Ride 17: Spookesville

Tuesday, 26th May, Giggleswick to Barnoldswick, 23.58 miles

To avoid a repeat of the busy road experience of yesterday, I decide to lead Tommy around the back of the golf course and through Giggleswick via the back roads.  Luckily, no one approaches us wielding a golf club and we make it to the gate which I know we can get through because Sue and I tested it yesterday.  Here is a view of the town which I took from my bedroom window.

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Coming to the main road we cross the river over the bridge and head into the main town of Settle.  Tuesday is market day and it’s busy.  We walk around the back of the market and up the hill to Upper Settle where we rejoin the Pennine Bridleway, relieved to be back on track and away from the madding crowd.

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It’s a long climb up and over the moor and down the other side to Long Preston where we come across this lovely church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, no less.

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  • Spook no 1.

Our route takes us across the main road and down past the railway station at Long Preston.  As I am in the process of leading Tommy over the bridge over the railway tracks, I hear what sounds suspiciously like a steam engine chugging towards us.  Getting louder as it approaches, I freeze and wait for it to pass under us as there is no time to do anything else.   As the steam from the engine billows over the parapet at us, Tommy flips and tries to do a runner.  I manage to hold onto him by his reins and restrain him, but only just, as he drags me along with him for a good few yards.

  • Spook no 2.

After crossing Cow Bridge we turn left into a very narrow lane where we meet a huge tractor pulling a trailer loaded with the first cut of silage.  There is nothing for us to do but to make a U turn and head back into an opening to let it pass.  Then we come across a cow.  We’ve seen hundreds before but this one is a white cow which Tommy is particularly wary of.  I have to fend off the attentions of some curious horses as we make our way across their field.  The Pennine Bridleway then takes a sudden diversion away from the road and around a farmstead.  My suspicions are aroused when I don’t find a visible track even though there are plenty of waymarks, thankfully.  Then I come across a possible reason for this.  There is a notice on the gate into the next field which reads ‘Beware of Bull’.  This time it’s me who is spooked!   I take a good look around and there are two bulls in the field, otherwise full of sheep.  They are lying down and a little distance away from where I perceive the path to be.  I check out the exit gate and decide to make it across.  I know Tommy could possibly fly over the gate if needed but I wouldn’t like to try it with me and our packs on board.  Thankfully we don’t need to and pass peacefully through into the next field of cut hay, the bulls watching us crossing their field, not even budging from their supine position.

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By the time we get to Halton West, I am actually quite relieved to be back on a quiet country road again.  We are about halfway to our destination so we stop here for some lunch and the curious calves come to check out Tommy.

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  • Spook no 3.

The Pennine Bridleway leads us over Paythorne Moor on part of the old Ribble Way which is a well defined track.  Here we flush a pheasant out of the hedge and Tommy darts away like greased lighting very nearly unseating me.

  • Spook no 4, 5, 6.

After Paythorne, we have to walk along a track that runs parallel to the very fast A682 with only a thin hedge between us and the lorries, trucks and cars thundering along only yards from us.  It’s touch and go as to whether I can hold onto Tommy this time while I lead him along this stretch.  Somehow we make it through, both rather shaken by this experience.

  • Spook no 7.

We skirt around the town of Gisburn by going through Gisburn Park and take a left through a rather menacing industrial style farm called Westby Hall Farm, with Alsations pulling on their chains and barking at us as we pass through.  Over the last of the major roads and onto the final stretch towards Barnoldswick.

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The final spook of the day comes as Tommy suddenly shoots forward as two horses come galloping towards us in their field to greet us.

As we are descending into the town of Barnoldswick, a jogger with her dog comes alongside us and asks, are you going to Kate’s?  Yes, I say, and Christine continues to offer advice on how to get to our destination which is a bit confusing so I decide to stick to my plan of going through the town.  Unfortunately, we hit it at rush hour and I stop on the town green to take a breather and have a look at the map to see if I can figure out a way to reach our destination.  At that moment, someone gets out of a car and starts walking towards us.  Hallelujah!  It’s Kate herself come to rescue us, as word has got out we are on our way.  I greet her like a long lost friend and she guides us through the town and into the sanctuary of her stables and home, arriving finally at our destination, nine hours after setting off this morning.

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I have never been so pleased to have arrived as I am now.  Kate and her wonderful crew help Tommy and I to get settled, Tommy in the paddock behind Kate’s home and me into a shower followed by a very welcome glass of Prosecco!  We are here for a longer rest stop this time and we couldn’t be in a better place as it turns out.  Once again feel very blessed indeed.

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