*ATTEMPTING* To Finish Hiking The Gritstone Trail, UK
You may have read my previous post about hiking The Gritstone Trail. If not, go check that one out first, otherwise, this post isn’t going to make a lot of sense.
Here’s the post – *ATTEMPTING* to Hike The Gritstone Trail, UK
So now you know that my first attempt at hiking this 3-day trail didn’t go to plan and I bailed out after just 1 day (hangs head in shame).
After coming home and tending to my wounds (and my bruised ego) I decided that I would try again. I planned to pick up where I left off and to see if I could finish the trail.
Improvements must be made
After learning some lessons from my first attempt, I made some adjustments to my backpack and my equipment.
Firstly, my feet.
Last time the soles of my feet got incredibly sore.
I love my current walking shoes as they’re very light, well-worn in and generally very comfy. For those reasons, I didn’t want to buy new shoes.
Instead, I replaced the insoles with a pair of Enertor insoles.
These “insoles are worn and endorsed by Usain Bolt and proven to reduce foot and heel pain for over 90% of people”, or so it says on their website.
After switching them with my current worn and thin insoles, I immediately noticed the difference.
(If you want to give them a go, you can use Wil’s discount code BAWIL at checkout to get 25% off everything – including baselayers, socks and other goodies.)
Second on the list, my backpack.
I had to lighten the weight.
This was a bit easier this time around as I was only going to be away for one night (instead of two). Which meant that both me and my dog didn’t need as much food and in general we could take fewer supplies.
However, for the second and third part of The Gritstone Trail I was unaware of where we would be able to top up our water supply, so to start off with I took as much as I could fit into the backpack.
Obviously, the water increased the weight dramatically and made my pack about the same weight as before. But the weather was forecasted to be very hot and I planned to just drink the weight down as we went.
The following week I was ready to try again and my housemate dropped me off at Tegg’s Nose Visitor Centre (the place where he rescued me from the week prior).
The first day of hiking was as close to perfect as it could have been…
…except an extremely ballsy sheep came and headbutted my dog whilst he was on the lead and I had to chase it away – I’m assuming that it was just trying to protect the lambs.
My dog had no idea what hit him. I have a feeling he thought he was attacked by an angry cloud!
The last part of day one involved hiking myself and my backpack up a lot of steps.
And when I say a lot, I mean a lot…
It was at the end of the day, I’d already walked around 15miles going up and down hills and it was very hot.
This was my final push.
I reached the top with sweat pouring out of every inch of my body. But the view was so worth it …
Previously in the day, we had walked past a telephone tower. And from this viewpoint, in the distance, we could see that telephone tower and just how far we had come. (It’s a bit faded on the picture, but look at the centre of the horizon and then to the right a bit.)
This was a nice moment for us to stop, take in the views and rest for a few moments before pitching our tent for the night.
Room with a view
As far as camping goes, I don’t think you could get a much better spot than this…
It was like camping on the edge of the world.
I was looking forward to watching the sunset and doing a bit of stargazing.
Unfortunately, the clear sky disappeared and it came slightly overcast spoiling the display.
Instead, after refueling ourselves with some food and water, we turned ourselves in for the night.
I set my alarm for 4am, again hoping to catch the sunrise, but when I popped my head out of the tent in the morning all I saw was fog.
I quickly zipped the tent back up and Winston and I went back to sleep for a few extra hours.
When we finally woke up (around 6.30am) the fog had partly cleared and left us feeling as though we camped above the clouds.
We had some breakfast, packed away the tent and set off on the final stretch of The Gritstone Trail.
We had just finished off the last of our water supply that morning, so finding water was on the top of our list.
Sadly, our second day of hiking did not go anywhere near as well as the first!!
It all started to go wrong when the route directed us through a field of cattle.
I’m comfortable walking amongst sheep and horses but I’m always a bit wary around cattle. Where possible, I always give the herd a very wide berth
Anyway, on this occasion, the cows decided that they wanted to attack my dog, Winston.
Even though I had let my dog off the lead, he stayed right beside me as I played protector and took on a herd of 20+ cows!
This resulted in me having to throw things at the cows and chase them away every time they ran towards us.
It was a pretty dangerous situation and a whole other blog post on its own. You can read about my cow story by clicking here.
After exiting the field via some random side gate, I took a few minutes to catch my breath and to try and work out where we were.
There was no way that we were going to go back through that field of cows so we were left with no other option than to take a huge detour following the roads.
Throughout my cow experience, I had managed to get myself ankle deep in what can only be described as a mix of mud, water and cow shit.
My feet were wet and giving off a rather unpleasant aroma.
I had no choice at that moment, but to continue walking whilst squelching some watered-down cow crap in between my toes (!!)
Back on track?
We eventually picked the trail back up again and carried on the adventure, only to lose the trail and get lost moments after.
At that point, I was done in and was no longer having fun.
We were still without water and my feet were beginning to get very sore from walking in wet socks and shoes. My dog was still on his lead since we were walking along roads and he was getting frustrated from having to walk to heel and getting anxious every time a car passed us.
My patience had run out…
…fuck the trail!!
We took matters into our own hands.
We took a huge detour and headed off into Mossley to the closest convenient store where we purchase a few bottles of water.
Luckily, we could avoid the main roads and instead walked through a housing estate.
Since there was less traffic Winston soon settled back down again and was happy to plod along nicely on the lead.
After a well-earned water break, I took a look at the map and noticed that we could get to our end point, Kidsgrove Railway Station, simply by walking down the canal towpath.
The canal was a great idea for many reasons.
Firstly, it was flat, easy to walk and almost impossible to take a wrong turn (yey for me).
Secondly, the canal gave Winston several opportunities to go for a quick dip and cool down (yey for him)
Thirdly, it was still very picturesque and beautiful to walk down (yey for both of us)
The canal also gave me an opportunity to wash my feet.
Now, I know that you’re probably reading that thinking that I was mental to wash my feet in a canal, but trust me, after walking miles with soggy cow shit sloshing around in your shoes, splashing your feet at the edge of a canal feels like you’re in a spa!
I did get a few funny looks from walkers passing, but I really didn’t care.
I switched to a clean pair of socks and left my shoes out in the sun for a bit to dry out.
All that was left to do now was follow the towpath to the finish line.
In all honesty, this was a massive detour.
If you look at the map below, the purple dashes represent the route that I should have taken. The bright green scribble is the route that I actually took.
When we reached the train station, we were 2 hours early and had to wait until my housemate had finished work before he could pick us up.
Winston and I found a quiet corner near the entrance of the station in the shade. We laid out our sleeping bag and were happy to sit and do nothing for a couple of hours.
Understandably, I think that passers-by were questioning whether or not we were homeless.
After two long days of hiking, my pooch went straight to sleep.
I thought that I had actually tired him out (all spaniel owners will know that this is a near-impossible task) but he soon found some energy and was bouncing around wanting me to throw his frisbee as soon as he got home.
Although we made it to the finish point, I probably can’t boast about hiking The Gritstone Trail.
I failed to do it over the three consecutive days and missed out most of the trail on the final day.
But I did set out to have an adventure, and I most certainly achieved that!!
Again, I came home feeling sore in my legs and feet, but after a day or two of rest I was back fighting fit and feeling slightly stronger than when I left.
My dog, on the other hand, woke up the next day as though he’d never left the comforts of home with all the energy in the world.
I do aspire to one day have the fitness and energy levels of my dog!
P.S. Let me know if you’ve ever hiked The Gritstone Trail or if you plan to. I’d love to hear some of your stories and experiences.
- My Cow Story – Taking on a Herd of Cattle!
- *ATTEMPTING* to Hike The Gritstone Trail, UK
- 16 Photos to Inspire You to go Hiking in the Peak District, UK