Day 2 - September 3rd 2004

Crowden to Standedge - 11.5 miles


I slept pretty well last night so up bright and early. The weather was once again lovely. I headed out and got papers at a Tesco as well as two cups of coffee that were much better than yesterday’s. Back at the B&B, the owners had left us a continental breakfast and it was excellent with croissants, salami, hard boiled eggs, juice, etc. Unfortunately, the only coffee was instant. On our way out of town we stopped at Tesco where I purchased a sandwich, juice, chips and fruit for lunch as well as another cup of coffee. Connie drove to yesterday’s pickup spot and walked with me across the reservoir dam. After a photo, I headed out, paralleling the A road until I came to where the Way crossed over. A very busy road so caution and a sprint were in order.

Once across, it was a long uphill pull ascending the slope above Crowden Great Brook. While it was uphill, it was an easy walk and the view back to the south was great, especially when I could see where I had descended from Bleaklow the preceding day. At the top and just before Laddow Rocks, I neglected to look at the map and wandered off on a path to the west. After about ten minutes I righted myself and retraced my steps to where I had gone wrong.

It was then a steady walk on a less than average path. At one point I came across a young woman with her dog and they were heading south. She first told me she was an experienced backpacker. The woman then said she could not read a map and wanted to know where she was. Rather than exploring the contradiction in her statement, I plotted her current location and asked where she wanted to go. It turned out she wanted to head in an easterly direction from the vicinity of Black Hill toward the television antenna at Holme Moss. She was to meet someone at a pickup point in that direction. I pointed out she had passed Black Hill some distance back and told her how she should go to get to her destination. The woman then told me she would go across country toward the antenna which was visible from where we were. I strongly urged her to reconsider that approach, given the difficult terrain, lack of a path and her apparent skill in not knowing where she was. I suggested retracing her steps to where she had gone wrong and while she pondered her next move, I headed off toward Black Hill, never seeing her again.

As I climbed up and reached the summit, I was quite appreciative of the stone slabs. The landscape outside of the path was uninviting in the extreme. I could see how the area got the reputation for hellish slogging before the installation of the slabs. In any case, the ascent and crossing of Black Hill was not difficult. I did say a silent prayer for those who had gone before me and had not experienced the relative comfort of the slabs. I could see where some walkers had ventured off the hard surface and I must assume it was to test the depth of the bog and the difficulty of walking in it. Either that or they were drunk.

Once on the downhill side, the thought of lunch crossed my mind. While I was looking for a suitable spot to stop, I came across a day walker heading south. He wanted to chat and although I was not in a hurry, I did want to continue on. However, not wanting to appear rude, I stopped and talked for about twenty minutes until I was able to plead the need to continue my walk. About half a mile further downhill, I found a place out of the ever present wind and enjoyed a quick Tesco sandwich lunch. I found, as I continued my journey up the Way, that my lunch breaks were usually ten minutes or less. I very seldom took any daily breaks other than lunch and to answer nature’s call.

From my lunch stop it was an easy downhill run past many grouse butts until I hit the A635. A quick sprint across and up the road to a parking area with the path well marked. From there is was a quite pleasant walk downhill past the two Wessenden reservoirs to Wessenden Lodge. Just beyond the lodge there was a lovely waterfall coming down the hill on the left. I was so taken by the fall that I neglected to watch where I was going and missed the path off to the left running up Blakely Clough. I continued to march straight ahead down the draw until I could see another reservoir straight ahead. Somehow a bell went off in my head, telling me that I should not be seeing a body of water straight ahead, despite the fact the path I was on provided excellent walking. A quick look at the book showed where I had gone wrong and a fast walk back took me to the steep and poor path up the slope above Blakely Clough. For some reason, which I think was related to the poor path, I found the climb out to be unpleasant. All the way up the hill I kept repeating the description from the Pennine Way South which reads “At the top of the slope...” Frankly, I found the top of the slope to be a long way from the bottom of the slope.

Once on top, it was an easy walk until I got to Black Moss Reservoir. On the easy path around the reservoir, I let my guard down and looked at some animal tracks in the sand at the edge of the water. The next thing I knew, I had tripped and was flat on the ground with my chin leading the way. Although the fall did not stun me, it certainly caused a bit of annoyance. From that point on, I vowed to watch where I put my Asolo boots and to hell with animal tracks. That plan worked and while I stumbled a few times in the days ahead, I never hit the deck again.

From the “Jim fall down spot” it was an easy stroll to the parking lot adjacent to the A62 at Standedge Cutting. As I was descending the slight downgrade, I came upon Connie who was on her way back to meet me. It was very good to see her! She had done a lot of exploring of Marsden and surroundings and had a good bead on where we were staying. Before we got there, however, she drove over and showed me the canal tunnel complex. What an engineering feet that must have been.

We were staying in Throstle Nest Cottage and it was a very welcome sight. I do not know why, but the second day was discouraging for me. The walk was certainly shorter than the first day and not as physically demanding but at the end of day two, I felt a bit down. On reflection, I put it to the psychology of being up for the start of the walk and then a natural let down on the second day. I have read another walker’s journal and he felt day two was challenging and seemed longer than it really was so I am not the only one who feels that the day was somewhat difficult although it should not have been.

After a lovely shower in which I was able to sit and soak my sore feet, Connie and I headed out to The Riverhead Brewery Tap, a Good Beer Guide pub and fortunately a short walk from the B&B. It was a lovely evening and the pub was very crowded. In addition, there were a lot of people drinking outside along the bank of the stream running close by the pub. It took both of us a while to realize the size of the crowd might have something to do with the fact it was Friday. After an excellent pint we walked across the street to another pub for a good dinner and a pint of Thwaites Dark Mild which was just right. Not wishing to do any unnecessary walking, we went straight back to the B&B, read a bit and to sleep. I wrote in my journal that Day Two was tough and discouraging. Again, I feel that can be partially attributable to the let down of the second day after being psyched up for the start of the walk.

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