Pennine Bridleway – A Summary.

I picked the Pennine Bridleway (PBW) (about 330km / 205 miles, if you do the loops (that’s the Mary Towneley Loop and the Settle Loop) to get cracking with my 2020 walking plans.

Why the PBW specifically? I figured it is close to home (so I could drive to it, walk, get public transport back to the start and then drive home for pie and ale), do shorter sections whilst I get my fitness up, and hopefully have less mud than you get on footpaths in January.

Here I am, Day 1, just above Hebden Bridge. I lost these headphones quickly, still no idea where. The steep climb up to Horsehold from Hebden doesn’t look like much on Google maps – but it is really steep and got the heart pumping. Sadly – it wasn’t even part of the trail walking plans for that day, just the route from where I had parked.

So, having given up work in a great job to go walking for a year, I’ll admit to being a little nervous about the grand scale of my plans given the huffing and puffing I experienced to get to my start line.

But I did make it to the start, and that’s half the battle, right?.

Turns out that a bridleway in winter was a good plan, and the PBW was a top choice as well. Trains from my brothers house in Shipley, up the beautiful Settle railway line were a treat, and weirdly, I was lucky with unusual good weather for January.

This post is a quick is a summary of what I did, starting on January 2nd, and finishing January 27th. Lots of days off in-between, and an about face, chop and change route order designed to suit my travel plans. There are no rules for the challenge to walk the National Trails, any order, and self policed in terms of doing the distance. I mean why would anyone cheat?!

The walks were cold, but mainly people free at this time of year. And I can only remember going knee deep in mud a couple of times, where the impact of cows gathering in the corner of a field, that I had to go through, had been quagmiric (not sure that’s an actual word, but you get the point!). On that occasion I used my trusty poles to steady myself and avoid a knee deep slip, becoming a bum deep slide. It was fine.

On average I reckon the poles come out once a week, for a tricky bit where 3 points of contact is what I want. But that’s a lesson re-learned post day 6 where I took a tumble. The pics below show a bruised hand, but my shoulder was worse, my bashed up water bottle which was a gift at Xmas a few days earlier from Our Nik, and my GPS plot as I walked it off. I was lucky, as I went A over T and could easily have broken something.

As normal – I loved pretty much every minute of this walk. I had sun, snow, but very little rain or strong wind. So mainly clear sky and good walking, with the only challenge being getting done in daylight. But – with early starts being my forte, I did just 1 or 2 hours in darkness with my head torch showing the way. I was so paranoid about running out of battery and being ‘that guy’ in the news walking lost on the moors, guided by a failing smart phone light, that I must have had 30 spare AAA’s with me just in case!

Any road – Here is the stages I did of the PBW, in date (not sequential route) order, and then a gallery of the best pics I managed on an iPhone with a cracked screen.

Day 1 – Hebden Bridge (Callis Woods) to Smallshaw Clough (nr Burnley)

Day 2 – Settle Loop

Day 3 – Settle to Sulber Nick (nr Horton-In-Ribblesdale)

Day 4 – Littleborough to Hebden Bridge

Day 5 – Smallshaw Clough (nr Burnley) to Kelbrook

Stayed at The Craven Heifer

Day 6 – Kelbrook to Long Preston

This is the day I fell over

Day 7 – Long Preston to Settle

Very short day, waste of a train fare, but what I didn’t fancy doing on Day 6, which was supposed to be longer than the 29km I managed…

Day 8 – Waterfoot to Smallshaw Clough

Day 9 – Summit (above Littleborough) to Waterfoot

Day 10 – Sulber Nick (above HIR) to Garsdale Head

This was a brilliant days walking, Saturday the 18th January 2020 topped off with a nice sunset at the end. And I even had my decent camera with me for once…

Day 11 – Carrbrook (nr Stalybridge) to Littleborough

Day 12 – Hayfield to Carrbrook

Day 13 – Tideswell to Hayfield

Day 14 – Garsdale Head to “The Finish” (aka Street Stennerkeugh)

Not my finish though, as I was doing it all muddled up by this point to suit buses that ran alternate days. Cheese Toastie at the Fat Lamb, nice pint, and then train back to my brothers to get my car.

Day 15 – Middleton Top to Hartington

Stayed at the YHA Hartington Hall a 17th Century Lodge. Ace.

Day 16 – Hartington to Tideswell

And that was that. 16 days walking, spread over 24 days duration finishing on the 27th Jan. Shout out to my Dad for picking me up at the end. 🙂 The days off within the 24 were to rest up, sort some stuff out at home and ease my way into things. I’d managed about 180km of training post finishing up at work, pre Trail walking so my feet didn’t really feel it. No blisters no discomfort. New boots needed, following a couple of slips, plus the fall.

By the end though I was certainly starting to feel a bit fitter, but not shifting much weight. The Spreadsheet tells me I shifted nearly 43,000 calories walking this one. But I didn’t hold back on the Breakfasts, Wine Gums, Squashies, Lucozade Sport, 2nd Breakfast, Brandy Snaps or post walk treats. There is enough calories there to knock off about a stone. I shifted less than a quarter of that. Told myself it was flabby leg fat turning to heavy iron like muscle. 🙂

Finally – a random selection of pics, as normal from an iPhone with a cracked screen. I need to get that sorted for the South West Coast Path…

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