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28/06/2013 – The Pendle Way

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My biggest walking challenge to date is now in the bag. Yesterday I set of  from Barley on a 50 mile trek split into 2 days. The walk started on the car park at the Barley cabin and in reasonable weather. The route took me through Roughlee then down Pasture Lane into Barrowford and towards the Heritage Centre. This is the original start point but I jumped back a bit in order to finish day 1 near my home in Kelbrook. From here it was down past the water meetings and up to the top of Blacko before heading for Weets Hill via Admergill Farm. It was on the approach to Weets that the weather turned and from now on it would rain pretty much the whole way round with just a few gaps in the rain for me to take a break. The nicest of these was at Greenberfield Locks where I had dinner. After trekking through the fields around Thornton In Craven and Earby I finally arrived in Kelbrook after 7.5 hours and 20 miles walking. Everything apart from the weather was going well until at 1am I was woken up by the police knocking on my door. Id left my car at Barley and was due to meet back up with it at the end of the walk but someone had seen it parked there at midnight and feared id been hurt on Pendle Hill. Frustrating but understandable and nice to know that someone would be looking for me should anything bad actually happen.

Day 2 began at 7-45 am and the first gate I had to go through was blocked by around 30m cows. After leaping over several walls I did eventually get round them. For the first half hour it was fine but then it came, heavy rain and drizzle took it in turns to penetrate my waterproofs succeeding at around 11am at Wycollar. From Kelbrook i’d climbed up to Black Lane Ends and then over Knarrs Hill before dropping down to Laneshaw Bridge near the Emmott Arms. The bus shelter across the road became a make shift cafe as I stopped to eat, drink and dry out a little. Then it was off through the fields again to Wycollar before climbing the Pennine Bridleway up to Boulsworth Hill. The rain was driving hard now and ill admit to getting a tiny bit angry.

My mood wasnt helped by the worst part of the long trek. The section between Coldwell and Walverden Reservoir is quite simply crazy. It starts by having you walk down a hill side and through several mud baths before climbing back up through some trees. All while guessing where the footpath actually is due to zero signage or visible track. Once through this you are then presented with following a very uneven (and muddy in the rain) farm track steeply downhill to Catlow Bottom. Once you’ve climbed out of Catlow you are then supposed to navigate through a field with very lively horses and then along a very narrow ginnel that was waist high with ferns and nettles not to mention the glass I heard crunching under foot. This ginnel is preferred in order to take you through the hamlet of Southfield whereas the sensible alternative is to follow the farm track that runs alongside it to the left. I will be doing this next time. Once through this awful part of the route its a trip around Walverden Res before heading up to Harle Syke and across Nelson Golf club. From here its now downhill all the way through Reedley crossing Burnley Rd near Pendleside Hospice and heading to the bottom of Robinson lane. By this time I was starving as id had no where at all to get out of the rain in order to have a lunch break. It was 3-15pm and I decided to stop at the canal and duck under the bridge. I removed my coat and hung it up on a metal spike in the side of the bridge. Off came the soaked t-shirt and socks and they were replaced by dry versions from my rucksack. Once fed and watered is was back down the lane and through the fields following the river calder towards barden before climbing up and over the M65.

At this point I knew it would start getting tough as there was a lot of uphill to come. So on I went through the fields to the bypass and up through Higham. The next section saw me go through Sabden Fold where I saw a fox just ambling through the next field to me. Normally they run a mile when they see you but this one hadn’t picked me out so continued about its business in a relaxed manner enabling me to get a very rare long view of the beautiful creature. Suddenly I was in Newchurch and the end was in sight. The signpost said ‘Barley 2 miles’ but unfortunately I had the small task of climbing Pendle before I’d see Barley meaning my route ha d another 5 miles to go. I was tempted to just drop down the road to Barley but id done 45 miles in awful weather so why should I back out now. With that thought I climbed up to the top of Fell Wood and then went through the ‘DRY’ wood to the top of lower ogden res. The rain was easing a touch but the mist had come down and visibility was down to around 20ft as I started the tough climb up Pendle Hill. Finally the trig point came at me out of the mist and I got a lift knowing I just had one more decent to go. So down the front of Pendle and through the fields before tracking the beck back into Barley.The sight of my car sat on the car park almost brought me to tears. I’ve never been so wet and tired in my life but Id done it.

51 miles in 18h 44m 04s across 2 days in absolutely torrential rain.

What a challenge and one ill remember forever. Very very proud of myself tonight and already wondering if this could all be done in a single day. Maybe one for next year but for now its home, feet up and a well deserved lay in before a weekend walk up the lakes. Well you didn’t expect me to just sit down and do nothing did you?