Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Proceeding beyond Calderdale

28th March 2007

Sunday was forecast to be dry and sunny, so it was a matter of seizing the opportunity and deciding where to walk. In the end, I plumped for the continuation of my Pennine Way adventure. I left the section between Littleborough and Marsden for another day and tackled the section between Burnley and Haworth. However, I actually did my walk in the reverse direction due to public transport logistics. In fact, when I was first drafting this post, it was fast becoming a public transport rant so that was put elsewhere so as not to ruin an account of what in fact was a pleasant walk, and it is the walking that I will always remember rather than any transport frustrations. I once had a planned trip to Wales scuppered by a train cancellation, so I headed up to the Lake District, and it is the memorable evening in the company of the likes of Loughrigg Fell, Grasmere and Rydal Water of which I will always have the strongest recollections. That was far from being a disappointing day.

Getting away involved catching the first bus from Macclesfield to Manchester. From there, the railway got me to Keighley with changes at Leeds and Shipley and another bus got me to Haworth. I suppose that I could have travelled on the Keighley and Worth Valley railway, but I stuck with my original plan, even if I caught a Transdev Keighley & District bus for the last leg with only moments left to its departure.

Haworth is certainly a charming spot, but it is not its rustic appeal that attracts the visitors; that is its Brontë connections. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to linger there, yet there was enough Brontë-this, Brontë-that and Brontë-the-other to give me the general idea. In fact, the Brontë theme was to pervade for a lot of my walk.

It took longer to find than it ought to have done, but I picked up the Brontë Way and followed it until I left it to join the Pennine Way just east of Upper Heights farm. On my journey to that point, I had ambled over Penistone Hill and crossed the Brontë bridge at the foot of the Brontë Falls. Yes, there is a danger of Brontë overload here, and I wasn’t finished yet. My trot up the Pennine Way was to take me to Top Withins, the site of the ruins of which is supposed to have inspired the fictional Wuthering Heights in the eponymous novel. There is a plaque erected here by the Brontë Society declaring to the same effect.

I left the literary connections after Top Withins to continue into wild country with broad moorland and big skies. There were wind turbines on the horizon, but I didn’t care, though I normally carry strong reservations about the siting of the things. It was not long until I was in reservoir country again; on the way out of Haworth I passed Lower Laithe Reservoir and caught a glimpse of Ponden Reservoir, by which a future northbound Pennine Way excursion would take me. Now I was encountering the Walshaw Dean reservoirs, whose company I would have almost until I met the next public road. By now, the evening light was glorious, and I had to stop myself becoming engrossed in photographic exploits at the expense of my getting home that night; I think that I may have a photo that tries to portray Walshaw Dean Middle Reservoir as if it were a natural lake rather than the man-made construction that it is.

Walshaw Dean Middle Reservoir, Hebden Bridge, South Yorkshire, England

The nearest public road saw me leave the Pennine Way at the spot where I left it on my previous visit to the area, and I was to retread my footsteps on part of the Mary Townley Loop of the Pennine Bridleway until I reached Worsthorne. More reservoirs (Widdop, Gorple Lower, Gorple Upper, Hurstwood; yes, there are a lot around here all right) were passed on what was a surprisingly fleet-footed trek to Worsthorne, a village with a pleasant atmosphere on the edge of Burnley.

Worsthorne proved to be the end of the walking adventure for the day, but my travelling continued. A useful Transdev Burnley & Pendle service carried me to Burnley bus station. My journey continued from Burnley by train to Crewe, with a change in Preston. From Crewe, another bus got me home. It might be better if I had less waiting to do, then I would have got home an hour earlier, but it was a still a satisfactory end to a satisfying day.

Postscript: This was also the first hill day for my new Osprey Atmos pack, and it seems to have performed well. Apart from a little soreness at the end of the day, my back is none the worse and my shoulders were spared the usual torment applied to them by its Eurohike predecessor. So, a little more breaking in, and it looks as if this one will go on and on. I’ll just have to try to stop it getting too muddy…

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