Day 11 – Baldersdale to Langdon Beck

After a brief tour of the building works, pausing momentarily to gaze at the new (reconditioned) Aga, I left the B&B and headed out on a beautiful spring morning on the second half of the Pennine Way.

Where the Bowes loop rejoins the main Pennine Way near Baldersdale Hannah Hauxwell's Meadow

The sun was out and the blue sky was studded with rows of fluffy white clouds. To my right was the enormous dam of the Baldersdale Reservoir which looms over the bridge and Hannah Hauxwell’s old farm, Low Birk Hat Farm (which now looks very smart and tidy). Durham Wildlife Trust now tends to some of her meadows, though it was too early in the year to see it in all its glory in flower.

The bridge over Grassholme Reservoir A stone barn on the edge of Harter Fell

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Day 10 – Tan Hill to Baldersdale

It was a late start at Tan Hill, 10am when I was dropped off. No sign of any Pennine Way walkers but the first of a few (of the 700) cyclists were already enjoying the sandwiches that were being prepared the afternoon before.

The view over Sleightholme Moor at the start of day 10 The scar above Sleightholme Beck to the west of Bowes

It was great to be walking over springy peat turf, though it was a bit boggy in places. This stretch had no flagstones and only a couple of very short stretches of duckboards – there was a bit of guidance with a smattering of white posts at various intervals, which gave reassurance that the right route was being followed.

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Day 9 – Hawes to Tan Hill

The evening before the cloud had been down and covered the fell tops to the north, drawing back the curtains it was a relief to see the cloud had lifted slightly overnight. The weather forecast was not good though and I headed out prepared in the full wet weather gear (the first time they had seen the outside of the rucksack on this walk).

The path north out of Hawes at the start of day 9, the first day with rain Farmland to the north of Hawes

The path passes the Green Dragon Inn, which within its grounds contains Hardraw Force – though it was still early and the weather was worsening so I continued through the village without deviating.

The long drag up to Great Shunner Fell The way up to Great Shunner Fell shrouded in mist and low cloud

The long steady walk uphill to the top of Great Shunner Fell starts at Hardraw, and the higher I walked the lower the cloud got – and we met about halfway up at Black Hill Moss.

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Day 8 – Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes

It was overcast but the air was clear. If it was not for the chill northerly wind it would be almost perfect walking weather. Despite the lack of sun I still wore my sunhat to help keep my head warm.

The view back to Horton in Ribblesdale at the start of day 8 Ribblehead Viaduct

I started the long gradual ascent out of Horton in Ribblesdale, and once I was up on the moorland the path forked to the left – it could have been an interesting excursion as I could see the viaduct away in the distance.

Orchids and other wild flowers on the steep escarpments above Ling Gill The bridge over Ling Gill

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Day 7 – Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale

Having walked up and over the Cove, and made it to the base of the cliffs, yesterday I decided to ignore the Pennine Way sign and headed up the road to get a different view. I then cut across to the limestone pavement and picked up the proper route again to head up the dry valley to the tarn.

Malham Cove Malham Tarn

Walking around the tarn to the east the walking becomes almost joyous on the velvety and springy turf, though it did not last long and the path soon rejoins a track and heads up towards Fountains Fell.

Looking north towards Darnbrook Fell Fountains Fell, with two cairns

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Day 6 – Newton Grange to Malham

It was not going to be a very long walk to Malham – just under 10 miles so it should be easy to polish off by lunchtime, which was good news as there was lots of walking and sightseeing to be done around Malham for the rest of the day.

A lock at Gargrave Pasture to the south of Malham

I thought about continuing into Gargrave on the canal towpath, but there was a shortcut across the fields to the Pennine Way so I took that option. The going was pretty easy and I was in and out of Gargrave in no time, pausing only to look at the Gargrave locks – which brought back happy memories of holidays years ago.

After a bit of road walking it was back into the fields, this time with a good crop of grass for silage or hay – all traces of the path vanished and I ended up slightly off track on the wrong slide of a small plantation of trees. Thankfully though it was not long until I was back on the right route walking along the River Aire.

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Day 5 – Cowling to Newton Grange

It was going to be quite a short days walk to Newton Grange (near Gargrave) today, and so that I didn’t arrive too early I had a late breakfast. There was less incentive to get going as the sun was hidden behind clouds and there was a chill in the easterly wind.

I was soon walking briskly out of Cowling, trying to keep warm, and out onto higher ground – which gave good views back to the monuments on the hill to the south, which are perhaps worthy of a visit another time.

The view back over Cowling to the monuments on Earl Crag at the start of day 5 Pinhaw high above Thornton-in-Craven

As I continued further north into the village of Lothersdale it was becoming apparent that I had left the high peat moorland behind for a while and was starting to walk further into the Yorkshire Dales limestone landscape.

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Day 4 – Hebden Bridge to Cowling

Having received instructions on how to get back to the Pennine Way I dared not take another route for fear of the potential consequences! (the regime at B&B I stayed at on the outskirts of Hebden Bridge was quite authoritarian, if not outright dictatorial).

Taking a shortcut from Hebden Bridge by walking along Colden Water A beech woodland with bluebells and wild garlic on the valley sides of Colden Water

Anyway it would have been a long walk back along the road, and the suggested route took me through a cool wooded valley – taking in carpets of bluebells and wild garlic and a stretch of beech woodland (my favourite) before rejoining the trail.
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Day 3 – Standedge to Hebden Bridge

It was half a mile or so back to the Pennine Way, so I took up the offer of a lift – I needn’t have bothered as much of the day was very easy walking on the flat.

It was again very hazy (if it were autumn it would probably be described as misty) spoiling what hinted as great views.

Standedge trig point at the start of day 3 The bridge over the M62

The moorland was gently rolling and there was a good sense of progression with road crossings at regular intervals, and not before too long the path was crossing over the M62 high up on a bridge.
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Day 2 – Crowden to Standedge

The view over the reservoir during breakfast was most appealing, and it was just a quick walk down the hill to rejoin the Pennine Way – thankfully I had listened to the instructions from the B&B as the path went through what looked like a drain under the old railway line…

The view back towards Torside Reservoir from Laddow Rocks A cairn and path near Grains Moss

The weather was sunny, warm and very humid, and starting the walk up to Laddow Rocks the cloud was thickening and it started to rain slightly – but it passed on quickly and I was soon able to take a break at Black Hill, so named due to the large black peat bogs. Thankfully again the path was well made of flagstones, otherwise it would have been much more difficult going.

The path up and across Black Hill The view north from Black Hill

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