Date: Monday 25 May 2015
Walked from: Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
Walked to: Ickornshaw, West Yorkshire
Distance: 17.5 miles
Stayed: Winterhouse Barn
Weather: Dry! Could see stuff!
An ‘up hill, down dale’ sort of a day, if ever there was one, which started with a two mile wander along the towpath from Hebden Bridge – awash with the funky but always slightly damp looking lifestyle of long-term canal boat dwellers – to re-join the Pennine Way route.
Easy bit done, we headed up the steep, bluebell studded hillside from Mytholm to Colden, and through a pretty dell named ‘Hebble Hole’, which didn’t particularly grab our attention at the time, but which certainly looked beautiful when we were comparing photos with fellow ‘Way Walkers’* later on.
We then didn’t go to a shop slightly off route called ‘May’s Aladdin’s Cave’, which we were gently berated for over dinner. I get that she sells a lot of stuff walkers need, but so did the convenience store we passed in town at the start of our walk, and it didn’t involve us having to walk out of our way to go there!
Walked across the moorland of Clough Head Hill and Heptonstall Moor, and along our first reservoir (yes, another one!) of the day chatting to a nice couple called Judith and Nigel, whose children have both recently landed good jobs in London. Advice on a good Spanish restaurant in Clapham duly provided, it was time for a chocolate chip cookie stop in a pretty sheltered spot where my guidebook claims generations of PW walkers have eaten their lunch. Our lunch came a bit later, after a long walk around two of the three Walshaw Dean reservoirs and a further haul up hill across moorland to Top Withins – a derelict old farm building that everyone is desperate to tell you is NOT the building depicted in Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I don’t really care one way or the other – there was a bench, views, and a bit of shelter from the wind, and we got to watch a contraption that looked like something out of ‘Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang’ fly past (a gyrocopter apparently) as I dined in a cheese baguette and monster munch.
More walking through Bronte Country (clearly popular with Japanese tourists, if the signposts written in Japanese are anything to go by) took us to Ponden, and another reservoir, where our guide Stuart (author of the book we’re using to navigate our way with) told us an all out lie: allow a hour to a hour and a half to get to Ickornshaw says he. ‘Bollocks’ say we: that was the longest hour and a half of my life. The book is great, but if you’re a woman, and you’re thinking in terms of possibly needing a pee en-route, bear what I’ve said in mind. Old Bess Hill has some promisingly long grass as well as fabulous views, but there’s no where to hide once you get to Ickornshaw Moor…
Had a lovely stay with the welcoming owners of Winterhouse Barn, a truly fantastic old building awash with stone flagstones and wooden beams, and a delicious dinner at the Dog and Gun, before collapsing gratefully into bed. A long day, and a good one, done.
*Not sure quite what to nickname people walking the Pennine Way. On other long distance trails I’ve gone with ‘Offa’s’ (Offa’s Dyke), ‘Coasters’ (Coast to Coast), ‘Ridgers’ (Ridgeway). But try and adapt the word Pennine and you could get into all sorts of trouble…
Photos: Bluebells in Mytholm / looking back over Walshaw Reservoirs / approaching Ickornshaw