Friday 16 September 2016

The missing link, linked

Back in the month of May, Mike, Lucky the dog and myself set out to circumnavigate a round of the highest pubs in England. An interesting proposition for an avowed teetotaller! However, as the great Rabbi Burns stated,'the best laid plans o' mice an' men gang aft agley'! Due to the pressures of time we left out a section between Todmorden and Skipton. The missing section required completing. Thus it was we returned this September to link up with the missing section.
Joining us on this return trip was the indomitable JJ. John is a man of many talents, is much in demand in various circles and we looked forward to his company. Arriving in Todmorden earlier than John, Mike and I visited the local chippy for a spot of lunch. Collecting John from the station we popped in to a local hostelry for a quick pint, or in my case, a shandy! A place of interesting character with interesting characters. it was the tattooed lass with ears that must have been surgically worked on. they were pointed, Dr Spock style, that caught my attention, different, fascinating!
Our way out of Todmorden led uphill, steeply so. Up through woodland, on to open moorland and over to the Great Bride Stones. The pub that used to be by Keb Hill is now a private residence. An interesting piece of navigation through bog and dense vegetation led us over to Jack Bridge and the New Delight pub. They were dog friendly and permitted camping It seemed a convenient place to stop for the night.
After a muggy night,Tuesday looked as if the heatwave we had been experiencing would continue. Much of route for the day was to loosely follow the Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway. It was not just the heat that posed a problem, it was the energy sapping high humidity.

 A shop at High Gate farm provided much welcome cold drinks.

 Making our way over toward Lower Gorple reservoir we detoured slightly to visit the Pack Horse public house. Not the friendliest of places.

Rejoining the Pennine Way, we made our way up and over Withins Height End. Descending down toward Top Withins, I noticed a semi clothed guy with a couple of professional looking cameras all set up on tripods. It did sort of register to me as a little odd as it was still some distance to the ruined farm and the cameras were pointed away from the buildings. It was only when Mike pointed out to me that the chap was actually doing naked selfies. looking back and there he was, in the altogether posing in front of the cameras, odd?

It must have been  a hard life, farming so high up on the moor and of course it will always be associated with Wuthering Heights and the Brontes.
Coming down by Upper Heights decisions as to where we were going to camp that night was rapidly decided by a rolling clap of thunder.. We hastened downward to Ponden Hall. A campsite there is marked on the map. Basically a wild camp on private land. Follow a path down through a wooded hill to a clearing by a stream. The shower and loo are back up the hill by a group of holiday cottages. Tents were erected in haste as the sky grew darker and darker. The first drops of rain were falling as we scrambled to get set up. Soon the storm was upon us. Great flashes of lightning, peel after peel of thunder. At times, as the storm rolled overhead, thunder and lightning were almost simultaneous. For over an hour the storm continued.
Wednesday morning broke dry and clear with the promise of another hot day. The campsite was midge infested and we were glad to be away.
Our route began by following the Bronte Way up to Watersheddies reservoir. A machete would have come in very useful. Apart from the rhododendrons, the bracken was over six foot high and wet. One could have hidden a herd of elephants in there! As for the stiles, well, a top rope may have been handy? It is safe to say we found it hard work! By footpaths and a nasty bit of road walking we made our way to the hostelry at Height Laithe Farm. Unfortunately it is a pub no more. By the looks of it, the place is having much cash spent in conversion to a private home. Mind, there was a grand view over the surrounding countryside.
Footpaths led us over to Wycoller. The ruins of Wycoller Hall are quite impressive, if a little enclosed.

It seemed a good spot for a lunch break. There was a tea room, unfortunately closed.

A mixture of lanes and paths led us over to the Black Lane Ends Inn. It was open and dog friendly. The weather was hot and cold drinks were required. Although it was still early, when it was discovered they would let us camp at the rear of the pub, well, it seemed daft not to. Leaving the lads to contemplate the merits of various ales, I went and found our camping spot.
The pub is obviously very popular. By early evening the place was becoming busy. We went over for a meal, large portions served all round. It was becoming a tad too busy for me and I retired early, leaving the guys discussing the merits of various pubs, beers and landlords!
Thursday morning once again saw a heavy dew and hence wet tents. We were away around nine and the day looked as if it was going to another hot one. Footpaths and lanes took us over to Lothersdale.

Heat haze over Lothersdale.

A steady climb up and over Tow Top lane. It was then footpaths and finally lane and road in to Skipton.  John had to rush off for a train while Mike and I visited a local pub. Once again a dog friendly place and Lucky was glad to just snooze in a quiet corner. Possibly not a lot of mileage covered over the three days. The weather was one continuous heatwave and even a  humungous thunderstorm only momentarily cleared the air a wee bit. It was enjoyable and fun though.