The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 1: Edale to Crowden, Thursday, 28th July

Edale to Crowden: 18.1 miles in 8hrs 35mins (10:30-19:05)

Sun. NNW wind.

The Old Nags Head, Edale - Kinder Downfall - Mill Hill - Road A57 (Snake Pass) - Bleaklow Head - Road B6105 (Torside) - Road A628 - Crowden Youth Hostel - Laddow Rocks

The big day! Set off carrying 40 lb to meet Richard and Sally at Sheffield Midland station, and to find that they were carrying only 35 and 30 lb: so much for kit lists – I've been conned! The train arrived at Edale much too soon, and it seemed quite a walk just to get to the Nag's Head, where there was time to pose for a photo before setting off at 10:30.

The climb up to Grindslow Knoll was surprisingly easy, apart from the final little stretch. Kinder was crossed without any hesitation and without meeting anything boggy. The river was dry: last month when we crossed it there was quite a lot of water in it.

The first stop was for lunch at Moss Castle around 13:00. About half a dozen walkers passed us; some looked as though they were on the same jaunt as us, judging by their luggage. Onward over Featherbed Moss where I managed to find what must have been the one boggy bit that day, but even that came only just over my boots. Underfoot conditions were ideal as there were no detours required to avoid bogs, and there was springy peat to walk on. The next mile to Devil's Dyke was done on wooden fencing provided to ease the way through the boggy bits: wooden fencing seems to be the current solution to erosion problems.

The stream in Hern Clough was still there, and provided water for mixing up an Apeel. Richard's brought an extra Sigg bottle to use just for mixing drinks as and when needed, which turned out to be quite useful! We passed the Wain Stones in their full ardour before stopping at Bleaklow Head for the drink, but didn't stop long because the mist started to blow in so we headed direct for Torside Clough. At John Track Well, we met up with a group we'd first seen at lunch who were YHAing the Pennine Way. It has its advantages over backpacking (i.e. weight and comfort) but some of the Youth Hostels are a fair way off track.

Another break at Crowden where Sally looked after the rucksacks while Richard and I stocked up with drinks and chocolate from the Crowden YH shop. There's supposed to be a shop at the campsite, too, but there was not much evidence of activity there. We continued walking up Crowden Great Brook because (a) it was still early (b) we'd avoid a long climb in the morning, and (c) Richard gets bitten to death by midges at the Crowden campsite. The extra weight in my rucksack was soon noticeable and caused something of a deceleration.

We used the path below Laddow Rocks, which a conservation notice 10 yards above the crossing of Oakenclough asks you not to do. However, if you take the lower sheep-trod immediately after crossing the brook, you don't see the notice…

My deceleration continued apace until I bonked out after about 18½ miles, and needed reviving with half a Yorkie and a can of Coke. Richard was surprised when I told him that, until then, I'd never walked more than 15 miles in a day. Just up from where we stopped, Richard pointed out what Sally called "a play tent" on the spot where we intended pitching. This was a nuisance at least, and could have been a disaster if the occupants were walking north-south since it would have been the best site available in the direction we were going. As luck would have it, they were going the same way as us, and we managed to find a site at the next brook upstream. The "play tent" occupants were to be with us for most of the journey: they were Pat and Ivan, two medical students at Charing Cross Hospital.

I got the tent pitched without too much trouble, and then settled down to a ravishing meal of Spaghetti Bolognese with a can of Coke as a nightcap. We spent quite a pleasant evening lounging around till bedtime at 22:15, after which I had a somewhat fitful night because of quite strong winds.