Day 50 - Stanbury to Elslack
The forecast for today was an 80 percent chance of rain, so it was with resignation that I packed up ready for the day. Last night’s accommodation was the least good of the trip. My room was more like a cell, with no window. It had a velux above the pillow, from which insects dropped, and there was no blind across it so the light was bright very early. And then as a triple threat the rain in the night rattled on the virtually horizontal glass like a samba band. Because today was not an especially long walk, I considered setting off later, but in the end decided that it was not a place to linger.
As I set off, the skies were grey but not too threatening. So I decided to risk keeping all the waterproofs in the rucksack, and brilliantly that’s where they stayed till lunchtime. It makes such a difference when it stays dry.
The first mile or so was on the road, past Ponden with its mill and the impressive 200 year old Sunday school building, thought to be another Wuthering Heights inspiration.
Past another empty reservoir. The river feeding it appeared to be almost dry too. I played the very exciting game of ‘is it a chicken, turkey or a goose?’ and then stood in the road to protect the mystery bird being run over by a speeding Mini.
Then a steady climb up the side of Oakworth Moor towards the trig point at Wolf Stones. I guess the photos of the moor all look pretty similar, but when out in this landscape I find it so fantastic that I want to record it forever, as if I’ve never seen it before.
As yesterday, the path was clear, with flags over the boggy sections. I’m very conscious of how much more relaxed I am when on a national trail, without the stress of managing the footpaths and navigation. Doing the miles feels easy and enjoyable. I notice when I’m tackling hills or uneven sections, but that isn’t stressful. I paused to listen to the call of an almost entirely camouflaged bird. It was just her and me. I’ve included the video I took, in case anyone can identify the sound?
As I started the descent towards Ickornshaw I noticed someone walking towards me. It was the older gentleman from yesterday, with more clothes on than previously. I said hello with a smile as I passed, but he then said that he would change direction and walk with me. I ended up feeling rather sorry for him, he was clearly wanting company. But that wasn’t my responsibility, and I didn’t want my day hijacked. So I eventually made an excuse and moved on, leaving me feeling rather conflicted about whether I should have been kinder to him.
Having come off the fell the landscape was then much less rugged, with undulating fields as opposed to moorland. I enjoyed further chicken interaction, there seem to be a lot about today. As I walked in the morning the valley was vibrant with cockerels’ calls mixing with the sheep’s protestations.
Watching a helicopter on manoeuvres above me brought my mind to the charity, and how the fund raising was doing. I never ask people for money, but I talk about the charity, and answer questions about why I’m supporting the Air Ambulance in particular. Sometimes people respond to me by making a cash donation, sometimes by taking a photo of the information on my rucksack to donate later, which they often do. And sometimes people say well done and do no more than that. I reckon all of those responses are fine. I’m very pleased that the fund is inching towards £5,000 - that feels like a significant sum.
A combination of paths and quiet roads brought me to Lothersdale. The pub here couldn’t have been more different to yesterday lunchtime’s, it was very busy with nicely dressed people having three course lunches. But they were welcoming to me with my muddy boots and made a good sandwich.
Another stiff climb out of the valley back towards the moors. A couple of men at the pub cheerfully told me that the Pennine Way gets a lot harder to navigate and a lot steeper as it heads north. I decided therefore to enjoy this easier section whilst I could. A little foray with a field of lively cows who lined up jostling each other whilst I skirted the dry stone wall wondering whether I’d be able to hoik myself over if it came to it. I used my cow whisperer voice and they stayed in their phalanx and didn’t charge. So many episodes of cows not doing anything when it comes to it - and yet each one gets my heart pumping and I always consider adding lots of miles to avoid them. I’m not sure I’ll feel any less scared of them in another 50 days.
Up onto Elslack Moor, past the grave of Robert Wilson. During the Napoleonic War, beacons were set up on prominent hills to give warning of invasion. They were manned by beacon guards. Robert Wilson was a guard at Pinhaw, the highest point on this moor. In January 1805 he and two other guards were trapped in their hut by the beacon in a snowstorm. Running short of food, he left the hut to get supplies. He never returned. His body was found a little way from the beacon, and he was buried where he was found. A sad end, but what an amazing place to finally rest.
At the Pinhaw beacon many questions were answered for me about what the various hills that I could see in the distance were called. An excellent informative display with a 360 degree description of the landmarks which had been erected in memory of the victims of the pandemic. I think it’s the first memorial of this sort that I’ve seen. And it was a high place, so a bit of selfie action was required. These views make me feel so happy.
It was straightforward walking off the moor and down the steep road to Elslack and my lovely inn for the night. My back and leg were feeling a bit stiff and achy and that always creates worry. So I preempted the worry with my friends’ music playlist, and came into the village accompanied by Earth Wind and Fire, Parsonsfield and a bit of Go the Distance from Disney’s Hercules. There might even have been a couple of cool moves with some choreographed pole action. All in the interests of keeping supple. Such a pity that there are no corresponding photos.
Whilst waiting for my friend Susan to arrive, I went to chat to Carol on reception at the Tempest inn. The kitchen fan outside my window was quite noisy, but she told me that it would go off after dinner. But then she paused, and suggested that maybe I could be moved to a quieter room, as I need the rest given the mission I’m on. After checking with the management, she upgraded me to a fantastic room, with a bath too. I was so touched at her kindness, and felt really looked after. Bravo and thank you, Carol, you are excellent at your job, and made my day.
And then a final treat of having dinner with Susan, after she had driven through horrendous M6 traffic to have spend some time with me. She even brought me a different top to wear as an exciting treat. I’m so lucky to have friends who are prepared to literally go the distance.
Distance travelled: 12.7 miles
Total ascent: 2472 feet
Calories burned: 1975
Local tipple - Dizzy Blonde from Robinson’s brewery
Dinner at Tempest Arms, Elslack - excellent, and enormous portions.
Three types of smoked salmon with salad
Fish and chips and mushy peas
Video of the day
Old song of the day
As a tribute to the lovely Bernard Cribbins, who died today, I listened to Right Said Fred and felt nostalgic for my youth and for all the children to whom I taught this song at the beginning of my career.