The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 2: Crowden to Stoodley Pike, Friday, 29th July

19.5 miles in 11hrs 10mins (09:05-20:15).

Misty start. Then hot and sunny. Strong winds all night at Stoodley Pike.

Accommodation: Stoodley Pike

Black Hill – Road A635 – Black Moss Reservoir – Road A62 (Standedge) – Millstone Edge – Road A640 – White Hill – Road M62 (W. T. Station) – Blackstone Edge – Road A58 (White House) – Stoodley Pike

I woke at 06:50 to find it was very misty. The day began with a long climb to the top of Black Hill, which was more brown than black owing to the heat and lack of rainfall – but it’s a desolate landscape even in such conditions. There’s a huge Pennine Way pointer etched into the peat with rocks in case you should ever need it. Legs were a bit slow at first, but we had an easy descent to the A635 Saddleworth road, although we hit it a bit too far east and had to walk back along the road a little distance.

The trio of Featherbed, White, and Black Mosses were no trouble at all, and we’d cleared all the usually boggy areas on reaching Standedge at 11:30. Richard informed us that we were making too good time, so we decided to have lunch at the pub west of the cutting. Of course, they were not open until 12:00, and so we snapped al fresco on our delicious rations until the pub opened. The pub provided welcome proper food and a sit down, but was surprisingly cold considering the temperature outdoors. The beer, by the way, was Boddingtons.

We started on our way again after a two hour break, and passed Pat and Ivan who’d been to the pub east along the A635, and were having a rest. (Richard says you should avoid that pub, for some unknown reason). On reaching Windy Hill, we had yet another rest and a cup of tea. The mobile tea van didn’t seem to be open until we arrived, and then it shut up in rather a hurry about half an hour later, leaving us with the mugs. It was very generous of them, but they were a bit too heavy to carry. We were joined later by Pat and Ivan, who said they were planning on taking three weeks to do the walk, and other groups of three or four who also flopped down beside us.

There was the first view of the dreaded Stoodley Pike from Blackstone Edge (where we again passed Pat and Ivan). We intended eating at The White House (Wilsons) and arrived there to find that they appeared to be very helpful towards walkers, to the extent of having a special bar for them. However, more and more walkers kept trooping into the yard to wait for opening time, but there was no indication of when that was likely to be. We waited until gone 18:30 without success, and then set off for Stoodley Pike.

The walking was now easy. Stoodley Pike was chosen as our pitch for the night because (a)it had plenty of flat ground, (b) the Pike would provide a windbreak, and (c) there’s a good spring nearby for water. As it turned out, the ground was flat, but covered in rocks and sheep shit, and the wind was rather daunting. I couldn’t manage to get my tent up by myself (in spite of an inordinate amount of cursing), but it finally got erected with help from Richard and Sally after about 45 minutes. We had to anchor the tapes down with rocks, and leave the inner tent unclipped. I was feeling very pissed off with the whole idea of the Pennine Way: it was 21:15 and I still hadn’t eaten, the tent was flapping madly, and two of my nice new tent pegs had been rather badly bent. A meal of Raven Potato and Vegetables with added soya did little to revive flagging spirits.

Pat and Ivan arrived later. They’d managed to eat at The White House, which had eventually opened its doors at 19:00. I spent an uncomfortable night as the wind got even stronger, and had visions of ending up with one tent fewer than I’d started with! I even had to cling on to the tent poles at one point – though what good that would have done I do not know. Still, it was reassuring to find that they were still there, and were a reasonable approximation to vertical.