Day 26 Weds 25-05-2005
Ponden to Gargrave
I woke early, and scrambled up the hill to the "facilities," which were in a building near Ponden House. Some instinct made me take a toilet roll (I had carried this, unused, since Land's End), which turned out to be a good idea, and the shower wouldn't work. Here I was, surrounded by reservoirs, having been rained on heavily, but this shower was fed by a spring, which wasn't up to strength this morning! I descended once more, packed my tent, and ascended towards breakfast.
I found a huge dining table, full of guests who were all walking this part of West Yorkshire. They were all discussing their routes and itineraries, and politely questioned mine. I hope I didn't sound too cocky, but I had walked a long way to get here. It was good to chat to other walkers, so I set off full of good cheer - and it wasn't raining.
Almost straight away, I spotted a seated figure - it was Richard! I was really pleased to see him, and had wondered how he got on at Standedge. It turned out that upon reaching the non existent pub and bunkhouse just after I did, he decided to walk on. It was really windy, so pitching his tent was a poor option, and very late on Monday evening he found a pub with rooms. He had set off very early this morning, around 4 (!), and was taking a well earned break.
We walked on together, and agreed to make for Gargrave, where there was a choice of campsites. The dales were more attractive and less bleak than the moors of the previous couple of days, and we stopped at the Hare and Hounds in Lothersdale for an early lunchtime pint.
I wanted to divert to Skipton in the afternoon (maps and washing), and Richard was keen to stay on the Pennine Way, so we arranged to meet at Gargrave, and watch Liverpool take on AC Milan in the Champion's League final. As I climbed out of Lothersdale, a local couple called out to me that I had missed the Pennine Way. I thanked them for their help, and explained that I had meant to go the "wrong" way.
The walk to Skipton was pleasant, I found a launderette and did some very necessary washing. I looked for maps, and once again encountered the north / south conundrum: Lots of maps if I was going south - almost as far as Basingstoke, but very few going north. The helpful woman who served me in Smiths could shed no light on my problem, and I was only able to get two maps - which would be enough to keep me going for another three days or so along with what I already had.
Gargrave was an easy two or three miles walk along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (swans excepted - they really do hiss!). I got to the campsite, which was just off the canal, five minutes before Richard. I pitched my tent, and walked to the local shop to buy my supper - cheese and digestive biscuits.
Later in the evening, we found a local pub showing the football. Liverpool were losing 3-0 by halftime. Richard, having been up since 4 a.m., decided to go back to his tent and sleep. I fancied another beer, so stayed to watch the inevitable defeat of the Scousers. Wow! Liverpool managed to get three goals in the second half, AC missed a couple of sitters, and extra time was goal-less. A penalty shootout! Now, Jerzy Dudek may have had his critics, but his performance when saving two penalties (especially from the impotent Shevchenko) was immense. He bettered Bruce Grobbelaar's performances, and I shall never forget the sight of his huge white gloves waving around as Milan's strikers tried to score.
On the way back to my tent, I chatted to a man en route to the Appleby Horse Fair next week, spoke to my son Jim on the phone to agree what a fantastic, once in a lifetime game that was, and congratulated myself on not leaving the pub at halftime. Tina rang me, she too had watched the game, and wanted to make sure I had.
Sleep was hard to come by. Was it excitement? Too much beer? Hard ground? No... there was a third tent on our pitch, whose owner snored louder and more violently than anything I have ever heard before.