“The sweet melody of the dawn chorus wakes me gently the next morning” / “I am rudely awakened by the raucous clamour of a million twittering sparrows at 0430” (delete as appropriate)
The hood of my sleeping bag is forced tightly over my ears so I can try and grab another hour of sleep. It is cold this morning as I crawl out into the world. Nothing remains of the pizza crust I left for the birds, and I make a mental note to offer food only after I have woken up in the future, but not now, the two pieces of pizza I have left make a cold but needed early breakfast. The tent next to mine has a dog, Arthur, he watches every bite jealously. Tough luck pooch, I am starving.
By 6:45 the tent is packed up and I am gingerly squeezing back into my size 9’s and squaring up to lump. Those 2 kgs I got rid of can’t have returned can they? This thing feels no lighter. I give myself a strict talking to, then promise myself a tea and a butty if I get on with it. I put my head down and head up hill, in 200yards I rejoin the Pennine way. Time for a rest.
I have a phone signal! I call Kate.
“How are you?”
“Doing Great!, No problem. Easy peasy this old Pennine Way” I lie convincingly.
“Liar, take care, miss you”
“Miss you too” I say, truthfully.
From this point, and for the rest of the day, I am back on home turf, though odly the home turf I recall isn’t quite this big. The map details Black Tor, Rakes Rocks, Oakenclough Brook and The Castles (I always thought these were called Laddow Rocks). With a day pack this route is not a major challenge, with lump it feels to be a ponderous nightmare. After several “stop and catch your breath” halts, I get to Oakenclough Brook, and stop to take on water. Without a care for its own safety, the bite valve for my camel takes a dive into oblivion over the edge of the cliff. “Heck!, I chunter to myself” / “Something stronger, I voice to the world” (delete as appropriate).
Lump is shrugged off and I make a daring rescue. Details will not be given, Kate will not be pleased with my exploits at this point! Unscathed I load lump back on and I plough on. If Snoopy is open, there is a bacon butty with my name on it. If snoopy is open, if snoopy is, if snoopy, snoopy is. It becomes a chant. The path to Black Hill never felt so long. A steady climb, but oh so long today. The sun is out and it is glorious. I’m getting very hot, and of course, without the bite guard the camel would uncomfortable to drink from, so that was worthwhile. Great views out over Lancashire.
The descent is torture on knees and feet. I adopt yesterdays technique of using my poles like a walking frame for the lame. The first of two small rivers is crossed, and the steep slope dealt with. Rest. The second, forded. Rest. Up hill, ever up hill. It takes over 2 hours to get to the tea van. I have been walking 5 hours.
“Bacon, two eggs, popped please. and a tea”. My well rehearsed order is met with a smile and in next to no time I am handed the food of the God’s. With each glorious bite I close my eyes. I don’t gulp it down, each bite is a delicacy to be savoured.
I indulge myself with a second cuppa, and sit down. I give half an hour to a peaceful, relaxing lunch. No chance. An argument erupts, and I end up involved. Someone (southern by his accent) is spouting off about how “…the tea van should be nearer the Pennine way, which is 1/2 a mile in that direction” (he vaguely points down the road). It isn’t, we are on it, but he is determined. I show him the sign, not 20 yards away. “Well, they moved it since I was last here. ..and another thing…” At which point I decide I m going to move too, and off I go. Down to Wessenden Head Res.
Time for a rest
This time as well as lump, I remove boots and socks too. I pour water on my feet. They sizzle. New pair of socks and carefully replace my boots. Not a moment too soon. I am descended upon by “Jolyon”. Jolyon is a 56 year old whirlwind of a hiker, who is also “doing the Pennine Way”. We decide to walk together awhile.
Crikey! I know he has slowed his pace for me, but I am nearly running to keep up. Between gulps of air I have a good stab at holding a conversation, but as we head up to Wessenden moor I’m done for.We exchange details and he is away. Time for a rest.
In the distance I see Jolyon has found a new companion. Oddly, I seem to be catching up. As I get closer the pair split. One hares off, the other doesn’t. And so, I am able to catch up to Mary. Mary is not built for speed, she is built for being Jolly, and that she is by the bucket load. She asks me to pass her a water bottle from her pack pocket, and after taking a quick sip she stows it away in her ample bosom. After routing around in there for a while she produces a banana. A beam lights her face and she scoffs it in a mere 3 bites. The skin vanishes over a gully. I have no chance to comment. Mary is on day 3 of her trek, and her story pauses only briefly as we meet a family sunbathing. The sight of sun worshippers on the beach of Black Moss Reservoir stuns her to silence for the briefest of moments before launching into her tale again with a new audience. As the Pennine way joins up with the Standedge trail I let her go on ahead as I make a call to Kate.
“What would you say to having your husband at home for the night?”
” I suppose so”
Collection of one weary traveller arranged. Tonight is B&B 🙂
My bed, My breakfast