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We leave the campsite in Edale and pass The Old Nag's Head, the official start of The Pennine Way, at 7.30pm. We retrace our steps of yesterday and brace ourselves for the stiff climb up Jacobs Ladder. The cloud is very low and it is very misty at the top but at least it has stopped raining now. We have a hard time, in these conditions, locating Edale Rocks as we can only just see a few yards in front of us.
We have visited Edale and the Kinder plateau before and know what terrific scenery we are missing.
pictures taken on previous occassion
We reach the Kinder Downfall, sit on the rocks, brew up and have an early lunch. The sheep are particularly aggresive hereabouts. They fancy a bit of sandwich and will not take no for an answer.
We continue over Featherbed Moss and reach the Snake Road. We cross, walk on past the Wainstones and reach the large summit plateau of Bleaklow (and bleak it is) at 4.30pm. How could we have taken so long! We brew up at the cairn with the last of our water. There we sit, cups in hand, enyoying the weight off our shoulders (as only backpackers can appreciate) when we hear running steps behind us. A man appears, runs straight past us and disappears again in a matter of seconds. We just look at each other and make no comment.
We descend Wildboar Grain and then Torside Clough. It is a long and tricky descent because of slippery conditions underfoot so it is slow going. We can see the Torside Reservoir. We have to walk up the road to be able to cross the reservoir and then walk all the way along the opposite bank to the campsite at Crowden. Towards the end of the day, it looks a very long way.
We arrive at around 8.30 pm, very tired, and just about find the energy to pitch before it gets dark. We put aside all thoughts of cooking, have a cup of tea and go to sleep.
It is quite a steep climb, so time to survey the scene and have a smoke break. We continue, reach the marker cairn and follow the path to the left. After about a mile we brew up and reach for the map. Where is it? Oh, No!! Itís at the bottom of Laddow Rocks where we stopped for our smoke break. Seeing as I am in charge of the map, I volunteer to go back, half hoping Charl will do the macho thing but no such luck. I retrace my steps, leaving Charl sitting on his backpack, and accost several people, who are on the way up, to ask if they have noticed a map on their way - nobody has. I reach the very bottom, knowing I have gone far below the point where we stopped, with no luck. I decide to go back and looking up see someone, half way up, waving a map case! I ascend the rocks like a goat , twice the pace of the first time, and there in the middle of the path where it cannot be missed, is the map. I look up to see my saviour waving and I wave the map case back in gratitude. I look at my watch. This episode has taken 45mins and I still have to climb the rest of the rocks and get back on the path where Charl is waiting.
When we meet up I need ten minutes breather after my rapid ascent. We have wasted about an hour and half and to make me feel even better, while I was away, Charl has seen a mountain hare!
We continue along the path, and wonder whether we are destined to walk the Pennine Way without a guide book and map. This is only the second day and we have all ready lost it twice. We are joking about this and laughing, with the incident behind us and nothing lost but time, when ahead of us we spot a reservoir. A reservoir where there should be no reservoir! We realise we must be on the path to Chew Green and it is the Chew Green Reservoir we can see. I had followed the widest path marked by the largest cairn thinking, mistakenly, that the Pennine Way, being the most well known National Trail, would be on clear paths and well sign- posted. I now know better! Of course, if I had stopped to look at the map at the cairn, I would have noticed it was missing a lot sooner but all this is in retrospect.
We retrace our steps and follow the thin path which contours the side of Laddow Rocks and descends following alongside Crowden Great Brook. This is very slow going as the path is thin, very muddy and slippery. We then have several fords to negotiate all of which are in flood! This is where the hiking poles come into their own not only for testing depth of water but for using somewhat like a polevault!
We begin the ascent of Black Hill, in sunshine no less and the going is very easy.
We have been very grateful, these last two days, for the amount of flagstones that have been laid. These, of course, are laid not for our benefit but to prevent even more erosion. However, in these extra wet conditions, they certainly make the going more pleasant. (Of course, on other occassions, in dry conditions, I have been known to utter "It's a pity these flagstones have to be laid. You might as well be walking on city pavement." - Just shows you how fickle us walkers can be.)
We reach the summit of Black Hill and are all at once in thick fog. It seems we have gone from bright sunshine to all encompassing mist in a matter of two minutes. We need to find the trig point but we can hardly see our hands in front of us. Something appears out of the murk. Is that it?
We find some sphagnum moss and put up the tent as best we can. Charl strains puddle water through some moss which is the colour of best bitter and we warm up with a peaty cup of tea. We have a marvellous nightís sleep. It is like sleeping on a water bed!