Reaching the point where I previously left the trail was a drag. It took 3½ hours, including a train, two buses, and my regular daily step count. Admittedly this did include stopping for a vegan breakfast at Huddersfield Wetherspoon’s, but it’s still a long time. (As much as I loathe Tim Martin’s politics, he is an excellent host. I know I can visit one of his pubs anywhere in the country and receive a vegan breakfast, which is no small thing).
The day’s route ran from Standedge to Hebden Bridge. There are no epic hills, some boring reservoirs and the M62 dominates one section. With the roads, planes coming into Manchester, and the proximity of Manchester and Rochdale themselves, this section rarely feels truly wild. It’s also busy – I found myself walking through an orienteering event after the M62; and the ridge towards Stoodley Pike is always full of walkers. But, while this route suffers in comparison with other parts of the Pennine Way, any day hiking beats being indoors.
The best section of the day was the rocky path above on Marston Moor, which also included some decent views. There were some isolated sections where the ground-nesting birds were incredibly loud – obviously unhappy about me passing close to their nests.
The route crossed the A672, where there was a friendly cafe, and shortly after crossed the M62. A brief section of moorland took the trail to the Halifax Road and the White House pub. From here, it followed a couple of reservoirs. While there were some nice backgrounds, the path itself was something of a trudge for a mile or so. Wainwright describes the scenery in this section as “nothing to write home about”.
After the reservoirs, there is a stretch of wilder moorland that rises towards Stoodley Pike. This monument, 37-meters high and at the top of a hill, is visible for miles around. It first appears on the Pennine Way five miles back at Blackstone Edge, where it directly ahead, with no real feeling of its distance.
While the landscape wasn’t as epic as I’d have liked, this was a good walk. Being out in the countryside allowed me to leave behind the stress of the working week. My new coat kept the wind off. And the best thing about this section was that it ended a short distance from my house, so I could walk back along the canal. At the Callis community gardens, I passed a woman meditating, a sign inviting others to join her to promote world peace. If I’d not been so tired, I might have done so.
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