Diggle to Hollingworth Lake – 10 miles
Pebbles was busy trying to chew her panniers as we attached them to her harness. A fruitless task really, as her head couldn’t properly reach them, and only a minute later she gave up.
It was the first time of wearing them and she wasn’t carrying much weight – only her fleece pyjamas and a blanket. I still had all her food and other bits and bobs in my rucksack.
Geoff had just kindly dropped Kim and I (plus Effy and Pebbles, of course) off at Diggle, so we could do another couple of days on our slow wander north on the Pennine Bridleway. Our plan was to walk from there to Hebden Bridge, spending the night near Hollingworth Lake, at Milnrow.
Climbing right from the start, the route took us all around the edge of Castleshaw and Bleakedgate Moors, passing more reservoirs than I ever knew existed in this area.
And once again, we were balancing between the moors on our right and the Manchester conurbation on our left.
The weather forecast had promised us a warm, dry day.
Unfortunately though, the weather Gods hadn’t seen the forecast and around lunchtime we were suddenly treated to a couple of hours of cold, heavy rain and hail, adding to the mud that was already underfoot.
Now, daft as it may sound, one of the things I’d been looking forward to on this section, was the M62. The Pennine Way has its foot bridge across it, but the Pennine Bridleway goes underneath it.
We turned a corner and it came into view.
Even from this distance, we could hear the roar of the traffic – passing directly under it, the noise was almost deafening.
Sad I know, but I loved it. From this angle, it just looked an amazing feat of engineering.
Well, we had by now done nearly 10 miles. Feeling a touch weary, we had a stupid experience at the campsite I’d booked into – which I just can’t be bothered to go into – but moved onto the Backpackers Campsite at Hollingworth Lake instead.
I knew this Backpackers site existed, but also knew that it had closed down some time ago. What I hadn’t known was that it had reopened last April. Featuring toilets, showers and water, it was just what we needed and it cost us the princely sum of £2.50 each. It’s only a small field, there was only us staying and we passed a very pleasant, peaceful night.
Although I slept well, I was aware at times of an awful lot of rain falling overnight. The morning dawned bright and sunny, however and we even breakfasted outside the tents.
We had great hopes of a dry day.
Pebbles was coping really admirably on her first trip with panniers. After the initial ‘What the hell are these?’ looks, she simply carried on as if they weren’t there. Her and Effy were also getting on very well and the pair were a delight to walk with.
And the weather even played ball, with clear views all around as we progressed ever northwards.
There is a surprising amount of up-and-down on the Bridleway with a variety of terrain underfoot – it’s not all manicured tracks by any means.
For the first part of the day, we paralleled the Pennine Way – the route passing just a mile or so to the west of Blackstone Edge.
We had First Lunch in the sun, on a high point, shortly before dropping down to Summit, on the way to Todmorden.
Summit’s claim to fame is that it is the highest point on the Rochdale Canal. Crossing over the canal at Summit Lock, a slight change of plan began to formulate in my mind.
We then crossed the main A6033 road to Todmorden and once again started climbing out of the valley.
It was warm and I was concerned that Pebbles in particular, might find the 12 miles this day a bit tiring.
So, when we once again dropped down into the valley – ready to climb out onto the moors again on the other side – I suggested we picked up the canal tow path instead and did the last few miles to Hebden Bridge along that.
Kim was in agreement. It also gave us chance to visit an eatery and buy cans of coke and cheese and onion crisps for a treat for Second Lunch – which we had sat on a bench by the canal.
It’s not the most scenic stretch of canal in the country and the closer we got to Hebden Bridge, the more we became aware of the sheer destruction left by the Christmas floods. Several times, we had to leave the towpath where repair work was being carried out and continue on the road.
We saw some very sad sights. Destroyed property. Closed down businesses. The pub in Hebden Bridge where we’d arranged to meet Hamish – Kim’s hubby – was still shut after all the damage it had sustained.
The weather kept dry for us though, but within five minutes of Hamish picking us up in their camper, the heavens opened and it rained and then snowed, all the way home.
But the dogs slept through it, peacefully dreaming. First Class Sleeper Seats for them, all the way back.