The Pennine Way – Did You Know?
Whilst hiking the Pennine Way we’ve discovered a few interesting facts and figures about the route we’ll be taking!
Over the course of 268 miles there are 287 gates, 249 timber stiles, 183 stone stiles and 204 bridges to either go through or go over! (Thank goodness we didn’t intend on counting them all!) There are 458 signs and waymarks on route. (Great, we’ve not got lost so far!) And most importantly for us, there are 87 shops, 110 pubs, and 23 cafes/ tea shops within a 45 minute walk of the trail. (Shame we can’t sample a drink in them all!)
Day 4 – Standedge to Jack’s Bridge. (17.7 miles) – Friday 27th June 2014 – ‘A Slab Of Spam’
Today was our first experience of rain. Not just a shower, and not just a fine drizzle that doesn’t actually get you wet. But most definitely a constant downpour that both tests your waterproof gear to its limits and puts a dampener on your spirits. I guess the kind of rain that England is famous for! (And here was me thinking we’d have our own little ray of sunshine following us along the Pennine Way!)
A thorn between two roses… Who makes the best tea?
After a 6am alarm call, we were finally ready to leave the Carriage House campsite at 8am. It’s no fun taking your tent down in the rain and packing things away wet. It’s even less fun getting your trail runners soaked first thing in the morning, which leads to your feet squelching all day long. As you can tell, Day 4 was not going particularly well. But we had to accept that we’d get rain some time or other during our 7 weeks hiking across England.
Cold, windy and a white-out… No views to enjoy today.
White Hill, literally!
Our first major landmark was White Hill, which was a complete white out due to the miserable weather. But we soldiered on regardless. The thought that Friday was going to be our first ‘Rest Day’ is what kept us going. We were also buoyed by the sight of a ‘Burger Van’ as we came to cross the A672 and warmed ourselves up with a good strong mug of Yorkshire tea!
Warming up with a mug of Yorkshire tea and a hot sausage roll!
The owner, a rather generous Yorkshireman, (can that be said in the same sentence?) assured us he was famous in these parts, his burger van pitch having been cited in a number of Pennine Way guide books. Well, he certainly made the day brighter for us by giving us some free sausage rolls and a slab of ‘spam’ to fry up for breakfast!
So generous to give us a slab of spam to try!
Grateful for our freebies, (never ones to turn down food, even spam) we headed on past Windy Hill and crossed the bridge that takes you over the M62. The weather still hadn’t improved when we reached Blackstone Edge. It was that bleak you couldn’t see further than 100 feet ahead. Despite the poor visibility, the one good thing about the trail today was that we had nice stone slabs to walk on instead of trudging through bog. We’re no Pennine Way purists, a slabbed trail suits us just fine, especially when the weather is poor.
Crossing over the M62 motorway.
Around midday we nipped in the White Horse Pub for a swift half, a pub literally in the middle of nowhere, but full of OAP’s eating lunch. Where do all these people come from? We told the landlord our tale of how we ended up with a free slab of spam and set off on our way again. (No freebies from him though!)
Heading straight to the White House to warm up!
Taking a break in the ‘Pennine Room’.
After passing some reservoirs we reached Stoodley Pike, a giant stone tower high on a hillside that acts like a beacon as it can be seen for miles around.
Heading for Stoodley Pike.
The final stretch of the day was a drier walk to our campsite at Jack’s Bridge, just outside the little tourist town of Hebden Bridge. The uphill trail offered the traditional Pennine Way route or Wainwright’s alternative. We opted to go the traditional way which was a bad choice having had a tough uphill slog of 16 miles already! After braving lots of overgrown trails covered with nettles we finally arrived at the campsite at 6.30pm. Too tired to even walk to the nearby farm shop for wine, Wayne fried up our slab of spam, which we enjoyed in a wrap with HP brown sauce, before snuggling down in our sleeping bags for a much needed sleep. Cue the crying babies from the family tents on either side of us! Oh well, we were that shattered after walking 17 miles that we soon nodded off.
Pitched at Hebden Bridge Campsite, located at Jack’s Bridge.
My ‘pickled sushi’ feet at the end of a very soggy day!
Our freebie spam gently sizzling in our mini frying pan.
Day 5 – Rest Day at Hebden Bridge – Saturday 28th June 2014 – ‘Time For A Full English’
Day 5 was a ‘Rest Day’ of sorts. One, because we’d planned on having a lay-in after so many 6am alarm calls, which didn’t go to plan as the babies woke us up at 7am with their crying once again (whoever thought taking a baby camping would be fun?!) And two, because our campsite was named ‘Hebden Bridge Camping’ we thought we’d be close to town with minimal walking. In fact it was a four mile round trip as the campsite is situated in a village outside of town named Jack’s Bridge. (Just as an aside, the campsite seemed to have its own micro-climate, cue rain. If not, then we swear our tent must have its own little rain cloud above it!)
Hebden Bridge, the namesake of the town.
So, first job, we walked into town to find a launderette for some much needed clothes washing. (Thank goodness they’re not just a notion on Eastenders, which my friend Claire had seriously thought!) We also had the task of acquiring a new sleep mat for Wayne as his had well and truly burst beyond repair on night 3. This meant he’d been sleeping on the floor on a pile of clothes for the last two nights, which he assures me was neither the comfiest nor warmest of things!
Laundry, a never ending job!
Along with these mundane tasks, we were well and truly in need of two extra special FEBs. (That’s ‘Full English Breakfasts’ if you weren’t sure of the acronym). We devoured these in Frankie’s Cafe, where we also made good use of the free wi-fi to update the blog with our progress, another job on the ‘To Do’ list for today.
FEB half demolished before we remembered to take a photo!
After all the necessities were done, there was still time for us to have a wander around to see the ‘sights’. Hebden is a lovely town filled with an array of touristy trinket shops and upmarket cafes. There is also a fantastic ‘Butchers’ in the centre where we picked up some gourmet sausages, opposite a quaint traditional English tea shop.
The fantastic ‘Butcher’ Shop with lots of different varieties of sausages!
The quaint English tearoom with lots of WW2 memorabilia.
We had no idea when we arrived, but the town was also gearing up for the Tour de France competitors cycling through on the first weekend of July, so there was lots of cycling regalia everywhere. Shop windows had various creative cycling displays, whilst residents got on board with Tour de France fever by decking out their gardens.
A lovely garden display linked to the Tour de France.
After catching a local bus to a nearby camping department store to kit Wayne out with a new inflatable sleep pad, we had accomplished all our tasks for the day. And what better way to end the day than with traditional ‘bangers and mash’, or in our case, ‘bangers and Smash’! The delicious pork and leek sausages courtesy of David Woodhead Family Butchers.
One of our best camp dinners so far! Bangers and Smash with onion gravy.
Day 6 – Jack’s Bridge to Ponden. (10.2 miles) – Sunday 29th June 2014 – ‘Midge Attack’
After leaving camp at a respectable 10.30am (we always aim to leave at 8:00 but things never seem to go to plan) we deviated off the Pennine Way track just a little in order to visit the village farm shop aptly named ‘May’s Aladdin’s Cave’. And it really was! The tiny shop is stocked to the brim with everything you could possibly wish for as a hiker. They even sell packets of loom bands, the new craze in England if you’re into making bracelets! We bought citronella candles to try and combat the midges (unfortunately, we found out later that they don’t work) and 2 slabs of chocolate flapjack for our first rest break.
Stocking up with supplies from May’s Aladdin’s Cave!
Looking back to our campsite at Jack’s Bridge.
Finally we got going and soon found our pace again after yesterday’s break. We set off over Heptonstall Moor as the weather picked up a little. Well a lot, compared to Friday’s wash out!
Resuming our walk on the Pennine Way…
Heading off over the moors.
Reaching Wadsworth Moor.
A good day compared to Friday’s white out.
Passing the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs.
The highlight of the day was reaching ‘Top Withens’ where a farmhouse stands in ruins. I’m not one for ruins myself, but this is extremely popular with day hikers, particularly Japanese tourists, as the farmhouse is said to have been the inspiration for the Bronte sisters when writing their popular novel ‘Wuthering Heights’. When we arrived, there was actually a large American tour group climbing all over it! We stopped for lunch and waited for them to depart so we could photograph it, minus people.
Stopping for lunch. Peanut butter wraps today!
The remains of the farmhouse that was the inspiration for the Bronte sisters’ novel.
The ‘Wuthering Heights’ Farmhouse, minus a tourist group.
Setting off again…
We continued on through dry, brown moorland to Ponden, where we camped in an overgrown field at the back of a guesthouse. It was rustic to say the least, but we couldn’t complain as we had it all to ourselves. We managed to finally dry out the tent and air the sleeping bags before the midges appeared in stealth mode. With our citronella candles failing miserably, Wayne hastily cooked up some super noodles before we hid in the tent and called it a night!
It looked like there had been a fire through this section.
Braving the midges. Wayne cooks up a super noodle feast at our campsite in Ponden.
Not a bad spot all to ourselves! Writing my daily diary…
After hiking 56 miles in 6 days, there are three things we’ve realised so far: we hate midges, we love spam and we now have a fetish for peperamis!
Developing a peperami fetish! We’ve eaten 10 in less than a week!
Keep following us on our Pennine Way Adventure… We’re heading to Thornton in Craven next…