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]

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Gargrave to Colden

Distance: 24.5 miles
Weather: glorious and stupidly hot to be walking that far!
Number of other PW walkers seen: 6

Whatever possessed me to walk that far on a day as hot as today?! I'm not sure that's a question that can be answered, but here's how it happened:

The day started quite normally really. By 7.15 I was walking and I wasn't even delayed much by the Co-op, choosing my groceries in record time, so without much ado I left Gargrave.

The early morning was a game of 'spot the stile' as farmland was the theme - a contrast to yesterday's spectacular scenery, but pleasing nevertheless. Chats were had with any number of cows which I needed to move from my path.

Farmland gave way to more open land, making the way-finding easier, and after a vast amount of upness (or so it felt) the hour was gone noon and so I found the shade of a tree next to a stream to have a good lunch break.

The afternoon didn't start with promise. It seemed that someone had snuck lead weights in each of my shoes whilst I'd had them off at lunch. And I was tired - so very tired that it was sorely tempting to just lie down at the side of the path for a snooze.

Over the moor-of-the-sheds-with-chimney-breasts I went (wish I'd taken a photo with my phone; I'll add one when I get home) at a remarkably slow pace - not helped by the fact that 90% of that moor is uphill (or so it seemed).

When finally I did start to descend, a decision was made: I was low on water, I was tired and I was moving too slowly - the only sensible thing to do was to stop at Ponden House for the night.

With only a short distance left to go, I dawdled some more; I even stopped a few times.

Then I ran out of water, which was perplexing, because my bag was awfully heavy if I'd drunk all of my water (a kink in my water tube was the answer, as I later found).

And then after all of that time-wasting, I got to Ponden House to find that it was only 2.30. I couldn't quite bring myself to stop at such an early hour and from somewhere (perhaps the sugary flapjack I'd just eaten) I found the energy to think that I could make it to Colden, just outside Hedben Bridge - another 8.5 miles.

With sweat still pouring off me and the sun still beating down, I started to question my sanity. Moreover when bits of me really started to protest. By then, I didn't have much option: I didn't have enough water to camp and none of the murky-brown streams were enticing me to use them.

At 1745 I rejoiced to find myself outside of High Gate Farm in Colden (free camping and a spectacular little shop), where an ice cream revived me enough to pitch the tent.

Later I may find the energy to walk back across to the shop (thirty paces away, at most), to buy some supplies for the next 3 days.

As for tomorrow, having completed half of the journey in the first two days, I can say with certainty that it will be shorter than today!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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