12th April – Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale

20190412 Malham Cove
Malham Cove

After a peaceful night at the Youth Hostel, aptly named as our combined ages are only 138, we had an early breakfast, collected our lunches, and left at 8.30.

20190412 Wyn at the top of the climb
The climb up Malham Cove

The weather was fine but very cold and with some of Yorkshire’s finest scenery before us we set off with a spring in our step.  This enthusiasm soon waned when we started up the 400 steps to reach the top of Malham Cove.  On December 6th 2015 after Storm Desmond a waterfall appeared for the first time in living memory.  At 70m or 230 ft that must have been quite a sight.

Avoiding the limestone pavement above the Cove, by using a higher route, we dropped into the valley which led the way to Malham Tarn.

 

20190412 Malham Tarn
Malham Tarn

Walking on the level made a pleasant change and although we did not see a roe deer buck in the woods, as we did in 2008, there were some very fine carvings and sculptures.

20190412 Woodcarving at Malham Tarn
Wood carving at Malham Tarn

Leaving the Tarn the track to Tennant Gill was a delight: short, soft grass and easy walking.  From the farm at Tennant Gill the work of the day started, 3k of continuous ascent to the cairns on Fountains Fell.

20190412 Above Tenant Gill farm
The climb above Tennant Gill Farm

By now we had lost the sun and the wind made it very cold. Our lunch stop in a sheltered depression was necessarily brief.

20190412 Enjoying lunch
“Enjoying” lunch

Once at the cairns it was possible to look north across the intervening valley to the imposing bulk of Pen-y-Ghent with Ingleborough visible on the horizon.

20190412 Pen-y-Ghent with Ingleborough behind
Pen-y-Ghent (right) and Ingleborough (left)

The descent of Fountains Fell is rough, long and steep and we were wary of aggravating Wyn’s knee.  Having reached the road at Dale Head around 3.00pm a decision had to be taken.  Taking into account the time and the fact that we were going quite slowly, the nature of the ground and Wyn’s knee we resolved to miss out Pen-y-Ghent.

20190412 Path up Pen-y-Ghent
Contemplating the route up Pen-y-Ghent

By taking an alternative path via Brackenbottom, which still involved a knee jarring descent, we reached Horton in Ribblesdale at 5.30.

20190412 Wyn and Pen-y-Ghent
The alternative route

Wyn and I had a small celebration as I have now linked up with where I recommenced last summer. I have therefore walked from the Lizard in Cornwall to West Linton in Scotland.

20190412 Neil back in Horton in Ribblesdale
Back in Horton in Ribblesdale and the end of the English section of the journey!

Wyn returns home tomorrow and will rejoin me at Fort William for the Great Glen Way. Thanks are due to Wyn for his grit, enthusiasm and, as always, his good company.

Tomorrow I am being picked up by my brother Alan who will take me up to West Linton on Monday. I will restart the walk and the blog on Tuesday.

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
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.

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.

22nd August – Byrness to Jedburgh

20180821 Blakehopeburnhaugh with the Cheviots on the horizon
Blakehopeburnhaugh with the Cheviots in the background

Wednesday

This was a big day in more ways than one.  It was 31k with 830m of ascent as well as the day that I left the Pennine Way and entered Scotland.

After a bowl of porridge, to celebrate my imminent arrival in Scotland, I left Byrness at 7.10.  It was raining with low cloud but likely to improve during the afternoon.  The initial climb up to Byrness Hill (414m) was steep and slippery.  Once there the walking improved as the weather deteriorated.  Short steep ascents up Houx Hill and Windy Crag were accompanied by strong winds blowing 20-30mph.

20180822 Ravens Knowe Summit 527m appearing in the mist
Poor visibility approaching Ravens Knowe summit

A flagstone path led on across a bog and the path then rose to Ravens Knowe, the high point of the day at 527m.  By now the mist was quite thick and the summit cairn eventually emerged from the gloom.

20180822 The Scottish Border
The Scottish Border

I continued over Ogre Hill and Croquet Head where I crossed into Scotland, only to move back to England almost immediately.  Climbing above Roman Camps I reached Black Halls.

20180822 Leaving the Pennine Way for Dere Street
Leaving the Pennine Way for Dere Street

At this point I left the Pennine Way and England behind to follow Dere Street, an old Roman road down to Jedburgh.  In improving weather the first part of the way was fairly easy as it follows the boundary fence.  The weather then took a turn for the worse just at the point where you leave the fence and strike out across a hillside.  Naturally at this point the track disappeared so it was out with the GPS to find a saddle between Woden Law and Langside Law.  Once there the weather finally began to improve and the track was obvious once again.

20180822 Descending from the Cheviots towards Jedburgh

Coming off of the Cheviots, Dere Street crosses farm and moorland before a road section.  All was going well up to this point.  At a T junction Dere Street goes straight ahead and is a green lane.  Unfortunately this is popular with off-road vehicles.  The result is a muddy quagmire where they have rutted and destroyed the trail.  Trying to pick a route through was difficult with the real possibility of a fall.  In the end I abandoned Dere Street, and used a lane to reach Jedburgh at 5.10 after 10 hours on the trail.

The Royal Hotel is very comfortable and they agreed to do my washing.  After a quick shower and dinner I had an early night as it had been a long and tiring day.

21st August – Bellingham to Byrness

20180820 North Tyne river at Bellingham
North Tyne River at Bellingham

Tuesday

The guidebook describes this as ” A bleak and remote day passing few habitations,” and so it would prove to be.

20180821 The moor near Hareshaw House
The moorland near Hareshaw House

I left Bellingham at 8.20 in reasonable weather and immediately climbed up onto moorland at Blakelaw.  The moorland section was quite pleasant as the path rose and fell over Deer Play, Whitley Pike and Pardon Hill.

20180821 The top of the nightmare ascent near Brownrigg Head
The top of the nightmare ascent near Brownrigg Head

Coming down off of Pardon Hill it started to rain as I neared the forest at Brownrigg Head.  Here the path climbs uphill beside a fence.  To quote the guidebook “The climb is steep and muddy at times and may rank as one of the worst sections of the Pennine Way.”  I can only say that I fully concur. It was a nightmare of mud, greasy rock and a steep slope, to which was added a very narrow gap between the wall and the trees, many of which overhung the trail.  At one point I was on my hands and knees to get under a branch.  Eventually I reached the top and took a well earned rest.  The trail led onwards along the edge of the forest through more bog and felled trees and it was a relief to reach the main forest track.

20180821 The long track through Redesdale Forest
The long track through Redesdale Forest

The remainder of the day was a yomp down the forest track to Byrness where I arrived at 3.30.  The Forest Inn provided tea and an evening meal.  The landlord organises the Spine Race each year.  This takes place in January and ultra marathon runners compete in racing the 265 miles of the Pennine Way, which they must complete in less than a week.

Once again I had a room in the bunkhouse on my own.