Hebden Bridge to Haworth
When it comes to Wuthering Heights, some never got beyond Kate Bush. She summed up all that was wrong with the 1970s. The production, the lyrics, the voice and the clothes. I don’t have the LP but everyone else did. You couldn’t escape it back then.
“Shall I put on a record?”
“I really must be going”
If you’ve got a spare couple of hours you could watch the 1939 film with David Niven and Laurence Olivier but you’ll need to stock up with tissues first. Or you could do what all the visitors to Haworth are doing: read the book, buy some souvenirs and visit the local sites because these are the moors of Wuthering Heights.
I came over the moors and saw the ruins of a cottage, a couple re-enacting the pop video and several others on the self guided walk imagining how it was back in the 1970s
“Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy
I’ve come home, I’m so cold“
Well what am I supposed to do about that? Shut the window.
Last night I was worried I might not get dinner because it was the last night of the half price scheme. But my pub was empty except for the usual crowd of drinkers. The landlord hadn’t bother to register for the scheme and all the diners were far below us in Hebden Bridge. He offered me his special, a minced meat pie which he admitted was the only thing on the menu. I was growing rather fond of him so I ordered it with enthusiasm. I finished it, more with relief than pleasure.
The door blew open and a man fell in under the weight of an enormous backpack. He was Pete from Exeter, my age. He has just retired and went to Poole where he started his walk around the South West Coastal Path and then continued, bound for St Andrews to visit his son before ending at Cape Wrath. He is camping all the way and set off after dark, heading for the nearest field.
It wasn’t even midnight when that pie woke me up and demanded immediate evacuation.
Today’s walk was delightful. The sun was shining and it was warm. It was ridiculously easy, just 20Km along paved slabs of granite or good footpaths. Normally I wouldn’t get out of bed for less than 25km. I’m beginning to think I’ve overestimated the challenge here. I feel a bit of a fraud walking with a day sac containing a flask of coffee and my KitKats and knowing that a taxi will be waiting at the end to whisk me the short hop from the trail into Haworth.
And for the first time in my life I was wearing gaiters, just to add to the spectacle. I put them on back to front because there were no instructions. I assumed the zip went at the back like in those costume dramas. I felt like I’d stepped out of a mail order catalogue for hikers, or film extras.
So, there I was on the grouse moors, just a couple of weeks after the glorious 12th and pleased to see a few grouse still alive, hiding in the heather and trembling at the sight of my walking pole.
I recognised Pete’s Osprey pack at the side of the path and found him bathing in a stream. A little further on were two fit looking 50 year old men striding towards me. They were walking the whole Pennine Way in two weeks and of course they were camping. One of them said it was a pilgrimage for his brother who died earlier in the year. He said it was a lesson not to put off anything.
And then there was young Harriet. She was also loaded up with a large Osprey backpack with all the camping gear and was on her way from John o’Groats to Land End. She said “oh I see you’ve got gaiters” and I think she was imagining me up to my waist in bog on the Cheviots.
I told her about my walk but then her iPhone rang and it was BBC Radio Somewhere wanting an update, live on air. I withdrew and waved goodbye but as I set off she shouted, “So long, Tim. It was really nice to meet you”. She possibly gave me a quick mention on the radio but she made me feel good and I removed the gaiters around the next bend.
Some locals enjoy a beer, a pint of Charlotte…