Pennine Way 2010 – Day 5

9th May 2010 – Cowling to Malham – 17.7 miles

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”
Friedrich Nietzsche

The longest day of the walk so far at almost 18 miles has left my feet feeling warm and slightly abused, not sore exactly and nothing to worry about, but they know they’ve had a day out for sure. The weather was pretty much perfect today too – sunny, but plenty of light cloud cover and almost no wind to speak of, apart from on the most exposed sections.

I arrived down for breakfast at 08:00 and met my fellow lodger, Nigel. He’s the solo walker who wears jeans, from the Old House on Day 1. He’s also stopping at Beck Hall tonight, but he’s finishing at Horton tomorrow. He set out about 08:20, a good 30 mins before I was ready, so I didn’t really expect to see him until the evening.

Dropping into Lothersdale with its tall chimney
Dropping into Lothersdale with its tall chimney

As it was I met him about a mile outside Garsdale (Ed: actually it was Gargrave), he was searching for the path, which is easy to lose around there – too many fields and not enough fingerposts. We walked together into the village where he stopped for lunch in one of the cafes and I settled for a huge ice cream from a little van by the canal locks. But again, I find myself jumping ahead.

Woodland House is an excellent place to stay and both hosts are experienced walkers, having done the C2C a few years ago, you can’t go wrong booking here.

The first four miles of the day are tough, three nasty climbs account for nearly all of the days 2400 feet of ascent. No sooner have you reached one summit than you plummet down the other side of the hill and are presented with another steep climb. The drop down to Lothersdale is the most impressive – a real knee trembler down into a lovely picture postcard village, but the most dispiriting thing is the sight of the immense hill you face on the other side, up to Pinhaw Beacon.

Moorland section upto Pinhaw Beacon
Moorland section upto Pinhaw Beacon

The Beacon is the high point of Elslack Moor, a tiny oasis of moorland in a day almost completely dominated by fields and pastures. In fact I found this to be the most disappointing day of the walk so far, and not quite fully compensated by the lovely final four miles or so through Airton and Hanlith and into Malham.

Every long path has these “transition” days though, as you move from one scenic area to another and looking ahead as you approach Malham you can see the limestone hills and Malham Cove, hailing the start of “Limestone Country”.

A short stretch along the Leeds-Liverpool canal
A short stretch along the Leeds-Liverpool canal
Double-arch bridge on the Leeds-Liverpool canal
Double-arch bridge on the Leeds-Liverpool canal

The majority of the peat moorlands are behind me, I’ve been very lucky and crossed them mostly dry-shod. I’ve also had some of the best possible weather with which to experience them – let me clarify. The best weather for walking the high moorland of the Peak District is lowering, swirling mist, with ocassional light showers or drizzle, cold enough to mist your breath and to make you long for a warm fire at the end of the day. That was pretty much what I got.

Canal boats outside Gargrave
Canal boats outside Gargrave
Crag Hill trig point surrounded by ramblers
Crag Hill trig point surrounded by ramblers

I’ve walked almost all the distance of tomorrows walk, at various times on various walks, so I know what to expect. I’m not looking forward to the steep little pull up PYG after 11 miles, but it’s got to be done 🙂

Malham Cove in the distance
Malham Cove in the distance
Malham village and the Buck Inn
Malham village and the Buck Inn

I said farewell to the Lost Boys today. They were resting on the first climb out of Cowling this morning and are suffering from blisters and cramps, their pace has dropped to little more than a crawl, but they were only walking to Gargrave today and then Malham tomorrow, so I’ll be a day ahead of them now. They seem determined to plod on, they’re camping all the way and they have the biggest packs. Good luck to them!

9 thoughts on “Pennine Way 2010 – Day 5”

  1. Hi Stuart,

    How did PYG go? I think that is my favourite Dales peak. We did Gragareth, Green Hill, Great Coum and Crag Hill on Saturday. This Saturday is Great Shunner Fell and Lovely Seat. Keep up the good work and the excellent write ups.


    1. Thanks for that 🙂 as I arrive on a Sunday the shop is shut too! Looks like a bad choice of stop.

      1. Dave. PYG was bloody cold, snowed while I was on the summit! Great shunner tomorrow and the weather isn’t looking too promising. Glad to see the peak bagging is going well.

  2. LW,
    You may know this, but worth mentioning Mike Knipe’s posting that Garrigill pub has closed. Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings.

  3. Dave (davesjournals)

    Sorry to hear about the winds you’ve been getting Lone Walker but lets be positive and say that at least it’s stayed dry for you. Sounds like you’re having a good time anway so keep it up. Left, Right, Left, Right.

  4. I know where you’ve been, LW, both physically and mentally.
    I therefore know you’ve been to Gargrave, not Garsdale lol.
    Give your feet a treat every night, if you can – a nice soak in warm water, a good rub with a rough towel, and something nice and creamy so they feel loved.

    Incidentally, I was up on the PW near Kidhow Gate about 10 days ago and got views as far as the Scafells and Cross Fell. If you get lucky with the weather it is a superb spot, and although you can’t identify Kinder and Bleaklow you can actually see that far.

  5. Sounds like a better day today. At least weather wise.

    Keep the posts up. I am sitting here planning my PW trip in July. Any more updates on shops & supplies greatly appreciated.

    Trailblazer guide looks really good also, as I read it from my armchair.

  6. Really enjoying reading your post every night, you must be gald the wind has dropped. Keep going and more pics if poss.
    Good luck

    1. The Trailblazer guide is pretty up to date for the PW facilities, the only updates I could make so far were at Cowling with the restaurant.

      The wind has dropped now and been replaced with some ridiculous winter conditions. Very frosty this morning and snow flurries between Horton and Hawes as well as a cracking hail shower.

      Apologies for the geographical problem re Garsdale / Gargrave. I do know where I’m going honest, it’s just the altzheimers kicking in.

      I can’t post any more pics really but will add them when I get home. The phone signals aren’t great and don’t allow me to attach multiple photos. Also not found many WiFi spots along the route which would make things easier.

      Thanks for all the comments it’s a real tonic at the end of a hard day 🙂

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