Hebden Bridge to Cowling
Having missed breakfast yesterday on my day off, because I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed in time, I didn’t know what to expect this morning. I’m pleased to say that Bar Place did me proud and produced an excellent breakfast, which kind of made me wish I’d had one yesterday too. Oh well, never mind.
It’s a good job the breakfast was good as the first task of the day after grabbing my gear was climbing the 500ft up to Heptonstall. Even at that early time of the morning the sun was beginning to get hot and the hill just seemed to go on and on. The view over Hebden Bridge made the hill worth it.
Once there though Heptonstall was a lovely little place and passing little cottages up for sale I found myself wondering how much they would be going for and daydreaming about moving to somewhere like that. Pipe dream for sure as I’m sure the little cottages, and they were little, were probably well out of my price bracket. It’s nice to dream though.
It took about an hour to actually make it back to the Pennine Way through Heptonstall, mainly due to the long hill, but once I did the path took a slight change from previous days. Ahead of me lay Heptonstall Moor and although pretty in its own right, it was a bit bleak and certainly looked as though it was going to be a lonely walk. Even though by now – around 9:45am – the heat haze was clearly visible, I was glad it wasn’t raining as I’m sure it would have been horrible walking across there in driving wind and rain as there was absolutely nothing to give you any shelter. I guess the same went for the sun too but I had my hat on and I’d caked myself in sun cream so I was hopeful I’d get through it ok.
Not long into my walk across the moor a lady walking her dog came towards me on the path. We said hello, as you do, and on mentioning what I was doing she said she’d seen three other people in the last two weeks doing exactly the same thing. Clearly there are a lot of people who have decided that this is the year to do the end to end walk?
Knowing that it wasn’t likely that I’d pass many more people I decided to put my iPod on to try and keep me sane in the bleak landscape on my own. The tunes really helped to keep me going that’s for sure.
The landscape I was walking through definitely had a beauty of its own, even if it was a bit on the bleak side. The colours from the heather and grass on the distant hills, the deep blue reservoirs, they all made for some very nice views indeed, made better for the lovely blue sky.
Feeling a bit on the peckish side I stopped by Walshaw Dean reservoir, dropped my pack, took my boots off and had my lunch. The view over the reservoir, with the pretty pink flowers around its edge, was pretty stunning and was certainly better than being in a work’s canteen or sat at my desk in the office eating my lunch. Oh how I miss those days…not!
I didn’t take too long over my lunch as I really wanted to get to Cowling sooner rather than later. My left leg really took a hit over the last few days over the Peaks and it was already beginning to niggle at me. I’m not sure if it’s the knee or a muscle problem but I really wanted to be at the end of the day’s walk asap, even if I was only half way at that point.
The Pennine Way took me up over Withins Height, another hill climb, and as I made my way down the other side I came across a sign post for other paths to places like Bronte Falls – a walk for another day. One thing I did notice was the fact that the sign, as well as being in English, was also in Japanese or Chinese. Do they get that many Japanese or Chinese visitors walking up there? Weird.
While I was walking over Withins Height I had a little text chat with Craig from work, well where I used to work. You’ll never believe this but, remember the couple I met in Castleton who came from Slough? Well, the coincidence didn’t stop there. Craig told me that Pat, the lady, was looking at my Just Giving page and noticed Natalie Beach’s name on the list – she works at the McAfee Aylesbury office where I worked. She phone Natalie to find out how we knew each other and, would you believe it, Pat is the receptionist for the McAfee offices in Slough! Talk about a small world.
A little further along the Pennine Way I was walking along a bit of country lane when I spotted another heavily laden walker talking to a lady at the side of the road. As I got closer the walker left but the lady gestured for me to go over, so I did. She said that she’d seen me making my way up to Heptonstall this morning and also in the fish and chip shop last night. I kind of felt as though I was being stalked for a moment until she mentioned that her husband was walking the Pennine way and she was spending a couple of weeks supporting him, meaning he was only carrying a light day pack for those two weeks, the lucky so and so!
As we were talking she mentioned the walker – a lady – who had just left. She’d helped her out by giving her some water as she looked as though she was suffering a bit in the heat, which was really nice of her. She asked me if I needed water but I told her I was ok as I had at least a litre left. Nice lady.
I spent a good ten minutes chatting but with only four or so miles left to go I was keen to get to the end. As I was walking though I quite quickly caught up with the lady who had been struggling in the heat. As I came up the path behind her I said hello – I didn’t want to scare her to death – and asked her if she wanted company for the rest of the walk. She was going pretty slowly and was very red in the face, clearly finding the going tough, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to relax this evening if I didn’t know she’d made it off the hills to a bed for the night.
She – Gail – said that she was going a lot slower than I was but I told her it wasn’t a problem and that the company would be nice for me too. So, we set off, me in front and her behind. To be honest, no matter how slow I tried to walk I ended up striding away from her, but I kept on stopping to wait for her to catch up.
We chatted a bit and she’d left Hebden Bridge at 7:30am that morning, a whole hour before I did. She really had found the going tough indeed in the heat of the day if I’d caught up with her, taking breaks along the way.
Gail was from the US and was over here on holiday, if you can call putting yourself through all of that a holiday? She had family in Sheffield and had been over before with friends to do the coast to coast path but nobody wanted to come and do the Pennine Way with her so, she came over to do it on her own. I’m not so sure that was a good idea.
The last three miles or so took considerably longer than they would have if I’d been walking at my usual pace. I think they took the best part of a couple of hours to cover and walking at such a slow pace really did play havoc with my feet and knees. Still, I felt like I was doing someone a good turn so I sucked up the pain and led the way to Cowling. I even showed her where her campsite was as I’m sure she would have missed it in her state as it was part of a B & B we were close to. Bless. I hope she does better tomorrow.
I carried on in to Cowling centre, if you can call it that, and finally found my B & B – the Woodland House – around 4:40pm. I’m pretty sure I’d have been there for 4pm if I’d not walked with Gail but that didn’t matter too much, I was there in plenty of time to relax and clean myself up before speaking to the girls so it wasn’t a problem.
Susan and Sandy ushered me through to the garden and gave me some cake and a drink to refresh myself and we sat there for half an hour or so chatting about all sorts of things. Funnily enough, when I told them I came from Chatham, they said that they’d been there. They walked the Saxon Way, although they did tell me that they got a bus through Gillingham as they didn’t really relish the thought of walking through there – wise people!
It’s funny how people I’ve met have done more walking around where I grew up than I have? I guess after this little stroll I’ll have to correct that and do some walking closer to “home”?
Refreshed, I made my way to my room and had a lovely soak in the bath to try and ease the pain in my feet and my left leg.
I had a lovely chat with the girls on the phone this evening. Alice had so much she wanted to tell me and every now and then while we were talking Elisa called out “Daddy, daddy, daddy…” so Alice would pass her the phone where she’d make songs up to sing to me. Hearing this Alice sang a song to me as well. It was wonderful and really helped to put a smile on my face. And, instead of the usual couple of minutes I got a nearly fifteen minutes with the on the phone tonight…wonderful!
The next thing I had to sort out was dinner. Susan told me that there was a chip shop down the road – two nights on the trot? – but that was about it. Fish and chips it was then. I hobbled down the road as they were shutting shortly, and as I got there I spotted a sign for the “Cowling sea monster meal deal”…oooo intriguing. It turns out that this is an 11oz piece of haddock with chips and a drink, and all for £5.95. Bargain…and sold to the man who couldn’t walk properly, namely me!
I sat outside at a table waiting for the fish to cook and when it came out the fish was huge! I couldn’t help but take a photo and post it on Facebook and email it to Russ. It’s so great not having to worry about how many calories I’m eating of an evening. I’d better try and get out of the habit though when I get back home or I’ll swiftly put back on all the weight I’ve lost while I’ve been walking!
And that, as they say, is that for today. I’ve been finding it hard to write up the day’s events recently. I don’t know why, but at least I get there in the end eh?
A couple more days of walking this week and then a weekend with Russ and Rachel, which after a chat with Russ this evening sounds like it’s going to be lots of fun! Oh, with some resting of course too 😉