Having not felt too well for the last few days it was good to have a short easy stage up to Slaggyford – rather than stretching out to get to Greenhead in one go.
The Pennine Way wanders around the River South Tyne valley, at times keeping very close to the river’s edge, at others meandering a few hundred yards away, so there will be little moorland to be seen today.
I could see the day’s main objective from the breakfast table, and while the sun was out the clouds were ripping across the tops of the fells at quite some speed.
Thankfully there was no scrambling involved (as I was not feeling too well), the path climbed steadily up towards the summit of Green Fell, and then after short descents and ascents went over the peaks of Great Dun, Little Dun and Cross Fells.
High Cup is a perfectly formed U-shaped valley that has been carved out of the side of Dufton Fell.
Today I would spend most of my time walking west, ending up further from Kirk Yetholm at the end of the day than I was at the beginning – it was however an excellent day. It was cold outside, though by the time I was walking thankfully most of the frost had gone. The sun was out and the sky was a deep blue, made darker by a few brilliant white clouds.
It was a short walk back to the River Tees, though I cut the corner to Widdy Bank Farm, from where the path stuck closely to the river again – at times almost getting squeezed out between steep bolder-strewn slopes and the fast flowing river. I was really pleased the water level was low as it would have been much harder clambering over the boulders higher up the slope.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.