Day 4 - September 5th 2004

Hebden Bridge to Lothersdale - 19 miles


Despite the fact I was tired and even with the help of the wine, I did not sleep as well as I would have liked. However, after the excellent breakfast, I was ready to go. Unfortunately, I was not thinking ahead in the clothing department so launched with a long sleeved poly shirt and my red fleece tucked in the web of the pack. I did not take a T-shirt and that was to cause definite discomfort on this long and very warm day. Fortunately, I did start out with two litres of water, all of which was consumed by the time I reached Lothersdale.

Connie drove me back to yesterday’s finish and I headed out under the railway overpass. The climb was steep and the path a little confusing but not difficult. The weather was very clear and bright. After reaching the top of the valley wall I walked through fields until coming to a small road where I promptly went wrong. After walking up the road a bit I encountered Nick and Jock, two Englishmen who were walking the Way in stages. They, too, had taken the wrong turn and were heading back to see if they could right themselves. After a bit we came across some walkers who put us straight. It seems that the way marker north of the road had been obscured by a sign nailed to it announcing some type of run. From that point and for some distance the walk was easy across the top of a hill. We got to a spot overlooking a creek and Nick and Jock wanted to stop for a break. I was to learn they took a lot of breaks as we walked several miles together this day until parting company at the Black Bull in Ickornshaw where they were camping for the night.

After our short rest we continued on until reaching the Walshaw Dean reservoirs where we took another short break. This time it was also to see if we could assist another walker who had a blister. This was the first time I spoke to the threesome who would be named The Cheshire Boys by me and who would become friends during and after the journey The blister situation seemed to be resolved and the Boys took off up the track. We followed them about five minutes later. Fortunately, as we walked up the slope of the hill in a north easterly direction, I looked back and saw the Way actually followed the course of the reservoir. We three retraced our steps but the Boys were too far away to let them know of the error of their direction.

The walk past the two reservoirs was easy as was the climb up to the top and the descent to Top Withins. However, the sun, lack of shade and breeze and the long sleeved poly shirt were beginning to take their toll on me. Fortunately, there was one lovely tree at the ruins and I immediately sat on the wall underneath it, enjoying the shade. However, at that point the begging sheep made their presence known. One even tried to take a serious bite out of my sandwich. It was only by a combination of watchfulness and taking quick bites that I was able to avoid loss of lunch. Fortunately they were not interested in my water bottle.

After lunch it was an easy walk down hill to Ponden although we did make a wrong turn and off the track a bit before getting to the reservoir. As it was Sunday, there were quite a few people at the reservoir participating in water related activities. We carried on and walked along the road a bit and then uphill, taking a short water intake related break in the shade. Once we crested the hill, it was a walk across Ickornshaw Moor with Nick and Jock opting for another stop part way across. Since we were out in the open and the sun was still a factor, it was not something I wished to do. After the break it was down hill to Ickornshaw where we parted company as Nick and Jock were camping at the pub there and I was carrying on to Lothersdale.

I found the instructions in the Pennine Way South not very clear as how to exit the village and keep on the Way. I wandered around until I came to a school and at that point I knew I was off the track. I asked a group of young boys for directions and was soon righted, heading up a lane and into open fields where, once again, I managed to go wrong. A farmer on a tractor with cows behind was passing and I asked him directions. I knew I had to go to the left of the derelict building at the top of the hill but how to get there was the problem. Dry stone walls stood in the way. The farmer gave me directions but unfortunately his tractor obscured the stile in the wall in the distance so I wandered about in the open field, again searching for the exit which I finally found. Walking around in fields where cows have spent time is not my idea of how to pass part of a late afternoon. In summation, the Way here was quite indistinct. Once I got out of the fields and to the top of a hill, route finding was easier. On the way down to Lothersdale I passed some pretty prosperous residences, judging by the cars parked in the drives.

Once in Lothersdale it was easy to find the B&B and Connie was waiting for me. I cleaned up, drank a lot of water and down for tea and some home made chocolate chip cookies, both of which really hit the spot. I was tired and somewhat dehydrated. We then walked next door to The Hare and Hounds where we ran into the Cheshire Boys. They somehow, after going wrong at the reservoirs, managed to arrive at their destination but skipped a lot of the Way in doing so. We talked and drank and I had two pints of Tetley. Not my favorite ale but it was well kept and hit the spot. Dinner was a steak pie with a lot of new potatoes. I was pretty hungry after this long and hot day. After this pleasant evening, it was back to the B&B and to bed. My feet hurt but that was nothing new. This was a long day, made more so by the sun and the fact I did not have a T-shirt.

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