11th April – Gargrave to Malham

20190411 Beside the River Aire
Beside the River Aire

Today has been a semi-rest day.  We only had a half day walk across easy rolling hills and along the River Aire.

Wanting to get away and not wait until 8.30 to get cooked breakfast, we made do with continental, and left the Mason’s Arms (recommended) at 8.30.

20190411 Wyn on Eshton Moor near Gargrave
Wyn on Eshton Moor

Easy road walking, past Gargrave House and Home Farm, led to field walking over Eshton Moor and then a gentle descent to the Aire.

20190411 A typical Yorkshire step stile
A typical Yorkshire step stile

Turning upstream we followed the river all the way to Malham.

20190411 Riverside Mill at Aireton, now apartments
Airton Mill, now apartments

The old mill at Airton, now converted into apartments, was a very fine building.  Further up the river, we left it briefly for a steep but short climb past Hanlith Hall.

20190411 Hanlith Hall, a des res in the country
Hanlith Hall, a very desirable country cottage

Turning back towards the river we dropped down to the viewpoint at Aire Head with Malham, Malham Cove and Goredale Scar in view to the north.

20190411 The descent to Malham
Neil on the route to Malham

We arrived at Malham at 12.15 for tea and lunch. As I write this we are sitting in the sunshine rehydrating at the Lister Arms before going up to the Youth Hostel.

20190411 Malham village and Cove
Malham village with the Cove behind

10th April – Ickornshaw to Gargrave

20190410 Lothersdale

Wyn and I woke feeling refreshed, and after a cooked breakfast left Winterhouse Barn at 8.30.  Tony and Olwyn could not have been better hosts.

The day was easier than the previous days being both shorter (18k) and with less ascent (520m).

We started by walking up to Gill before passing over Cowling Hill and descending into the picturesque village of Lothersdale.  The pub provided seats for a short break, but was being renovated.

Leaving Lothersdale we walked on past Hewitts Farm before the big climb of the day to Pinhaw Beacon.  The paths were not as rough and rocky as previously and we made good progress.  We met some friendly walkers on the summit and were reassured that they were even older than we were.

Pinhaw Beacon marked the end of the South Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales could be seen before us.  We descended from the Beacon towards Thornton-in-Craven, and after a little more gentle ascent arrived at the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Walking on the towpath for a while made a pleasant interlude.

20190410 Church at East Marton
East Marton church

We passed East Marton Church near the site of the curiously named Fish Ponds Hall. Next came the famous double arched bridge which carries the A59 over the canal.

20190410 Double-arch bridge at East Marton
Double-arch canal bridge at East Marton

Finally the much awaited Bridge 162 appeared and the Abbot’s Restaurant and Teashop. As it would have been impolite to deprive them of our custom we felt obliged to stop for cream teas.  I also needed to instruct Wyn in the correct (Cornish) way to apply the jam and cream.

20190410 Afternoon tea at the Abbots Restaurant East Marton
Everything stops for tea…

Much refreshed we left the canal and set off up a road with “garlic-scented ramsons” in the woods.  Leaving the road went across rolling drumlin hills and ascended Scaleber Hill to see Gargrave in the valley below.  We arrived at the Mason’s Arms at 5.10 after a much better day.

One of the pleasures of the past few days has been listening to the curlews and lapwings.  For the ornithologists: we saw a red kite, near Walshaw Dean Reservoir, being bombed by lapwings.  Apparently they are rare up here despite being so common in Oxfordshire.

After a fine dinner and the opportunity to rehydrate, we could look forward to an easier day on Thursday.

9th April – Heptonstall to Ickornshaw

20190409 Cross Inn Heptonstall
The Cross Inn, Heptonstall

Unfortunately Wyn had twisted his knee yesterday so we set out knowing that we had a long and difficult day ahead of us.

20190409 May's Alladdin's Cave
May’s Aladdin’s Cave

We left the Cross Inn (recommended) at 7.50 with no lunch.  Fortunately May’s Aladdin’s Cave at High Gate opens at 7.00 so we could load up with food.

20190409 Wyn crossing Heptonstall Moor
Wyn crossing Heptonstall Moor

Suitably weighed down we crossed Heptonstall Moor and dropped down to Gorple Lower Reservoir, quickly followed by the Walshaw Reservoirs.  Well – maybe not quickly – but we got past them.

20190409 Walshaw Dean Middle Reservoir
Neil at Walshaw Dean Middle Reservoir

Then came a long slog over Withins Height End to drop down to Top Withins, which is supposedly associated with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.  We stopped briefly for lunch.

20190409 Top Withins - Wuthering Heights
Top Withins – Wuthering Heights?

Returning to the fray, we descended to Ponden Reservoir and began the interminable climb over Ickornshaw Moor.

20190409 Canoe rescues in Ponden Reservoir
Canoe rescues on Ponden Reservoir

By now Wyn was finding the rough trail very tough in both ascent and descent.  Steep slopes were encountered at Further Dean Hole and Eller Hill before finally we could drop down to Ickornshaw arriving at 6.50.

20190409 Steep climb above Ponden Reservoir
Yet another steep climb…

Winterhouse Barn B&B was a very welcome sight and I had volunteered to go on to Cowling and get fish and chips for dinner.  Disaster: the shop closed at 7.00!   Our wonderful hosts immediately volunteered to take us to a local pub and collect us when we were ready.  By 7.30 we were in the pub rehydrating on the local ales and trying the local delicacies.

Once back at Winterhouse Barn, we basically collapsed after a very long day.  Wyn had been a trooper all day, never complaining but just keeping on going.  A gutsy performance.

8th April – Marsden to Heptonstall

20190408 Wyn unsuccessfully trying to hitch a ride over Slaithwaite Moor
Wyn unsuccessfully trying to hitch a lift across Slaithwaite Moor

After a comfortable stay at Huddersfield and a taxi back to Marsden, Wyn and I set off at 8.10.  A steep climb led up to Slaithwaite Moor and the first reservoir of the day.  From the Moor we descended to Dearhead Reservoir and crossed the M62.

20190408 Looking down on the M62
Looking down on the M62

Passing another reservoir, we ascended over Blackwood Common, before dropping again and then climbing up and over to Baitings Reservoir.  We were beginning to feel like men employed by The Grand Old Duke of York.

20190408 Baitings Reservoir
Baitings Reservoir

Now we had the big climb over Manshead End.  This passed quickly and we stopped for a quick sandwich on the summit.  Crossing Great Manshead Hill we suffered from the low temperatures and high wind and were glad to walk down to Crag Vale.

20190408 Elevenses
A welcome break

At this point the day went downhill fast – both literally and metaphorically.  The pull up to Old Crag Hall was tough.  Beyond the Hall the guide book description no longer matched the routes of the paths on the ground.  Unfortunately although the paths had been changed, they were not adequately signed.  We became “temporarily misplaced”.

While I was trying to sort out exactly where we were, the farmer’s wife and son arrived. They were able to get us back on track.  I am afraid that they were a bit annoyed when I suggested if they were going to change the paths, they might like to have them signed, and also repair their appalling stiles!  It was the end of a long day and we had spent valuable time faffing about quite unnecessarily.

20190408 Wyn climbing the hill at Heptonstall
Wyn climbing the final hill at Heptonstall

Now back on route we climbed up onto Erringdon Moor.  Still annoyed at losing time, I made the elementary mistake of following a good path at a junction, and not following a bearing.  Luckily this did not take long to resolve.

Hebden Bridge eventually appeared in the Calder Valley.  Dropping down steeply on an awful path we Googled our accommodation.  This was in Heptonstall so we had a final 150m climb before arriving at 6.30.

It has been a long day but the pub is very comfortable and we rapidly felt much better after a quick shower, beer and meal (although not necessarily in that order).

7th April – Flouch to Marsden

20190407 Winscar Reservoir with misty moors behind
Winscar Reservoir with misty moors behind

I woke to find the mist and clag clamped down over the moors.  I managed to negotiate a slightly earlier breakfast and left the pub at 8.50.

Initially heading back east on the A628, I then crossed Thurlstone Moor to join the Trans-Pennine Trail to Dunford Bridge.  Passing Winscar Reservoir I climbed over the ridge on the Kirklees Trail, before dropping down to Brownhill Reservoir, just about able to see Holmfirth in the distance.

20190407 Holmfirth in the mist
Holmfirth in the mist

Passing the village of Holme, I climbed up and around Hey Clough and descended to Marsden Clough before climbing again to Wessenden Head.

20190407 Descending to Marsden Clough
Descending to Marsden Clough

At this point I joined the Pennine Way for the first time going down past the Upper Wessenden Reservoir before leaving the Way and taking the higher Deer Hill Conduit Path.  This gave easy walking and superb views over Butterley Reservoir all the way to Marsden.  I reached the town at 4.10.

20190407 Butterley Reservoir from the Deer Cut Conduit Path
Butterley Reservoir from the Deer Hill Conduit Path

I had organised to meet Wyn at Huddersfield Station and for once all the plans worked out.  I arrived from Marsden only 15 minutes before Wyn.  We took a taxi to our accommodation and have enjoyed a good dinner and conversation.

20190407 Harold Wilson's statue at Huddersfield Station
Harold Wilson’s statue outside Huddersfield Station

Today was a bit of a nothing day.  The scenery was nothing to write home about, and was mostly obscured by low cloud.  After the highlights of the last two days it was uninspiring.  Tomorrow we head for Hebden Bridge, and then have the Pennine Way to look forward to.

6th April – Moscar to Flouch

20190406 Neil with the reservoir in the background
Beside Ladybower Reservoir

Carl and I left the Ladybower Inn at 8.50 and set out to walk the length of the Ladybower Reservoir, best known as the training ground for the Dambusters Raid.

20190406 Ladybower Reservoir and Win Hill
Ladybower Reservoir and Win Hill

We kept noticing race signs, and shortly before the second dam a Marshall explained that 500 mountain bikers were about to arrive.  Knowing that the bikers were unlikely to take any prisoners, we put on a bit of a spurt until the next dam.  Once past the dam and off the race route, we could relax, and were amused by a curious sign on the gate of Ladybower Lodge.

20190406 Sign on Ladybower Lodge gate
You have been warned…

Near here we met the first of several groups of young people practicing for their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Expedition.  These charming young ladies had left their camp at 6.00am and had walked most of the way around the lake.  They were very polite and cheerful, and it was encouraging to find some young people taking pleasure in the outdoors.

20190406 Approaching the Slippery Stones
Approaching the Slippery Stones

We gradually gain height on our 10k walk up the reservoir, but at Slippery Stones the easy part of the day was over, and we now had to climb up Cranberry Clough to Cut Gate and Midhope Moors.  This proved to be a popular route and I saw more walkers today than in the previous eight days combined.

20190406 Carl nearing the summit of Howden Hill
Carl nearing the summit of Howden Hill

The weather gradually improved and we were now bathed in sunshine.  After a little boggy ground at the top of Mickleden Edge, the path improved and we descended to Langsett Reservoir for a late lunch.

20190406 Langsett reservoir
Langsett reservoir

A quick walk through some woods led us out onto the A628 only 300m from the Dog and Partridge Inn.  We arrived almost exactly 6 hours after leaving the Ladybower Inn.

Carl managed to phone Doug, who turned up as Carl and I were finishing our second round of tea.  More tea was needed, and then it was time for them to depart.  It has been a real pleasure to have spent the past two days with Carl and Doug, and I just want to express my appreciation and thanks for all their kindness, help, and encouragement.

20190405 Carl Doug and Lily on Stanage Edge
Good companions – Carl, Doug and Lily the dog

5th April – Hathersage to Moscar

20190405 Neil and Carl on Stanage Edge
Neil and Carl on Stanage Edge

Today was a semi rest day so I met my friends Carl and Doug for breakfast at the Inn and Carl and I left at 9.50 to walk up to Stanage Edge.

20190405 Looking down on Hathersage from near Court Farm
Looking down on Hathersage from near Court Farm

The route took us past the church and then up steeply through a wood to Court Farm.  To spare Carl and me embarrassment I will only say that we were busy talking and failed to notice that instead of going up we were going down.  We finally realised that we had gone wrong when we arrived back at the church!  Try again.  Back up the 200m of ascent to Court Farm.  Here we found a way sign, carefully placed so that it was behind us, which showed the path went up a paved driveway into what appeared to be the grounds of a very expensive house.  Back on the correct route we quickly joined Doug and his dog Lily at the Stanage car park for a much needed cup of tea.

20190405 Neil and Carl on Stanage Edge 2
Stanage Edge

Doug and Lily joined us for the walk along the top of the Edge.  Lily took her ball, which she insisted we kick for her to chase.

20190405 Neil Doug and Lily on Stanage Edge
Neil, Doug and Lily on Stanage Edge

The weather was good and we all enjoyed our walk.  Unfortunately Lily’s ball seemed to be irresistibly attracted to the bottom of the cliff.  Doug retrieved it the first time and then I had to clamber down.  Regrettably on this occasion the ball was lost.

20190405 Searching for Lily's ball
Neil searching for Lily’s ball

Doug and Lily left us after a while and Carl and I continued past the trig point at High Neb to the A57.

20190405 Neil at the trig point on High Neb
At the trig point on High Neb

We turned down towards Ladybower Reservoir and found a good path, via Highshaw Clough, to emerge at the Inn.

Carl and I booked into our room and then we went to Hathersage where we all had delicious fish and chips at the Pool Cafe.

We forced ourselves to have a couple of drinks in the bar and then had an early night.  It had been a very relaxing and memorable day.

Here are a couple more shots of the day’s walking.  All photos today have been kindly provided by Doug and Carl.

20190405 Neil and Doug on Stanage Edge
Neil and Doug on Stanage Edge
20190405 Stanage Edge
The gritstone escarpment that is Stanage Edge