Mankinholes to Ponden (12 Miles) Saturday 10th August 2002

The still cringing warden took our photograph outside the hostel and we were off. Because it was a self-catering hostel and we were travelling light, breakfast had been a cup of tea and a few cereal bars, and the pull out of the valley back on to the Pennine Way was cruel. The weather was still grizzling but looked like it might brighten up later. After a couple of miles we came to Stoodley Pike Monument, a tower which was built to commemorate beating that vertically challenged corsican, Napoleon. We dallied, walking around, and up it. Onwards, a rollercoaster trip past Hebden Bridge (allegedly home to the greatest concentration of witches in England) and soon our lack of breakfast began to tell. We saw a sign for a pub and set off down the road hoping for a feast, only to find a boarded-up shell. Retracing our steps we carried on and upwards, then like an oasis in a desert, somewhere near Colden we stumbled over Mays Magic Cavern. Two farm buildings knocked into one. A veritable emporuim of delights. At one end, a counter where sumptuous rolls and sandwiches were prepared while you slavered, at the other a general store where you could buy everything from four candles to fork handles, and probably the last place in the European Union you could still purchase Vapona Fly Killers (Fantastically effective fly killing devices which were banned because they hadn’t got the necessary safety certificates). I Immediately purchased a couple for dispatch to my Mother. I have subsequently regretted not purchasing their entire stock.

Devouring the sandwiches at tables outside, we got talking to a cowboy. Yup, a real-life stetson-and-chaps wearing, horse riding, horn swaggling cowboy. He claimed to be riding the Pennine Bridleway. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I discovered that this cowboy went under the alias of Django, was really called Martin Kiss, was originally from Hungary and has been in dispute with his neighbours and the law over plans for a western-style riding school (teaching people to ride in the western style, not that the school was built in a western style, as opposed to Eastern, or Hungarian style you understand).

Lunch completed, it was time to bimble on, past Gorple reservoir (see what I mean?) then Walshaw Dean lower and Middle reservoirs (See! See! the man was posessed!), then over Dick Delf Hill and down into Bronte Country, past a whole host of withens and the occasioanl japanese literary tourist. Time was cracking on, our hungry morning had meant slow progress and somewhere ahead Linda and two children were waiting with (we hoped) a car and a drive back to Leeds and some tlc. Our bimble turned into a stomp and then into a forced-route march. We rounded Ponden Reservoir and climbed another 100 metres of hill to the road. This unnecessary epilogue to the day had been added by Mike, to avoid it [the climb] the following morning. We were probably more than an hour late.

Back in Leeds we found the real cost of our slow morning and hasty afternoon in blisters to Keith’s feet. His physio had provided heel-lifts to ease his calf problem, but they had shifted the pressure points in his boots and had caused some nasty looking blisters. But at least, we had a chance to sleep in a familar bed. We had always intended to use Keith’s house as a B&B and commute to the PW for this section, as a way of keeping the cost down, and it did give us an opportunity to get our laundry properly done (I gave Kryten the night off). Keith is an experienced marathon runner which meant that Linda was well-versed in high-carb meals for hungry people; being in a more domestic situation distracted us from our aches and pains.

Actually a long-distance walk is easy. You only need to get through the first four days. Day 1 is no problem. Day 2 you start a little stiff, loosen up, then feel weary at the end. Day 3 is agony. You wake up in pain, you start in pain, you suffer pain all day. Most people give up at this point. Day 4 you find you have been walikng for an hour and it doesn’t hurt. After that, anything is possible (barring accidents and blisters). We had just done Day 4, so we should be running free now.

~ by @mmonyte on August 18, 2006.

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