Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day One: Edale to Crowden 16 miles

Arriving via train from Manchester to the mystical village of Edale,I was welcomed with a serene stroll up the tree -lined lane ,past B&B sign inviting muddy booted hikers in for dinner.I heard the sheep and the melodic birds.I took it all in and repeated out loud ,"this place is amazing."

It was Jubilee weekend and the school,church, and public house were strew with flag banners. It was about 8:30 but still pretty light out.Fieldhead campground posted to "pitch and pay in the morning."

Morning: After a quick breakfast at Cooper's cafe, I wait for the village store to open in hopes of a fuel canister for my jet boil backpacking stove.I delay my adventure one half hour for an apple. That's all I could find in the store that I needed.

Start on trail for 10 ft. And I hit a road block: "Private Fence" The path obviously went straight and through,but I take the next obvious Rt. turn and walk up to a little cottage.Out pops a head ,and my first query-- which will be repeated to many encounters in the next 30 days, "Do you know where the Pennine Way Trail is?" The cottage dweller fetches his shoes and insists on escorting me to the smaller gate just to the left of the big private gate. I'm off, feeling like an idiot.

First tragedy strikes.The waist belt buckle will not open. To retrieve something from my pack I'll now have to be loosening the webbing ,drop the pack to the ground,and step Free.

I hardly recall that first day's walk.Upwards across the first of a million sheep fields,hamlet of Upper Booth,packhorse bridge,the ascent of Jacob's Ladder,a steep rocky climb I knew so well from the Staniforth videos,KinderLow and Kinder Downfall. Wandering around the peat gullies of Bleaklow Head,not recognizing a clear path,I meet another lost wanderer,but,this one has a map.He had come from Holland to get as far as he could in 11 days. So with team of native English speaker and Dutch guy with a map,we navigate Clough Edge with the directional assistance from the wiser day hikers in the area.

I had booked a room and meals at the Crowden Youth Hostel about a week or two before my trip.My plan was to wild camp or stay in campgrounds for most nights.I considered the unknown terrain I would face,not knowing how my body would hold up, and thought the assurance of a comfortable bed and prepared meal at the end do the first long day a wise choice.

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