Sunday, 24 September 2017

Pennine Way

Standedge → Blackshaw Head

wainwright-route.jpg Distance: 17.19 miles
Ascent: 616 metres
Duration: 6 hours 39 minutes

It's Grim Up North
« Not walked | Not walked »

m62.jpgWhile the previous two days have been mile upon mile of desolate moorland, today, human attempts to tame the landscape have been very visible, starting with the ventilation shafts for the Standedge Tunnels that were visible from the conservatory of the Carriage House Inn where we spent the night. These tunnels are amongst the longest and deepest in the country, three carrying railways while the earliest is a canal tunnel. The audacity of the Victorian engineers in deciding to carve a hole through four miles of solid rock is awe inspiring.

roman-road.jpgTwo other cross-Pennine routes from different eras came later. First was the M62 motorway (which will forevermore remind me of the JAMS' industrial dance single "It's Grim Up North" as well as our friend John Davies' walk ten years ago). Then a little later we found ourselves on the cobbled remains of a Roman Road, a critical trade route.

Throughout the day we've seen reservoirs; some built to feed the canals while others supply fresh water to the northern conurbations of Manchester, Burnley and Rochdale.

stoodley-pike.jpgThe last landmark of the day was a different affair altogether. Standing proud on Stoodley Pike is a needle-shaped column intended to celebrate peace won after the Napoleonic battles, though I get the feeling it was more a monument to military might than a call to laying down of weapons. If you intend on climbing the monument, be sure to take a torch -- there's no illumination on the spiral staircase that leads to the balcony.

Today's stretch of the Pennine Way ends just above Hebden Bridge, a former mill town, and it's hard to imagine, given its green setting today, how it would have looked with black smoke belching from the chimneys of the many industrial works, steelyard and cotton mills. Although the loss of industry has shaped the town, it's tempting to think that the change has been a good thing overall.

Tonight, we're staying in a B&B on a sheep farm just outside Hebden Bridge, which we got to after walking along steep, narrow footpaths up the hillside. We've been treated to hot baths and a delicious home-cooked meal of roast lamb and vegetables ("everything's our own except the tatties"); a satisfying end to a tiring day.

Posted by pab at 21:19 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!