Day Zero. I see my Dad get off the train at Leeds station, a sore thumb amongst the suits and skirts that rushed from the Cross County carriages. We bundled onto the connecting line and stuffed our rucksacks in the ample overhead shelves (funny how local trains have better storage than the national ones).
After a Gregg’s pasty and a short walk through Keighley we got on the tiny bus to Stanbury, a Smart-car sized village near Haworth. Jimmy the bus driver steered us deep into Bronté country, stopping for the school kids to get sweets from the corner shop and saying goodbye to them by name as he dropped them at their front doors (well, front lanes). I expected Nick Berry to overtake us at any moment.
Day One. After a hearty breakfast made considerably more entertaining by an Anglo-Swiss double act who were also picking up the Pennine Way that morning, the hard work began and we set off north from the B&B, leaving behind home comforts and the original Hockney’s on the dining room wall.
Before long we’d bumped into the breakfast duo again, squabbling over a rock that may or not have contained a fossil and the Latin origins of a particular Yorkshire dialect. We marched onwards swiftly – avoiding the Barghest of Troller’s Gill – as we had a 1pm date with a pub plus one of my Dad’s friends, with no intention of being late.
At 12.30 we crossed into what could have technically been Lancashire and descended upon the Hare & Hound at Lothersdale. Two pints of Landlord in great condition were sunk before our company arrived and two more were sunk before we left. A Ploughman’s lunch soaked some of our sins but the afternoon walk quickly became more casual than the morning leg. A good bit of story telling was shared and more toilet breaks than expected took place.
The farmland that we’d ploughed through all day gave way to heathland which only let up as we hit double figures in miles and approached our first checkpoint, the indecisive town of Earby. Not quite sure whether it’s in Yorkshire or Lancashire, Earby’s architecture is a strange mix of Cotswold cottages and northern terraces, with obsolete concrete offices at the centre and a feeling of neglect eminating from the soulless brickwork of long-declined industry.
The Red Lion was recommended but the landlady didn’t have the time of day for us (literally), losing our custom within our first exchange. One pint of Wainwright (which I’dve swapped for a cool bottle instead) was swiftly sunk and we sought out the White Lion. There they couldn’t do enough to ensure we left imbibed and lubricated and that we did. The Red Lion was on the way home but we opted to save our pennies for the next day and crashed out at the Youth Hostel that we shared with no other guests.
A couple of miles into our first day on our second leg of the Pennine Way, we bumped into Tom Cording. Tom was only a day or two away from the half way point of his Lands End to John O’Groats walk and inspired both my Dad and I (whilst making us feel pretty lame for only doing 4 days walking as opposed to two months!). Tom is raising money for his local hospice, starting on the 25th April and hoping to finish by the World Cup final. You can donate a few pennies to his good cause here: http://www.justgiving.com/tom-cording