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, 13 July 2013

Acting as Mick’s (Official) Biographer

By 3.15pm on Thursday afternoon I had won the race to finish my work in time to make my intended plan come to fruition, had thrown my backpack into the boot of the car and was just setting off northwards.

A little under five hours later, after two and a half hours of driving, a trip on a bus and another on a train, followed by a lung bursting walk out of Hebden Bridge station and up to Stoodley Pike, I was nearly at my intended night-stop.

I don’t think that I’ve ever spent a school-night wild camping before and I was pleased that it wasn’t even 8pm when I started walking along the edge of a patch of forestry looking for a good and discreet place to pitch.

The place was obvious when I got there. Leaving the public right of way, and nipping though a hole in a wall, I crossed one field and went through another hole in a wall. And what did I find there, but a lovely, bowling-green patch of short grass … with a tent already on it.

In other circumstances I might have wondered whether I should stop and say hello or just backtrack quietly pretending I hadn’t been there, but today the answer was obvious. As that tent was Rita Rainbow, and as the occupant was Mick, I presented myself at its door.


If I’d taken this snap from 90 degrees further round, I would have captured both the tent and the view!

“I’m glad that’s you!” said Mick, with a hint of concern that a farmer may happen along who objected to us occupying the corner of a field of sheep for the night.

Mick was smelly and sun-kissed (i.e. lobsteresque in the places he’d missed with the sun cream) having walked there from Edale. His trip had first come into his mind on Monday morning when I set him two tasks for his day. The first was a short, mundane household chore. The second (to his surprise) was to pack his backpack, plan a route, sort out some food and go and spend the rest of the week taking advantage of summer, with the promise that I would come and pick him up from wherever he was on the weekend.

He picked the Pennine Way and set out on Tuesday lunchtime, although not without hitch when signalling problems caused his first train to arrive sufficiently late that he missed the Edale train by a couple of minutes, giving him two hours to wait in Sheffield until the next one. It was gone 5pm when he finally set out for the Kinder plateau.IMG_5425IMG_5429

Good rocks!

With the day being warm, he spent the night with the doors of the tent tied back, meaning that he got to see the flock of sheep which came to investigate him in the night, but more pleasingly, he also witnessed the mountain hare which started grazing just a few yards away from him in the morning. It took the hare a few moments to realise that there was someone in that grey object just over yonder, at which point it took fright, leapt in the air and hared off.


Wednesday was forecast to be the coolest day of the week and it dawned grey, misty and cool:


It didn’t take too long for some warmth to build, but the mist took a while longer to dissipate, not lifting until after he had cleared the navigational challenges of both Kinder and Bleaklow, but even when visibility was restored the sun remained stubbornly hidden behind low cloud.

Four D of E’ers (one of a number of groups he saw) had passed him as he dropped down to Old Woman. As they came within sight of each other in the mist, the strains of Jerusalem he had been hearing stopped. “You can carry on singing now” he said to the back-marker as he passed. It’s nice to encounter a jolly bunch of D of E’ers!


Looking back towards Crowden from the approach to Laddow Rocks

Somewhere around Laddow Rocks had been the ear-marked night-stop, but it was far too early in the day to stop so onwards to Black Hill he went, neglecting to take a photo when he got there. At Black Hill he had a choice. The route I had printed for him had him taking the old route of the Pennine Way, but Mick had a breakfast bacon sandwich in his mind and the official PW route would take him past a snack-wagon on the A635. He found himself a pitch and some water in between Black Hill and the road and had himself an early finish, teeing himself up for that breakfast bap.


Not a great pitch, said Mick. Two more miles would have seen him with a top-notch pitch but beyond the snack-wagon..

On Thursday the weather reverted to glorious sunniness and Mick took the bold decision to zip off his trouser legs. He duly applied his factor 50, but apparently didn’t give an adequate covering to the backs of his ankles and the backs of his knees.

It was a late start for him, as he didn’t want to be arrive at the road before the snack wagon, but even with the late start he was to be disappointed – no wagon! He carried on with just a muesli bar to satisfy him.


Not a lot water in the reservoirs above Marsden


Three times I’ve walked over Black Hill towards Marsden, but such have been the routes that I’ve chosen that never have I walked the bit of the Pennine Way in this photo!

The disappointment was redeemed later in the day, having passed over Standedge and White Hill he approached the M62 crossing to find that snack wagon not just present, but serving what he described as ‘the best bacon and egg bap I’ve ever had’. He continued towards the White House a happy chap.

The White House supplied him with a glass of pop and a re-fill of his water bladder before he continued on in the blazing sunshine past a few more reservoirs before Stoodley Pike hove into view for him.


By then, I was on my way north and a quick chat when I stopped at some Services agreed that he would find a pitch beyond Stoodley Pike (giving me less of a walk to find him).

And so that’s how Thursday night in the corner of a sheep field came to be.

Mick’s stats to that point were:

Day 1: 5 miles, 1700’; Day 2: 17.5 miles, 3000’; Day 3: 20.5 miles, 2500’

I’d walked just 3.25 miles with a smidge under 1000’ of up.

I think that’s enough words for one post. I’ll write about Friday separately.


  1. Such fun! Needed a good giggle, thank you. And what a clever idea, I might have to pinch and adapt.

  2. Tut, tut all those nice illegal wild camps. Nice fun that. Also nice to grab a last minute mini adventure.

    1. There may be a similar level of unlawfulness going on in the Pennines this coming week too ... but the locations will remain unnamed until after the event (not least because Mick won't know where they are until he finds them!).