Area: Yorkshire Dales
Starting point: Hebden Bridge
Ending point: Earby
Date of walk: 8th May 2016
Trail: Pennine Way
Distance: 22.32 miles
Terrain: Woodland, Streams, Moorland, Dales
Weather: Sun, blue skies, Scorching
Hebden Bridge, what a lovely quaint place to start. At first impressions, this place comes across as the land of rich hippies enjoying life in the Yorkshire Dales. Slightly new age, with shops offering ‘super vegan detox shakes’ and other shops selling cheap recycled fabric. ‘Oh right, its one of these places’ I mummer to myself. As I walk through this place on an early Sunday morning I hear most people talking in Southern accents, which is confusing… Isn’t Yorkshire, the land of flatcaps, farmers driving round on quad bikes herding sheep & the setting of Emmerdale? I soon discover further North, Yorkshire is pretty much like that in a nutshell! Hebden Bridge of the Yorkshire Dales is like what Matlock is to the Derbyshire Dales, gateway towns. And as I walk around on this Sunday morning, I need an OS map to know which way to go, but most shops are closed until 10am. I arrive at 9am and I am really needing to set off as I have a 22 mile walk ahead of me. I guess I’ll need to freestyle it today somehow.
As I walk, with 19 kilos of weight, doing 22 miles on day 1 is probably something I won’t do again. I think what most do is break it in. It only made the days to come alot harder than they should have been. I start by heading out of Hebden, walking through the lovely picturesque Hardcastle Crags. This is absolutely stunning in this beaming sunshine, walking along the river, through forested woodland for some miles. An inspiring start, and I illude myself into thinking this is it, this is what its going to be like… If I knew that what comes next is bleak, exposed fells, moors & mountains for days I would have stuck around this area for an hour or so to connect with the lively trees. The further more north and out you go , the more and more bleak it is, and the less and less people are to be seen. On This Sunday morning, the valley is thriving with families, walkers & runners.
I make way along the Hebden Beck and follow it to Acornden Water. I start to gain some height until I cut through the moors and hit the pennine way. Bingo, the infamous Pennine Way. This is said to be the hardest trail in the country. After being on it for a few days in this scorching heat, I can confirm, its bloody tuff. I follow the way down passed a few reservoirs. It’s hot out on these moor today’s, and I’m very tempted to take a dip, but it’s getting on a bit, and I need to get to Earby at a reasonable time.
Past the 2 reservoirs there is a climb up to Withins Heights where I stop and take in the surroundings…
Back down the hill reaching Ponden reservoir & than back up to Maw Stones Hill. I thinking I’m starting to see a pattern here, up and down. Walking 22 miles is 1 thing and sounds easy. But when it’s up and down hills with a load of weight, it’s a completely different ball game. My feet are already feeling it, my shoulders are burning, my hips aren’t doing great either, but I put it all down to my body adjusting to the torture I’m putting it through.
Around the 16 mile mark I reach a village called Cowling where I somehow come off the pennine way and take country roads towards Earby, how I got there is still a mystery to me as I have still have no map at this stage. But as I limp into Earby, the first thing someone said to me was ‘ oh you look weary’. LOL, oh thanks. The body tires, but the spirit remains strong. I make my way towards the YHA as Earby has no campsites & very little places to wild camp due to the exposed bleakness of the Yorkshire Dales. I’m greeted by a gentleman who give’s me a key to the dorm, well its actually 2 beds in 1 room and I have it to myself which is great. As its late all pubs have stopped serving food but I do find a kebab shop. Yes, I go and do it, order the £9 kebab. Go back to the hostel, and stuff down these lumps of protein only to find on returning back to my room my newly purchased fitbit pedometer that was attached to my waistline has now disappeared. So there we go, 1 item lost already.
Earby is a beautiful little village & it’s actually in Lancashire. This is the only time I will be in Lancashire on my walk, and as much as I would like to stick around this little village for a few days, I have a plan to stick too…