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]

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Denholme to Ripponden

Quite a while ago now Martin said that he was going to go on a backpacking trip this week. Without knowing a precise location, we said that we would join him for the weekend. The weekend in question was this weekend, and conveniently his schedule (a truly crazy schedule – really, go and look at it!) had him walking within just a few miles of Ma-in-Law’s house, making logistics a lot less complicated than they might have been.

Now, you may have noticed that we’ve had some uncommonly good weather this last week or so. You may also have noticed (if you follow his blog (and if you don’t then I would recommend it)) that Martin has a bit of a knack for getting good weather for his trips. Conversely, Mick and I have a dreadful record for good weather…


The sun was shining yesterday morning, and it was in summer-wear that we took up residence outside of the Mechanics’ Institute (in the absence of an open pub) early in the afternoon to wait for Martin’s arrival.

It was the bright orange Crocs that first alerted me to his approach and exactly at his predicted time he strode up to us and, being just about lunchtime, lunch was the first priority.

By the time the Co-op and the chippy had been visited and the dining started, the sunny day had turned into an ominously cloudy one. By the time the last chip was eaten, the rain was starting to fall.

For the reasons outlined in the second paragraph above, I accepted full responsibility for the sudden appearance of rain after so many consecutive days of fine weather.

P6050237a Time to give in to the need for waterproof trousers

We managed to negotiate our way out of the village (new housing estates have made navigation of the local footpaths a bit trickier until the maps catch up (or maybe the maps have caught up and we just have old ones)) and a gold star goes to Martin for also managing to pay attention to the map even with the chatting (a notoriously difficult task and one in which I failed).

It wasn’t too long before we had to concede that the ‘passing shower’ wasn’t going to pass, and out came the waterproof trousers, which became a permanent feature for the rest of the trip.

Approaching Ogden Water we got onto ground with which I’m vaguely familiar and which I know to be very pretty indeed on a sunny day. As it was, the surroundings were a little marred by the dampness.

P6050238a Blossom around Ogden Water – not marred by the rain

Respite from the weather was had as we dripped over the floor, chairs and tables of the Ogden Visitor Centre, and during that time the sun came out, which would have been quite an exciting event given the previous couple of hours, except that on this occasion the appearance of the sun didn’t cause the rain to stop.

Back out onto steaming tarmac we stepped, but the sun was soon beaten back into submission by the cloud as we crossed the almost-deserted Halifax golf course and then picked up the Calderdale Way, which was then followed all the way to Jerusalem Campsite just by Booth.

It looked unlikely that the rain (admittedly light rain) was going to abate for long enough for us to pitch so we wasted no time with picking a spot (amongst mole hills, in the hope that one didn’t appear underneath us in the night) and diving for shelter. It was an unsociable evening given the conditions and by 8pm (oh, what party animals we are!) there was a sound of snoring coming from our tent.



The rain overnight was almost without cease. The other feature of the night was that I listened to fourteen chapters of my audio-book, but managed to sleep through twelve of them!

Fortunately the pattering on nylon was barely noticeable at 5.30 as we came to pack the tent away. Unfortunately, the respite was brief and the belief that it was going to be a showery morning was a misguided one (because surely a 3 hour shower is just called ‘rain’?).

Lots of places passed through this morning looked very oooh-worthy and would ordinarily have seen me reaching for the camera. As it went, I didn’t take a single photo. Perhaps, with the route being so close to Ma-in-Law’s house, we’ll return on a sunny day to appreciate more fully those surroundings.

Various stretches of treacherously slippery cobbles (“well recovered!” I said to Mick after a bit of arm-waving saved him from the jaws of a slip; two steps later his foot shot from under him and he appreciated the cushioning attributes of his sleeping bag in his backpack) were negotiated. Through some very pleasant (but drippy) woodland we passed. A blissfully muddy disused railway line (so many are hard surfaced, it’s nice to find one that’s soft underfoot) was negotiated. After all of which (at all of 8.40am), we were three dripping but cheerful walkers as we presented ourselves into a tea-and-sandwich-serving-but-no-tables-or-chairs establishment in Ripponden.

Along came Sue, who had by prior arrangement arrived to deliver some different footwear to Martin, who had been suffering from a bit of a poorly ankle tendon. The different-shoes mission turned into a ‘take us home’ mission as the sensible decision to abort the rest of the trip was announced. Martin had already walked further than most would in his five days (really, if you didn’t go and look at his schedule when I told you to earlier, then go and do it now!) and had thoroughly enjoyed himself in the previous good weather (i.e. until Mick & I arrived!). There was no value in making a poorly ankle worse and enduring two days of rain just out of principle – and I can’t claim to have been disappointed to have missed our final six miles of hoods-up heads-down yomping, before we were due to do battle with Bustitution (or Rail Replacement Bus Service for those who don’t understand the term) from Marsden.

And so…

The weather was undeniably shitty. We walked 6 miles fewer than intended. I destroyed a second pair of waterproof trousers within the space of a month (I’ll post about that separately). And would I have rather have been sitting on the sofa in front of the telly? Absolutely not.


  1. That's unlucky with the weather. At least you were out and about. Better luck next time.

  2. An excellent report, Gayle. And really good to meet up. The rain can't actually have been that bad as I do recall we spent most of the time chatting. But the hot bath (when I got home) was most welcome, and I'm enjoying going through the 294 photos I took, 5 of which were after you joined me! We actually got a bit further than I thought I would get in the seven days allotted to this trip, and I'll enjoy going back for the Ripponden to Timperley section later in the summer.
    Thanks again for making the effort to join me.

  3. What a bummer it is when great weather packs up just in time for the weekend. I had the same experience in the Lakes. It sounds like you had a great time despite the rain, though :)

  4. Okay, so maybe the rain wasn't quite as bad as I made it sound. I did rain quite consistently almost the whole time that we were walking, and overtrousers were worn for 99% of the time - but it could have been much worse. At least it wasn't overly heavy rain (well, except for a while overnight - but having fixed the leaking seam, that wasn't a problem).

    Alan - no, not Wendy. We've most definitely come to the conclusion that she is not the tent to use when there are two of us and the weather is going to be anything other than warm and dry. I'm still a big fan of Wendy and would choose her every time if I was going out by myself, but for two it's back to that condensation problem.