I walk along the long straight railway track from Penistone for what feels like forever; I know it originally ended up in Manchester and have nightmarish visions of ending up there! Three times I spot something moving up ahead that is frightened off by me; the first time it looks like a largish dog; it has a wagging tail, the second appears to be a giant hare, and the third a kind of small deer. I am bemused by this and cannot work out what I am seeing for sure, they are each time just too far off to make out clearly.
The track goes on endlessly, and the fingerposts are no help, they have given mileage for all the other settlements but not a squeak for Dunford Bridge. I begin to realise that those nice helpful tourist signs are not there for the benefit of the walker but to entice visitors into the towns to bring business; no information is forthcoming about Dunford Bridge and my host for this evening has already told me that the pub is no more so I am not expecting great things there.
The rain has stopped now but the mist is gathering and at either side of me there is open moorland; it seems pretty desolate and I am without any way of contacting my host, Maggie, nor any way of knowing the time. I can feel a bit of depression start to sink over me; I never did cope well with moorland. I am relieved to see bits of bright yellow gorse have started to push up though the track, lending their cheerfulness to the otherwise bleak landscape.
I pass an information board describing the moor; one of the things it highlights is black cattle. The advice given; if surrounded, let go of your dog. Nothing is said about what happens next, either to you, or to your dog, nor of what to do if you are surrounded without a dog! It strikes me that those in the know about cattle are surprisingly unhelpful towards us lesser mortals who are not versed in the art of cattle romancing! My host later tells me there have been two cases of women being trampled to death by cows, and being, predominantly a vegan, I have to say I do begin to question why we feel we need to keep so many herd animals whose meat and milk are after all bad for our health due to their high fat content, and who take up land for pasture that could be used for growing grains and vegetables.
I finally reach the end of the track where the road crosses it at Dunford. There is nothing welcoming to be seen and the mist is drawing in ever more quickly. I try to imagine what I will do if I cannot find Maggie as I cannot phone her to tell her I have almost made it. Will I put on all my layers and sleep out, or will I walk another 4 miles to Holmfirth? I follow the road and see the sign that tells me I have reached Town Head. The mist is now fully down and visibility is not great. It is hard to believe I am in the same country as I was just a couple of weekends ago stripped down to a vest top and getting sunburnt!
I knock at the door of the first house I see and a really friendly woman comes and tells me where the community I seek is; down beyond the bus stop in the railway cottages. They are rows of old terraced houses. I knock at the first I come to and am shown to Maggie’s by a friendly man.
“Thank goodness – I was worrying about you being lost on the moors in the mist!”
I am welcomed inside and discover it is half past seven; it has taken 3 hours to do the 6 miles from Penistone.
Maggie gets me a drink and a bowl of hot water for my tired feet and tells me about the community.
…Town Head description follows; at present awaiting approval by the community.
I retire to my bed early and sleep for 14 hours; the rigours of my walking talking blogging routine finally catching up with me.