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]

Thursday 12 March 2009

Edale Day 1

Monday 9 March

After an early start from Halifax and a bit of a scary drive (involving a narrow road with more hairpins and ridiculous gradients (and often the two combined) than is reasonable on a single road) I was in the car park in Edale by about 8.30.

Contrary to my intentions, my stay there was very short; having found that I didn’t have enough pennies to cover the charges, the map was considered before I continued on up to Upper Booth in the hope that the car park marked there would be cheaper. It turned out to be free, which was a bonus indeed.

Shortly afterwards I was battling my way up the road and for the second day in a row I was wondering whether what I was doing was a good idea. Indeed, being repeatedly stopped dead in my tracks by the headwind whilst still being in the valley bottom, it wasn’t so much a question of wisdom, as one of possibility. If I was struggling down in the valley then what chance did I have on the top?

Still, I had got up early and made the journey, so I figured that I may just as well make my way up Jacob’s Ladder just for the exercise, even if I conceded defeat at that point, so along and then up I headed, marvelling at the scenery as I went. It may have been windy, but the day was clear.

Spying a long row of white aggregate sacks along the Pennine Way beyond the top of the paved path of Jacob’s Ladder, it was obvious that path improvement/anti-erosion works are imminent; as I got closer I found that there were also piles of the typical Pennine Way slabs, waiting to be laid. In advance of the works taking place, I yomped my way through the mire and soon the path flattened out as I started skirting the edge of the plateau.

By good fortune once up high the wind direction was favourable to my intended route and only occasionally did I lose the protection of the hill and find myself being battered about.

A few people were out and about, but as the one couple with whom I exchanged a few words said, it was just too cold in that wind to be standing around chatting. They weren’t wrong either. On the way up my ears had been suffering, and having omitted to pack my Mountain Cap (well, we are in spring, aren’t we?) I improvised by wearing my pink buff as a cowl, with my beanie over the top. I was aware as I did it that I must look a sight, particularly with the combination of bright pink buff, orange jacket and purple mitts (such a fashion leader, me). Still, it did the job even if I did look remarkably silly.

Good path gave way to much peaty bogginess in the vicinity of some of those fantastically sculpted rocks which are typical of the area. The bogginess coincided with a bit of peckishness, which turned out to be bad timing. So busy was I eating an Eat Natural bar as I picked my way through the mire, that I lost concentration on the terrain and found myself with both legs up to mid-calf in the black stuff. A mighty effort and two loud squelches had my feet free, but not before the water had seeped over the top of my boots. I made a mental note to pay more attention!

I must have been somewhere between Crowden Brook and Grinds Brook (once again on firm ground) when I turned back and saw someone making their way up the former; it immediately appealed to me as a route and a plan for the following day (if I decided to stay the night) was forming in my mind.

For this day, though, my plotted route had me descending to Edale via The Nab, and as I approached Ringing Roger I could see a path that would take me to that route. However, the route I had plotted saw me walking a short distance further along the edge, and I decided to stick to the plan.

Alas, the earlier lesson about paying more attention hadn’t sunk in, because I was merrily making my way towards the next spur when I realised that I had overshot my intended path by a hundred yards or so. Now that was unfortunate, not because of the backtracking per se, but more because it had just started to hail again and in turning back I was heading directly into the wind. Ouch!

Down I went, on the way making contact with Mick to try to find out what the weather forecast was for the following day; if it was going to be wet and windy then my stay over/go home decision would become simple. It was difficult to hear what Mick was saying as he was competing with the noise of the wind, but I gleaned that the heavy rain overnight was due to have passed through by 6am, and that the day would be calm.

Once down in the valley a pause for lunch was had at a bench which was blissfully sheltered from the wind before I made my way into Edale itself. I didn’t linger in the village, but just walked on through, before taking field paths back to Upper Booth.

Then I really did have to make a decision about whether to stay or go. My goodness, I dithered over that decision. The location of the dithering even moved, after a while, to the car park of the campsite. Finally I abandoned the decision making process and just checked in, followed swiftly by choosing a pitch and making my home (Wendy).

One of the causes of my earlier dithering was that, having finished my walk by just after 2pm, I was concerned that I would be bored sitting in a tent for six or seven hours until bedtime. The time did get filled, with a book and the radio, multiple cups of tea and some food, then a walk up to the phone box (in the rain, which had by then started) for my nightly 8pm chat with Mick, then it was back to my little home, and bed, with my alarm set for an early start again the following morning.

The stats for the day were 9.5 miles with 1500 feet of ascent. The highest wind speed I recorded was 38mph. Oh, and I was carrying a nearly-full backpack, just for the training.

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