PW day 03: Wed 24 Feb 2016; Diggle to Hebden Bridge
|Walk descriptor||Pennine Way||Day||03|
|Date||Wed 24 Feb 2016||Start to end time||08h 43m|
|Start point||Diggle||End point||Hebden Bridge|
|Miles today||20.23||Cu miles||52.88|
|Ft today||2,802||Cu ft||8,920|
|Route miles left||229.70||Route ft left||34,650|
|Today’s weather||Occasional cloud but long sunny intervals. Heavy snow fall and fog briefly at lunchtime. Very little wind. Temp appx minus 1|
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
|GPX based track of today’s walk
(click button to download file)GPX
Today’s walk had a reflective feel to it.
The path from Diggle to Hebden Bridge took me high over Calderdale, looking down on the towns of Littleborough, Walsden and Todmorden. The reason for my nostalgia WAs that all my family come from Todmorden – both my parents were born there, as were their parents and grandparents. In fact, as far as I know, I was the first member of our family to be born outside Todmorden for at least 200 years. So there’s a lot of Dawson history down there.
It was also a longer walk than the first two days and in fact it actually came in at just over 20 miles. So I resolved to start a bit earlier, and not to dawdle around as much as I had yesterday.
I had an early breakfast and was away by 8:15 am. It was cold and fresh as I set out – the hills and fields were frozen white, with ice sparking from the leaves and branches of the trees as I walked. I was soon warm from the steep climb out of Diggle and back up to Standedge. The Pennine Way, particularly this morning, was a joy to walk. Those bits of the moor which hadn’t been flagged had frozen solid, so I could laugh in the face of the mud, and enjoy the satisfying crunch of frost under my feet, rather than the soul destroying squelch of boots sinking ankle deep into quagmire.
About halfway through the walk, after a passing snowstorm briefly clouded what was otherwise another absolutely brilliant day, I came to the White House, near Blackstone Edge reservoir. My grandad and I used to take the bus up here, and walk back to his house in Walsden along the tracks built when the reservoirs were being constructed. Looking at my map, I reckon that it must have been at least 5 miles, so as this was the 1960s and I was probably only 8 or 9 at the time, this probably qualified as my first ever long distance path. So really a trip down memory lane!
Soon, the sky-piercing stiletto of Stoodley Pike came into view, and I reached it by about 2 o’clock. The Pike is 121ft tall and was built in 1856 to celebrate the end of the Crimean War (our relationships with Europe were strained, even then). It’s always a sombre monument, but affords great views of Calderdale from the parapet halfway up (if you’re bold enough to climb the pitch black spiral staircase to get there).
Stoodley Pike looks down on the village of Mankinholes and I deviated from the Pennine Way route to pay a visit. There is an old churchyard there, which used to belong to a chapel, now demolished, where my parents were married in 1956. The churchyard is the final resting point of many of my antecedents, including my maternal grandparents, my aunt and several great uncles, and also, sadly, of my parents. I located the graves, and removed the ivy which was vigorously encroaching on my grandparent’s headstone. Then I had a late lunch with mum and dad, in mind if not in body, and with a bit of a lump in my throat, I left them to their repose and hiked back to the Pennine Way.
The rest of the journey was straightforward, made more spectacular by brilliant low angle sun, picking out the fields and trees of Callis Wood to perfection. The heavy rain over this winter had caused a landslip which obliterated part of the path on the way down, and the canal towpath to my B&B this evening had been badly damaged in the storms. But obstacles were successfully negotiated, and the B&B was reached by 5pm. Now I’m looking forward to a change from the normal diet of lard pie and sugar and am swapping the pub dinner for a Turkish meal in the northern bohemia that is Hebden Bridge.