Wednesday May 3 Badgerfield Farm to Cowling

Sunlight was streaming through the window. I looked outside and all was beautiful, a flower garden below and, to the south, Stoodley Pike framed against the blue sky in the distance. Last night’s storm was past.

From Miriam’s breakfast menu, I chose cheese and mushrooms with scrambled eggs. Miriam is a great host and cook and the food set me up for the day, but the coffee needed help. I backtracked to the Heptonstall road where yesterday I had trouble finding a PW waymark. No, there isn’t one! But I found the waymark when crossing a smaller road 500 yards further on. I took a photo but as I said it is now lost. Uphill onto Heptonstall moor, bleak, boggy, lots of ups and downs. Passed Lower Garple Reservoir, crossed two footbridges over a beautiful spot where Reaps water meets Graining Water, then on to the three Walshaw Dean Reservoirs.

Here I made a turn too soon, turning uphill at the second reservoir instead of the third. This misreading of the map cost me an extra three miles and an hour. Not fun! I’m probably the only walker who has ever done this. Luckily, a farmer set me right and told me of a little shortcut to boot. On track again, up and over the stone slabbed boggy moor to Withins House, the inspiration for Withering Heights. Lovers of Bronte novels from all over the world visit this ruined site. Here I had lunch of bread and sausage (saved from breakfast) and visited with two chaps who were out walking and fishing.

The track then led to Ponden Reservoir and past elegant Ponden Hall which seems to have accommodations for walkers in an adjacent building. After crossing the bridge, I climbed uphill through pastures and past Far Dean Fields Farm, where I stopped to refill my water bottle at a spring supplying water to the farm.

Then on to the real moors, Ickornshaw Moor, desolate, brown and boggy. Ten years ago, they started putting stone slabs on the path over the bogs. These slabs came from the floors of old disused woolen mills and are brought in by helicopter. They made it easier to negotiate the watery, sloggy bogs, but are hard on the feet. Take some, give some! I hate to think of how tough it must have been to cross here without the slabs. Finally, out of the moors and past old farms where I reached the road into Cowling and Woodland House B&B. It was 6 pm and my hosts were beginning to worry.

Susan and Sandy greeted me with hot tea and shortbread and were eager to chat. They recommended the Harlequin restaurant for dinner, just down the road. This was quite a nice place. I had Timothy Taylors Landlords and a wonderful plate of lamb fillets w/red wine au jus and scalloped potatoes. Just fantastic! The young couple sitting next to me drive 15 miles to eat here because the food is so good.

My room at the B&B is comfortable and roomy, very luxurious compared to last night. I write, read and study my guidebooks for tomorrow’s walk. I’m using Wainwright’s book for it’s superb detail and also Hopkin’s book for its more generalized macro approach and up-to-date maps. I fall asleep in a wonderful double bed. Nice!

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