The Pennine Way 1991

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 2 - Edale to Howarth


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DIARY OF THE PENNINE WAY WALK

Day 1 - Friday 24th May 1991 - Edale to Crowden - 16 miles - 2400 ft Ascent

N.B. The calculation of mileage is a somewhat inexact science and that of ascent is even more so; different figures tend to come out depending what methods are used. The figures I have given are based on my own measurements and my own counting of contour lines, but should only be used as a rough guide. Where accommodation has been used within about half a mile of the route I have included that in the main figures, but where longer detours have been required, those have been shown separately.

Accommodation - CROWDEN HOSTEL - Dinner 7.30, Breakfast 8.00. Good drying room.

After all the build up and training the day of reckoning finally came and I had a considerable amount of anxiety about the state of my left ankle and my shoulders. If it came to the worst, I thought that I might be able to do at least some of the walking in trainers, but this was not really an option in the first few days because of the numerous peat bogs. As for my shoulders, I had no idea whether they would get better or worse as time went on.

I said goodbye to Jean and our elder daughter Amanda, who had driven me down to Edale, and wondered for a moment whether I had taken leave of my senses now that the big day had arrived. However, this was no time for doubts, so the only thing to do was to get started and see how it went. After photographs and farewells I made a start at 9.45 a.m. setting off along the 'alternative' route which, according to the latest book is now the recommended route. It is about a mile longer than the other route, but is easier going and easier to follow.

The weather was overcast with mist over Kinder Scout, but there were a few bright patches in the sky. My first consideration was to take it steadily as there was no rush and I hoped that it would be easier on my feet. The ground was very dry in most places, as there had been little rain in the past few weeks, so that would make the going over peat a lot easier. In fact, there had been so little rain that they were seriously talking of closing areas of the Peak District because of the fire risk. As I climbed to the top of Jacob's Ladder the mist had already started to lift and the top of Kinder was clear. I made the first error in route finding by ending up to the south of Kinder Low but this only added about half a mile to the route, as I was able to head across the top of Kinder in the general direction of Kinder Downfall. I soon regained the correct edge and reached the Downfall only to find that it was bone dry. I stopped for something to eat but was pestered by a sheep with a lamb, which were scrounging for food. I made the mistake of giving them an apple core and found that they then followed me all the way off Kinder to Mill Hill.

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Kinder Scout from Mill Hill
Kinder Scout from Mill Hill
Torside Clough from Torside Reservoir
Torside Clough from Torside Reservoir

Coming down from Kinder I met a couple who commented on the sheep following me and, though I didn't realise it at the time, I was to see a lot of them as they were following a very similar schedule to mine. They were called Mike and Edna from Southport and were now grandparents. They had done most of the major walks in the U.K. and had done the Pennine Way several times before. When asked about which walk was best they had no hesitation in saying "the Pennine Way". The going over Featherbed Moss was rather difficult, but it could have been a lot worse had the weather been wet. Coming over Bleaklow the rain clouds were threatening, but I managed to avoid the worst and only caught a few spots of rain. This part of the walk was relatively easy, as was the descent to Torside Reservoir. The sun started to come out and it eventually turned into a beautiful evening.

By the last couple of miles to the youth hostel my ankle was starting to get painful but was not too bad. Booked in at 6 p.m., joined the Y.H.A. and prepared for my first stay in a youth hostel. The dormitory was rather crowded with not much space for everyone to put all their rucksacks and equipment, but the Warden was very friendly and helpful, as were the other people who were staying there. There was a choice of four things for dinner, and for breakfast, so I opted for soup, chilli and apple crumble, with grapefruit and full fried breakfast in the morning.

After dinner, I walked up the hill behind the hostel with magnificent views over the reservoirs in the evening sunshine.


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Day 2 - Saturday 25th May - Crowden to Globe Farm - 12 miles - 1950 ft Ascent

Accommodation - GLOBE FARM BUNK HOUSE - Dinner 6 p.m. (usually 6.30) - Breakfast 8.30 as another party eating at 8.00 (could have chosen 7.30 if wanted). Drying facilities quite good.

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Black Hill from Wessenden Head
Black Hill from Wessenden Head

My ankle seemed to have recovered by the morning. Started off at 9.20 a.m. as there was only 12 miles to walk. There was low cloud over Black Hill and the weather was overcast but not raining. The cloud gradually lifted during the ascent to Black Hill and was clear of the summit by the time I got there. Kept on meeting people from the hostel and walked from Black Hill to Globe Farm with a French Canadian called Yves. There was a pleasant walk past the reservoirs of the Wessenden 'alternative' but the weather started to worsen, although it only ended up with a little drizzle. After taking it very leisurely and having several rests, arrived at 4.20 p.m.

My feet were holding up well and I did not have much of a problem from my shoulders with the rucksack, which had given me so much trouble during training. However, this had been a very easy day and even Black Hill summit was no problem with the peat dry and firm underfoot. I could see what it could be like in bad weather though. We made a slight error on Black Hill and ended up at the wrong side of Issue Clough, which added about half a mile, but otherwise everything went well.

Globe Farm was very pleasant. The accommodation is similar to the Y.H.A. but the standard of food and service is better and more akin to Bed & Breakfast. Dinner was soup, lasagne and bilberry pie and breakfast was 4 courses if you want them all, including a huge fried breakfast.

Went to Floating Light (Thwaites hand pulled) for a couple of pints with Yves but the beer was a bit "off" that night.

I had one blister on the side of my right heel but it was not causing much trouble.


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Day 3 - Sunday 26th May - Globe Farm to Mankinholes via Stoodley Pike - 13 miles on PW + 1.5 miles to YHA - 1100 ft Ascent

Accommodation - MANKINHOLES HOSTEL - Dinner 7 p.m., Breakfast 8.30 - Drying Room fair.

Started at 9.30 with weather overcast but with high cloud and little wind. Over Standedge there were lots of hot air balloons; I counted 11 at one point, and the walk was very pleasant with good views and easy going. The sun tried to come out but didn't quite manage it. When I reached the A640 road, I couldn't make out exactly where I was until I realised that I had followed the edge along instead of bearing right to Oldgate Nick, so I had to walk about half a mile up the road to rejoin the Pennine Way.

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Castleshaw Reservoirs from Ford's Cairn on Standedge
Castleshaw Reservoirs
Dhoul's Pavement on Blackstone Edge
Dhoul's Pavement on Blackstone Edge

The scenery was not very interesting over Windy Hill and the M62 motorway until Blackstone Edge and a cool northerly wind came up. At Blackstone Edge I met Mike and Edna again and walked with them to the White House where we called for a couple of pints of quite good John Smith's. The following reservoir walk was easy going but rather tedious until Withens Gate and Stoodley Pike. The monument has steps inside up to the first level with fine views of Calderdale, which is a beautiful valley that I didn't realise existed. Descended to Mankinholes the long way round, via the Pennine Way, to make the next day's walk easier.

The hostel was rather crowded as it was the Bank Holiday weekend and the facilities were not all that good, but adequate. There was a choice of two meals for dinner and I had soup, cheese and onion pie and rhubarb crumble. The evening turned very pleasant, so I sat and admired the view for a while before going down to the Top Brink with a choice of Marston's Pedigree, Castle Eden, Whitbread and Boddingtons - all hand pulled. It was very busy, as there were a lot of people in there, who were walking the Calderdale Way and other local walks.

I had a very poor night's sleep, as all the bed springs creaked badly whenever anyone moved. There was also someone snoring very loudly in there. One of the Pennine Way walkers told me later that he thought that the snorer was in the bunk above him. He gave a large shove with his foot on the mattress above and the chap then got out of bed and went to another dormitory to sleep. The only thing was that the snoring didn't stop as he had picked on the wrong person.

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Day 4 - Monday 27th May - Mankinholes to Haworth - 11.5 miles on PW + 5.5 miles to YHAs - 2750 ft Ascent on PW + 500 ft from/to hostels

Accommodation - HAWORTH HOSTEL - dinner 6.30 p.m. (normally), breakfast 8.15 a.m. - drying room poor.

After the usual breakfast, I started out at 9.20. Haworth had an early dinner at 6.30 p.m. and was nearly 18 miles via the Bronte Way, so there was less time for lingering. The morning started bright but then clouded over and became rather humid. All parts were still in working order and I didn't have too much in the way of blisters or aches and pains. Some say that if you can set off on the fourth day you have a good chance of making it to Kirk Yetholm.

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Calder Valley and Stoodley Pike from Withens Gate
Calder Valley and Stoodley Pike

The first three and a half miles are easy going along to Hebden Bridge, but then there is a steep climb up the other side of the Calder valley, which gives a fine view looking back at Stoodley Pike. My feet were doing well and I only had a few twinges from my back in the mornings. This tended to improve as the day went on, especially as the load decreased, as the food and drink was used up.

For the first time so far it looked as if a real downpour was imminent, so I stopped to put on the waterproofs. However, it only ended up with a bit of drizzle so I need not have bothered. The scenery was pleasant but not spectacular and by about the half-way stage at 1.20 p.m. I called for a pint in the Pack Horse Inn with Thwaites and Ruddles. This is only a few hundred yards off the Pennine Way. The pub was quite busy as it was Bank Holiday Monday and the weather was pleasant enough for people to be drinking outside. A couple of young Pennine Way walkers hobbled in carry large rucksacks with all their camping gear. One of them in particular was suffering very badly from blisters. I didn't see them again, so I don't know whether they eventually made it.

The rest of the day was easy walking apart from one moderate climb up to Withens, which is supposedly the setting for Wuthering Heights. At Withens I joined up with the Bronte Trail and headed for Haworth via the Bronte Falls. Everything around Haworth is prefixed by "Bronte" as there is large tourist industry surrounding the birthplace of the Bronte sisters. It is so popular with foreign tourists that there are even signs written in Japanese. This detour from the Pennine Way was for accommodation in the nearest Youth Hostel and involved nearly 4 miles of extra walking in each direction. A sign says "Youth Hostel via Bronte Falls 3 3/4 miles; via direct route 3 1/4 miles". The waterfall and bridge were crowded with people as it was Bank Holiday Monday, and the road into Haworth very busy. I discovered later that when I met up with the proper road it would have been better going via Penistone Hill rather than via Cemetery Road as that would have been more pleasant and leads out to the back of the church. The Youth Hostel is about a mile along the road to Keighley, opposite the Bronte Hotel, and after a long walk it seemed as if it were never going to appear. I arrived at 5.30 p.m. and discovered that they had delayed dinner until 7 p.m., so I could have lingered more if I had known. The hostel is in a fine old mansion with much more room than most. However, my dormitory was filled with a coach load of German teenage boys and the floor was littered with empty beer cans (despite this not being allowed by the YHA). There was also a large party of teenage girls from London and the landings and corridors were milling with people. The Germans were not in for dinner and were last seen waiting outside the pub for opening time. The girls filled the dining hall with a sound level of about 200 decibels, which didn't make for a very relaxing meal, but there again it is a "Youth" Hostel. There was a choice of two things for dinner - I had soup, lasagne and gateau.

The warden was concerned for the plight of a few of us and said that, as a family had not turned up, we could move into their four bedded room in the hope of getting some sleep.

I had a walk around Haworth after dinner (about 2 miles) and then called at the Bronte Hotel where I met a Cornish chap from the same dormitory and was bored to tears by his rambling tales, so only stayed for a pint and escaped for an early night. The night was relatively peaceful until 6 a.m. when the London girls got up to depart with much crashing of doors. Breakfast was more relaxed with them out of the way.


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