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

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.

13th August – Keld to Baldersdale

20180813 Waterfall near Keld
Waterfall near Keld

Monday

Leaving Keld at 8.55 I was delighted that the sun was shining and the overnight rain had not materialised.  However, within 30 minutes I was putting on my rain jacket and over-trousers, which stayed on for the rest of the day.  I can only say that the weather has certainly changed for the worst, and at times the rain seemed to be falling in biblical proportions.

Two hours after leaving Keld I reached Tan Hill Inn.  Like the Windmill they never close, so I was able to get a mug of tea, and a very kind gentleman gave me a £5 donation for Sobell House.

20180813 Tan Hill Inn 1732 ft
Tan Hill Inn – the highest pub in England (530m) – they have their own Snowcat and snowplough!

Leaving the pub you enter Sleightholme Moor, best described as bleak and boggy.   Unfortunately this goes on for around 8 km.  I am sure it would have enjoyed it more without the driving rain.  Eventually Sleightholme Farm came into view and the path goes through a delightful limestone valley before reaching Trough Head.

20180813 Gods Bridge
God’s Bridge

Turning north the path descends to God’s Bridge, a natural limestone slab bridge, before climbing to cross the A66.  From here to Baldersdale it was a hard slog.  My rucksack was uncomfortable, the path was straight and boring and in danger of being washed away, as was I.  The only interest was listening to the guns blasting away at the grouse on the hillside opposite.  Eventually, just before 4.00 the best thing I had seen all day hove into sight: Alan’s car.

I barely had a stitch of dry clothes on me so did a rapid change at the car. Sometimes the small pleasures are best: just to be in dry clothes and out of the rain.

Returning to Middridge I was able to get some washing done but, as Alan does not have a dryer, I will have to use my Scotland kit until Jedburgh.  The Bay Horse next door provided a fine dinner and it was good to catch up with Alan.

12th August – Hawes to Keld

20180812 Summit of Great Shunner Fell
The Summit of Great Shunner Fell – 718m, the highest point on the trip so far

 

Sunday

After a quiet night, as there was no one else in the dormitory, I left Hawes at 8.45.  It took over 2 hours 30 minutes to climb up to the summit of Great Shunner Fell.  For over 2 hours the views were magnificent, if you like the inside of a cloud.  The weather had taken a turn for the worse, but luckily it improved after the summit.

Great Shunner Fell used to be notorious for its peat-bogs, but these now have large slab walkways.  When these were introduced they caused some controversy with traditionalists.  Personally I think they are wonderful as I have never found any pleasure in tracking through peat-bogs, a much overrated pastime.

20180812 Thwaite Village
Thwaite Village

From Great Shunner Fell the path descends to Thwaite, where I stopped for a pot of tea.  Leaving Thwaite, I climbed up to Kisdon with fine views of Swaledale.

20180812 Swaledale from Kidson Fell
Swaledale from Kisdon Fell

Traversing towards Keld I was swarmed by horse-flies which was very unpleasant. Do they serve any useful purpose?

20180812 Keld Village
Keld

 

Coming down to Keld it was time for more tea before arriving at East View, my B&B. Doris, who came from the Philippines, gave me more tea and cake and could not have been more welcoming.  I dried off and visited Keld Lodge for a beer before a delicious dinner back at East View, which is highly recommended.