Pennine Way 4 – Blackstone Edge To The Edale Finish
Pennine Way 4 was to be the final 2½ days walking to complete what was the first National Trail in England and Wales. We had already spent 16½ days on the Pennine Way. We all live in the area of Pennine Way 4, so it was decided that the walk from Blackstone Edge to Standedge could be done in a ½ day on a Saturday. The final 2 days of the Pennine Way journey would be completed together with over night stops at Torside and Edale.
It was a blustery day for walking on this Pennine Way 4 journey, with strong winds for this 3½ hour walk. We expected to be walking in wet terrain but the path has recently been improved with aggregate and proved to be reasonably dry.
From the White House pub we travelled along the water channel then up the old Roman Road to the Aiginn Stone on Blackstone Edge Moor. The Aiginn Stone is a 600 years old medieval guide for travellers. (See image)
It was then on to Blackstone Edge itself with it’s rock outcrops, trig point and great views to Hollingworth Lake. Next we crossed over the long footbridge spanning the M62 motorway. Then across the A672 Rishworth Road and up to the trig point of White Hill. From there we crossed the A640 Denshaw Road and continued along Northern Rotcher and Millstone Edge. There were great views here of the Castleshaw Upper and Lower Reservoirs. This particular section of the Pennine Way 4 journey gave great views over the surrounding hills.
We were soon down to the A62 Road at Standedge, our destination for this ½ day Pennine Way 4 trip. We decided to take the Oldham Way path down to Diglea where we could enjoy the food and ale at the Diggle Hotel.
We got a taxi to the car park at Standedge and set off for our penultimate day on the Pennine Way 4 walk. Skirting Redbrook Reservoir we then walked along the head of the aptly named Black Moss Reservoir. We took the old Pennine Way route over Featherbed Moss and Dean Head Moss and were soon in the land of bogs and swamps. We crossed the A635 ‘Isle of Skye’ Road and headed for the trig point at Black Hill.
The last time I was here the trig point was surrounded by peat. Thankfully it is now a paved path. Next began the long trek to Crowden above Crowden Great Brook. We continued past Laddow Rocks and Black Tor, then finally climbed down to Crowden. We had arranged accommodation at the Old House near Torside Reservoir, so had another 1½ miles to travel. It was on the Pennine Way 4 route, which meant a slightly shorter walk the following day.
Day 3 Crowden to Edale (15½ miles)
This was to be quite a long days walk, starting with the long climb up Torside Clough and Wildboar Grain to Bleaklow Head at 633 metres/2,076 ft. It’s well named as it really is a bleak place. From Bleaklow Head next was a trek through Hern Clough and Devil’s Dyke to the A57 Snake Pass Road.
We crossed the road and took the unrelenting paved path over Ashop Moor to Mill Hill. Then began the climb up to the Kinder Downfall. We had all previously walked the new Pennine Way route to Edale via Jacob’s Ladder. It was decided to take the route to the top of Grindsbrook Clough and over Ringing Roger to Edale. This didn’t quite go to plan though, as not paying attention, we missed a turn off and ended up recovering the path of pennine Way 4 by having to plough through peat groughs.
Eventually we got back on track and arrived at the Old Nags Head pub finishing point where much needed drinks were consumed by us all. We stayed the night at the Rambler Inn but that’s another story!
So we had spent 19 days walking on the Pennine Way National Trail, what were our collective thoughts?
First, we had all under estimated the efforts required to backpack the route. If we had been younger this wouldn’t have been a problem but carrying 16-20 kg at the wrong end of 60 proved too much.
Some of the mileages on The Pennine Way are deceptive. Walking over marshland, swamps and peat bogs takes a lot longer than walking on more natural terrain. It also takes a lot more physical effort. In some of these places a 10 mile walk feels as though you have added 50% to it.
Would we do it again – not a chance! Having walked various other long distance footpaths and National Trails, there are far better walks than the Pennine Way. The Pennine Way is in most parts a remote walk but if this is what you like then the Southern Upland Way from Portpatrick to Cockburnspath in Scotland is a far better alternative.
It is worth recording a few of Alfred Wainwright’s notes on the Pennine Way –
“The terrain is wild and lonely almost everywhere, without habitations except for the occasional isolated farmstead.”
“The Pennines do not compromise, they are a wilderness of rough grasses and mosses and wastes of naked peat and outcropping rocks, with few landmarks to guide the traveller on foot, and featureless moors are further hindered by expanses of marshy ground, this is a no-mans land.”
“The main difficulties of travellers on the Pennine Way are concerned not with the nature of the terrain but with finding and following the approved route. More than half the distance being without visible footpaths.”
“Navigation, the following of the desired route exactly, is the major problem. The Pennine Way is not a continuous footpath, more often there is no path at all”
“It is a tough, bruising walk and the compensations are few. You do it because you want to prove to yourself that you are man enough to do it.”
“Well I’m glad it’s finished, I must say. I mean the walking, not the making of the book, which has been very enjoyable. No, I mean the walking, the floundering in glutinous peat bogs, the stumbling in soggy heather, the squelching in muddy fields.”
“I suppose the Pennine Way never dries out. It never did for me.”
“You won’t come across me anywhere along the Pennine Way. I’ve had enough of it.”