"A Walk on the Moors" - John's Pennine Way Ramble, Day 4 - July 4th 2000, Blackshaw Head to Lothersdale
|Day||Date||Start||Finish||Approx. Miles||Hours Taken||Accommodation|
|4||Tue. 4th July||Blackshaw Head||Lothersdale||17||7.5||B&B - Mrs. M. Foster, Lynmouth, Dale End, BD20 8EH, Tel. 01535 632744|
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Left on my own (was it something I'd whistled?) from Badger Field Farm at 09:10 after a huge cooked breakfast. I also learned the art of making butties at breakfast time from the sausages and leftover toast, a trick that was to sustain me for many a day's walking!
The weather was fair but misty and it stayed the same all day. Happily there was no need for the waterproofs. It turned out to be the first (and only) day that I walked completely on my own so I tried to listen to the radio until poor reception knocked that on the head. I did manage to hear Radio 4's abridgement of Bill Bryson's new book about Australia and thought, "if only you knew what you'd got me into!" (see my reasons for walking the Pennine Way).
The walk began with a slight uphill and then down a narrow path between two walls with very slippery footing. I reached a stream that was crossed by a delightful, and seemingly very old, stone bridge, then uphill and across a field (nearly the wrong one!). I crossed a road and a further couple of fields before climbing the gentle Clough Head Hill with fine views East towards Hardcastle Crags. The views were unobstructed by fences, walls, pylons or poles. There were no trees and no houses or farms, just a few sheep. There are always at least "just a few" sheep!
There was easy walking down to Gorple Lower Reservoir and to the confluence of two streams, Reaps Water and Graining Water, each supposedly crossed by a footbridge, except that one was missing. Fortunately there hadn't been much rain so the stream was easy to cross. I followed Graining Water for a while and very pleasant it was too. I was almost tempted by a sign to The Pack Horse pub but it was too early and the bar wouldn't have been open.
The Way then followed a road for a short while before turning off to the three Walshaw Dean Reservoirs (Lower, Middle and Upper). After crossing to the far side I met a couple of guys, the oddest of all Pennine Way Walkers, those doing it backwards (i.e. north to south). I came to realise that these people are a bit strange and met several of them as the mass of us slowly headed north. It'll never catch on, this walking the wrong way.
From the top of the hill (Withins Height End) I caught my last view of Stoodly Pike, just visible many miles away, above Hebden Bridge. It was almost like saying good-bye to a friend. The walk down from there took me past Top Withins, just another ruin to me, but it's apparently famous as being in Wuthering Heights, written by some Brontë fella or other. I looked and looked but I could see no sign of Kate Bush at all. And you say I'm not cultured!
I did, however, see the obligatory pair of lady Japanese visitors, doing the Brontë tour and well armed with the usual array of cameras, etc. There's even a b****y footpath called the Brontë Way which joins the real Way for a while. Free of further Brontë interference I took the gentle downhill track to Ponden Reservoir and had a pleasant sausage butty stop with a nice view of the water.
Just after a road I crossed into a field where sheep were being given their annual no. 2 haircut and got a bit lost climbing uphill over a couple of fields, nothing too disastrous, though. There was now a stretch of open boggy moorland, the type that always seems to come along when you are happily walking with firm footing beneath you and your boots are still reasonably clean and dry. This was Ikornshaw Moor and was as dour as any Yorkshireman I've ever met (including my Dad)! There followed a descent into the small village of Ikornshaw where, on the way down (near Lower Summer House), I found a label and the remnants of a balloon from a balloon race. I later sent the label back to the school in Widnes from where it had travelled.
Here's a useless piece of information about Widnes. About the only thing it's famous for is that Paul Simon wrote "Homeward Bound" on its railway station:
Paul Simon (writing in a magazine some years ago): ... I remember playing a concert somewhere in the middle of Germany. It's strange enough to be in Germany, and when I finished playing, I was thinking, I hate Homeward Bound. And then I thought, Why do I hate it ? I said "Oh, I hate the words." So I went over them. And then I remembered where I wrote it. I was in Widnes, actually at the railway station. I'd just played a little folk job. The job of a folk singer in those days was to be Bob Dylan. You had to be a poet. That's what they wanted. And I thought that was a drag. And I wanted to get home to my girlfriend, Kathy in London.
However, I digress (unlike me!). From Ikornshaw, the Way descended slightly to a path that passed Lumb Farm and skirted the rather pretty Lumb Head Falls. It crossed a road on the outskirts of Cowling and climbed uphill through meadow land, over fields, past streams and many derelict farm houses before beginning the descent into Lothersdale, my objective for Day 4, where I arrived at 16:40. Before reaching there I passed Woodhead Farm, previously, I guess, also derelict but now with an absolute fortune being spent to turn it into a very wealthy person's country retreat. What me, bitter! I only drink the stuff!
In Lothersdale, another smashing little Pennine village, we'd planned to camp on Mrs. Foster's lawn but B&B'd again, instead. Just as well because two other Way walkers, George and Mark, to become famous as the Taxi Boys, arrived totally knackered and plonked their tent on the lawn.
Noelene and I had a good meal in the Hare and Hounds pub with Harry and Elaine and another huge, gentle giant of a guy called Peter (Haines). Peter was limping quite badly and had a blistered foot but with Elaine being a very well equipped gynecological nurse he was soon sorted out and was to become one of the Famous Four (myself, Harry, Elaine and he) who, from then on walked most of the way together. We left the pub for an early night with Peter and the Taxi Boys there (presumably) until closing time.
Peter later told us that he named George and Mark the Taxi Boys because whenever they'd finished a day's walking they'd get a taxi into town. It followed that they'd actually only walked to Cowling on the day that we'd met them and took a taxi to Lothersdale because they couldn't find anywhere to camp there. The next day, one of them bussed and taxied into Hebden Bridge to do the washing, got back to Cowling, walked to Lothersdale and then had to give up when one of their four Achilles tendons packed in. They were great guys and I hope that they do eventually make it all the way.
Day 4 was a good day with relatively easy walking, interesting sights, quite beautiful countryside and a good combination of solitude, for example over Clough Head Hill and around the Walshaw Dean reservoirs, and contact with real people (Japanese tourists?!) rather than just walkers. The going was mushy in places but was more than made up for by the relative ease and firmness of most of the paths. Lothersdale is a great stopping off point, with overnight accommodation right on the Way and good beer at the Hare and Hounds. I got to meet the famous Taxi Boys and Peter too!
Adnam's Bitter (just 2 pints)
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