Day 3: Stoodley Pike to Ickornshaw, Saturday, 30th July
Stoodley Pike to Ickornshaw: 18.8 miles in 10hrs 25mins (09:20-19:45) Hot and sunny all day. Road A646 (Calder Valley) - Colden - Widdop Road - Withins - Colne-Haworth Road - Colne-Oakworth road - Ickornshaw Moor - Road A6068 (Ickornshaw) I woke at 07:00 feeling tired. The flysheet seemed to be still pegged down, but I delayed an inspection. The wind had calmed down somewhat, but the tent was still flapping away merrily. Richard had been so disturbed by the wind that he'd got up at 03:00 to fasten his side-guys and check the rest of the tents. Evidently, the wind was really bad for about 10 minutes then, but, to me, it seemed like a hurricane all night!
We left Pat and Ivan, who had to make a detour to Hebden Bridge to restock up on meths. How had they managed to use so much in so little time?! My ankle began to hurt on the descent through Callis Wood, but I decided to let it be and see how it went on. The climb up from the Calder Valley is extremely steep - especially when you've had nothing but muesli for breakfast. We did discover an amazing Aladdin's Cave of a shop (now officially called that, apparently!) just past Colden – you name it, they sell it. It was well worth a stop.
We made a slight detour for lunch to The Packhorse and an enjoyable Scotch egg salad. It was now time for some running repairs. I decided that I'd better have an elastic bandage on my ankle, and Sally decided to try some Hirschtalg on a toe blister. Richard's still not too impressed by Hirschtalg's claim to fame – he kept calling it "duck fat", but, as I tried to tell him, "It's deer fat, duckie, not duck fat, dearie."
On we went past Top Withens – which I found less than inspiring. I did try to cool my ankle in a nearby stream, but it was too cold to bear, in spite of the blazing hot day. We made Ponden Hall for teatime and had, amongst other things, their delicious homemade shandy (40p). Ponden is not a place to camp if you can avoid it, because, again, midges are a problem and there's a nasty hill to climb.
On the climb to Ickornshaw Moor, Richard decided to go on ahead to check whether Lower Summer House farm still catered for campers. Sally and I plodded on at our "leisurely" pace. The descent has changed since Wainwright's days and swings west before curving back again, but it was well cairned. It was very confusing near the chalets, but we kept following the signs until we realised that (a) there were not going to be any more signs, and (b) we were lost! A roving shepherd told us we were way off route. Apparently, a new farmer has "privatized" part of the official route and given no indication of a detour, and he appears not to be a great favourite with the locals. Still assuming that Richard would be at the farm, we struck off in hope on a steep climb in the direction the shepherd had indicated. While pausing for breath, we noticed Richard talking to the same shepherd. He then came (running!) to tell us that he'd been even further off route (after warning us not to stray too far east!), and turned back when he'd spotted us. We eventually got back on to the proper track, only to find that Lower Summer House farm no longer catered for campers. However, luck finally went our way, and we got pitched at a farm a few yards east along the A6068.
My body was very sore now – aching legs, sore shoulders, a lump on my right shoulder blade, sunburnt neck, and a sore right hip! We spent a couple of hours in The Black Bull being revived by a huge plateful of pastie, peas, and chips, washed down with Coke and shandy. It took a while for me to get to sleep again because of the annoying clock on Cowling church, which chimes in sets of four every 15 minutes. As far as I can recall, I must have got to sleep between 01:00 and 01:15.