Thursday, 26 May 2011
Days 17 - 21
Having left the place on day 17, we ended up in beautiful countryside again by the afternoon and began to climb up into the Peak District. Roads were quieter again and there were not many houses about. Fields had few animals and countless acres were being grown for silage - which worried me a little as that doesn't help when you're looking for a place to spend the night.
We got to Waterhouses in the evening and I decided to ask at the first place where I could see horses, but unfortunately they only had the one field, but the lady phoned around and found another place where she took me to have a look in the car while the ponies waited at her place... but it was 3 miles in the wrong direction and had hardly any grass. So we tried the local livery stable where nobody was to be found. Finally she managed to find me a place in the village where the ponies could have been on a lovely field with the cows, but I left them in a little field where normally the chickens and geese go, but it had lovely grass and they had a good night while I camped between the trees. I also got my first chips with salt and vinegar of the trip hmmmmm, that was a welcome change. Combined with beans it they even made for a not completely useless meal.
The next day we went further into the Peak District towards where my GPS planning ended and where the Pennine Bridleway should have crossed our path - but it didn't. I decided we should go a little further eastwards where there was a promising looking bridleway that turned out to be what we were looking for. The bridleway in that area is a disused railway line that has been made into a path and is good to ride on. A little boring maybe, but nice enough.
We were stopped by somebody at the visitors' centre and advised to ask at a certain farm about 3/4 mile off the route, but unfortunately they didn't want to have us for the night. Going back along the road towards the bridleway, however, we stopped at another farm where we were received very warmly and allowed to use their large camping field for the night. Then the night turned into two nights because the ponies were in need of a rest. They enjoyed the calf pellets they were given and we all enjoyed an easy day.
My Mum and Dad even came round - 5 hours in the car - to say hello and do a little equipment change now that we knew exactly what we needed and what not. It was great and they brought some really tasty food with them! :o)
The evening brought rain and it rained off and on throughout the night... and the morning... and the whole next day for that matter. I woke up at 6, as usual to get us all ready to go, but couldn't bring myself to do the job with the rain falling outside. Everytime it stopped and I started to get ready to go, it would inevitably start raining again. So I spent another three hours in the tent reading Pride & Prejudice, where Mr. Darcy is about to ask Eliza to marry him for the first time haha, until there was an acceptable break in the rain and I dived out of the tent in order to really set off.
It must have been quite good timing as it just got worse from the moment the horses were saddled and ready to go. We popped down to the farm to thank the kind people again and were on our way.
Today I refreshed my hate for gates! Gosh, they are horrible! I mean, they are annoying enough when you are alone on one horse without luggage, but with three of them and a dog and panniers, they are just plain annoying! The ponies do a really got job of going through them, but why do British bridleways just have to be covered in them??? We actually came through a place where they sent you through four extra gates and through a field full of cattle and sheep just to save you a few hundred yards of lane - which you had to go on for a mile afterwards anyway. I hope it doesn't continued like that - though I am sure it will - as I will not get to ride for the next week if that's the case!