Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

From slim pickings to superabundance

14th May 2024

The lack of sunshine during my March 2019 trip to Settle and Malham brought forward a repeat encounter in advance of an Easter trip to Edinburgh in the same year. Compared to the previous trip, when there was photographic famine, this one brought an overwhelming number of possibilities. A little sustained sunshine can make choices of what to show and what not to show more difficult, especially when not every landscape feature has a name. It is time to leave a narrative to do the discriminating.

Donkeys near Settle, Yorkshire, England

As well as the sighting of the donkeys that you see above, the way out of Settle offered views of a passing steam train as well as the chapel of the independent Giggleswick School, a far grander structure than you would expect to see situated in the middle of the pastoral countryside. There was more to occupy one’s eyes than more distant views of Pen-y-Ghent.

From slim pickings to superabundance

From slim pickings to superabundance

The main drama of the day began once I left the route of the Pennine Bridleway for that of the Dales High Way. In the morning sunshine, the limestone outcrops festooning the Warrendale Knots and adjoining Attermire Scar did nothing to disappoint me. Clouds stayed away from the passage of the sun for long enough to keep me entertained all the way as far as Stockdale Lane.

From slim pickings to superabundance

From slim pickings to superabundance

Continuing past Stockdale Farm also led me past Rye Loaf Hill and Kirkby Fell on a somewhat expedited route to Cove Road, near Malham. Views of Malham Cove did tease as I went forth, yet clouding skies stopped me from everything my own way for photographic exploits. Nevertheless, opportunities did present themselves as I followed the route of the Pennine Way onto the limestone pavement above the one time ancient waterfall.

From slim pickings to superabundance

From slim pickings to superabundance

From there, it was a matter of continuing north to Malham Tarn. Sunshine was again liberated to light up a part of the world that I largely experienced under cloudy skies on previous visits. Names like Raven Scar, Ing Scar and Ing Scar Crag hint at what you find in this classy limestone landscape.

From slim pickings to superabundance

From slim pickings to superabundance

Following an ascent, the terrain levelled out on the final approach to Malham Tarn. The size of the lake makes photography a little tricky, but the availability of sunshine almost enforced such activity. That also meant that there was some dawdling before embarking on an alternative route to Langscar Gate. Any gain in height was rewarded by views over the tarn and what lay around it.

From slim pickings to superabundance

From slim pickings to superabundance

After passing Langscar, I took a south-westerly turn in the direction of Kirkby Fell. After passing Grizedales, I returned to my outbound route for a time. The return to Settle was to keep me on Stockdale Lane until it reached High Hill Lane, which I then followed the rest of the way to my starting point. Not only did that offer different viewpoints (which was just as well given the shadows that had fallen on what was fully lit in the morning), but it also made the descent easier than the more usual way that I had been using. On tiring legs, that is easier as long as tarmac traipsing is kept to a minimum.

A good day hike ended with my being well sated by what I encountered. At the time of writing, though, my appetite for such countryside has been dimmed by excursions to Scotland and other possibilities. If it ever gets rekindled, the prospect of walking from Malham to Skipton could be tempting. A desire to replace photos from my film-using days may be just the thing for that.

Travel Arrangements

Return train journey between Macclesfield and Settle, with changes at Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds.

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