Geoff drops me off at the tiny village of Holme at around 11am. Almost immediately, James and Reuben turn up too. Good timing.
The weather is dry but, as we set off towards Brownhill Reservoir, not quite what we are expecting – grey, overcast and still a touch chilly.
On the other side of the reservoir, we pick up a track and start climbing up towards Ramsden Edge.
We stop for first lunch at a disused quarry, offering a clear view of Holme Moss transmitter. We’re aiming for there on the first part of the walk and it still looks a fair distance away.
The path climbs ever higher, skirting the top of the clough, gradually getting muddier and, eventually, snowier in the process.
We keep feeling spots of drizzle – definitely not forecast! – and the going becomes harder than expected. Slushy snow and slippery mud make for ‘one step forward and two steps back’ at times.
But rounding the very top of the clough, the views are certainly worth the effort.
A quick check of the map and we finally leave the valley and start to head off towards the summit of Holme Moss.
Second lunch is had at an atmospheric little ruin at the top of Little Twizzle Clough. These places always look tempting for a night out, but a quick look inside finds not only the inevitable piles of stones, but also the inevitable litter.
And as we set off again, I finally give in and put on my over-trousers. It is only drizzling, but it’s so wet and muddy underfoot my trousers are getting filthy and I want try and keep them a bit clean for in the tent later.
We finally close in on the tramsmitter and of course Sod’s Law says that the last, innocuous looking stretch of moor before the road, is actually the filthiest, wettest, deepest mud of the walk so far.
The road is crossed and we approach the mast. It does look pretty impressive close up. There are some people working on it part way up, too. Definitely rather them than me!
A fence has to be climbed before reaching the edge of Heyden Clough. A grand view but I now admit to James that I am feeling a bit disproportionately weary. We haven’t covered many miles but it’s not been the easiest conditions underfoot or perhaps I am simply having a bad day. There’s been a lot going on of late, with Geoff’s mum tragically passing away just a week ago, so maybe stuff is just catching up with me.
We have a bit of a conflab and decide to drop down to Heyden Brook – to the clough just left of centre in the photo below – and see if there is a suitable spot there for the night.
Reuben finds me a reasonable pitch
and James thinks he’s found a good one, too.
Once he gets his tent out though, he decides it’s not so suitable after all. We pack up and move on a bit. Not far, just up the other side of the clough a touch and there’s a flat-ish sort of grassy ledge.
Short of pitching in a pond, it has to be about the wettest pitch in the history of camping. All the snow off the tops has been gradually melting for days and the grass slope is saturated. Every time you put your foot down a puddle instantly appears around your boots. In fact it’s like there’s a very slow moving stream flowing through the top soil.
It’s ok though and I’m desperate for a brew, so I go and filter my water for the night and get the kettle on. I always like to sort all my water out as soon as I’ve pitched. I’ll do 4 or 5 litres, which will then see me through plenty of brews, dinner, supper, breakfast and still leave me with a litre spare to set off walking with the next day. I love being able to wake up in the morning and not have to go off hunter-gathering water again, but can put the kettle on straight away whilst still in my sleeping bag.
I’m sure you can understand my irritation then, when after a nocturnal toilet visit at 1:30 in the morning, I notice that the 2 litre platypus that had been left full for breakfast, had leaked. Totally empty. I’m not a happy bunny in the morning when I wake up to yet more cloud and gloom, and then have to troll down through the snow to the stream for more water before I can brew up and face the day.
A couple of brews later and I soon perk up however, as does the weather. And by the time we’re packed up, the sun is really starting to burn through the cloud.
This morning’s route takes us further uphill to reach the broad ridge of Tooleyshaw Moss, where we pick up the path to the summit of Black Hill.
Once again, it’s fairly hard going. Where there’s no snow, there’s deep mud. And where there is snow, you stand on it and sink through it to either deep water or deep mud.
But the weather makes up for it. A coolness, but gorgeous sunshine and blue skies. We even notice the sound of lapwings and skylarks, singing to herald in the start of spring.
Black Hill trig point is finally reached. Superb views all around from here and we suddenly notice how busy it is, with groups of people approaching from all directions.
A good spot for first lunch and when we set off again – north on the Pennine Way – the now flagged path is very welcome in these conditions!
The day just gets busier. Loads of people out enjoying the sunshine and everyone we pass mentions Reuben’s panniers…….
Second lunch is eaten in Dean Clough. The stream is a bit swollen with snow melt, so we divert upstream a few yards to get across more easily. Here, we also get messages from Andy Leader – who’s out a wandering and hoping to bump into us – and hubby Geoff – who’s due to pick me up in Holme village in a couple of hours.
Setting off after our snack, I actually take my Paramo jacket off and replace it with a windproof – spring is now officially on its way!
The Pennine Way is left shortly after and the Kirklees Way walked for a short distance before curving round to join Issues Road – another track which takes us back down to Holme.
Andy Leader and his wife bump into us with their two doggies. It’s the first time we’ve met them and we stop for a pleasant chat.
And then a mile or so further on we meet up with Geoff, who’s wandered along with Pebbles and Islay to walk the last little bit with us.
As usual, James had organised an excellent weekend. I think it was just what I needed, too. A couple of days away with a good wild camp and I suddenly realised how much more relaxed I felt than I had done on the Saturday morning.