Saturday 14 September 2019

Come on Legs: Pennine Way Days 2 and 3:

Day 2 20.1km, 650m ascent, 6 hours 45 minutes
Day 3 29.0km, 1086m ascent, 9 hours 35 minutes
Much respect to those who walked the Pennine Way bogs before the worst were slabbed.  But they do make for a weird hill walking experience.  These were on the way to the Snake Pass.

I can remember little of Day 2 of my walk, even just 10 days later.  It was a day of very heavy showers, still very windy, but nothing compared to the day before.  The climb up William Clough was not as bad as feared after my slow descent in the gloom of the previous evening.  My plan remained to get to Crowden Great Brook beyond Laddow Rocks for a wild camp, but the previous day’s diversion to Hayfield meant that this would entail an additional 5km and about 300 metres of extra ascent.
On Clough Edge 

Mill Hill, Snake Pass and Bleaklow Head passed.  The path up Bleaklow was interesting, lots of twists and turns, less obvious on the ground than I had imagined the path would normally be on a National Trail, but the weather was clear and navigation wasn’t challenging.  The walk above Torside Clough added interest.  It was here that Austrians Hendrick and Marie and their two exceptionally well behaved dogs overtook me.  They were through-hiking the Way and I passed them again at their next pit stop.  They, sensibly, had not micro-planned their itinerary, unlike me, and hadn’t decided how far they would go today.

As I descended towards Torside Reservoir, I suspected that I couldn’t make my planned destination.  “Come on legs,” I said.  But they were having none of it.  It hadn’t been a particularly gruelling day, but I was more tired than I felt I should have been.  Perhaps the nervous exhaustion of the previous day was catching up with me.

“Come on legs”.  Nah.  They were having none of it.  I decided on an early finish to make the most of the comforts of the campsite at Crowden.  Hendrick and Marie arrived soon after.

Crowden Camping and Caravan Club Site: I had planned to wild camp night 2.

Day 3.  Raining.  Again.  Heavily.  Hence the lack of photographs. I sang the obvious as I set off towards Laddow Rocks.  Click on the linky thing to find out what it was. 

Onwards and Upwards. Cloud almost down to the valley floor.  I was determined to get back on track, literally and metaphorically. As yesterday, this would mean an extra 5km in distance, 300 metres more climbing and two more hours.  I was apprehensive about this.  The two-hour estimate proved accurate to the minute, as I arrived where I had planned to camp by Crowden Great Brook exactly two hours after starting.  The walk over Laddow Rocks had seen the intensity of the rain increase and the wind had picked up.

By Black Hill the rain was torrential, and the wind was becoming problematic.  The cloud began to lift soon after, but although visibility was now better, the rain was of biblical proportions.  My rain jacket gave up the fight and my mid and base layers became soaked.   I haven’t used it in the rain since so do not know whether it was simply overwhelmed in the awful conditions or whether the waterproof membrane or seams have gone for good.  But I didn’t care about any of this.  Nor was I having to say “Come on legs”.  I was enjoying myself.

A sign warned that the stream half-a-mile or so ahead in Dean Clough was dangerous to ford after heavy rain.  It suggested an alternative route with a bridge.  I foolishly ignored this, not thinking and not checking the map, assuming it would mean a long detour.  As it happened the stream was easy to cross, with a small ledge a metre or so above the normal crossing point offering a way across in water under six inches deep.

Dean Clough: I crossed just above this little fall, an easy fording despite the notice half a mile earlier warning of certain death

Wessenden Head.  Result!  The hoped for snack bar was in the lay-by.  The best mug of tea and a sausage and bacon bap were consumed in its lee.  I walked on.  Within 15 minutes of setting off again, and of being in some of the heaviest rain I had ever experienced, the sun broke through and large patches of blue sky appeared.  The weather remained good for the rest of the day, with the walking now straightforward and the legs working well.  Reservoirs.  A short sit down just before Standedge. White Hill.  The dirtiest lay-by in the world just before the M62 (filthy scum) set-off nicely by a burnt out Range Rover a few metres further on. Blackstone Edge.  The Aiggin Stone.  Then as I walked on in the beautiful late afternoon sunshine there, in one of the disused quarries before the White House Pub, Hendrick and Marie’s tents.  Space for a third that would do nicely.

It really was a splendid spot

Super wild camp in evening sunshine just short of the A58 and only 10 minutes from the White House Pub

As the final peg went in the turf and I turned to empty my pack a voice.  “Hi.  How you doing?”  It was old friend, Johnboy Sanderson.  The chap who first walked the Pennine Way, solo, aged about 7 years old.  Well, I exaggerate, but I believe he bunked off school to do it.  Tracking me via my SPOT messenger and come to meet me with many words of encouragement and a battery power pack to enable me to charge my phone.  But what a selfish sod.  If he’d bothered to arrive ten minutes earlier he could have put up my tent for me.  We went off to find a decent supply of running water.  Sadly, the closest source was in the pub, just a few minutes beyond my camp spot.  Well, we stopped for a quick pint.  It would have been rude not to.
John Boy considering some tactful phrases after his tent inspection in which he saw just how badly a Mountain Laurel Design's Duomid can be pitched

A great day.  For me the distance and height gain to get back on track had felt rather daunting before I had set out in the morning.  The conditions would make the first part of the day a severe test.  Yet it had gone super smoothly with legs, head and heart all performing nicely.  I felt great and was still on a high as I got into the sleeping bag for the night.


  1. David, I'm reading this at one of the most fabulous hotel/restaurants in the known world. (my known world, I hasten to add)

    All is well in your and my worlds, it seems. And that is how it should be.

    I'm not sure what happened to my first comment on your first post. Lost in the ether for eternity, dear boy. Fair enough.

  2. Hi again Alan

    I'm confident that your comment on my first post is still there - unless you left two, in which case one has mysteriously disappeared. I am not surprised that you are seeking out the most fabulous restaurants and hotels. I expected nothing less from you!