Tan Hill to Middleton in Teesdale 

Breakfast at Tan Hill- go, go tomorrow. It’s Fawlty  Towers with a Latvian Manuel. 

Let’s just say organisation is not their strong point. But there was a lot to look at while you’re waiting. 

We got away later than we’d hoped. 

Then a boggy walk over Sleighthome Moor. 

The more moor and reservoir and bog, but kind people all the way offering water on this ridiculously hot day. We tramped along for many hours admiring the views, feeling grateful to be able to do this but wishing the day were at an end. 

We reached halfway in miles today and some long days to come. Tonight we’re in Co Durham and eating with the sisters walking to remember their mum, but passing the time of day with other walkers who cross our path, some of whom are doing Lands End to John O Groats. Gasp. They left on April 1st and have only had one and half days of rain. 

There’s a common enemy, the Pennine Way itself, and the heat. I’ve bought after sun to anoint my farmer’s tan but so far, so good. No blisters. Twenty one miles tomorrow. Yikes. 

Hardraw to Tan Hill 16 miles

The best day yet walking and weather wise: hills and dales bathed in sunshine. And the moorland not too boggy. It’s windy though and my arms are red from too much exposure. This is where we started – Hardraw bunkhouse which I recommend. It’s basic but a good space and excellent showers. 

From there onto Great Shunner Fell which Wainwright said he could climb all day even though he was fat and senile. It was a pleasant climb with birdsong and shadows of clouds passing over the hills. 

We passed Thwaite which had an excellent tea shop and fine cake, and Keld another pretty village. We saw streams and waterfalls and all round loveliness. 

But while the villages are pretty, on a walk like this it’s the cairns and shelters which most appeal to me.

A thoughtfully constructed four way wind break so walkers are protected no matter which way the wind blows. 

This is not the work of an afternoon and we appreciate those who gave their time in the cause. Indeed Becky coined a new Beatitude: Blessed are the slab layers, for they help us walk on dry land.

Tonight we are at Britain’s highest inn, with lots of other crazy people who enjoy pounding their feet on long distance trails. Outside farmers are constructing sheep pens for a show on Thursday. Downstairs two women are marking the death of their mother who passed away two years back. She took them on a cycling holiday in this area as teenagers in the 70s on bikes with no gears. Respect. They are not seasoned walkers but are doing it to honour her. And loving it and feeling proud. Another grizzled looking  guy from LA has walked the Appalachian Way, Pacific Crest Trail, two Caminos and many long distance paths in the UK. He clearly is addicted to this. 

We are now halfway in days and tomorrow we reach halfway in mileage. Some monster walks to come: but for now I’m happy to be in the second column. 

Horton to Hardraw Day 7 

An easier day but there were still points when I was out of love with this walk. Had one of you turned up with a car I might have walked away. But we made it, against all the odds. 

Totally wonderful breakfast with slightly sad Steve who runs a super duper B and B with this

And Pen y Gent from the porch.

Long walking then Hawes. Pretty market town. 

The to Hardraw bunkhouse. 

And the most macabre pub you’ve ever come across. Fortunately we have supplies to eat here because it offered little but taxidermy. 

We’re near Dismal Hill but this was in another league. We were glad to come back to our strange but wholesome bunkhouse. 

Lots of adventure books. 

And ours continues tomorrow to Tan Hill the highest pub in Britain. 

Day 6 Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale

Yesterday was a walk which started well in the sunshine – but ended in a damp scramble into Malham. All the wet weather gear went on. 

Some lovely views but very wet feet by the end. Our room in Malham youth hostel was like this.

Only one person could stand at a time. But friendly staff and some witty signs. 

Hostels have changed for the better – there’s a far more relaxed regime which combines well with a traditional drying room. And they provided a decent breakfast which meant we were on our way early to see this

Malham Cove – impressive. After a wicked climb out of Malham there was a lot to admire and we had the weather to do it. 

Lovely walking. Some ‘stiff sustained climbs’ but a very satisfying day. 

Lunch=dry ham sandwich and a falling apart gluten free cookie. I ate it anyway. 

Down Fountains Fell and up Pen y Gent with Sue’s brother and his dog who joined us for this bit, and dinner. For those of you who long to join us on these ridiculous rambles, but who fear we are Amazonian – which is all tosh btw – a day or two’s walking with us is a good way in. You’ll see that we stumble and trip and I stay at the back, most of the time because I’m not a whippet, let alone an Amazon. 

Climbing Pen y Gent looked worse that it was, my fitness is improving, but still involved a little scramble and a few dicey moments when the wind caught my rucksack. No retaining wall to catch the flyaway rambler. But we all made it and after a stomp down a three mile stony track we found ourselves in Horton where the Three Peaks events start from. 

Horton is a pretty village but full of bossy signs like this :

But the staff in the cafe were superb and attentive and we got tomorrow’s tuck in there which I won’t show you because you ll only be jealous.

Then showers, washing, pub, (a roast lamb dinner since you’re asking) bed. 

A good day, and aren’t we glowing and gorgeous? 

Mankinholes to Ickornshaw 

Another 16/7 miler starting with a beastly climb out of Callis Bridge and more up and down for a long time. 

Pictures say more than words. 

And another climb up to May’s shop which is a PW legend and you really can buy anything there. 

And the Parkins not bad either.

More moors and reservoirs. 

And after a lunch of apple and cheese and cookies, this:

The more reservoirs and moorland and then Top Withins which is supposed to have inspired Wuthering Heights which was pretty inhospitable any way you look at it. I thought we were nearly there but no, only a few more moors and slabs and a sharp shower to go. It was unexpectedly hard. We arrived at 6pm to another wonderful host duo who gave us cake and tea and took our washing away. 

Then a Caminoesque meal out with friends we’ve made on the way which was full of laughter and understanding and some beer. 

Excellent – maybe I can carry on. Tomorrow, Malham. 

Diggle to Mankinholes

Our first sunshine and no rain. 

This was a much easier walk and once we were up on the ridge it was fairly straightforward. (I’m saying that but I make no contribution at all to the navigation as I have realised how woefully inadequate my skills are. I make the landscape fit the map. Thank heaven for Becky and Sue).

We made good progress and were at the White House pub for a drink as it opened. We’ve learned to have a hot drink and a cold drink. One to comfort one to hydrate. 

Very nice too and a tiny macaroon. Could have eaten four. 

Then more reservoir walking including a boggy detour and past Stoodley Point,down a very pretty wood to Hebden Bridge – “the fourth funkiest town on the planet.” ??

It was pretty funky, and I’d like to go back but we were funky too in a different way, so availed ourselves of the Co op fresh produce and got a taxi to Mankinholes Youth Hostel. 

Hostels are great but often you can’t get in till five as they’re run by volunteers these days, so that’s why we did our shopping in HB. Which was wise as the promised shop at the hostel sold beans and ancient postcards. Not tasty. But our food was. And as we did 37000+ steps yesterday – I’ve got a new app- we needed it. 

Mankinholes Youth Hostel is run by a sterling guy called Bob. A more relaxed host you could not hope to find. And indeed all the people we’ve met so far have been delightful in their way.  Ian, a taxi driver, who didn’t want to take our money told us how they’d just had their dog put down, and how his adult son went fishing for three days to process it. He said his happiest memory of Ronnie, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, was when they brought him home on Christmas Eve twelve years ago and surprised their kids! This is a man who does triathlons he looked fit and tough and yet there he was on a 10 minute journey sharing some fairly deep emotions: something’s changed – it wasn’t like this years ago and we are all the better for it I’d say. It was a real human connection.  All the publicity about mental health is working at some level and hoorah for that. 

So far we’ve met a deal of  older guys: chatty Warren, from Wales,  Steve another older man lean as a pick, walking in step with us and a chap called Heffin? Heffan? Jolly nice anyway and keen on model railways, in fact trains in general, and very well travelled. 

And another Bob, who we call Lost Bob, who left Edale when we did and fell down on Bleaklow and they got the mountain rescue out for him. He now sports a plaster on his nose but persists in walking long stages despite his advanced years (he looks old) and injury. He arrived at 9.30 pm last night tired and dehydrated. But he’s going home today much to our relief. Bless him. 

Anyhow we’re off to breakfast with Lost Bob, and sterling Not Lost Bob. I’ll try and take a photo. 

Crowden to Diggle

Yes that is a place. Not that I’ve seen much of it as we slithered down the bridle path into town and into our hotel at 4.30 and have not left since. Had a pie and a pint – and am now horizontal. 

Today was better, shorter, 14 miles, and visibility was good. Lots more trudging and traipsing up and down hills and slabs and bogginess and fording. This means crossing water in full spate. 

Now we were never going to be swept away  downstream but lose your footing and you could take a tumble and be wet through to your pants. As if you weren’t wet enough already. 

Said one lovely lady, when her husband said we might have to wade, I hate that word – wade. We didn’t wade but there was a hop skip and countdown to a jump. It mostly worked. 

Some great views and good company. And tomorrow we are at Mankinholes – yes that’s a place too. And the forecast is better. 

Edale to Crowden 17 miles

Hard. As promised. We walked out in our waterproofs from the off but spirits were high. 

After a while I didn’t know whether it was rain or sweat but I felt an all pervading dampness, it was as Becky aptly put it like being boil in the bag rice. 

All our kit and knees held out but it was a tough one and I’m glad it’s over. No more pics because I didn’t lift my head for long enough. We’ve met some lovely people fellow walkers and truly hospitable kind hosts. 

As ever I’m in bed already, full of fish pie and relief and hoping my body does that clever repair job before I ask it to continue the walk tomorrow.

And we’re off

Despite a lost passport, the vagaries of public transport and being told at Manchester station it was going to rain for a week, we all showed up and today our PW adventure begins. 

We are under occupying a bunk house for 18, so have had a gentle start. We’ve compared the weight of our packs, and maps and swapped emergency phone numbers and reassured ourselves that we’ll be sensible and not rush because that’s When Accidents Happen. 

The scenery – even from my bunk – looks stunning, if damp. So we’re off, after a fortifying breakfast.

Thanks for all your good wishes and see you in Crowden.