PW day 01: Mon 22 Feb 2016; Edale to Crowden

PW day 01: Mon 22 Feb 2016; Edale to Crowden
Walk descriptor Pennine Way Day 01
Date Mon 22 Feb 2016 Start to end time 08h 17m
Start point Edale End point Crowden
Miles today 17.45 Cu miles 17.45
Ft today 3097 Cu ft 3097
Route miles left 261.06 Route ft left 39,354
Today’s weather Plenty of sun with rapidly passing cloud.   Mostly dry but hailstorm at Snake Pass, strong north westerly wind, near gale force on the tops.   Appx 5C
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Today’s location
(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

Well they say that life is full of surprises and today certainly had plenty.

The first was the weather. After last night’s soaking on the way from the station, I was fully expecting to be drenched within minutes of setting out today, and then having a thoroughly horrible transit over Kinder Scout.   But in fact, although it was a bit windy, for the most part the weather today was good.   Clear, cold and mostly dry, and a real contrast with the mist and driving rain I’d had in 1977.

The second surprise was the unexpected sensation of freedom that I experienced as I passed the pub at the start of the Pennine Way at Grindsbrook.   Freedom because for the first time in 32 years I realised that at the end of doing something enjoyable like a long distance walk, I wouldn’t have to go back to the soul-sapping grey of work in the office.

My third surprise was with the path itself. Again, I cast my mind back to 1977 and recalled the pathless tracts of peat hags over Kinder, Black Hill and Featherbed Moss which constituted the Pennine Way in those days.   It made for a truly grim hiking experience, and set the tone for pretty much the whole of the rest of the walk.   This time, though, it was quite different.   In an effort to reduce erosion, much of the path has been paved with sandstone flags, which mean the hiking is mostly dead easy and it’s impossible to get lost.   I didn’t mourn the passing of the purist peat hag experience for one second.

And there were more surprises! I’ve heard it said that half of the UK population lives within 1 hour’s drive of the Peak District.   Well today, approximately 30 million people must had something else to do because I probably saw fewer than six hikers, on this, the most well known long distance path in Britain.   In fact the contrast between the desolation of the path with the endless traffic jam I could see on the A628 on the far side of the valley near Crowden (the M62 was closed today, I think) couldn’t have been more striking.

But the biggest surprise was how much I enjoyed the walk.   OK I had pretty low expectations, based on 1977, which were vastly exceeded, and the weather was kind.   But it was more than that.   For the first time since I finished the “LEJOG” hike in 2014, I felt I was walking with a spring in my step, rather than feeling I was wading through glue.   I think LEJOG must have taken more out of me than I realised, and I’m only just getting over it.   Long may the recovery last.

Anyway I’m in the pub now, enjoying a beer and a funny minced beef pie thing which seems to be made mostly of lard.   The combination of alcohol and fat will probably ensure that any recovery is short lived, but nevertheless I’m still hoping that tomorrow won’t be too glue-like!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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The Old Nag’s Head in Edale.   The pub that is, not me.   The official start of the Pennine Way (and shown in panoramic form in the banner photo at the top of this blog) OK so this is the official start of the Pennine Way too
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Having a Kubrick-like experience on the summit of Kinder Scout Kinder downfall.   “Down”fall is a bit of a misnomer as the waterfall was actually flowing uphill today
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With my sister and her family on Bleaklow Head – they met me on the top of Snake Pass and offered shelter in the car while a squally hailstorm passed.   It was great to have some company! Much of the PW across Kinder Scout is paved – easy peasy compared to the endless struggle though peat hags which I endured in 1977
Looking down the Hope valley from the top of Jacob’s Ladder.   Bleak!
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
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