The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

From Holmfield Halifax to Hebden Bridge

Number of killer dogs: 3 (fortunately all restrained, but they definitely wanted to sink their teeth in)


I had two options as to how to fill my day today. I could get on with the increasingly pressing task of compiling my write-ups of all of this year’s walks, so that I have a fighting chance of getting it printed and bound by Christmas, or I could go for a walk.


A glance out of the window told me that it was not pleasant walking weather. Drizzly, grey and with the cloud base at about 500 feet. Added to that, I’d forgotten to pick up my walking shoes when I left home yesterday, so I only had my ‘knocking around’ shoes available to me.


A walk it was then.


Being without a car, I went for the easy option and walked from Ma-in-Law’s front door. Within ten minutes (including a quick detour via the shop for Eccles Cakes) I was out of suburbia and onto a lane which in turn led me to farmland – and rapidly into the low cloud.


Much map work and a significant lack of way-marks took me through the farmland and onto a golf course. Golf courses are not a good place for me to be on my own. Try as I might to work out which way people were playing, I was clueless (where’s Mick when I need him, eh?). I got a pretty big hint when three chaps asked if I could wait for them to play the next tee; they explained that in the poor visibility they didn’t want to hit me with a stray ball. I said that I didn’t much fancy being hit with a ball in any weather, and duly stood aside. Watching the first chap bat off (see, I'm well up on my golfing terms, me), I then asked how they see where their balls have gone in such weather. “We don’t” they chuckled. All adds to the fun, I suppose.


Escaping the golf course without mishap it was then onto open moorland. Bleak, featureless, fogbound and waterlogged moorland in the rain. Not the most pleasant of places to be in the conditions, and as I danced my way across the firmer parts of the bogginess it didn’t take me long to find that my shoes were not waterproof (They’re a pair of Meindls, which profess to be GoreTex lined; they turned out not to be waterproof, nor overly comfortable).


Having paid no attention to the contours lines, it was a bit of a surprise on leaving the open moor to see the steepness of the valley into which I had to descend and out the other side of which I had to climb, but I looked on it as good training and attacked it with as much vigour as the slippery surfaces would allow.


The next chunk of open moor was as wet, bleak, featureless and cloudy as the last, although by how well the paths were trodden I had to surmise that there must be something to recommend the route in better weather.


A wall surprised me as it loomed out of the murk. It heralded the end of my moorland yomping, but I still had to make decisions as to which of the many local lanes and paths I would take to get me down to Hebden Bridge.


I arrived in the town exactly four hours after setting out, which just happened to be the very time that Mick was on his way back to Halifax, giving me the convenience of a lift and saving me the bus-fare.


Mick’s news was good. He is no longer one of the great unwashed. Unfortunately, that does mean that I’m now without either a car or a walking partner for the next six months. Best start looking for a job myself, hadn’t I?



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