This is the second time I’ve walked to my dad’s house, about 13.5 miles over the moors. This time Brodie Dog and I were joined by my sons Joe and Ronan. They’re the other two men in the post blog title. Actual men, both being over 18. Which is alarming as I can remember carrying them both in backpacks and it really (really) doesn’t seem that long ago.
So, 3 men rather than the usual one Man And His Dog. Which made for a more conversational hike (The Dog is pretty monosyllabic unless there’s food on offer). And it was great making the journey to my Dad’s with my two sons.
The original trip (the solo version) blog post can be found here .. just to give you some additional perspective on the walk. As with that walk, the return leg was to be by car, with my dad kindly ferrying us home afterwards from his house. I think in the post about the first Stoodley Pike hike, I was musing about the Roman road I (nearly) intersected at one stage. I’m glad to say that this time we actually ‘found’ it and a short section of the walk included walking downhill on its surprisingly intact cobbles. More of that later.
Here’s a map of the route – zoomed out to fit it all in and what you don’t get so much from this is that it’s pretty much moors the whole way. Although the light brown shading does hint at it of course. Maps are good like that. So, lots of moorland but you’re not in the wilderness as such – this walk traverses lots of the built environment. From roads (and motorways) to reservoirs and pylons. Which means that it isn’t the prettiest of walks in places but it is an interesting one, reminding you just how industrious a species we are.
The hike started at around 8.20 on Easter Saturday, under fairly leaden skies but the forecast promised nothing more than a light shower, so we were hoping for just that.
We walked through Marsden up to the old Pack Horse bridge (Eastergate) so we could track across the bridleway to intersect with the Pennine way as it meets the A640.
Those folk who walk the long distance trail of the Pennine Way would have probably walked across from Standedge (west of where we started) to get to this junction but that would have added a bit more time onto our hike.
And the section across the moors from Eastergate (starting near the Hey Green hotel), to the Pennine Way at the A640, is a nice expanse of moorland.
It got a bit difficult in a couple of places actually, as the 12 hours of winter we had a week or so ago had dumped a lot of snow and had obscured the track, such that we waded through a foot or so of snow on some of the path’s gullies.
I’ll describe the rest of the hike with photos, all taken on my camera-phone so not the best quality – but hopefully you get a sense of the areas we went through.
The first stretch was (as above) a mix of saturated path and the remnants of snow drifts up past the March Haigh area of Marsden Moor. From here we crossed the A640 and joined the Pennine Way and we were lost in conversation and banter, so we were soon at the trig point up at White Hill. There were lots of ground nesting (it looked like) birds taking flight and getting quite shouty as we walked past, I’m guessing that was to distract us from where their nests were?
Something we discussed was that our collective knowledge (and mine should be the better, as the Good Parent) of the fauna and flora on the moors is pretty sketchy. Something I need to rectify I think.
After White Hill comes the huge satellite pylons above the M62 before you cross the high footbridge that spans the M62 – heading for Blackstone Edge.
Before we crossed the bridge we stopped to watch a helicopter sweep over (what you don’t see in this video is the M62 hidden in the steep valley below):
This bridge isn’t really one for those with a bit of vertigo. I did feel a bit weird halfway across.. probably because of the drone / constant white noise of the (always) heavy traffic below and the fact you are so high up.
After the motorway crossing you’re back into moors territory and after a short climb, amongst the rocky outcrops of Blackstone Edge. It was noticeably colder and windier at this stage, so we went down into the Blackstone ‘cliffs’ to take shelter for lunch. The cliff formation is pretty impressive., even more so with some minor snowdrifts picking out the rocks.
After refuelling, I had the urge to make a little arty (as in, a homage to Anthony Goldsworthy) ‘intervention’ .. which is a grand way of saying a quick nature doodle. And nothing like his work really. But I’ve always made little sculptures or doodles on trips out. I’ll sometimes make rock balances or circular formations based on any natural materials to hand. Don’t know why, just something I like to do for any one coming upon it later on.
This was a simple circle that had some of the peat and fresh snow sat in a natural circular depression in one of the huge rock boulders.
We then picked our way across Blackstone Edge and down to the Aiggin Stone .. a medieval way-marker. And right next to what is reputedly a Roman road. I say reputedly, as various websites dispute this (and a couple of people I know). The cobbles and central channel are (I think) classic Roman road design but there is a school of thought that says this is also a medieval construction. I’m going with Roman.. I was enjoying the ‘in their footsteps ‘ vibe as we walked down hill on the short section that takes you onto the Pennine Way again.
From here it was downhill to join the A58 and the White House Inn, which you skirt around the front of, to get to Blackstone Edge reservoir. This Res is then the first of a series of waters you walk alongside (still on the Pennine Way), the last being Warland reservoir. It was just before there (if I remember the location correctly) that we came across a more permanent artwork on the rocks: Simon Armitage has created a series of poem carvings (carved by someone else) between Marsden and (I think) Ilkley, themed around Water and its role on the moors.
I keep meaning to walk up Pule Hill (which is local to me) to see the poem carved there. Now I’ve seen the Warland’s ‘rain’ poem in situ, I’ll have to plan a walk (or series of walks) to see the full set. Ever the collector.
Some more information about it is here. I’ve read some feedback that claims this project actually spoils the natural landscape. My view is that there’s nothing ‘natural’ about reservoirs or quarries, interesting ‘naturalised ‘ features though they are. And I like much of his work that I’ve read over the years, so its okay by me. But it does raise questions about who decides what art is public and to a degree enforced and who has the right to alter features without a general public vote or consensus.
Warlands reservoir has some other carved stone work at one end , but this is from the 1920′s and I think was to proclaim that this was built for Rochdale Council Water Works.
From the northern end of Warlands Res you then head north-east and follow what is now a really well flagged part of the Pennine Way. I remember parts of this section being quite boggy before so some of the stones must have been laid fairly recently. We could see the Pike from here and we were all pretty tired at that stage. In fact we had a final snack break (Jelly Babies and a slug of water for me!) before the final push.
Brodie had slowed down a bit by now – I’ve noticed she’s getting a bit slower on these longer walks.. still giddy when we start out but definitely slowing down he longer we go on. She’s about 10 now so hitting late middle age maybe, shame to see it but who am I to talk, I had aches and twinges most of the way
There isn’t much in the way of climbs involved on the route but it is a bit of a slog between the Blackstone Edge and the Coldwell Hill section. The Pike is just above my dad’s house and we were all thinking of a drink and sit down at the end.
The views just before the Pike (near East Scout) are great (the Pike is over to the right):
Anyway (nearly there!), we got to the Pike and could see my Dad’s house – part of an old isolation hospital complex, now converted to houses.
So down we went, for (as it turned out) a really welcome bowl of beef stew and beers (for those ‘boy’s of mine) and a coffee for their old man who wanted to stay awake enough to keep his old man company on the drive back to our house. So, not the most picturesque trail in parts but the industrial heritage thing makes it an interesting one. And the moors sections are great.
- Three men and a dog in a North Pennine bothy (backpackingbongos.wordpress.com)
Suggested by the Zemanta plug-in but I had just read this post (And didn’t steal the title, I’d already written mine). It’s a great post and the photos are excellent.
I need to get out and do an overnight with Brodie.. just to get her doggie pyjamas if for no other reason
- The 50 Best walking holidays (independent.co.uk)
I don’t see as much of my dad as I could so last Sunday I went that extra mile – and a few more – and walked 6 hours or so from home over the moors to his house.
I actually joined the Pennine Way up at the Rochdale Road, having cut across the moors from Eastergate down in Marsden. The route along the Pennine Way from Marsden to Stoodley Pike is pretty straightforward, as its flat once you climb out of Marsden, but this one was more of an inner than outer journey in some ways.
And that was something I thought I’d write about (as much as the walk itself) as I’ve been reading “The lost art of walking” by Geoff Nicholson (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Art-Walking-Philosophy-Pedestrianism/dp/159448998X), which is an essay on how walking impacts on your thoughts and psyche and outlook as much (or more) as its about getting from A to B. Actually, it’s a lot more than that, with lots of great literary references and humour, a great read if you’re into walking and hiking, Or just perambulating. Or mooching. okay, enough.
Without getting too psychogeographic – which I may not be at all, depending on how demonstrably I understand the term – this hike involved a lot of thinking and remembering as much as stepping, striding and yomping*.
So, last Sunday I walked over to see a man who used take my brother and I for long Sunday walks along the grand union canal in our part of Buckinghamshire. And a man who yomped us (*I can say that, he was in the forces and encouraged us to wear Air Force boots and jumpers.. ) through the Chiltern woods. I’m grateful for the love of the countryside he gave me and I was thinking about that as I hiked across his house. But he was also a man who tended to dish out constant caustic comments and a casual derision for the world, as we journeyed along. Basically, my old man could be difficult to deal with and could be soul sappingly negative about me, my brother and pretty much everyone/everything else. But like I said I’m grateful for love of the outdoors I got from him and I enjoyed the long hikes and being up in the woods or out along the canal and the fields with him, my brother and our two dogs. And I was thinking as much about that as the “wonder what the old man will say when I get to his place” aspect as I stepped across the rocks at Blackstone Edge and walked towards the roman road – which I didn’t spent much time on, as it would have been a bit of a detour.. I’ll go look at it in more detail another time.
Back from the (pretty dramatic) rocks and path to thoughts about my Dad, as I hiked towards his place : seeing the wider view as I get older, he had his reasons for all that negativity and I’m not going to betray his privacy and history to go into that. The fact I was happy to make the long walk over to his on Sunday says something I think. Why I mention all that is because it was going through my mind as I walked over to him. I was looking at the scenery, sweepingly rugged as some of it is, but I was also lost in thought a fair bit. I think that’s what happens on walks, some more than others. This one just happened to be a real see saw between the here and now of the Pennine Way and recollections of youthful walks.
Some walk facts : (enough with the psycho blahblah) this section of the Pennine Way is in parts beautiful and also industrial. You walk along black gritstone cliffs - essentially ancient lagoon beds I think – and also shadow a Roman road at one point (see link, above). But you also see lots of evidence of near history with the water catchments, the reservoirs with their 1920s dressed stones and the footbridge that takes you high over the M62 motorway. That bridge was a first for me, I’ve driven under it countless times over the years.. but being on it you realise how high and how windy it is. I had to wait for a load of mountain bikers to get in front of me before I crossed but just remembered to take a photo as the last one shot by me.
This part of the Pennine way is a real mix of history and if it’s occasionally a bit too pedestrian and a bit industrial feeling, in places it is genuinely ‘ wild’ and provides some great views.
And there’s a pub halfway (The White House) .. who knew. Not me, obviously, I didn’t have any money with me. School boy error. Always carry a compass, a penknife .. and money for an emergency beer. I’ll know next time though and I’ll stop for a contemplative pint and some psychogeographical navel gazing, before striking out for the last couple of hours to my Dad’s.
The time went pretty quickly, with Stoodley Pike appearing across the moors quicker than I thought and it was nice to get down to Dad’s for a cup of tea on the sun deck and for Brodie Dog to crash out at my feet. I think he was chuffed that I’d walked across and the cup of tea was followed by a nice glass of wine It was great to get a lift back home from him as well.