LEJOG32: Stanedge to Hebden Bridge

Once again I’m running a few (four to be precise) days behind. This has been wholly due to having too much fun in the evening with my travelling companions. I will now be going solo for the next five days so I should catch up in the next couple of days.

On Thursday me and pete got a train to Marsden and then a taxi up the road back to Stanedge. The driver was a mental guy who kept making jokes about how the area was the ‘piss-pot of Britain’ because of how much it rained (it had just started raining btw). He seemed incredibly proud of this fact and repeated it endlessly. I was more concerned about the fact that he was driving on a fast road in the rain with a front window so opaquely steamed up that he must have been using memory or maybe sonar to navigate.

We started trekking across the moors in the rain. The moors looked a bit different from the previous day-the colours of the dark heathers were being emphasised more the golden hues of the dried grass. In general it made for a bleaker landscape. At spme points this made everything more dramatic, at other points (such as where the path past over the M62) it made for a slightly unpleasant landscape that felt more akin to an industrial wasteland rather than natural wilderness.

The rain started to clear as we past Blackstone Edge. One of the things I love about the landscape in this part of the world (and feel quite jealous of) is the abudance of such gritstone edges. There’s something quite beautiful and powerful about a perfectly proportioned strip of cracked stone sticking out of the top of a hill overlooking the towns below. Pete’s into rock climbing and so had been on many of these before and could tell me their relative merits. I’d love to get into rock climbing, many due to my love of rocks. Unfortunately my vertigo, induced by sheer heights, puts me off the idea.

By the time we stopped for a lunchtime pint the sum was back out. This meant that we could take our hot waterproofs off and dry out a little, but it didn’t stop the ground underfoot from being very wet and squelchy. The poles were fantastically helpful for bog hopping, using them as leverage to avoid the parts of the ground that would have sucked us down. However sometimes it was a bit difficult to work out which were the safe, firm bits of ground and which would quickly sink as soon as you put your foot on them and submerge your boots in dirty water. We often would have to stop and carefully consider our progress, and a couple of metres could take 5-10 minutes of prodding and thought to ensure the best route was taken. It was a bit like horizotal rock climbing, except a lot less cool.

As we past by more reservoirs, it was becoming harder to keep up with Pete. Pete is quite tall and posesses legs almost twice as long as me. When walking he gets up quite a speed without much apparent effort. This meant I had to scamper behind him like a little dog, constantly trying to keep up. I didn’t mind because it kept our speed up, but it must have looked quite comical from the outside. Afterwards indiscovered that he inadvertantly does this with everyone, and even Sarah often finds herself walking a couple of metres behind trying to catch up.

We eventually got to Stoodley Pike, a massive stone monument on the top of a hill overlooking the moors. These moors appeared a bit friendlier than those in the morning, partly because they were a bit greener and connected with more cultivated fields, but also party evause the weather was nicer. We climbed inside and got an even better view of the landscape from a balcony a coupe of stories off the ground. There was nothing on this big needle to indicate what it was for, so if you didn’t have a guide book (I did) you would probably have thought it was a monument to the art of masonary, such was the presence of it’s form and lack of any discernable function.

We then descended through a pretty little forest into Hebden Bridge, a lovely looking town nestled in a bottom of steep sided wooded valley. As we dropped down I was looking at the other side and thinking about how we would have to climb that the next day. Oh well, no pain no gain; or rather, no ascent no view!

Hebden Bridge’s reputation as the yogurt-weaving hippy capital of Yorkshire preceeded it, and I wasent disappointed. It was full of independent cafes, eco-shops and expensive boutiques selling amazing (and expensive) clothes for children. It was more Islington than Islington is these days. It also has a picturesque canal running through it which was overlooked by houses on each side and crossed by several bridges, all made of the same soot-and-honey coloured local stone. For a split second you really felt like you were in ‘Venice of Yorkshire’. After a farewell pint we got a train back to pete’s, setting off from a train station so lovingly restored I expected i’ve probably seen it previously in the background of some random period drama. A plaque said that the work had been done in the early 80s, which
shows how long Hebden Bridge has been looking after itself. We didn’t have as late a night that night, which was probably a good thing as the next day was a 22 miler and would require all our energy to get through

2 Responses to “LEJOG32: Stanedge to Hebden Bridge”

  1. 1 paul May 27, 2009 at 12:53 am

    just seen ur wright up ,nice one from all of us m8 hope ur doin well jay jo paul how long u got left keep ur head up

  2. 2 Gayle May 27, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    “There was nothing on this big needle to indicate what it was for”
    Isn’t there a big inscription into the stone above the entrance? I would have sworn that there was, but maybe I’m making that up!

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