The Pennine Bridleway currently stretches from MIddleton in south Derbyshre, to a random spot on a country road, just short of Kirkby Stephen. It is at present 205 miles long. Eventually it is hoped that it will actually go all the way to Byrness, but I imagine it will be several more years before the final stretch is sorted.
Ever since completing the Pennine Way, I’ve quite fancied making a comparison with the Pennine Bridleway and between 2014 and 2016, I made a bit of a start on it. Over several weekends – sometimes on my own, somtimes with Tilly and sometimes with Pebbles – I walked the first half, from Middleton Top to Hebden Bridge. It was time to have a big push on the rest of it.
Hot, hot, hot. Pebbles needs her cooling vest on – which I have to source water for and ‘recharge’ every couple of hours. We set off with 2 litres of water to share between us, plus our water filter, so that I can keep everything topped up. I already know this area well (I used to live on the moors above Todmorden and was also a member of CVMRT at that time) and am aware that there is a reliable, sizeable river about half way through the day. On top of that, there are other small streams that we come across. So, with careful water and cooling management, Pebbles gamely and happily manages 12 miles, between Hebden Bridge and Worsthorne, where we meet up with Geoff and Islay for the night, in the van. I am very proud of her. It’s a fantastic day and she thoroughly enjoys herself.
The next two days have both been planned as 16 milers, but this is too far for Pebbles in this heat. I re-jig things. I don’t want to slow us down as I’ve already planned to meet a friend at Horton in Ribblesdale in a couple of days time, so I decide to miss the first 16 miles out and split the next lot into two, 8 mile days.
Another hot day then, from Barnoldswick to Gisburn. Water is more scarce than yesterday, but we still manage fine. Agricultural countryside for the most part today, using green lanes to navigate for much of the time. Being charged at by a few calves and cows in the final half mile into Gisburn, being the only fly in the ointment. Deciding to turn around here and re-route via the road into the village, seems like the sensible option. Another night with Geoff and Islay, in the van.
The cow incident yesterday has rather put us off this lowland, agricultural area. Driving to our site last night, I spot lots of fields on today’s route which are frequented by herds, so we re-jig again. A rest day today. Pebbles doesn’t mind.
Rejuvenated and refreshed, we make our way from Settle to Austwick. The weather is starting to cool down, with a few rain showers. The cows we meet today, are your more friendly, moorland type and no bother at all. Another scenic day, and another night in the van.
We deviate slightly. We set off north out of Austwick to meet up with the PB, then eventually pick up the Pennine Way instead, to drop us down to Horton. On the way to Sulber, Pebbles is the centre of attention with a group of walkers who want to know all about her panniers. She laps it all up. Only a short hop really, but it’s colder still today, with some drizzle first thing. Once in Horton, we make our way to Cragg Hill Farm campsite, where we meet up with Mike Fields later on. He’s spent today doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks. He tells me they had snow as they crossed Pen y Ghent.
Today looks idyllic. Blue skies, sun, fantastic views. It’s absolutely perishing though. A ‘fresh’ northerly wind cuts through everything and seems to be battering our faces for the whole day. It’s the kind of day that makes you want to stop on several extended breaks and soak up the sunshine, but it’s just too cold. Minimal, hurried breaks only. Mike drops us off back in Horton first thing, where we pick up the PW again, then join the PB a few miles further, then once more deviate – across to Ribblehead to meet up with Geoff and Islay.
Another fresh day, but not quite as cold as yesterday. Geoff drops us at Newby Head Moss. It’s a day of ‘wow’ views. Rise Hill, East Baugh Fell, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang dominate the skylines. The PB is definitely in its element here, on ancient tracks, which hardly anyone frequents. Even a couple of miles on a (very quiet) road in the afternoon, don’t detract from the enjoyment.
We pass Garsdale Station and walk under Moorcock Viaduct, on our way to our camping spot for the night – a farm on a hillside, where a lovely couple allow Pebbles and I to pitch up in a field full of sheep and lambs.
It’s been a bit colder than expected overnight. I’d packed a bit lighter, but a fly covered with ice by 3am, hints at how cold it is. I wake up shivering and need a hot chocolate to warm me up. I should know better. Thankfully, Pebbles isn’t cold, but I’ve not slept well. She looks tired as she’s stirring for the day, but once out she’s still bouncy and having fun.
I arrange to meet up with Geoff and Islay at a place called The Thrang – which is just a mile south of Pendragon Castle. This will do as a fitting finishing spot for now.
Still fresh, the weather is keeping us on our toes as we wend our way along The High Way, to Hell Gill Bridge, and a hail storm serves as a grand finale for the last mile down to the van.