19th April – Lennoxtown to Drymen

20190419 Dumgoyne Hillsl
Dumgoyne Hills on the West Highland Way

As I only had 22k to travel today I had a leisurely breakfast, probably the best of the trip so far, and left at 8.50.

The hotel was just next to the Strathblane Railway Trail, so it was easy to rejoin the route.  Once again most of the day followed the Blane Valley Railway and the walking was easy but not inspiring.

20190419 Typical view of the Strathblane Railway Trail
Typical view of the Strathblane Railway Trail

Around Lennoxtown someone, presumably the parish council, had placed green bags for dog waste every 100m or so.  This seemed to work, as the omnipresent black and green poop bags were no longer decorating the trail.  Dog walkers must be the most forgetful people: “I’m leaving it but will pick it up on the way back”.  End of grumpy old man’s rant.

20190419 Dunglass Hill
Dunglass Hill

One bright spot was seeing a dipper in the nearby Glazert Water.  Dunglass Hill caught the eye just before Strathblane.  I stopped near the church for a short break and arranged to meet my friends, Nigel and Sue, for dinner this evening.  We were all at Swansea University together in the far-distant past.

20190419 Dunreath Castle
Duntreath Castle

Back on the Blane Valley Railway it was more of the same, until I reached Dumgoyach Farm and joined the West Highland Way. Over to the north the twin summits of Dumgoyne Hill were striking, as was Duntreath Castle, pretending to be a French chateau.

20190419 Joining the West Highland Way

Onto the West Highland Way (WHW) and guess what?  It followed the railway.  The only difference was that I kept tripping over other walkers who were on the path in droves.

Four miles later I finally left the railway and immediately got onto a road, which did little to add to the excitement of the day.  The road led me to Drymen where I arrived at 2.10 to make it effectively a half-day.

20190419 Drymen and the Conic Hills
Drymen and the Conic Hills

The past few days have been a classic example of “Be careful what you wish for”.  Last year when I was spending days in Cornwall and Devon going up over headlands, and then down to the beach, and repeating this ad nauseam, I would have given almost anything for a few kilometres of flat level footpath.  But you can have too much of a good thing, and now I am looking forward to some variety and the superb scenery which I know awaits me over the next few days.

8th April – Marsden to Heptonstall

20190408 Wyn unsuccessfully trying to hitch a ride over Slaithwaite Moor
Wyn unsuccessfully trying to hitch a lift across Slaithwaite Moor

After a comfortable stay at Huddersfield and a taxi back to Marsden, Wyn and I set off at 8.10.  A steep climb led up to Slaithwaite Moor and the first reservoir of the day.  From the Moor we descended to Dearhead Reservoir and crossed the M62.

20190408 Looking down on the M62
Looking down on the M62

Passing another reservoir, we ascended over Blackwood Common, before dropping again and then climbing up and over to Baitings Reservoir.  We were beginning to feel like men employed by The Grand Old Duke of York.

20190408 Baitings Reservoir
Baitings Reservoir

Now we had the big climb over Manshead End.  This passed quickly and we stopped for a quick sandwich on the summit.  Crossing Great Manshead Hill we suffered from the low temperatures and high wind and were glad to walk down to Crag Vale.

20190408 Elevenses
A welcome break

At this point the day went downhill fast – both literally and metaphorically.  The pull up to Old Crag Hall was tough.  Beyond the Hall the guide book description no longer matched the routes of the paths on the ground.  Unfortunately although the paths had been changed, they were not adequately signed.  We became “temporarily misplaced”.

While I was trying to sort out exactly where we were, the farmer’s wife and son arrived. They were able to get us back on track.  I am afraid that they were a bit annoyed when I suggested if they were going to change the paths, they might like to have them signed, and also repair their appalling stiles!  It was the end of a long day and we had spent valuable time faffing about quite unnecessarily.

20190408 Wyn climbing the hill at Heptonstall
Wyn climbing the final hill at Heptonstall

Now back on route we climbed up onto Erringdon Moor.  Still annoyed at losing time, I made the elementary mistake of following a good path at a junction, and not following a bearing.  Luckily this did not take long to resolve.

Hebden Bridge eventually appeared in the Calder Valley.  Dropping down steeply on an awful path we Googled our accommodation.  This was in Heptonstall so we had a final 150m climb before arriving at 6.30.

It has been a long day but the pub is very comfortable and we rapidly felt much better after a quick shower, beer and meal (although not necessarily in that order).

The Problem with Farmers

I should state initially that I quite like farmers and think that they mainly do a good job managing the countryside.  However some are not so good.  Today I was trying to use footpaths, ie public rights of way, to get to Port Isaac only to find huge cereal fields crossed by a public right of way which the farmer had totally ignored.  I was left with a choice of extending my walk or ploughing through his wheat.  I am a country boy so I walked round.  The next field was the same except that the headland was head height in weeds, which incidentally covered a lot of his crop.  I had no chance of finding the stile and footbridge.  Eventually I fought my way through and decided it was too much of an effort so I walked up the roads.  This is obviously what the farmer wants. “Don’t want no people on Moy Land!”

On another farm the path was perfect.

017 That's the way to do it
That’s the way to do it!

Later, coming along the Coastal Path, one of the most popular walking routes in the country, I and all the other walkers were faced with cows and calves accompanied by two bulls.  The farmer may know that old Billy is a real softy but personally I would prefer him not to be standing on my path.  Surely we could at least be told “Bull in Field”. Several walkers had dogs and were quite concerned.

Farmers have rights but so do we the public.