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]

Monday 12 April 2010

Day 21 - Marsden to Denholme

Mon 12 April
Distance: 19 miles
Number of shoe-faffs: 84 (all mine bar one)

There was a definite nip in the air as we were dropped off in Marsden at 0730 this morning, to counter which we headed out of the town uphill, which certainly got our lungs working and blood pumping.

I'm sure that there are spectacular views as you look back down towards Marsden, but we weren't to have the benefit of them today. The cloud was right down and looked like it was going to take quite a while to burn off. And so it was with mystery surroundings that we made our way across Slaithwaite Moor (I made the mistake yesterday of pronouncing Slaithwaite as it looks. After he stopped laughing at me, Phil told me the correct pronounciation (which may have been 'slough-it', but do correct me if I'm wrong).

As many will know, the lie of the land in this area is steep sided valleys, such that it would be difficult to go for a walk of any significant length without encountering at least one pull up a killer hill. We had many today, but the real extreme angle of ascent was up from Deanhead Reservoir where work was in progress on the dry stone walls (must be the season for it - we've seen quite a bit of walling going on during this past week).

The height we had huffed and puffed to gain was soon lost as we made our way down to the M62, to cross at the farmhouse that sits in the central reservation, between the two carriageways (and I'm sure that anyone who is familiar with the M62 will know where I mean).

We hit Ripponden just before 11, and adjudged that it was worth the detour to find a cafe - which was easier said than done as not everywhere that advertises itself as a tea-room in Ripponden actually trades as a tea-room.

Leaving Ripponden a while later I thought that the route I had planned was the same as we had taken with Martin ( last June. As we walked it we realised that our plan involved almost no repetition of that route. It seems that the paths (of the hundreds of paths in this area) I had picked from the map were not those we had previously trodden, even though that had been my intention. Our route may have been slightly more circuitous in some places, but was more direct in others, and in one place we decided that to avoid some unnecessary ascent we would switch to Martin's route for a wee while.

In amongst all of the route changes (we made many refinements today) we would likely have paused for lunch, except that elevenses had been so substantial that lunch seemed superfluous.

More pulls up hills (one not steep, but seemingly endless) and an interesting tour through a housing estate put us next to Mixenden Reservoir. One of the interesting (or perhaps counter-intuitive is a better description) reservoirs in the area, this one is D shaped, with the entire semi-circle of the shape being a dam. They must really have been desperate to put a reservoir there, as it seemingly wasn't an area naturally suited to the purpose.

The woodland around the reservoir is surrounded by tall concrete defences (Mick tells me that there used to be quite a problem of cars being dumped in the reservoir), and we likely would not have spotted the entrance to the start of the path except that we saw a woman disappearing through the wall. Following her we found the point where the wall overlaps itself, but the gap was so tight that Mick had to take his pack off to squeeze through.

At Ogden Water we would have stopped for a break, except by that time we realised that we were cutting it a bit fine for the bus we wanted to catch from Denholme (the buses being once per hour we really didn't want to miss it just by a few minutes). The turn of events meant that we did pause there long enough to consume an ice cream and to have a chat with the woman manning the Visitor Centre, and by the time we left we had 1 hour to cover 2.5 miles.

Not an issue, you may think, but add in uneven terrain, a bit of uphill and a lot of navigating through fields, whilst wearing backpacks, and we knew that we really were at risk of having to loiter at a bus stop for 55 minutes.

Well, we must have almost run those last 2.5 miles! With Pacerpoles under my arms, map in one hand and compass in the other, we powered along and made such good time that we arrived with 15 minutes to spare.

From Denholme a short bus ride had us arrive a Ma-in-Law's house where many cups of tea were waiting for us (not to mention two pairs of new shoes) followed by a fantastic dinner.

As for the shoe faffs: during the first two weeks, I found that I was constantly taking off one shoe or the other to remove pieces of grit, and rued not having taken my mini-gaiters with me (the ones designed for trail shoes). So, I thought I would pick them up whilst I was at home. For reasons I really can't explain, when at home I had those gaiters in my hand and spuriously decided that I didn't need them. As a result, I'm still having to take one shoe or the other off at least six times a day...

(Richard - I remembered that the area around Marsden was your old walking area (for the benefit of others: Richard is my reader in New Zealand). Absolutely stunning, isn't it? Particularly on a sunny day.
Carol - Hello! - and thanks for your comment. Always nice to hear from someone I didn't know was reading, and glad you're enjoying my witterings!
Robin - thank you for not jinxing our weather. Did you have a good trip with equally good weather? I look forward to reading about it on your blog when I get back.)

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Hi M&G
    Glad you got through the mass of paths ok today.
    I was over in Todmorden today (not too far from you). It was a lovely day although a bit cool on top.
    Enjoying your posts. Thanks. Alan.

  2. It certainly was a bit nippy on the tops, and when in the breeze, but hot work getting up to those tops and into that breeze.

    Think that our route actually managed to avoid too many areas where there were sixteen footpaths to choose from in a single field, which made the navigation a little easier!