It’s Not The Lakes
When the planned trip to the Lakes seemed to fall through we did this instead.
I should have known what I was letting myself in for, the word challenging was used in the sentence which started “I have an idea for an alternative walk….lets recce the route of the Haworth Hobble.” and although it was qualified by “We’ve done more than that before” 32 miles and 4600ft did sound quite a lot. Yes very challenging.
And then of course there was the weather, the forecast was terrible, one where the BBC weather animation had a very bright blue blob right on top of the start of the walk which intensified as the clock ticked through the day. So the evening before was fairly contemplative, would we? could we? what was “Plan B”?, or should that be “Plan C”? as this was already a plan B.
The Start on Saturday morning didn’t bode well either, raining outside, late up missing the alarm clock, relying on my mobile to wake me when the alarm schedule is only set for mon-fri then deciding half way to Haworth that the ‘other map’ was better and we’d have to go back for it. (a wise choice in the end)
When we get to Haworth at least its stopped raining and despite the fact that the village has been invaded by what seems like a 2nd World War German invasion force and the local Home Guard all seemingly fraternising with several civilians dressed up to go to some Big Band concert, the locals were very friendly. There was clearly some event on.
The first part of the route heads off to the Bronte Falls crossing over a small stone bridge, the Bronte Bridge no less, the sun still shining at this point, made for a very picturesque start, the odd spattering of rain ignored for the time being. But not for long for then it started and just grew in intensity as we pulled up to the early high point and the ruins at “Withins”, which looked the part of a Bronte novel but clearly in this weather it was no place to stop. Within a few moments though the rain eased and a the sun seeped through the clouds, geese honked and all was right with the world again. This was the pattern for most of the day, always just enough sunshine to ward off the wet and cold, to keep the determination on the positive side; we will finish this.
From this point the route follows the Pennine Way or the Pennine Bridleway as it now seems to be called, and skirts many of the reservoirs scattered all over these moors, heading towards the outskirts of Burnley. Its made repeatedly clear why these reservoirs are here. Victorian engineering architecture still performing its rather solid and solemn job of collecting the rain, most of which seems to be falling on our heads for much of the time. Despite this they (the reservoirs) appear at best half empty, the recent new stories of droughts as bad as the late 1970’s evidentially true.
With a good third of the route done and the outer reaches of Burnley a stone’s throw away we leave the bleakest part of the moors and head towards Todmorden passing the windfarms above Holme Chapel. Its easy to see and feel why these ‘farms’ are sited here, at least the wind is behind us so when it rains only our backs get wet. We are passed by numerous cyclists going the other way, not so lucky. At this point we attempt a minor detour and have to resort to real map reading rather than glancing at the highlighter line on the page (see earlier reference to other map), map references GPS and everything. We’re soon back on track though and skirting around the northern edge of Todmorden and its golf course heading off towards the oddly named Mankinholes and then Stoodly Pike.
While we didn’t drop down into Todmorden proper we did eventually lose most of the height from the top of the moor and the anticipated climb up to Stoodly Pike looked the part and by this time the wind was getting up ushering in more heavy showers. In the end however, it was more in the anticipation rather than the reality, it wasn’t so steep or so long that we had to break pace for other than photos. This was the 2/3rds point from here on in it seemed like that we were on the homeward leg, or so we thought.