Day 34, Cowling to Hebden Bridge, 17 miles, The Annie Trilogy Part III: 'Annie's Final Day?'
We left Cowling in the watery morning sun, buoyed immensely by the prospect of a full rest day at Hebden Bridge tomorrow - Hebden is easily the most significant town on this part of the trail and I was looking forward to having a well deserved rest day and no doubt Annie was looking forward to getting away from me and my endless breakfast puns. So we climbed easily up into the moors that sit above Cowling in good spirits and, unlike every other Moor I've seen, were actually treated to excellent sweeping views. Annie, being a doctor, quickly diagnosed the reason for a pain in my side I had been experiencing for a few days now, and swiftly cured my ailment by tightening the straps of my pack. Cheers sis.
On our way up we saw a small garden full of peacocks, sat and had a quick snack on the steps of a 14th century Manor House, and learnt that this moor is famous for inspiring Wuthering Heights. Except, well, it isn't. A ruined home in the moors claims to be related to the Bronte sisters, but offers no evidence whatsoever to back this up. As a result, there are plenty of tourists and all the old wooden road signs feature Japanese instructions which was pretty cool, but ultimately this feels like a bit of a deception. A stone to commemorate the house and the (let's be honest, overrated) book notes that this spot 'may have been on her mind' when she penned Wuthering Heights. Hardly concrete.
After this the moors continued in surprisingly pleasant fashion for a number of miles until the rocky paths eventually gave way to small farmers tracks and finally actual roads for our descent into Hebden Bridge, however as we skirted the edge of a reservoir about 5 miles from the end of the day, we were hit by the most ferocious hailstorm I had ever seen. The icy pellets were literally bouncing from our heads, followed swiftly by a generous lashing of freezing rain. This lasted all of 2 minutes, but soon the path swept us around the edge of the water and directly back into the torrential weather. We almost ran through the deluge and found some 'shelter' under a few sorry looking pine trees. The freak storm soon passed but we were drenched and ice cold with a long descent to come, and it was all going so well...
We actually dried off and warmed up swiftly on the descent and eventually found the way to our Airbnb without any significant mishap (though of course it was on the complete opposite side of the town). A quick shower and change of clothes later and we were free to roam the town - and what a town it is. I've been through a great deal of Yorkshire settlements with a strong former working class heritage, usually based around a mill, mine or cloth production, and I expected Hebden Bridge to be no different - how wrong I was. The town is a hippy's paradise. Every shop was independent with most selling art, musical instruments, quirky clothing or items of questionable legality. The restaurants ranged from Tibetan to Thai, and the people had all clearly very, very much enjoyed themselves in the late 60s and many lazed in the afternoon sun slowly but surely contributing to the pleasant herbal aroma that pervaded the town. Whilst Annie and I sat inside with a pint to escape the heat, a drum circle formed organically outside with a man playing sitar and crowds clapping along. I loved it. We also enjoyed an absolutely delicious Thai meal and drank to our hearts content to celebrate the successful completion of Annie's leg of the walk.
Whilst I was sad Annie would be leaving in the morning, I hoped she had enjoyed her 3 days on the PW (as much as the PW can be enjoyed), and was buoyed by the thought of an entire day in Hebden to wash my clothes and relax before tackling the end of the PW. Furthermore, we have another new character joining the blog when I set off again after resting, I hope you all enjoy reading the 'Tales of Richard' which will be up next.
Bye sis, thanks for reading!