A long and exhausting day today. After the pleasant coolness and showers of the last few days, it was bakingly hot with not much of a breeze. The day started with a stiff climb up out of the valley, and then a long but more gentle climb up over moorland to reach some small reservoirs. I was surprisingly stiff, and my feet are still feeling a bit battered by the new boots (although no blisters as yet), so found it fairly hard going even though the path was easy and fast walking.
More flagged paths over moorland, to reach ‘Bronte country’ (Haworth and environs), which is notable for footpath signs in Japanese and for plaques on anything that isn’t a sheep explaining how significant it is to the Brontes and their work. The Pennine Way goes past Top Withens, which is a ruined farmhouse said to be the inspiration for the Earnshaw home in Wuthering Heights; there is a stone sign there explaining how the farmhouse isn’t in fact anything like the home, nor was it before it was ruined, and maybe in fact it was simply an inspiration in terms of location. I personally think that anyone living on or near the moors round Haworth wouldn’t need any particular source of inspiration for a bleak and isolated locale, but then maybe that’s just the cynic in me.
I stopped for lunch at the Old Silent Inn (very nice food and friendly staff) then headed up an inordinately steep hill (I’ve noticed they always happen after lunch) and what seemed like an endless climb to reach softer farmland and the village of Ickornshaw. I was by this time running very low on water, and was extremely hot and thirsty, and was inordinately grateful to a couple sitting out in their front garden, who refilled all my water and gave me an extra bottle into the bargain. I had to decline their offer of tea as by this time I was running extremely late, and trudged on.
The path from Ickornshaw was pretty, but very hard work – lots of up-and-down over rolling hills and what felt like considerably more up than down. By the time I did the final climb up and over Elslack Moor I was nearly crying with tiredness and it was getting on for 8pm. I made it into Thornton in Craven and collapsed onto a bench, ignoring two passing cars with blokes catcalling.
The campsite was in a farm park, but did not have showers, so I was reduced to a sponge wash. Arran saved the day (as always) by revealing a hot dinner he had ordered from the pub – duck, potatoes dauphinoise, and lovely crisp carrots in a butter sauce. I managed to stay awake until I had eaten, then collapsed into bed with the kids. All in all a good day’s walk, but a surprisingly tiring one.
Highlights: A day of gold and green moorland with clear blue skies; another Tour de France-themed pint; a hedgehog on the path over Elslack Moor; emerging, puffing, over the summit to find a courting couple having a romantic sunset picnic; reaching my destination just in time for a beautiful sunset.