This winter has been unusual. The driest and warmest November on record was followed by the wettest ever December with flooding affecting large parts of Northern England. Now we have our first sprinkling of snow.
Along with Les, I was due to do a reccee for Crosby Rambling Club for our next walk. Our destination was Hebden Bridge which was one of the worst affected towns during the initial floods in December. We were concerned as to whether the paths would be passable and the footbridges intact. We had tried to contact the Tourist Information Office but had not been able to make a connection. When we arrived in Hebden Bridge we made for the Information Office. It looked closed but as we approached a woman opened the door and said “welcome, come inside”. It was just a shell. Newly plastered walls and it was being rewired. There was still no telephone line which was why we had been unable to contact them. However there were a few leaflets and a large scale map. Most important was the fact that the lady was able to give us some valuable information. We described our proposed route and she said that the paths were open but it would not be easy walking. There was a question mark about a section along the canal where two days ago there had been a landslip. The town was slowly returning to normal. Most of the shops were open as were the tea shops and the pub. When a coachload of us return in a couple of weeks it will be good that we can contribute a few pounds to the local economy.
So. what about our walk.
We set off along the canal towpath and saw some bewildered ducks standing on a sheet of ice.
After about half a mile we came to a steel gate which blocked our way.Beyond it we could see that the embankment had fallen away. We were forced to climb up to the road and suffer 3/4 of a mile of road walking until we came to the turnoff for the Pennine Way. We now had a tough 750 ft climb up onto the moor. Close to an old caravan I spotted a collection of old boots left to return to nature.
Up on the moor the ground was frozen which was a bonus as we were not sinking into the mud, We had to drop down steeply to cross Golden Water. Here we had to be very careful as the rocky steps were covered with a thin film of ice. We continued to head north along the Pennine Way through patchy snow.
At one point near Clough Head I glanced at the screen on my GPS and could see hardly anything. Just the path heading north and the blue circle showing out location. The area was featureless. No buildings and hardly a contour line. The weather was closing in and we felt the first spots of rain. We were miles from any habitation and with no phone signal it was not the time to do anything foolish. This is why this blog comes under the category – Adventures with Les!
We crossed Heponstall Moor to reach the intersection of the Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway.
We followed the path to Gorple Cottages close to Gorpie Lower Reservoir and then crossed Graining Water via the footbridge before heading up to a minor road.
Our planned return was along Hebden Dale. We had a short section of road walking descending to a couple of zig-zags to come to the footbridge across the river.
Our map,showed a path right on the edge of the river but we decided that it was too dangerous as the river was still high. We chose a higher and more substantial path through woodland. The path became more of a track and led us past Hardcastle Crags, a favourite Victorian tourist attraction. Gibson Mill. a former cotton mill and entertainment emporium is now a visitor centre.
At New Bridge we crossed to the opposite side of the river only to re-cross it a few hundred yards later to follow waymarks for the Hebden Bridge Riverside Walk. It was not shown on my map but there were frequent waymarks. One section led us very close to the river over rocky steps still coated with ice. To add to the fun it was now five o’clock and almost dark.
It was completely dark by the time we got back to the car. I was Cold, Damp and Exhausted. Three adjectives beginning with C, D and E. What About F!. Yes, I was F ****, Sorry I can’t think of the word. Have to skip that one. I was Glad and Happy to be back at the car.
We had done 12.6 miles and 3095 feet of ascent through mud, ice and snow. No wonder my body ached.
Back home I relaxed with a dish of pasta and a bottle of red. A nice Barbera D’Asti from the Piedmont region of Italy. A table wine, not highly alcoholic but just what I needed.
PS. I have just remembered the F word. It was fatigued, tired or fatigue if you speak French.
It has been a hard day.