Saturday 4th June – Malham - Horton in Ribblesdale 15.5 miles (25 km)
The day dawned bright and sunny with hardly any breeze. I packed up straight after breakfast and by the time I was back on the Way, the wind had increased markedly.
I walked up to the cove, a truly magnificent sight, where the sheer cliffs rise over 80 metres (260 ft) After taking a few photos at the bottom of the cove, I made my way up the side of the cliff past wild flowers which thrive in this limestone country. At the top of the path I turn right and walked along the famous limestone pavement at the top of the cove.
The deep fissures known as grikes hide a mix of mountain and woodland flowers, shielded from gazing sheep they thrive. The Way continues across the pavement near the sheer drop with great views south. The wind had really picked up by now and I was temporarily shielded from this strong wind as I entered the fantastically scenic Watlowes valley which cuts impressively through this limestone valley.
By the time I had emerged from the valley, it had clouded over and it was blowing a gale. The temperature must dropped about 13C on yesterday’s temperature. I had been wearing the gilet part of my 3rd element jacket and I put on my Montane Lite – Speed windshirt over the top. I was warm and snug as I made my way around Malham Tarn a large lake next to a Shooting Lodge built by Lord Ribblesdale in the 18th century. It is now a Field Studies Centre.
About half way round, the Way enters woodland and I was instantly sheltered from the wind. The path makes it’s way around Malham Tarn House.
I stopped to take a few photos and a series of fell runners came past, running for , I later found out for a sponsored Oxfam event. Whilst one can admire the fact that they were running/walking 100 kms in 36 hours, I soon had hordes of them around me as I made my way up Fountains Fell. The elite runners with their Innov8’s and Raid wear, gave way to Millets wear as they hurriedly run or jogged past me . By the look of all the new gear on display , I should have immediately purchased shares in Blacks.
By the time I was half way up Fountains Fell, the mist was down and with views obscured in all directions, I put my camera away for several hours as I have too many photos of unrecognisable bits of mountain draped in mist. Not very interesting for me or the reader.
At the top of Fountains Fell , I found shelter to have my lunch, and afterwards carried on down the other side, followed by a more strung out army of competitors coming up close on my heels.
At the bottom of the fell , I reached the tarmac at Dale Head and proceeded quickly past a check point/refuelling station for the hordes and walked along for half a mile or so until I regained the Pennine Way making it’s way gradually towards Pen-y-ghent.
Briefly the sun appeared and disappeared under dense cloud as I made easy progress to reach the cross ways of two paths, one coming up from Horton, the other carrying on steeply towards the summit of Pen-y-ghent. This was very familiar territory for me, as I think this would be the fourth time up this mountain. Just as I thought I would have to negotiate the hordes to the summit, abruptly they turn down the Horton path, a line of them snaking down towards the village.
I had a quick breather, took a few photos, before making my way up steeply with some light scrambling in places to the summit . I was up quicker than I thought I would take.
Up on the top, the wind was blowing a gale and I got out of it sitting on the stone bench behind a stone wall near the trig point.
Unfortunately, by the time I got out my camera, the cloud was back down, so I wasted little time and made my way down, eventually arriving in Horton in brilliant hot sunshine.
There is only one place to go when I am in Horton, so I made my way straight to the Pen-y-ghent cafe. A pint of tea is a must here and I washed down a couple of hot buttered crumpets with it.
After my tea, I walked towards the river, crossing it and through wild flower meadows to my campsite for the night. After setting up, I had time again to lay out in early evening sunshine, listening to music and reading.
Dinner was a leisurely affair and I turned in early for bed.