Hebden Bridge to Ponden: The moors where Sylvia Plath and the Brontë sisters walked.

Miles; 12.9

Elevation gain: 2255 ft

Part of the beauty of this walk is talking with folks along the way. The Yorkshire accent is like speaking in limericks. It’s lovely to listen to. But understanding it is a trick. Ric can step into the limerick for brief moments, but loses it after a bit. People look at him confused. They just look at me amused.

We asked a woman for directions. She was walking her dog and she asked us if we had a car. Well, nope. We came from those hills. She gave us directions NOT to our inn, so there’s that. A bit further down the Lane an older guy saw we were lost. He gave us proper instructions, and I couldn’t understand a word he said. But he pointed and Ric was clear. And luckily we made it to our inn for the night.

Earlier in the day we were heading out onto the moors. A woman walking her dog stopped us and said “we’re the only 3 people in England not queued for the Queen!”

About four miles in we stopped at May’s. A hiker we met the day before told us we had to stop there. And it did not disappoint. We got scones with butter, sausage rolls, wine gums and coffee. And she had anything else we could have wanted, even shoes!

“Sells owt tha wants”

Today was actually a pretty glorious day. We walked through farmlands and moors. Rolling hills and bright sunshine for most of the day. We’d anticipated a lighter day today, only ten miles, but we did not account for the added two miles to our hotel and then back to the trail this morning. Rookie mistake.

Our first climb of the day was a steep hillside of Hebden Bridge. It was thick and kept on for some time. This was after a two mile walk along the old canal.

It’s not your imagination— that smokestack has been leaning for two hundred years …. Away from the decrepit Canal boats and toward the tenant housing …. So no harm done. The canals in Hebden Bridge are an interesting story. The canal boats used to haul coal for the mills in the 1800s. Then gypsies lived in the canal boats. I suspect many still do. There seems to be some effort to restore them, but parts were very worn down.

Sylvia Plath walked these hills. She claimed they were wild and lonely and nearly perfect. I would have to agree. The wind blowing across them with the wide open vistas, they are almost ghostly. We only saw a few people all day. We walked alone for miles without even sight of a house, in Heptonstall Moor.

And then we came to the moors above Haworth, the home of the Brontë sisters. The hills overlook Haworth and the house that inspired Wuthering Heights is on the trail. Makes me a bit giddy to walk along the same trails as beautiful literary women.

The house that inspired Wuthering Heights

A word about water: we have walked across and along many reservoirs during the last three days. Most of them were built in the early 1800s and have extensive infrastructure around them to channel water. Many people have commented to us how England is so “droughty” now that the reservoirs are just empty. Apparently, according to a couple of hikers we met, it is because the peat is drying out from lack of moisture. The peat holds the water and then the overflow drains into the reservoir. The peat keeps it from flooding. But now there’s no water.

We talked with a worker this afternoon who was part of a crew putting in pipelines to divert water, making due with the “droughty” conditions. It involved a helicopter flying pipeline up the moors, an expensive job that they are aiming to complete in two weeks time. The Village of Ponden has only a two-week water reserve and this diversion extends that by a bit. We told him that we also had drought. He had seen and heard about our fires. England has just had the hottest summer on record.

I’ll post some more photos later – the internet here is not good. The cider and the food is delicious though. Tomorrow we head up toward Lothersdale where Ric grew up. It’s a long day. I hope our feet hold up!

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