Is this really a stage? Time will tell. But if it is it is a very short one.

I realised that after the hump over Kinder and Bleaklow Head, after three days of hard walking whilst trying to recover from a virus, that I needed a rest and was in no state to tackle the ominously named Black Hill. Indeed, I had a recollection of Wainwright saying it was the hardest bit of the Pennine Way, a black peat bog that you could disappear into like something our of The Hound of The Baskervilles. 

Well, I didn't really believe that but I decided to get to Hebdon Bridge where my rail ticket home was from (yeah, I know, I was being a bit optimistic when I booked it, but it was only £10.00 so I thought, why not?).

There is a bus that passes Crowden but not many of them a day. And I was in no hurry at all, my scheduled train being in the evening. 

The Youth Hostel was a disgrace to the movement. I had staggered in the night before to this brand new purpose built "activity centre." To be told that I was too late for food. Fair enough, I had forgotten to grab the leftover spagetti from Edale kitchen but you can usually rely on pasta being left in the "left over food" compartment in the self catering kitchen.

The warden... no wait, what am I saying, they don't have wardens any more, the "manager" and assistant manager I would say, looked a bit embarrassed and explained that they did not have a self-catering kitchen. Just a microwave and a tiny fridge in the corner of the dining room.

The dining room which had packed up serving food at about  This on a youth hostel slap bang on the Pennine Way. It was truly unbelievable. But whilst I was disgusted with the YHA in general. The young guy running Crowdale was really helpful.  The guy who did the dinners had gone home but there was some left over sweet potato lasagna and he offered to heat it up for me.

And I had my own room. Fantastic after the dormitory of last night. I  just don't seem to be able to sleep in communal dormitories any more. Snoring keeps me awake and awareness of my own snoring makes me feel self-conscious. So the room was great as was the shower and after the shower the vegetarian lasagna was at least hot food.

I also bought a couple of beers. £2.60 or so for tiny little beers. But at least they were Czech. I took them up to the lounge. A sterile room with rows of chairs against the wall uncannily like a dentists waiting room. There was an older couple drinking tea. The woman spoke in a whisper but why I could not say. I read a bit and then the woman left.

"That dentist is taking his time." I said to the guy. It took him a while to understand what I was going on about. His accent intrigued me and he turned out to be from Scunthorpe.  He had a range of conversation. There was his crushed foot that had resulted in his leg being shortened and early retirement from loading wagons. There was the tumour in his brain that had been discovered at an eye test. Then there was the bowel cancer.

An interesting fellow altogether. He described his various physical travails with enthusiasm.  I finished my beers and went to bed.

Next morning was a repeat of the previous one. There was no one about. Here there was a sign about breakfast hours and I had been told that the breakfast was included in the price, unusually for a Youth Hostel. But no sign of life. At last, when the time slot was nearly over the Scunthorpe couple appeared looking equally confused. We rang the managers bell. Eventually the young chap appeared apologising because the cook had not turned up, and set his hand to preparing the breakfast. Which was mountainous.

Utterly stuffed I set off. I went around the reservoir to join the cycle track on the disused railway, and set off down what was becoming my favorite form of path. Yes they are straight and flat and could be said to be a bit boring, these converted railways. But after a hard day's walking, whether through mountain or mud or both, they really can be bliss.

And this was pretty blissful. Willow warblers were the bird of the day, singing away, one territory giving way to another. If the Cromford Canal was perfect dabchick habitat this must have been as good for willow warblers. It was overcast but the rain that had been pouring when I got up had stopped and it was warm enough to be pleasant. The line was quite a way above the reservoir and where there were gaps in the trees the views were good.

But looking up towards the hill I had come down last night low cloud enveloped it. It was driech and dreary and I was glad that I was not slogging down that precipitous path in such poor visibility.

I passed some cowslips as I walked towards the nearest town. Towns really, there were three or four small towns ahead, pressing up into the lower part of the valley before habitation gave up. Soon enough I was in Hadfield and it was easy to find the station because it was a continuation of the disused line I had been taking.

Hadfield isn't big and is at the end of the line. So I was prepared for a long wait for a train. To my surprise the little station was quite busy and there were lots of trains. The earlier rain had wetted the seats outside so I sat on one in the tiny ticket office. The guy behind the counter started chatting and I told him about my walk. For his part he informed me that Hadfield had stood in for Royston Vasey in The League of Gentlemen.

Now, if you are not familiar with this grisly comedy tv series, Royston Vasey is a strange and sinister northern town that has the slogan on its sign, "Royston Vasey, You'll Never Leave."   So I hoped that that part was not true. He told me that the sign was somewhere down the road.

The train came before I had to deal with toad breeders or local shop keepers and, astonishingly soon, I was in the centre of Manchester.

I had to change stations, from Piccadilly to Victoria which proved to be a great, flyblown old Victorian thing with an overwhelming odour of skunk being smoked. And there I got the train to Hebdon Bridge. 

This is a great little town. Somewhere that I have been wanting to visit for over thirty  years. When I was at Keele back in the mid seventies I heard that lots of hippies had moved in because it was cheap and attractive. But I never made it. More recently some friends stayed there and reported that, all these years later, it still had an alternative vibe. So I was interested to see it.

My bag was still annoyingly heavy so I did not walk around that much but the town was very pretty and, any Yorkshire Mill Town with vegan cosmetic shops has clearly not lost the hippie history - though I have read that it is getting yuppified these days.

I had mussels and chips in a local restaurant and then took the train to Leeds. Hebdon Bridge station was lovely. Clearly cared for with unusual devotion. The waiting room was polished, clean perfection, transported from another era altogether. 

I read in these pleasant surroundings until the train came to whisk me down to Leeds. 

 Time but not much energy to look around there but I did walk out of the station far enough to enjoy the pornographic lamps. In earlier ages they must have delighted generations of growing boys before the internet arrived..

And back to London on the train. I am still two days walking from Hebdon Bridge, three if you count the Hathersage-Edale gap.  Looking forward to seeing it again. 



Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.