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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
After an excellent breakfast I was well fuelled for the first stage of the Pennine Way. I was up and about early but from the window of the breakfast room I had already spotted one person who looked likely to be on his was to Kirk Yetholm.
It was an easy path out of Edale (passing the Old Nags Head pub), through Upper Booth, to Jacob’s Ladder a short sharp climb on the was up to Kinder Scout. As I got higher the views got better and better, despite the hazy conditions.
It took about 5 hours on various trains but I was safely at Edale, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the light breeze was cooling. It was then that I had a major crisis – walking stick (MK1) had disappeared, while I was ambling into the village of Edale it was heading off to Manchester.
I found the B&B in quick order and decided to head to the hills to forget my crisis…
Two good viewpoints to the south were marked on the map – Hollins Cross and Lose Hill. While it was hazy at the top the views were uplifting, it was also good to stretch my legs, and I got to thinking about the path ahead – but I sure did miss my walking stick.
After recent trips towards the south west (and brief flirtations with space travel) my time is now my own again and a change of direction is needed – northwards… I had been really lucky at Christmas to get all the maps and guidebooks needed for the Pennine Way, and now I have the time to do it, just have to hope that there are rooms at the inns B&Bs available.