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The Pennine Bridleway

The Pennine Bridleway

Postby Gordie12 » Tue May 17, 2022 1:08 pm

Date walked: 06/05/2022

Time taken: 8 days

Distance: 305 km

Ascent: 8968m

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Having previously walked the Pennine Way (and loved it) I had been aware of the Bridleway route for some time. A shorter journey, but every bit as lumpy as it's better known big brother.

My starting point was Middleton Top (near Matlock) and the first part of the route is on a disused railway line so it's a very easy first day.

Due to a Garmin failure I managed to record the data for the journey down so at the end of the walk when I checked for mileage etc I could see that I had covered 279 miles and averaged 59mph so maybe my next walk should be LE-JOG as I could cover that in 3.5 days!

Day 1

Middleton Top - Monyash
Distance - 16 miles
Ascent - 500ft (approx)
Walking Time - 04:35
Stopped Time - 00:50

Mrs Gordie12 asked if I was staying in the same town as where the Diddy Men lived and I had this thought in my head all day before I finally remembered that they lived in Knotty Ash. When walking solo you have nobody to distract you from daft thoughts or songs that stick in your head so it was a relief when I remembered Knotty Ash and I could move on to other daft thoughts.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a very easy start with a low mileage and next to no ascent, I was well aware that this would change as I had set myself a tough physical challenge (for me) to complete this route in 8 days.

The weather on the first day was fairly sunny with a gentle breeze but when the sun disappeared behind clouds the temperature would drop quickly.

The first day was good fun, quite a few cyclists and dog walkers about but no sign of anybody that looked like they were doing the entire route. At Parsley Hay (a couple of miles shy of where I left the railway line) I came to a cafe and had a coffee and a hot sausage roll. The sausage roll was good but £4 (I think I could be turning in to my father) ???

Anyway, 2 miles further on at Hurdlow I left the railway line and followed Tagg Lane a couple of miles to Monyash.

Hopton Incline 1:14

Three walls converging - looked better in real life!

Darker afternoon skies

Waited for ages for the guy at the front to finish his P but got fed up so just took the photo

Day 2

Monyash - Hayfield

Miles - 24.53
Ascent - 3033ft
Moving Ave - 3.2mph
Overall Ave 3mph
Moving Time - 07:38
Stopped time - 00:35

Today was a bit of a cross over day, the last couple of miles of disused railway line followed by a gentle introduction to the ups and downs that would follow in the next few days. This was a warm day but with a gentle breeze on higher ground.

I really enjoyed the drop down in to the Chee Dale Nature Reserve where my route crossed over the Monsal Trail but the climb back out of the gorge was steep and warm going.

The climb up past Rushop Hall on a tarmac lane was tough going but then after crossing a minor road it really felt like I was out in the hills (at this point I am 2 or 3 miles west of Edale and the start of the Pennine Way). A really enjoyable few miles in the hills to end my day.

The last of the easy disused railway line

Heading down in to the Chee Dale Nature Reserve

Nice looking houses in the gorge

Looking back at the drop down in to the gorge

Heading for the hills

This is more like what I was expecting

There is something quite special about this area - this is just to the south west of Kinder Scout

Day 3

Hayfield - Diggle

Miles - 26.23
Ascent - 3717ft
Moving Ave - 3.2mph
Overall Ave 2.9mph
Moving Time - 08:15
Stopped time - 00:55

Today, I managed to turn what should have been a 21 mile day in to more than 26 miles but more on my stupidity later.

I should have had an inkling that today would be one of my geographically challenged days when it took me about 15 minutes to find the correct route out of Hayfield - another disused railway line but only for about a mile. After an easy start it was a bit of a slog up to Little Hayfield on another hot morning with little in the way of a breeze to cool me down. Another tough climb followed up to the moor but then there was some easy walking to follow.

The day was going well till I dropped down to Greenfield and didn't bother checking my route. I took a management decision that I needed to go right along the main road and stuck with the plan until I saw a reservoir below me and to my right. This turned out to be Dove Stone Reservoir. As soon as I saw the reservoir I had a feeling things were going wrong but continued to walk on until the road turned left and the reservoir was out of sight. Finally, I stopped and checked - idiot! Had to backtrack 2.5 miles so an additional 5 mile added to the day. Once I was back at the point where I made the decision to turn right on the main road I could see a PBW sign hidden in the foliage on the opposite side of the road (pointing me to the left) and thirty five yards further on there was a brand new sign pointing to the right and away from the main road. Annoyed with myself I got the head down and sped through the last 3 miles to arrive in Diggle for just after 6pm. This was meant to be an easier day as the next few days would all be long. A strange day, up in the hills more or less with the track to myself then suddenly dropping down every few miles in to highly populated areas.

Row of houses a mile out of Hayfield - Birch Vale?

The start of reservoir country - they are everywhere!

It took a lot of begging to get these two to turn round and smile for the tourist

Day 4

Diggle - Hebden Bridge

Miles - 23.85
Ascent - 3396ft
Moving Ave - 3.1mph
Overall Ave 2.8mph
Moving Time - 07:47
Stopped time - 00:45

Today started off with a steady climb up to Standedge where the route joined the Pennine Way for all of 50 yards. Over the next few miles I would pass four reservoirs before dropping down out of the moors and going under the M62 before reaching Hollingworth Lake where there was a big holiday park so there were a lot of people around which meant good news - an ice cream van!

After a short break I left the lake behind and started a steady climb which would end at Summit which surprisingly turned out to be on lower ground beside the Rochdale canal. While up on the moors I met a LE-JOG walker who had accidentally come off the Pennine Way so we walked together for a couple of miles before saying our goodbyes. On reaching Summit I was chatting with a dog walker who was telling me I could follow the Rochdale canal all the way to Hebden Bridge but I decided against this and stuck with the PBW as it did another steep ascent away from Summit. As usual after the ascent I had a mile or two of easy walking before a steep descent took me down to Bottomley which is also on the Rochdale canal. This time temptation took over and I came off the PBW and stuck with the canal all the way to Hebden Bridge. This seemed like a good decision until I started to come in to contact with a lot of geese nesting right on the towpath. The geese that had nothing to defend were fine, those with young or a nest of eggs were a bit tougher to pass but a lady out running with her dog gave me a demonstration on how to pass them safely (make yourself as big as possible, make a lot of noise and swear at them). I felt a bit self conscious making myself as big as possible and flapping my arms around but the swearing came naturally and seemed to help. With 3 miles to go I was about to go under a bridge when Paul (LE-JOG) came over the bridge so we walked together for the last 3 miles and were actually staying at the same B&B.

This was an enjoyable day and with the canal walking thrown in at the end was quite varied.

More reservoirs

About to go under the M62

Nice splash of colour in a garden

Narrow boat life can be so relaxing!

Nesting on the path

Day 5

Hebden Bridge - Kelbrook

Miles - 25.6
Ascent - 5145ft
Moving Ave - 3.1mph
Overall Ave 2.9mph
Moving Time - 08:12
Stopped time - 00:36

When I did the Pennine Way a few years ago the climb out of Hebden Bridge came at the end of a 32 mile day and I found it really hard going so getting it out of the way first thing in the morning should be easier............maybe not! The PBW takes a different route from the PW but whether it's a different route up the hill or a different time of the day it's still tough, the only additional frustration is that at the start of the day you immediately lose most of the height gained before starting another climb. After some more ups and down some of which was on tarmac there was some good moorland walking before reaching Gorple reservoir (with another 30 yards on the PW on the approach to the reservoir).

The morning was warm and breezy and it was great to have the moors all to myself even on the tarmac as I approached Widdop reservoir. After the reservoir there was a steep climb up on to Black Moor and now the wind was really strong and in my face. It was a relief to reach Extwistle Moor where the track changed direction and it was wind behind which even made the climbs straight forward. I eventually dropped off the higher ground at a hamlet called Wycoller which was a beautiful spot for a short break. There were benches on a grassy area next to a large ruin with the hamlet in trees across on the other side of the river and a ford and an old bridge close by. A really nice place for my daily intake of Jaffa Cakes!

The last 4 miles in to Kelbrook were against the wind but it had been a really enjoyable day in the sun but tough on the sections that were in to the strong wind.

Leaving Hebden Bridge with the geese still keeping a close eye on any movement

Looking back at Widdop Reservoir


Wycoller Hall


Day 6

Kelbrook - Stainforth

Miles - 26.5
Ascent - 3583ft
Moving Ave - 3.2mph
Overall Ave 2.9mph
Moving Time - 08:17
Stopped time - 00:48

Today was quite a long day, lumpy as usual but with a bit more tarmac than previous days. The day was however spoiled by an incident at Westby Hall Farm near Gisburn. The farm has a long straight driveway and as I approached the farm buildings I could see a dog hut to the left of the tarmac road. Lying at the side of the road was a very large alsatian which I could see was tethered to a pole and the rope seemed to be quite long. When I got to within about 40 yards of the dog it became aware of me and went completely nuts. I slowly stuck to the right hand side of the lane and approached it, with the rope fully extended I could see that there was just enough room for me to get past sticking to the right hand side of the track. As I was parallel with the hut the dog was just within about two feet of me, he was up on his back legs with the rope fully extended and desperately trying to reach over and get a chunk of me. Once I was safely past, I stopped and looked back. The hut had been positioned opposite the one place where passers by had to stay on the track (either an outbuilding or a caravan jutted out to the tarmac so there was no verge to use) and the dog had been given enough rope to give the impression that it could reach all the way over the road and only the brave or in my case stupid would risk walking past. This is a public bridleway, there is no way anyone could get past this dog with a horse, likewise a family with kids or anyone wary of dogs would just turn round and head back down the farm drive to the main road. Once I was past the main event there were a few other tethered dogs close to the track all barking but there were a few yards between them and the track and they were less intimidating. As a dog lover and someone who has grown up with dogs in the family this was scary. I have never been around two feet away from a dog that wants to eat me and it is not something I would want to experience again. As much as I was watching the dog when I passed it I was also checking out the condition of the rope as the dog was using all it's strength to get to me. To summarize, this was quite simply an attempt to intimidate anyone who wanted to pass through this farmers yard. I have contacted the access manager responsible for this route but as yet, no response.

About half a mile further on a couple were walking towards me and their black lab started barking and ran towards me with the lady shouting to me that it wasn't aggressive. I laughed and said I knew what aggressive was as I had just encountered it and they asked me to explain. When I told them what had happened and where they said they weren't surprised as the farmer had a bad reputation for the way he treats his animals as well as failing to pay his debts (they also farm locally so know him).

Once the heartbeat returned to normal levels it was back to the walking as I headed through Gisburn Park then a series of tarmac and grit lanes before reaching Long Preston. After Long Preston there was a long gradual ascent back on to the high ground before a steep descent down in to Settle.

The walk from Settle to Stainforth was really enjoyable in higher fields (with sheep) and with the sun at my back.

A good days walking spoilt by one incident.

The big hoose at Gisburne Park

Tiny Paythorne Methodist Church

Above Settle looking towards Stainforth

Day 7

Stainforth - Ribblehead Viaduct

Miles - 20.3
Ascent - 3551ft
Moving Ave - 3.1mph
Overall Ave 2.8mph
Moving Time - 06:30
Stopped time - 00:35

Today's route took me through Feizor (also visited this village on The Dales High Way last October) and Austwick before turning and heading towards Ingleborough. Fairly easy walking on tree lined lanes between fields with very occasional tarmac.

A gradual climb took me up to the junction with the Dales High Way which was heading for Ingleborough but I managed to resist the temptation. A mile further on and having lost some height I crossed the three peaks route and this time the temptation got me and instead of going straight on I took the left turn signed Ingleborough - 2.5 miles. Last October on the Dales High Way visibility was limited to about 40 yards on the top of Ingleborough and a lady advised me of the great views over to Morecambe Bay on a good day - today was a good day so hopefully.......

The climb up Ingleborough was straight forward except for the wind which was getting stronger on the higher ground. At the top yes, I could see a bay in the distance so assume it was Morecambe. I stopped at the top for about 15 minutes and with the sun gone behind some clouds the hat and gloves were on and remained on till I was back down on lower ground. I was surprised to find that the summit was quieter than last October and I had the place to myself for 10 minutes before heading back down.

Once back down on lower ground the track came out on the minor road between Horton and Ribblehead so I just took the road to my finish. Shorter day today but another good days walking.

My route ahead

Looking back towards Thwaite

Over to Pen-y-ghent

Summit of Ingleborough

Heading down

Ribblehead Viaduct

Day 8

Ribblehead Viaduct - Street

Miles - 26.6
Ascent - 6497ft
Moving Ave - -
Overall Ave -
Moving Time - 08:02
Stopped time - 00:30

Today promised to be a long and hard finish and the weather for the first few hours just added to the mix. My walk to the Cam High Road was in drizzle with a really strong wind at my back. With an early start, it was cold and by the time I reached the Cam High Road I conceded defeat and got the hat out (the cap was going to fly off my head anyway) as well as gloves and the thinnest of thins waterproof tops more for the wind than the drizzle. After I turned off the Cam High Road and headed west I was glad of the extra clothing as I was straight in to the wind and it was strong and cold. The previous night the forecast was for gusts up to 45mph on lower ground so not sure what I was walking in but it was strong.

On reaching the minor road that heads for Dent I had a chat with a lady who was cycling LE-JOG. As she left me and cycled in to the cross wind she struggled to leave me behind and when she eventually did, she couldn't keep her bike on her side of the road and was continually ending up on the far right of the road desperately trying to keep the bike out of the ditch. Due to the speed of the wind she had no idea that while all this was going on she had a car right behind her trying to pass her and continually breaking and backing off. Luckily for me I only had a couple of hundred yards on the Dent road before taking a 90 degree right turn and heading up through fields on to the higher ground but now with the wind directly behind me.

The track took me past Wold Fell and on to Dent Fell with Dent station below me. After a while I joined a minor tarmac road that kept it's height for a while before dropping down to Garsdale station and Garsdale Head. I then had a climb up to the High Way which I have walked before (on the Lady Anne's Way). I really like this route with really good views down the valley and the odd train going past in the distance. Around High Hall a strong gust of wind caught me off guard, I put my hand out and caught a rock cutting my finger. Surprising how much blood can be lost from the tiniest of cuts!!

The High Way goes on for a few miles and as it started to slowly descend down to the minor road I knew I was entering the last stage of my walk. When the track reached the road I would turn left and almost head back on my self before leaving the road and heading up the other side of the valley. I kept looking for a gap in the hills where the track would go but couldn't see any obvious route. About an hour after first starting to look for the gap in the hills and having now crossed the road and gone under the railway line I realised why I couldn't see a gap - there wasn't one. I was going up and over the shoulder of Wild Boar. The PBW had left the longest and steepest climb to four miles from the finish and in the hardest of conditions - words were said.

Anyway, it was steep and relentless straight from the valley floor but eventually I was on the shoulder of Wild Boar. It would have been easy to climb what was left of the hill but with Mrs Gordie12 waiting for me near the finish I decided I'd better ignore the opportunity and keep to my route. The good thing was that it was nearly all downhill for the last couple of miles to the strange finish where you come out on a road in the middle of the moor. No official finishing point, no anything......... All that was left for me was the final 800 metres along the road to the car park for the Fat Lamb Inn.

Poor conditions for the final day but never wet. More climbing than any other day with a tough finish thrown in but I loved it. It was a day for idiots as the only other walker I met put it.

Heading for the Cam High Road

Cold and misty Cam High Road

One of many viaducts - this one is just beyond Garsdale Station

Before the climb up to High Way

High Hall on High Way

On the shoulder of Wild Boar looking down to the bottom of the valley

The Finish!

I really enjoyed the Pennine Bridleway, I've no idea how many people walk it end to end but it's well worth doing. It seems that the Dales and the Pennines draw me back at least once a year for a long distance walk.
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