LEJOG33: Hebden Bridge to Thornton-in-Craven(ish)

Me and Pete arrived back at Hebden Bridge on Friday morning, and after a little warm-up walk along the main road we were back on the path at the exact point where it started to climb the side of the valley. Going up such steep sides is hard but surprisingly quick work. We then had to tackle another valley that was small but really steep, especially at the bottom where the field curved so sharply it was almost vertical. The prize was a pretty little wooden stream sitting right at the bottom, hidden from view and the weather by the steepness of the hills on either side.

We soon were back onto moorland, big sweeping boggy expanses of the stuff. We practically ran across it, using our walking sticks like pole vaulters to get over the wettest patches. Pete was ahead (as usual) and I was trying to match his steps, which was a bit silly given that his long legs could bound much further over sodden patches than mine. Luckily I made it through.

It was rainy again but also misty, and there were times when I couldn’t really see anything around me but the path. Even more spooky were the wisps of black mist that hung in the air annstood out against the white mist, slowly moving across the lanscape like the ghosts of tortured souls. This was proper moors weather, the type of experience all the guide books warned you about, and it made me realize who dangerous an unpleasant it could be out there on your own. Howevet, initially it was cool, and soon the weather calmed down so it didn’t impact ok my enjoyment of the day.

We passed by more reservoirs (i think the penines have stolen them from other parts of the country and are hiding them up in the hills) and up onto Withins Top, an even more isolated feeling open moor. Here we came across the ruins of Withins Heights, a place my guide book said was connected to the famous Wuthering Heights. Apparently it’s a mecca for tourists and many of the footpath signs were even in Japanese. However, when we got there we found a plaque stating that there was neither proof of the connection nor any physical resemblance between the real house and fictional one. As if to soften the disappointment of the many Bronte devotees who had potentially travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles, it proceeded to state that the author might have had ‘a similar situation in mind’ while writing. What a cop out.

We had a lovely warm baguette at a pub in Ponden and then hit the road to ascend onto another boggy moor. Despite being exhausting I wasn’t tired of moorland yet-it has a dramatic wilderness and throws up massive shapes and forms that make you feel in the direct presence of visceral nature.

Where I did get tired was coming down off the moors via a series of greener, but just as wet, and steep valleys. It was really becoming a slog by now. I was feeling the 20+ we had covered and the constant showers weren’t helping. I eventually arranged for a slightly earlier pick up than intended on the top of a big hill just before Thornton-In-Craven called Pinhaw Head. It was a good spot because it stood right on the brink of the Aire Gap, a which I learnt later was a strip of flatish land running west to east across the Penines which provided a route for cars, trains and boats (via the Leeds-Liverpool canal) to cross the mountainous ‘backbone of Britain’. While I didn’t know all of this at the time I could tell that something was going on. Behind me were a series of big hills, curved around each other like giant snakes. Infront was greener, flatter land littered with hundreds of little hillocks like closely packed mole hills. The low hanging cloud made the view even more dramatic by adding a threatening sense of danger to the scene.

That night we were treated to a feast courtesy of Jenna’s mum, and Pete and Sarah joined us before heading back to Leeds. Potato pie was on the menu, perfect for stomachs craving the filling warmth of carbs and the richness of gravy, followed by the Lancastrian delicacy (according to Jenna) of pears and chocolate custard, and accompanied by lashings of red wine. It was a feast fit for a tired mind and body which were both ready for their rest day.

Sent from my iPhone

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1 Response to “LEJOG33: Hebden Bridge to Thornton-in-Craven(ish)”


  1. 1 Bill May 27, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Brendan
    Just to put Jenna straight its the potato pie thats typical Lancashire food not the pears and chocolate custard! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Bill


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