Day 60 Saturday 19 September Wessenden Head to Hebden Bridge

Miles walked: Today 20.9 cumulative 917

This was the section I missed when I had heat exhaustion. The problem with pre-booking accommodation is that if you have illness or injury you have to miss that section out or all your B and B are lost for the rest of the trip.

I returned back to the point from where Angela rescued me in August. Angela Taxis again provided transport. They have proved invaluable this leg and I would recommend them on Trip Advisor (even if the fleet comprises of a single Citroen C1; if you request luxury transport she puts the radio on). They are even free! When we arrived at Wessenden head the cloud was heavy and low and it was very windy. I set off downhill and I was lulled into a false sense of security as the wind dropped as soon as I left the ridge.

Almost immediately after the path left the road I came upon an art installation by the Yorkshire artist Ashley Jackson

His aims are to demonstrate how the artist views the landscape, to show the viewer, how great the landscape is and that it can be a “free” art gallery for all to enjoy; hence the quote “many people look but only a few see.” It is true that it is possible to walk all day and not really take in the surroundings. I try to use mindfulness techniques at intervals to really absorb the sights, sounds and smells of the environment.

Today was a walk around reservoirs. Lots of them. Some were built to supply water to the local towns, including ensuring a constant supply to the local mills who relied on water power for their machines. Others were built to provide a reliable source of water for the canals which were an important transport infrastructure before the coming of the railway

Castleshaw reservoirs from Marsden moor

Below the Wessenden reservoir the path turned West and ascended back on to the moor. The strong wind picked up as soon as I left the valley and stayed with me all day. Fortunately it was mainly behind me and pushed me along. The cloud quickly broke up and there was sunshine all day.

Much of the day involved either crossing moorland, which felt very remote, despite the proximity to Manchester and the frequent roads crossing west to east, or walking along outcrops with good views to the west. The walk flirted with the Lancashire/Yorkshire boundary. Obviously, the Lancashire sections were the best. All together a great days walk.

Millstone Edge

Much of the moor consists of grasses. There is a project to re-introduce a wider variety of plants such as heather and spaghnum moss. This will have the benefits of raising the water table (spaghum traps a large volume of water). As well as improving plant biodiversity and offering a habitat for a wider variety of moorland wildlife the increased water content should reduce the risk of wildfire and downstream flooding

Just before crossing the M62 I passed the Holme Moss transmitter mast

This was an important television transmitter until 1968. It also formed part of the “Backbone” microwave network during the Cold War. This was a “line of site system” designed to maintain communication between cities in the event of a nuclear war damaging other systems. As you can see, all the TV antennae have been removed. The mast is still used by mobile phone providers.

I crossed the M62 and Blacktone Edge for a final but misty view back to Manchester

At the north end of Blackstone Edge the is a medieval marker stone

Aiggin stone

This was originally about 7 feet high. These stones served as waymarkers for travellers but were also used as a site to pray for a safe journey. Some were used to transport the deceased to consecrated ground for burial and had places to rest a coffin nearby so a prayer could be offered for their souls.

A Roman road descends to the north. There are still paving stones on the road, but historians differ as to whether these are the original Roman stones or make up a newer road built on top of the original.

The path then passes more reservoirs before crossing Withens moor to reach Stoodley Pike

Stoodley Pike was originally built to commemorate the fall of Paris after the battle of Waterloo. It collapsed after a lightening strike on the day the Russian ambassador left London prior to the Crimean War. It was rebuilt at the end of the Crimean War.

It was a short walk down the hill to Hebden Bridge. This was a fine walk to complete the Pennine Way and my crossing of England. Scotland awaits in 2021.

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