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]

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Playing in the Snow

Had I looked out of the window earlier yesterday morning (and it was quite out of character that I didn’t) then, almost certainly, I would have lost no time in throwing some things in a bag and an early start would have been made.

As it went, I completely failed to pay any attention to what the day had brought until after breakfast when Ma-in-Law made some comment about the lovely day. How in the world had I failed to notice the clear blue skies? What a perfect day for a walk!

Out I went into the snow, which was only lying a couple or so inches deep, and soon picked up the Calderdale Way, which I would follow for a while.

Everything was looking pretty

P1200018but the combination of the snow obliterating any trace of paths across fields, a lapse of concentration and a lack of way marking, soon saw me confused as to my location.  There I was, at the end of a track of which I had no recollection and out came the map, confirming that I had missed a stile.

No matter, I took the other two sides of the square to get back to where I should have been.

Skirting the edge of Halifax Golf Course the snow got a touch deeper, but not so much as to make things at all difficult (that was the job of the ice I encountered a little further on) and a while later I spotted Ogden Water ahead of me.

P1200021 It’s a popular place at any time, and the perfect conditions had brought out more people than you might expect to find on a Tuesday; the snow on the path around the water’s edge was heavily trodden. Apparently many of those people had got out of the wrong sides of their beds though, as they studiously ignored my greetings.

Leaving the popular path at the far end of the water I was on my own as I made my way up through the woodland (where the remains of trees have been turned into ‘shrooms),

P1200026on my way to the moor above.

Popping out of the woodland further up, I was confused as to my exact location for the second time (the perils of having the map in the backpack rather than somewhere accessible) when just after the Giant’s Tooth (a future legend in the making?)

P1200028 P1200027I realised that the wind farm wasn’t quite where it should have been (or, to be more precise, that I wasn’t quite where I should have been in relation to the wind farm).

Back and forth I wandered trying to locate myself (a process that would have been easier if I had a compass to hand; unfortunately my compass was in my other backpack, which was in the boot of the car, and the car was with Mick in Oldham). I didn’t take too long to work out where I was, but then I had to decide how to get myself to where I wanted to be. After no small amount of dithering, it seemed that the most obvious thing to do (which wasn’t necessarily the quickest or easiest thing) was to just take myself onto the open moor and walk along the fence line to intersect my intended path.

It was a touch windy up there, and the snow depth varied between ankle and mid-thigh (at one time reaching mid-chest, but that was more to do with me falling down a hole than wandering into a considerable snow-drift; it was at that point that I belatedly thought that maybe my poles would be better off in my hands than strapped to my pack).

Amongst all of this snow wandering I also discovered that I’m not very adept at taking photos of my own legs. This was my best effort at demonstrating a snow-to-the-thighs bit (although the reality was that there was a layer of snow on top of heather, which made it seem deeper than it was; still jolly hard work, mind):


I’m not a habitual wearer of gaiters, but by the time I re-gained my intended path, I had to concede that they would have been very handy on this day. In their absence, once I got back to the relatively shallow snow on the path, I just had to fish as much snow as I could out of the tops of my boots.

Given more time I would have made a circuit of the moor, but with an engagement later in the day I needed to be heading back (kicking myself again for not making an earlier start), so over to the other side of the valley I headed to return to Ogden Water.

A large patch of untouched snow on the way back down nearly turned me into a seven year old child as a temptation to create a snow-angel almost overwhelmed me, but with great restraint I passed it by.

Clouds were appearing in the sky as I made my way back down to the reservoirP1200034but I still had the benefit of sunshine as I sat on the dam for a cup of tea and a snackette.

Then, with but one deviation, I simply retraced my steps back to Halifax.

The whole excursion had taken me just short of 4 hours, with a mere 8 miles covered (and with a modest 1000 feet of ascent).  Far from a fast pace, but at times hard work, and all jolly good fun!

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