Day 47 - Marsden to Hebden Bridge
Another very wet day today. When it was the heat wave I was saying that I’d rather have rain than heat. Which I probably still agree with, but relentless rain is pretty sapping too. And it means there aren’t as many things to look at as the views disappear, and the world becomes much smaller as the hood of the waterproof obscures your vision. so then it’s just about the navigating and the walking, without some of the things that make that a pleasure. I’ve not felt low today though, just would have preferred it to be dry!
The route today was a combination of little roads and minor footpaths, picking my way north, skirting the edge of the moorlands. I could have got to Hebden Bridge on the Pennine Way, but it would have made the day over 20 miles. I might have considered that on a lovely day, but definitely not today.
I made a strong start by heading confidently in entirely the wrong direction. One might have thought that this process might have helped my awareness of which way’s up, but it would appear not. There was a tough hill at the start of the day, my poles helping me heave myself up the incline, breathing heavily inside my hood. Hills are fine if there’s a view at the top, when it’s just grey they are less appealing.
The first of the various footpaths I took was an indicator of the trials to come. Although an obvious track, it was dramatically overgrown with shrubs and weeds, at one point above head height.
But at least I could see there was a way through. I fought my way to the end and continued on roads, past the excellently named Wham Farm. Did George and Andrew have an interest in it?
A new feature has been wind turbines. I’ve seen a lot today, many quite up close. They roar when in full flight, rather like the sound of the spring drum with which I entranced the little children I used to teach. My catastrophising mind, which I’ve been observing a lot today, immediately suggested that the likely scenario coming from walking past the spinning turbine would be that it would fly off and rid me of my limbs in the way that the seminal episode of ER with the helicopter back in the day unfolded. But, as I told myself, these were just thoughts that I didn’t need to concern myself with. And all was well. It has made me want to look up the name of the character that got delimbed though.
More footpath incidents. I approached what looked like a straightforward short path only to discover that a whole tree had fallen down and entirely blocked my route. I swore, fairly firmly and very much out loud. I got a response from the other side of the hedge ‘I know what you mean’. The lovely man from the council had come to try to clear the path. My way was impassable, but he helpfully directed me to a detour that only involved a few nettles before getting past the tree.
Having got past that, I thought I was in the clear, but then another section across a fell proved one of the most tricky of the day. It was a bad combination of bog, periodic large uneven boulders, divots and the very tall spiky grass that grows in bog land. There was little defined path, and the drystone walls that used to enclose the spaces had collapsed, making more trip hazards. I’m still very cautious with my leg, as any sort of jolt still gives me a lot of pain. My average walking speed reduced to 2 miles an hour as I gingerly picked my way over all the obstacles. I was talking to a friend at the time, who I’m sure really appreciated my bad temper during the process.
A sobering moment passing Scammonden Water, one of many reservoirs in the area. Although I’m not loving the rain, it’s clear that we need it.
My need for a coffee, and in particular a sit down and a dry off was slaked in Rishworth. I’d already been rather intrigued by Rishworth Palace, the understated name for some new apartments within an old industrial building. Just Scrumptious cafe seemed a much more approachable place. Jane and Louise were very welcoming, and clearly that is paying off for their business, the place was filled with regulars, many of whom were keen to chip in with suggestions of the shortest and therefore driest route to Hebden Bridge. Jane opened the business in autumn 2019, obviously a terrible time to be venturing into hospitality. I was very glad that they made it through the pandemic.
A steep hill out of Rishworth which they all warned me about in the cafe. I could say that I stopped to look at the cobbled section in the road because I was interested in why it had been left like that when the rest had been tarmacked (maybe for more grip in the snow? Also, I’m not convinced that’s how one spells tarmacked?). But really it was just so that I could catch my breath.
And then, miraculously the rain stopped. There was even a moment of blue sky. I divested myself of my waterproofs with such relief. The lack of grey meant a bit of view, and my spirits were immediately raised.
But as I started to walk downhill, the clouds came down again. I quickly put my coat back on, but thought that I might not bother with the bulky waterproof over trousers. A mistake. Within five minutes my legs were soaked and I was starting to feel cold. I follow a Coast to Coast walking group, and recently someone posted about how he got cold out on the moors, and how quickly things can turn dangerous. I debated whether it was worth putting the extra layer over already wet clothes, but decided it couldn’t make me colder. Good shout, things were much better, maybe working like a wetsuit trapping the wet layer and keeping it warm. It was useful experience.
The final footpath foray was coming off High Stones Hill and down towards Cragg Vale. The contour lines were very close together, so I was expecting it to be steep. I wasn’t ready for it to be quite so slippery. I talked myself down using my poles for the first two thirds, but eventually my nerve failed and I had to come down on my bottom. I followed my friend Sue’s lead when she used a similar technique approaching Cheltenham. Better safe than sorry. I was glad not to be observed trying to heave myself up again though.
Hebden Bridge was my final destination today, and I’m staying for a rest day too. I love it here, I love the canal, the architecture, the creative vibe and the chilled atmosphere. And I love Aaron, the owner of the apartment I’m staying in. On hearing what I was doing, he upgraded my apartment to one with every mod con including bath, shower and swanky coffee machine and took all my disgustingly stinky washing, returning it moments ago clean and dried. Some people are just lovely.
Although it’s been grey, extremely wet and tough going it’s been a good day today. And to sort out my own dinner and eat it sitting on a sofa, icing my leg and watching the TV felt like one of the best things in the world.
Distance travelled: 15.5 miles
Total ascent: 2584 feet
Calories burned: 2433
Local tipple - Pils from Roosters Brewing Co. Harrogate
Dinner from the Co-op
Tortilla chips with guacamole
Margarita pizza with salad
New song of the day
Pain - Pink Pantheress
It’s very short, but I understand that’s her thing - she’s a TikTok phenomenon. Got a touch of the Lily Allens, and I quite liked the jauntiness. But not sure what the ending is about.
Video of the day
Number of pieces of Yorkshire parkin with cheese consumed between 5pm and 8pm - 3.