The South Pennines ---- Standedge to Gargrave ---- 44 miles ---- 3 days

The third day was interesting, as well as easy walking. We retraced our steps on the back route behind Globe Farm, and rejoined the PW on pleasant paths leading to Millstone Edge with its gritstone outcrops. After a few miles we were at the footbridge across the M62.

 

 

  Not long after our lunch among the boulders of Blackstone Edge, we were on an ancient cobbled track that's possibly Roman, possibly medieval. Experts disagree.

At the end of more fast miles of walking beside reservoirs and waterways, we saw Stoodley Pike appearing in the distance. This is a PW landmark, because it is visible for several days of the Way. When it first comes into view it's almost three miles away, but because of its height (120 feet), it looks deceptively close.

     

After Stoodley Pike, we dropped down through farms and then a pleasant woods to the Calder Valley. We crossed the canal, river, and road, and started the steep ascent out of the valley. We were near Hebden Bridge, and Wainwright wrote of the paths in this area "examples are met of a type of footpath not found elsewhere on the Pennine Way. Obviously they date back to the time of the construction of the carraige roads, when there was as much concern for foot-travelers as those with conveyances, and they were made with care in the form of narrow paved ways between enclosing stone walls." A good length of the route up from the valley is on these paths, and we found them beautiful.

It seemed as if everyone we talked with later had stayed at Badgerfields Farm, our very enjoyable B&B north of Hebden Bridge. When we left the farm the next morning we were again on walled paths, though these were not as well maintained. The two photos below are from the same place. On the left we are looking back up toward the derelict barn on Badgerfields Farm. The photo on the right looks ahead to the drop down to Colden Water.

 
     

There followed a pretty flower-lined path down to a dell with Colden Water and the old stone packhorse bridge across it.

 

 

Up from the Colden valley we came to a lane where there was a hand-written sign with an arrow pointing the way to a farm shop with food and supplies. We had read about this shop, known as "Aladdin's Cave", so walked down the road to it. (This was the sort of very narrow, stone-walled lane where you flatten yourself against the wall when a car passes.) We loved Aladdin's Cave! It's a small, low room in a farm, crammed full with canned and boxed food, a refrigerator with cheeses, and all the small useful items that one might need. We bought rolls and cheese for several days, and other odds and ends, and were outside putting our packs back on when a car drove up. A woman got out with a tray of freshly baked pastries, so back into the shop we went, following her!

 
     

After climbing some more (a dozen or so lambs scurried off the path ahead of us), we sat and ate our delicious pastries, and then crossed a part of Heptonstall moor.

 
     

Later, we were at the pretty scene where Reaps Water and Graining Water meet. The path goes down, crosses both footbridges, and climbs up the far side.

We walked above Graining Water, then by more reservoirs, and then up onto the moors near Haworth. The wall stile onto the moor was higher than most. And the sheep at Top Withins were more aggressive scavengers than most. Perhaps it's because there are so many tourists there, since it is (possibly) the ruins of the house that Emily Bronte had in mind when she wrote about the Earnshaw house, Wuthering Heights.

 
     

We walked down to Ponden Reservoir and along it to our B&B. Across its wall was Ponden Hall, the house on which Emily Bronte based Thrushcross Grange.

The next day was beautifully sunny. On the other side of Ponden Reservoir, we climbed through pasturelands. The landmarks mentioned in the book were old gateposts and a ruined barn; here we found both together:

Not much later we came to Ickornshaw Moor. This was another of the sections that used to be a nightmare but is now flagged over the worst parts. We were soon across it, and climbing the stile off the moor and into farmland.

 

This was the last of the moors and peat groughs for many days. We were now in a pastoral landscape, with farms, fields, and pastures, as well as frequent little villages. For a short time we were on a towpath beside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We enjoyed seeing the double-arched bridge near East Marton. Apparently the old road dipped down to the bridge. When they wanted a faster road without a big dip, they just built the new bridge on top the old one, with another arch.

Later, in a field, we passed a group busy at painting red marks on their sheep.

We stopped for the night at Lavender House, an excellent, friendly B&B in Gargrave.

 

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