From: Charlesworth to Diggle
Distance: 12m / 19km
Cumulated distance: 534m / 859km
Percentage completed: 51.9

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Thank you so much for all the messages of well wishes yesterday .. they were lovely to receive. We had the best of anniversaries.

Leaving behind sunshine in the Cotswolds I returned north to the Peak District. The sun had disappeared behind clouds by the time I arrived but I was thrilled that the fog had also evaporated, so that all the gorgeous views were now visible.

No fog to obscure the views any longer

There was a bit of urban walking to do before I found my way to the Tameside Trail and then the Pennine Bridleway.

Not too cosy from where I was looking

 

Harsh

The Bridleway took longer than I’d anticipated to rejoin. The dog walkers were out in force so there were lots of four-legged friends to greet. Holly the Newfoundland was hell-bent on getting in to my backpack. I asked the owner if she had some labrador in her mix ..

Newfie investigating my backpack

There were broken bridges to negotiate ..

‘Boken’!

And nursery upon nursery of new borns to watch, as they gambolled and pronked like springboks, high into the air.

A lot of sheep to photograph and chew the cud with

There are a million and one reservoirs in the area all providing drinking water, water for industry or sometimes just fun for water sports. Hollingworth Reservoir was originally built to supply water to the nearby Rochdale Canal. Now however, it’s a huge destination for anyone wanting to sail, swim, fish or do any other sort of watery thing. This was the lake that Captain Matthew Webb practised his swimming before becoming the first person to swim across the English Channel in 1875.

Capt Webb was nothing if not plucky. He joined the navy at the tender age of 12, rescued his brother from drowning in the Severn a few years later and on his second attempt to swim the Channel was successful. He practised not only at Hollingworth but also along the Thames. Smeared in porpoise oil he set off into the ebb tide, using a stately breaststroke. Jellyfish stings and strong currents off the French coast prevented him from reaching shore for five hours. Eventually, after zig zagging 39 miles and taking almost 22 hours, he reached Calais. He became a huge celebrity as a result of the feat. His name was used to brand all sorts of things: soon you could buy pottery, a dinner service, books, boxes of matches and all sorts of other Webb-endorsed products.

One of the numerous reservoirs

He met his death swimming beneath Niagara Falls. Betjeman’s famous poem, ‘A Shropshire Lad’ has immortalised him. Peter Sellers is said to have used Webb’s facial profile, with the extraordinary hooked nose and moustache, to create his Inspector Clouseau persona in the Pink Panther movies.

The gas was on in the Institute,
The flare was up in the gym,
A man was running a mineral line,
A lass was singing a hymn,
When Captain Webb the Dawley man,
Captain Webb from Dawley,
Came swimming along the old canal
That carried the bricks to Lawley,
Swimming along, swimming along,
Swimming along from Severn,
And paying a call at Dawley Bank
While swimming along to Heaven.

The sun shone low on the railway line
And over the bricks and stacks,
And in at the upstairs windows
Of the Dawley houses’ backs,
When we saw the ghost of Captain Webb,
Webb in a water sheeting,
Come dripping along in a bathing dress
To the Saturday evening meeting.
Dripping along, dripping along,
To the Congregational Hall;
Dripping and still he rose over the sill
And faded away in a wall.

There wasn’t a man in Oakengates
That hadn’t got hold of the tale,
And over the valley in Ironbridge,
And round by Coalbrookdale,
How Captain Webb the Dawley man,
Captain Webb from Dawley,
Rose rigid and dead from the old canal
That carried the bricks to Lawley,
Rigid and dead, rigid and dead,
To the Saturday congregation,
And paying a call at Dawley Bank
On his way to his destination.

The Bridleway took a mixed route .. up on the moors, dipping down into villages, alongside the River Tame .. mostly avoiding mud, which was extremely pleasant. I had new boots on and it was rather pleasing to preserve their lovely pristine state before they became clogged in mud. The old ones had developed holes and had become thin on the soles. Very disappointing considering their supposed calibre and actual price. I took the opportunity while back home to get the good advice of familiar people at Cotswold Outdoor, about what to replace them with. I wasn’t too concerned about blisters as I wear orthotics so knew my feet would be used to the feel of the sole, at least. The new German boots held up extremely well today and it was a joy to reach my destination with dry feet for the first time in weeks.

Beautiful terrain ..

 

Rain clouds on the horizon

 

Time to pull up the hood

At one stage the Bridleway skirted around the village of Carrbrook, which has many seventeenth and eighteenth century houses. Much of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century part of the village was built during the industrial boom brought by the printworks. There’s a pretty little pond with over-looking seats, where I rested my legs for a few minutes and watched the bird-life. There were mallards taking flight and Canada Geese playing Hide and Seek.

Taking to the air

 

Now you see us ..

 

.. now you don’t.

All the villages in the area have backdrops of the Peaks, making for a very distinctive look with the dark stone of the area. In this part of the Peaks the Saddleworth Memorial can be seen from everywhere. The First World War memorial obelisk is located on top of Alderman’s Hill, also known as Pots and Pans Hill. The memorial is Grade II listed and there are multiple bronze plaques on all four sides commemorating lives lost by men in the several villages of Saddleworth.

Backdrop of the Peaks in Greenfield

I popped into the Dysarts Arms for a cuppa late afternoon. The place was teeming with families all tucking into their Sunday roasts. There was quite a bit of interest in the Black Dog flag and promises of donations.

The last three miles of the day seemed to go on forever .. I really don’t know why as the way was pretty and not too onerous. I eventually reached Diggle at 6.45 in pouring rain. Supper service stopped at 7 so I had a nifty shower and got myself down in time to choose from the menu, which included Diggle burgers and Piggle burgers .. a healthy combination of sausage patty, bacon, black pudding and battered sausage. The side salad I requested came served in a thimble.

As night time approached, ‘there were shooting stars down in Kent — I’ll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense.’

Black Dog Tails
Remember Mister from last week? Well this was his mate, Wylie .. seen here taking a breather under the shade of a brolly in the sweltering Afghan heat.