Monday 26th August 1963

We got up at 07.25h and folded our blankets. After breakfast we washed up again and talked with the Warden’s wife while struggling into our wet socks and boots. The weather had improved considerably, and we were now faced with a strong wind and broken cloud, with the occasional shower. We walked up the A635 to the point where the Pennine Way struck off for Standedge. To our left was Black Hill and Holme Moss Television Mast, to our right another expanse of peat hags.

At 11.15h we left the road to cross the mosses to Standedge. After crossing the deep ditch dug in the peat, where workmen were laying a gas pipeline, we squelched across the bogs. Although the peat hags were not quite so numerous as they had been on the previous day, the walking was quite strenuous and my ankle [heel, perhaps? – editorial note] was giving less trouble. At 12.15h we stopped by a reservoir near the Standedge road. The wind was funnelled up a long valley and was very strong indeed, though it was quite warm in sheltered spots. After five minutes we set off again over the hill to the transport café on the west side of the Standedge cutting. We got here at 12.45h and went in for a drink and a snack.

Peter went down to the café down the road to buy some butter and some sandwich filling for the loaf he had bought the previous night. At 13.30h we left Standedge and set off north along the edge of a steep slope, right at the edge of the peat, which was being slowly eroded. The wind here was quite strong, and we staggered about quite a lot. At 14.10h we reached the road – the A640 – and after taking five minutes’ rest we set off again across the moor to the wireless transmitter station on the A672. This never seemed to get any nearer, but we reached it at last, and sat down on the Yorkshire side of the county boundary to eat our dinner. At 15.35h we set off over Blackstone Edge, a mass of boulders and crags, where we had a rest after twenty minutes. Shortly after leaving Blackstone Edge we were attacked by a hailstorm, which only lasted a short time. At 16.30h we descended to the ‘White House Inn’ on the A58 and after five minutes’ rest we set off along the dam of the reservoir and then along a track beside another reservoir, which was very low considering the amount of rain we had at the time.

The strong wind whipped up the sand which stung our legs, and we were glad to leave the track until we found that we were next walking over tussocky grass. This didn’t help my heel at all, and I was glad – we all were – when we saw the village of Mankinholes in the valley below.

We followed a stream down to the valley, and after Peter had fallen in a bog, we walked on to the Youth Hostel, at which we arrived at 18.25h. A wash and change made us feel new men, and after dinner we stayed in the hostel because of the lousy weather.

On the whole, the day had been much easier. The walking had been easier, the weather had been better, our navigation had been almost perfect, my heel had been better, and, above all, we were prepared for the peat hags. On the previous day, we never knew what hit us, when we first encountered the peat hags. After this experience, nothing came as a surprise to us.

The sequel to the day’s events came at 22.45h when we were all telling Neil to put out the light. The Warden came into the dormitory with a German hitch-hiker who was going to Edinburgh. He was dressed in a lightweight, green, cotton suit, pointed shoes, and he carried a grip and umbrella.

Since Neil was not in bed he made the hitch-hiker’s bed for him. The one he picked on was the one underneath mine, and as soon as the German was in bed he proceeded to try to kick me out of bed from underneath. We soon quietened him by the process of ignoring him, and he went to sleep.

Tuesday 27th August 1963

We got up at about 08.00h and went down for breakfast. The Warden had gone to work, so his wife served breakfast, and we ate nearly a loaf each. When breakfast was being served, Neil dropped his on the floor, for which he blamed me. This was ridiculous, as I was sitting at the other end of the table. When we had washed up, Neil and I washed the dining room floor, and after packing up we left the hostel at 09.55h. The Warden’s wife had been really good to us. When we got there she took all our wet socks and dried them in the oven. She was really great.

The weather was sunny and warm as we wandered by Hebden Bridge, and as we walked through the fields towards the open moors we passed drab stone houses. Even the fields were a dirty green from the smoke of the industrial towns to the east and west.

We were glad to get away from this and onto the moors, even though we had to contend with the tussocky grass. We got rather wet from a heavy shower as we walked towards the Halifax reservoirs and at 11.45h we sheltered for a few minutes in a barn.

At 13.30h we stopped for dinner at the side of the reservoirs. While we were having dinner we were caught by a particularly heavy shower, and Neil put on his cycle cape so he could read his cowboy comic underneath without it getting wet.

We set off again by Withins Height. As we approached this hill, we felt we were getting more into home ground, for this area signalled the end of the peat for a while. The shape of Withins Height is more like that of Fountains Fell.

We aimed for the summit of Crow Hill, which, like Round Hill near Beamsley, is one of those hills which is so gently sloping that it is difficult to know when you are on top. At last we reached it, fairly tired, and looked northwards to the next hill we had to tackle. Then, looking eastwards in the clearer air, we could see the Chevin, Ilkley Moor, Bradford and Shipley.

We pressed on to a minor road running between Keighley and Colne, and crossed it to walk once again on tussocky grass. We had to fight our way through the tussocks right to the top of the hill, right down the other side and then right to the main road. At the end of this we were all ready to give up. The last field had taken half an hour to cross.

This tussocky grass cannot be underrated, as it makes walking so difficult. The tussocks can be up to three feet across, and they are not solid enough to support feet on them, and the gaps between them are too small for feet. As a result, when walking on this grass the ankles are continually bent from one side to the other.

We reached the Skipton-Colne road at 17.50h and it started to rain heavily. A rapid piece of reckoning told us that we could catch a bus to Colne to buy groceries and then walk to Earby and still complete our quota of miles for the day. As a bus was coming, we got on and went to Colne. We made a takeover bid on a grocery shop, then went to a fish and chip shop for one-of-each-twice. After this we set off towards Earby, calling in on the way at the ‘Stone Trough’. We arrived in Earby at about 19.30h.

Mum and Dad etc [‘etc’ means Mary and dog Rex – editorial note] were there with my GCE results. We went inside the hostel to cook dinner and at 21.25h we went to the pub with two girls from the Isle of Man. The beer was Massey’s and it must be the worst brew in the world, but since that was Neil’s round nobody was too worried, except Neil!

At 21.55h we arrived back at the hostel and played cards for half an hour before going to bed.

Wednesday 28th August 1963

At 08.30h we got up and cooked breakfast. The weather was warm and sunny and we were apparently in for a fine day. At 10.10h we left the hostel.

At 10.11h Obie thought he had left his wallet in the hostel, so he dumped his rucksack in the middle of the road and started looking for it. He found it at the bottom of the rucksack and when we had stopped laughing at him we set off.

At 10.20h Neil, who had laughed at Obie when he thought he had forgotten his wallet, decided he might have left his films, so he had to stop and look for them while Obie laughed at him.

At 10.21h Obie decided he was wearing too many of his sweaty, mud-stained socks, so he sat down in the main street to take a pair off.

At last we managed to leave Earby and caught up with the girls from the Isle of Man and teased them about having three legs. They walked with us to Thornton in Craven which we reached at 11.00h. They continued to go to Skipton to see the castle, and catch a bus to Malham.

We left Thornton in Craven at 11.10h and walked across the undulating, whale-backed drumlins to the Leeds-Liverpool canal. It was very hot by now, and as we didn’t have far to go, we sat down for a rest by the canal, and watched a farmer rounding up his sheep.

We walked along the towpath for a while and then struck off across the fields towards Gargrave, where we planned to have dinner. At 12.50h we stopped by the riverside at Gargrave and made jam sandwiches.

When we had finished eating we went for a drink, and at 14.00h we left the village. Our route lay up an unmade road which we followed for about half an hour, before striking off the road and across the fields.

At 15.25h we stopped for a few minutes’ rest and then set off again for Malham, which we reached at 16.20h. As we had to kill forty minutes before the hostel opened, we had a cup of tea and listened to the juke box in the snack bar.

Of the four days which we had walked so far this had been the easiest on paper, but the hardest in fact. We had no hills to climb and all the walking was in fields on short grass, but we were all very tired.

We discussed the route for the next day and played cards until 18.40h when we went for a drink. We met the three-legged girls just getting off the bus, and teased them about blisters. They seemed shocked at our drinking habits, but we assured them it was only the second drink that day.

We went back to the hostel for dinner, and we had three soups, two main courses, three sweet courses and two cups of tea. As if this wasn’t enough we told the Warden that ‘it had been a very nice snack but when would dinner be ready’. We escaped to the pub, where Mr and Mrs Spencer and Paddy heard the whole story of our adventures.

We returned at 21.55h and played cards until 22.30h when we went to bed.

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