Hattersley to Standedge
Actually I’m exhausted and I haven’t even started it. Today was meant to be a quick 16km. I set off at 7.30 after a dash around Tesco to stock up on teabags. I feared I might arrive before the pubs opened. Then I panicked I would arrive after lunch started and there would be no space for me. In the event, I staggered into the pub after 2pm fearing that I’d missed lunch altogether. There was just a dog and its owner lying in the corner by the fire. Today was a minimum 25km because I didn’t stop for a rest.
It’s probably 16km from Hattersley to Standedge by road but my route, which was the Tameside Trail and Oldham Way climbed every hill, explored every valley and circumnavigated every reservoir. Everything except visit a cafe.
It was a nice walk. Lees Hill, Slatepit Moor, Swineshaw Moor, Buckton Moor, the Chew Hills, Brockley Moor and, of course, the infamous Saddleworth Moor. There were more hills, stones, rocks and brows with names than I care to remember and a giant obelisk war memorial overlooking Oldham. We had to climb that hill too.
The weather forecast was glorious sunshine. Lots of people were out for the day, checking the reservoir levels and enjoying this long holiday weekend. Some were walking, starving themselves for a final blowout on Bank Holiday Monday when the Government’s half price dining out offer ends. But despite the forecast, the rain came as it always does. No one was taken by surprise.
As you are aware, when it comes to the Pennine Way, I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s the most notorious trail in Britain. Already, the rescue teams are twitching at their curtains and waiting for their radios to crackle into life and it’s not even September.
I chatted to a man on a day’s walk and asked him if he’s walked the Pennine Way. “Oh no”, he replied, “I’m doing the South West Coastal Path with my mates. We do a week every year. It’s all we can afford”.
I’ve therefore turned to a firm called Contours to organise the whole thing for me. I liked the ambiguity of the name. They’ve booked all my accommodation, baggage transfers (yes, they will carry my bag) and will ferry me to and from the Way when necessary. They even threw a guidebook in, with a waterproof case). Yesterday I received an email from them, “Your holiday starts tomorrow!”
Salvation not starvation at the Cross Keys Inn