Thursday, 4 April 2013

No 20 Calderdale recee

Thanks to the snow time is running out and I wanted to recee bits of the Calderdale Hike and of the Fellsman. I did do Calderdale last year but there are sections I cannot remember- perhaps because I was following somebody who knew the way at those points. Andy R (Splatcher) offered to join me and seemed keen to recee the same bits so the day was set.
We parked at Tod Leisure Centre and set off north to get up onto the Calderdale Way and Cross Hill.
Merlin set the pace and we were off. Our first bit to recee was Hoof Stones to Widdop Dam. Last year I had gone due north along the fence line and then just slightly cut the corner through the ruined walls and up to the track. I was keen to see what Wicken Clough  was like. Not too bad if you stay high on Whinberry and then head for the dam. I think Nick went that way last year.
Andy refolding map in fierce wind!
After the dam there are two obvious paths upto the track so we decided to ignore them for the day and see what contouring  NE was like. Not bad in places but overall not worth it. Neither of us wanted to worry about the section across to Withins ruin so we stuck to the road and got some miles under our belt. I suspect  the road across the Ridge had only just opened so heaven knows how a pub like the Packhorse Inn makes any money?

 My original plan had been to reverse some of the old CH route on the big track at New Laithe Moor but Andy knew some lovely paths by the river into Black Dene and Hebden Dale, plus down there we were out of the fierce chilly wind. It was boggy in places but very pretty and until through to the old mill very quiet. After New Bridge we both needed food (well Mint Cake in Andy's case) and Merlin needed a drink.
Then it was off uphill to Pecket Well and onto the moor. There was a surprising amount of snow compacted into the lanes and tracks but the moor was almost snow free and the bogs were thawing. From Deer Stones Edge we picked out the trod and old shafts and were soon heading for Luddenden Dean. Last year I had stayed  just below Garnett Edge so we experimented with the path that dropped to Goose Green and picked up the big track. It worked well, especially today given the melting snow and bogs on the higher path. It was then road and more road past Jerusalem Farm and right down to the main road at Luddenden Foot.
Andy cheating? get a tow
Sadly Merlin was limping so Andy called it a day and said he would walk back along the canal ( I did offer bus money but was refused and Merlin seemed OK at a walk on the flat). We parted company in the valley bottom and I climbed up and up and up some more to Nab End. I tried to remember which way I had descended from here last year but don't think I got it right today. This meant when I hit the road in Cragg Vale I was uncertain.

 In the end I decided to drop beyond Dauber Bridge and then climb. It felt a bigger climb than last year so perhaps not wise. I did eventually end up at Erringden Grange though so it would have worked out OK on the day!  I had hoped to run fast along Kilnshaw Lane and London Road as they are relatively flat but my legs seemed to have other ideas at least until the downhill section to Mankinholes.

 Nevermind, the sun was out and it was the final stretch. I even got a bit of a sun tan. Stoodley Pike was surprisingly quiet and so was Lumbutts. I ignored the path near the pub, but will probabaly take it on the day, and headed along the Calderdale Way to return to Tod and my car at the leisure centre.

My big toe/toe nail was giving me hell for some reason so I was glad to hit the valley floor and flatter ground. A bit wierd to be back along 'normal' people and crowds in Todmorden. The market traders were packing up but the sun had brought the crowds out to the park- there was even an ice cream man. I looked for Andy and Merlin but suspect they beat me back. Not a bad day at 28.8 miles that finished with a nice run through the park. It must be getting warmer though because I was desperate for a drink and to my dismay the tea wagon on the way into Burnley was shut!

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