Monday, November 5, 2012

Devil's Dyke to Torside Reservoir

We woke this morning to beautiful sunny skies (although it was still cold). The eerie landscape of last night was almost cozy now.  We had a lovely little stream by us, and, leisurely, we got ready to head out. Chuck even broke out the camp stove to make us some ginger tea. It was lovely to have something so warm.

That's not snow on the ground. It's mud... shiny, wet mud
You wouldn't expect this water to be brown, now would you?

We quickly reached Bleaklow Head, which was full of huge mounds of black dirt as well as a massive pile of stones with a pole sticking out of it (as if you might not see that pile in the midst of all that open space without the pole to make you realise it was there).  There were also large hillocks, expanses of gravely ground, and regular moor walking.  Despite the seeming variety of landscape, it was really all just different ways of presenting muck. 

 
            

Our guidebooks indicated that there were things to explore around here - the Kissing Stones and the wreck of a B-29 aircraft from 1948. So, we propped our packs on the pile of stones, decided that no one would likely start rifling through them if we were essentially still within view, and started trying to find the wonders that the guidebooks told us were waiting to be seen.  It didn't take long to find the Kissing Stones.  And, as promised, they were wonderful.

The real name of these rocks is the "Wain Stones"

But, there was no sign of the aircraft wreck.  We searched all over the area, wandering up and down and all around, but nothing.  The wreck was going to be one of the highlights of the day for Chuck, and he was determined not to leave Bleaklow without seeing it. So, I found a sheltered, if cold, spot to sit on the rock pile and let him continue on his quest.  After another 15-20 minutes of roaming the hillsides in vain, he finally encountered a couple who told him how to find the wreck (600 to 800 meters from where he was - so much for the guidebook's description of "nearby").  So, Chuck left me where I was and literally ran off to see the site.

As the sun was shining, my choice of seat meant that I was relatively comfortable and warm, and so I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to try to make sense of my life.  None of the usual distractions that life brings, i.e. Chuck, could be found here.  Surely the big picture, which so often eludes me, would be crystal clear in this environment.  Deciding that happiness was a suitable place to start, I had barely framed the question in my mind ("What is it that really makes me happy?") when I was distracted by a tiny plant growing out of the rocks at my feet.  I was transfixed by this demonstration of how life can triumph in the most unlikely of places.

Life in the midst of the muck and the rocks.

Soon though, it occurred to me that I wasn't focused on the real question. I determined to clear my mind and start again.  Again, my brain had other ideas, and almost immediately, I found myself singing a Nelly Furtado song to myself: "I'm like a bird, I'll only fly away...I don't know where my soul is, I don't know where my home is..."

Hmmm.... maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something.

Finally, Chuck came back from the plane wreck, warm from his run, but with lots of pictures and filled with the satisfaction that comes from a successful end to one's quest.  So, back on went the packs, and off we trudged.

The descent from Bleaklow was mud and rock-filled - very hard on the feet. My ankles definitely got a workout as I wobbled over the rocks, and this soon led to my first tumble.  I was clinging to some vain hope that I could avoid getting too much mud on my boots if I were just smart with my foot placement. But smart foot placement was like playing Twister, and so, my innate clumsiness triumphed, and over I went.
 
Aren't I the graceful one?

I started to wonder if I would be more sure-footed (although considerably colder) barefoot.  Needless to say, I didn't give that theory a try, if only because I had no room in my pack to carry boots and my hands were busy trying to get the hang of using my hiking poles to balance. 

Barefootedness had reminded me of hobbits.  As a child, I always looked forward to each night when my Dad would read us another chapter of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.  When I told my parents about our plan to walk the Pennine Way, my Dad had commented that it seemed like a hobbit quest and perhaps I would see the sights of Middle Earth.  I wondered if Tolkein once walked these hills and used his experience to describe the hobbits' paths over mountains and hills that seemed to go up and down, never-ending. (Later research found that although it seems he did walk through parts of the Pennines, it wasn't this part)

Although the path was rough, the views were beautiful. Torside Clough was to our left. Town was within our sights (and to me that meant a night in a B&B and a warm meal)!  I was very tired though- the muck had taken its toll. By the time we reached the road at the bottom, I wasn't sure if I could keep going the 600 or so yards to the B&B.

Torside Reservoir

We stayed at The Old House B&B in Glossop.  The kindly landlady brought us very welcome cups of tea as she got things ready for us.  I am not a huge tea drinker. Actually, not much of an English tea drinker at all, but that cup of tea tasted fantastic!  Even better, we could now take warm showers, use the room blow dryer for extra heat on our feet, and eat a big, warm meal at the local pub.  Maybe I like this walking thing.

One final thought for today's entry... the night before as I started to fall asleep, my feet continued to think they were stumbling over rocks, and I experienced that ever disconcerting feeling of falling, only to jerk awake. It happened several times that night and continued for the next few days. The strange thing about them was that it was distinctly just my legs and feet that felt the twitch. Normally, my whole body seems to be falling, but here I clearly thought I was still walking.  I've discovered that there is even a term for this sensation: hypnagogic myclonic twitch.  Now that's a mouthful...

1 comment:

  1. That pile of stones is the grave of Thorin Oakenshield!

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