Cowling to Malham
I was awake quite early this morning, feeling pretty good after my feet felt so bad last night. I pottered around sorting my stuff out and went down for breakfast.
I had a really nice chat with the other people staying at Woodland House and if I’m honest, the chat probably went on a little too long as it was 9am before I realised what the time was…late! I rushed around, got my gear on and got out the door five minutes later.
After leaving the B & B my route quickly headed down…and then straight back up again, which pretty much describes the vast majority of todays walk. But I guess I’d better not just leave it there for today’s update, should I? No, I guess not.
The heat of the day was already beginning to creep up quite badly even at the early stages of the walk and by the time I reached Lothersdale I was beginning to curse the sun, a lot!
I headed out of Lothersdale, uphill…again, and made my way over Slack Moor. After the green farmland at the start of the day the moorland was a stark difference, all brown heather and not a lot else. At the top though I met a guy admiring the view, a local, and I said that it was indeed a fantastic view. He told me that a lot of the locals take the area for granted, it being on their doorstep, which I could understand.
From the moor it was all downhill again towards Thornton Cravern, and as I was making my way down I spotted Gail, the American lady from yesterday, ahead. At this point the day already felt as though it had been going on far too long – I’d only been walking just over a couple of hours – so I decided to find a little spot to sit down and rest up. The heat was really doing a number on me and I wasn’t happy about it.
Finding somewhere to sit down I had a drink and checked my email – yes, I’m that sad and geeky even when I’m in the middle of beautiful countryside. While I was sat there a guy and a woman pulled up in their car and started to train their dog, throwing things for the dog to retrieve in to the heather. It was fascinating to watch, especially when they’d already placed some of the things in the heather without the dog seeing where they were and only by voice and whistle commands the dog went and found them. I could have sat there for hours watching it but that wouldn’t get me to the end would it?
I trudged off again, finally catching up with Gail shortly before Thornton Cravern where she wasn’t sure exactly where the path was supposed to be going. Fortunately my GPS came to the rescue and I put her on the right track. I didn’t walk with her for very long as I knew I wouldn’t make it in the heat if I went any slower but she seemed to be doing ok today.
Again I found myself going up and down hill until I came across the Leeds and Liverpool canal as I made my way in to East Marton. Here there was a “PH” sign on my map and, as the heat of the day was beginning to get ridiculous, I thought I’d go to the pub to have some lunch and a refreshing drink. All I hoped was that the pub was actually open, which it was. Before getting to the pub though I came across the famous [supposedly] double arch bridge, which carries the A59 over the canal.
I’m pleased to say that the pub – the Cross Keys – was indeed open so I plonked myself down out of the sun and enjoyed a nice thirty minutes rest before heading off again. The pub was lovely and the lunch, a ham sandwich, was very nice indeed – good old whole grain English mustard…nice!
Feeling better for the rest I headed out over Moorber Hill on the way to Gargrave. Again I overtook Gail but by the time I made it to Gargrave I was almost ready to call it quits for the day. I still had six or so miles to go and I was feeling completely done in. I really don’t handle the heat well and after spending six hours already with little shade and little breeze I was suffering, as were my feet.
I found a bit of shade in Gargrave and took the weight off for five minutes, gave myself a good talking to and headed off again, determined to make it to Malham and not to give up. Bloody minded? Stupid? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. As a side note, Gargrave looked like a lovely place and certainly somewhere I’d like to go back to another time to look round a little more.
The next target on today’s route after Gargrave was Airton, some three miles away. Again it was a lot of up and down until I reached the river Aire, where the path leveled out a bit – a welcome change. I had a bit of a chat with Matt on the phone as I sat by the river and to be honest I was really beginning to struggle and suffer with the heat. I was exhausted, but I was determined to make it to the end, some four or so miles away from where I was.
Coming to a road I spotted Helen, the lady I spoke to on the road yesterday before catching up with Gail, by the side of the road. She’d met up with her husband again for a food/water stop and waited there for me. We had a little chat about the heat and how I was doing and then she gave me £10 towards my sponsorship – thanks Helen, very much appreciated indeed. She took a couple of photos of me too; not happy about that as I must have looked a right old mess!
I headed off again across the fields to Airton, taking a little break to eat a packet of crisps as I was beginning to feel a little hungry after all of the effort so far today. Coming to the road in to Airton there was Helen again, but she’d missed her husband – clearly he was making good time, better than me?
Airton out of the way left me with only a couple of miles to go but I was beginning to fall apart. Every step was painful beyond belief and I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it. As I’ve done numerous times on this walk now, I swore at myself, loudly, and put my head down and went for it.
As I made my way to the bridge close to Hanlith Hall I came across a lady throwing sticks into the river for her dog to fetch. I tell you, I was so tempted to just in the river myself at times but I resisted the urge knowing that I’d only regret walking with soaking wet boots, and I’m sure the benefits would be short lived. Anyway, as I got closer, looking a little worse for wear, she asked where I was walking to and so the LEJOG conversation was held once again. I think she took pity on me because of my state and told me that, although my map told me to turn right at the bridge, I should go left and take the left hand path along the river as this was considerably flatter than the Pennine Way path. As I only have to walk from one place to another, not necessarily taking the original route I’d planned even if I’d decided to do the entire Pennine Way, I didn’t care about taking another path for the final part of the walk.
I thanked her for the information and headed off, determined to get to my room before 6pm as this was fast becoming a very long day indeed.
The path was indeed considerably better than the Pennine Way path, which went up a nasty hill right near the end, and I made it to the River House hotel at 5:50pm…exhausted!
One thing that’s really beginning to annoy me, well two actually: stone styles that are either not wide enough or made in such a way to allow my large pack to get through, and the other being stone styles with sprung loaded gates on them. Not only do you have to try and climb up the stepping stones, trying not to lose your balance, but then you have to try and get through these bloody gates without toppling off the top of the wall! Awful, and not the easiest thing to deal with when you’re exhausted I can tell you.
I know I’ve painted a horrible picture of today’s walk but that’s mainly been down to the weather – I hated it. The landscape and scenery was again stunning but I did struggle to lift my spirits as I walked through the scorching heat of the day, with all the ups and down. Another day I’m sure I would have been ok but I just fell apart with the heat.
I had a great evening in the Lister Arms in Malham chatting to Helen and her husband which really did help to put a smile on my face, as did the video call with the girls before I went out for dinner; they can’t help but make me smile and laugh, which after a day like today was just what I needed – thanks Alice and Elisa, love you so much!