Day 35

on Jun 18, 2010 | 5 comments

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Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale

I had a bad night’s sleep last night. The bed wasn’t the most comfortable but after the late finish with yesterday’s blog update, my own fault for spending too much time chatting in the pub last night, I just couldn’t drop off to sleep. I definitely remember seeing 1:30am and then after dropping off up some point I then promptly woke up at 5am.

Maybe today’s walk was playing on my mind, knowing that there was going to be some tough terrain after a hard, hot day yesterday, and the fact that my right foot and left leg had been playing up too. I don’t know. Not a great way to start the day though that’s for sure. Beggars can’t be choosers though and there wasn’t a great deal more I could do about it.

The only saving grace was that Ross, the chap I met on the way to and in Porthleven, wasn’t meeting me until after 9am so I didn’t have to rush about, meaning I had a slightly later breakfast and took my time getting ready. As it happens he turned up a little earlier than nine with his friend, Richard, but I didn’t make them wait too long.

After meeting outside the Lister Arms in Malham we headed off up the road for the short walk to Malham Cove, a curved crag of carboniferous limestone formed after the last ice age standing some 80 metres high and 300 metres wide. It was an impressive site, and so Ross told me, there used to be a waterfall over the top a few hundred years ago but because of the porous nature of the limestone the water eventually went underground – local knowledge, you’ve got to love it.

We climbed the steps up the cove to the top – no easy task at the start of the day, but we bumped in to Helen again – and walked over limestone pavement, a large area of deeply eroded limestone pavement, of a strange pattern rarely seen in England. The view from the top was another one well worth the effort that’s for sure.

From there we headed up through Malham Lings and on to Malham Tarn, the highest lake in England and the inspiration for Charles Kingsley’s book ‘The Water Babies’. The wind was whipping across it a bit but it was nice to see. On the way though we walked past Water Sinks, pointed out by Ross, which is where the water from the tarn mysteriously vanishes through deep fissures in its limestone bed reemerging further downstream in the river Aire.

The weather had been threatening us for a while at this point with the odd spit of rain here and there but shortly after the tarn the rain started. An extra layer was put on by us all, well all except Ross who’d not brought any waterproof clothing with him. Richard gave him his over trousers so that at least he had something over his shorts and we headed off. But, as has happened a few times on this walk, more time was spent putting on the extra layer than the rain lasted. Ho hum.

I thought the climb up Malham Cove was a bit tough but the long, slow, drawn out climb up to the top of Fountains Fell was something else. Ross shot off ahead but I could only manage a slow and steady trudge up the hill. This was the type of hill where you see the top, or so you think, just to reach it and see another climb up to the top…and repeat. This was a real slog and took some time to get up to the 2122ft peak. Don’t get me wrong the views were stunning but boy was it tough!

We sat down for some lunch by the two cairns. Sat on the grass we started to get our lunches out when Ross pulled out a bottle of Shiraz with three plastic wine glasses, so we sat there, eating lunch supping some very nice wine – how cool was that?!

Nicely rested, and feeling pretty good after the wine, we made the inevitable downward trek. As we made our way down Helen’s husband came down over the top a completely different way to where we’d come from. He’d gotten a little lost and decided to just take a compass bearing and head over the top, following a wall down. Good man.

At the road we saw Helen again, said hello and then headed up the road to Pen-y-ghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. As we got closer I realised that the route I’d mapped out took me over the top, a climb that looked pretty hairy for sure. Reaching the base there was a path that led down to Horton in Ribblesdale and making an executive decision, I decided that that path would be considerably better for me so I went that way with Richard while Ross decided to dump his pack at the bottom of Pen-y-ghent.

Call me a cheat, call me what you like, but I know I would never have made it up the climb, some of it clambering up on hands and knees from what Ross said, with my pack just so that I could follow my original intended route. Common sense kicked in and as long as I’ve walked from point A to point B for the day what does it matter which route I took?

The way down to Horton ripped my already aching feet up – I’ve now got a new blister, joy – but Richard and I made it down and parked ourselves at the Pen-y-ghent Cafe. It was then I went to phone Russ and Rachel to see where they were but, as has happened a few times already, I had zero phone signal…doh!

I took a stroll along to the phone box to try and phone Russ but I guess he didn’t have any signal either as I only managed to get through to his voicemail. I could only hope that we’d bump in to each other at some point so that we could get back to their place.

By the phone box was a car park and I spotted what I thought was Russ’ car but I wasn’t sure. If I’d known for sure I’d have put a note under the windscreen wiper but as I didn’t know I didn’t do it. But I did bump in to Helen again as she was parking her car in the car park. I told her we were along at the cafe and went back to sit down.

Ross turned up quicker than I thought he would and we all sat there chatting until luckily Russ and Rachel walked by. It appears that as I went in to get a drink in the cafe they walked past the cafe to wait at the Pennine Way. So I was sat at waiting for them, they were sat somewhere else waiting for me and so we sat for an hour. Bloody phone signals!

Ross’ wife arrived to he and Richard back so we said goodbye and then Russ, Rachel and I hit the road too, and being the kind person Russ is he decided to take the route back to his place that took me past a lot of the places I’d walked today, taking only 20 minutes or so in the car though. Grrrrr!

I was supposed to have a Skype chat with the girls this evening but due to the delay in finding each other in Horton we got back to Knaresborough quite late so I ended up calling them on the phone while Russ and Rachel got dinner in. It was a lovely call, the girls again singing songs to me.

And there we have it. A good day’s walk with great company – thanks Ross and Richard for deciding to come out today!

Ross came up with a couple of good games as we walked. The first one, which would actually work as a great chat up line, was to ask the person to tell you three things about themselves, one of which wasn’t true. And the other one was to pick four people – alive or dead – who you’d like to have a dinner. These games made for interesting conversation I can tell you.

I’m now at Russ and Rachel’s for a few days. I haven’t figured out exactly how long I’m going to stay here but I’ll see how my feet and legs feel over the coming days and make a call then about when I want to start to walk again to finish this little stroll of mine.

Photos and Route Details

If you want to find out more about this day you can see the photos I took or view the route details.


  1. Neil

    June 19, 2010

    Give the feet a rest, say hello to Russ and Rachel, drink beer and er… thats it really. If you make it back in time, imagine all that laying around drinking beer for 3 days in Canterbury aswell! My parents send their very best wishes too.

    • Darren

      June 21, 2010

      I’ve had a great time at Russ and Rachel’s; really managed to chill out for a few days. Final bits of shopping to sort out today and then back to it tomorrow!

  2. Tim-P

    June 21, 2010

    OMG. looks like no updates for 2 whole days – how will we survive ’till the next thrilling installment…

    • Darren

      June 21, 2010

      Saturday’s update is now there and I’ll be writing up yesterday’s fun and games later. I’ve been so chilled out since being at my brother’s place I just couldn’t face writing it all up 🙂

      Walking again tomorrow so there should be regular updates again…promise!

  3. Darren

    June 22, 2010

    One thing I forgot to mention in this post was the fact that when Russ and Rachel walked up to the cafe where we were sitting, Rachel didn’t recognise me until I started to wave at her. I guess I’ve changed appearance quite a lot since I started this little stroll?!