Pennine Way adventures in the Yorkshire Dales: Part 213th April 2007
I spent my Easter Monday journeying between Malham Tarn and Gargrave. Apart from the absence of platform information on the departure screens in Leeds train station, travelling to Settle was an uneventful affair; a quick word with station staff set the world to rights as to what platform to use. Once in Settle, I awaited the minibus service to Malham Tarn.
In Settle, the weather was cloudy, but Malham Tarn was shrouded in dense fog. Even so, I took a stroll around the tarn before breaking from the Pennine Way to take the road down towards Malham. As I followed the road, the fog turned to rain and my Rab Latok jacket got its first true wet weather test and it performed well. Eventually, I was to leave the road on a public footpath that reunited me with the Pennine Way, and I continued until the top of Malham Cove. By that time, I had got the sense that wet limestone was too slippery for my liking. Also, given that a walk from Hebden to Malham in July 2002 had proceeded along the Pennine Way between Malham Tarn and Malham, I decided that a diversion would not be a shameful act and had allowed me more pragmatism during the prior bout of road walking. Therefore, I picked up the footpath to another road that dropped me into Malham, where I indulged myself with an ice cream and a bottle of Lucozade Sport from the shop at the bridge.
By then, the rain had cleared, though dampness still pervaded the air. So, it was with resting waterproofs that I again picked up the Pennine Way on my southbound itinerary. The mist still pervaded the heights and dark skies prevailed, yet my walk was enjoyable nonetheless. Even with that atmosphere, Malham was still the honey trap that it always is, but I was soon to escape the throng, if that’s the right expression. Flat riverbank walking was to be my lot following a spot of up and down at Hanlith; for the next few miles, bell ringing from the church at Kirkby Malham was to enliven the air. As I got beyond Airton, I begin to see signs of what proved to be an improvement in the weather, and this improvement began to make itself known as I crossed the Aire to begin an ascent of Eshton Moor.
That ascent was to precede a bout of rather disgraceful field navigation, but I found my feet. Navigating my way across fields has never been a strong point of mine, and having multi-cornered examples did little to help me. Nevertheless, some calm thought and map reading proved up to the task of reorienting myself and enjoy what had by now become a very pleasant view in the sunshine; it made the whole day and my camera(s) were set to work. Though lacking in height, Flasby Fell proved a wonderful muse. I eventually made my way onto the road into Gargrave, which had lost the sun by the time of my arrival. Again crossing the Aire, I continued to the train station where an approaching train took me to Skipton, from where I continued my onward journey.
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