meant the path would be pretty flat which is always a good thing.
Sure enough, after crossing the A58, ignoring the White House pub tempting though it was to go in, we picked up the path along Blackstone Edge reservoir. From there we headed round Head Drain to Light Hazzles reservoir.
Feeling a little peckish now we looked for a suitable place to sit to have a snack and catch up on some water. We found a few rocks to sit on and took the weight off for a few minutes. As we sat there though we could see a weather front coming in over the hills – something that is amazing to watch for sure – and the wind started to pick up again, so we finished our snacks and headed off again.
Walking along Warland reservoir the wind was really whipping across the water. So much so it made walking harder than it should have been, fighting not to be blown sideways. Half way along the reservoir the railings along the edge of the water were replaced by a small wall, only about waist high. It was amazing what difference this wall made to the wind – it completely stopped. Collin and I couldn’t believe it and if you leaned over the wall you could immediately feel the full force of the wind again. Quite astonishing.
From the reservoirs we headed across Langfield Common. All very bleak but the walking wasn’t too difficult, other than trying not to fall into the boggy bits of course.
In the distance we could see Stoodley Pike tower, a beacon monument, which I’d be walking past but Collin wouldn’t as he was shortly taking another path down to Mankinholes.
Reaching the path to Mankinholes Collin and I said goodbye, shook hands and went our separate ways. He had one more day’s walking ahead before heading home and as I had a day off planned we wouldn’t be meeting up on the path again. It was great to have some company today, especially across Blackstone Edge as two heads definitely worked better than one to figure out where the path was supposed to be going. Thanks Collin.
On my own now I made my way up to Stoodley Pike tower to see what it was all about. The original monument was started in 1814 to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon and the surrender of Paris, finally completed in 1815 after the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, it collapsed in 1854 following an earlier lightning strike and ongoing wear and tear from the elements. The replacement monument completed in 1856 was, rather wisely, built a bit further from the edge of the hill, with a lightning conductor added in 1889.
From there I only had a few miles to go but my feet were starting to fall away from me again. It hadn’t been the hardest of walks so I have no idea why they decided to start to give up; there’s doesn’t seem to be any logic to it when it happens and I’ve given up trying to figure it out now.
Instead of having to go uphill to Hebden Bridge today I ended up going downhill, down quite a steep hill in fact and it played no end of havoc on my feet after the day’s walking. Still, I made it and found somewhere to stay shortly past 4pm – Bar Place.
Staggering through the door, probably looking rather desperate, I asked if they had a room for the next couple of nights, which they did, and then had a wonderful pint of ale…lovely!
I stood there for a bit chatting about the walk, local accents and a whole host of other things before finally making my way up to my room to sort myself out.
I have to say, I was aching all over after the day’s walk, no doubt a culmination of the previous tough days, and I wasn’t sure sure if I’d be able to get out for something to eat.
After speaking to the girls on the phone, where Alice read me some of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” which was brilliant, I finally dragged my sorry backside out and got something to eat and another beer at the Shoulder of Mutton pub.
Completely shattered I made my way back to my room and pretty much crashed for the night. The Pennine Way is definitely taking it out of me that’s for sure.
There was one thing about today’s walk that slightly confused me. Supposedly all the guide books don’t really say much about this stint on the Pennine Way other than it’s a bit boring and there’s not much to see. I didn’t get this. Yes, there were reservoirs to walk past and moorland to trudge across, but with Blackstone Edge and the views over the hills it definitely had a beauty of its own – the view from Stoodley Pike was amazing. Even the bleak moorland had a rugged beauty with distant rock outcrops and moorland plants.
Other than the aching feet near the end and the on and off rain, it had been a really nice walk, helped a lot by having a good chat with Collin along the way. A day off tomorrow to rest the aching legs so hopefully I’ll be back up to full steam on Wednesday for another leg of the Pennine Way.