Monday 24 March 2008

Pennine Way: Day 5a - Malham to Settle

Monday 24th March

Distance: 12km; Ascent: 320m; Mainly dry and sunny, but windy; with Lynsey

After a cold night at the campsite in Malham, we were a bit sluggish at getting going this morning and so it was well after 9am before we were walking.  We picked up the broad path towards Malham Cove, which was relatively quiet at this time of the morning on a snowy Easter Monday.

Heading towards Malham Cove
The steep path to the west of the cove brought us up to the impressive limestone pavement above, with excellent views back down the valley.

Limestone pavement above Malham Cove
View from top of Malham Cove
The thin layer of snow over the limestone pavement meant for slow progress as we took it carefully to avoid slipping!  Eventually we reached the path through the dry valley of Watlowes, which was quite pretty in the snow today.

Above Malham Cove
It was now apparent that due to the time, we would struggle to finish our planned walk to Horton-in-Ribblesdale in the light.  There was also the important matter of arriving in time to catch a train home!  Therefore we opted to strike west across the moorland towards Settle, with the aim of catching a train home from there instead.

Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent
We followed a reasonable track westwards over the snow covered moors.  By now there was much blue sky about, which resulted in excellent views across to the Yorkshire 3 Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent in the distance across the moorland.

Heading towards Settle
The path eventually brought us to the minor road above Langcliffe, from where we picked up an extremely muddy bridleway down into Settle itself, where we arrived in the mid-afternoon.  As we had a bit of time to kill before the next train, we popped into one of the many cafes to relax after an excellent four days of walking.

Written up in October 2012 from photos and memories

Sunday 23 March 2008

Pennine Way: Day 5 - Lothersdale to Malham

Sunday 23rd March

Distance: 24.5km; Ascent: 540m; Dry, sunny but windy; with Lynsey

I was woken up at around 3am by Lynsey due to her concern about the strange sagging of the tent roof.  Looking outside, my fears were confirmed as it was snowing heavily.  Our Terra Nova Voyager tent is indeed an excellent 3-season backpacking tent, but it wasn't handling the snow particularly well this morning with lots of it settling on the top flattish section of the flysheet.  And so I dressed up warm and headed outside to clear a substantial amount of snow from the tent roof on this jolly cold start to Easter day.  It continued to snow heavily for the next hour or so, which meant that I had to stay outside to keep the tent clear.  However by around 4:30am ish I decided that the snow had now calmed down enough for me to safely return to the warmer confines of the tent :)

The weather had improved significantly by the time we set off walking at around 9ish, with sun and blue skies!  And what a difference there was in the scenery, which was now covered with a reasonable layer of white stuff (that which the tent complained about!).

On the way up Pinhaw Beacon
Pennine Way signpost
We climbed up through the snow to reach our only summit of the day: Pinhaw Beacon (HuMP).  The views from up here were indeed excellent, enhanced today by the snowy landscape - not quite what you expect on Easter Sunday!  I regretted not having brought my sunglasses with me as the landscape was quite bright today!

On the summit of Pinhaw Beacon
After sufficient time to take in the views we descended to the road just to the west before continuing downhill for the next few kilometres to reach Thornton-in-Craven.  Around half an hour's walk later we reached the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the famous double arched bridge.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Double arched bridge on Leeds & Liverpool Canal
We pushed onto Gargrave, where I have a feeling we might have stopped for tea and cake somewhere but I'm not too certain!  And then it was onwards to Airton followed by the home straight into Malham where we set up camp at the nearly deserted campsite in the gathering gloom of the pre-clock change dusk.

Due to the clear skies it soon became very cold, and so we took the sensible decision to retire to the pub :-)  It was around this point that I discovered that the map was nowhere to be seen :(  After a thorough search I came to the conclusion that we must have dropped it at some point, which was a tad annoying!  We were planning on setting off early in the morning, which was likely to be before any map selling shops were open.  However I guessed that the YHA were likely to sell maps at their reception and so nipped in and was in luck :)

After a some pleasant ale (probably Black Sheep), we wandered through the chilly streets of Malham to retire to our tent for the night in preparation for a long day in the hills tomorrow: Malham Cove, Fountains Fell and Pen-y-ghent.  However not all would go to plan tomorrow...

Written up in August 2012 from photos and memories

Saturday 22 March 2008

Pennine Way: Day 4 - Blackshaw Head to Lothersdale

Saturday 22nd March

Distance: 27.5km; Ascent: 800m; Dry, sunny but windy; with Lynsey

After an unexpected comfortable night indoors and the pleasures of a cooked breakfast this morning, we set off walking and soon rejoined the Pennine Way.  We descended down through fields to reach a pleasant footbridge over Colden Water, where it was noticeably cold as the sun had yet to reach the valley bottom this morning!

Bridge over Colden Water
We ascended northwards across farmland to eventually emerge onto open moorland, where we traversed the north-east side of Standing Stone Hill before descending northwards towards the dam of Gorple Lower Reservoir.  The next section of path took us along the pleasant little moorland valley of Graining Water before picking up a private roate towards Walshaw Dean reservoirs where there was a sign that bizarrely warned us to beware of members of the public!

Graining Water
Beware of Lynsey!
Luckily we didn't come across any other members of the public on the private road so there was no need to worry!  After crossing the dam of the lower reservoir we picked up a path to reach the east shore of Walshaw Dean Middle Reservoir.

By Walshaw Reservoirs
Just over a hundred metres of ascent now lay before us, some on slabbed paths, before we reached the ruins of Top Withins where the path suddenly became somewhat busier!  And we even came across a signpost which was in Japanese as well as English!  Clearly this area of moorland must be popular with international visitors!

Near Top Withins
After descending to pass Ponden Reservoir, we ascended up onto another area of South Pennine moorland to pass Little Wolf Stones before descending again to reach Cowling.  Just a few kilometres left for us now as we walked across undulating fields and minor roads to reach Lothersdale at dusk, just avoiding having to get headtorchs out!

Lambs somewhere near Cowling
Our campsite for the night appeared to be someone's garden on the edge of the village, where after dinner we wandered down to the pub for a drink before retiring to bed, on quite a cold evening for early spring - snow was on the way!

Written up in August 2012 from photos and memories

Friday 21 March 2008

Pennine Way: Day 3 - Marsden to Blackshaw Head

Friday 21st March

Distance: 27km; Ascent: 990m; Dry, sunny but windy; with Lynsey

It had been less than two weeks since we had arrived in Marsden after our first two days on the Pennine Way and today we were back for 4 days walking over the unusually early Easter weekend, this time with our new tent on its first proper outing.

From Marsden station our map showed a named trail, the Station to Station Walk, leading westwards to rejoin the Pennine Way.  Therefore after leaving the station we followed the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and then a minor road before picking up the bridleway marked as the Station to Station Walk at Close Gate Bridge.  We ascended westwards up onto the moorland to meet the Pennine Way where it crossed the A640.

Near the summit of White Hill
We headed across the moorland to reach White Hill and then the crossing of the M62, by far and away the busiest road crossed by the Pennine Way.  There is a bridge that carries walkers high above the traffic, but it does seem a little odd having spent the last couple of hours walking across quiet moorland!  Once across the M62 we ascended northwards to reach our highest point of the day: the summit of Blackstone Edge (HuMP) where the trig point is perched on the top of the summit tor of gritstone.

After passing the Aiggin Stone we descended further to reach the A58, followed by a more level section of path alongside a succession of reservoirs: Blackstone Edge Reservoir, Little Hazzles Reservoir and Warland Reservoir before heading for the obvious landmark of Stoodley Pike.

On route to Stoodley Pike
We descended down to Calderdale to the west before beginning our final climb of the day up towards Blackshaw Head where we had arranged to camp at Badger Fields Farm.  However when we arrived we discovered that they had a spare room in their B&B this evening, which was too tempting given how windy it had become this afternoon!

Written up in July 2012 from photos and memories

Sunday 9 March 2008

Pennine Way: Day 2 - Crowden to Marsden

Sunday 9th March

Distance: 16km; Ascent: 520m; with Lynsey

After breakfast in the hostel, we set off walking from the back of the hostel and cut across the bracken to reach the Pennine Way, which we followed up the valley to reach Laddow Rocks, which I had visited once before back in 2005 when Colin and I spent a day climbing there.  There were good views back down towards Longdendale from the path along the top of the crag.

View south from Laddow Rocks
From Laddow Rocks, we headed NNE to pick up Crowden Great Brook, which we followed up to Grains Moss and then on to the summit of Black Hill (Marilyn, Dewey), where the trig point has been built on top of a large cairn.  The weather was a bit better than yesterday and there were even occasional patches of blue sky!

Summit of Black Hill
After a break at the trig point, we followed the flagged path across the peat to reach the A635 road at Wessenden Head.  Here we turned right and followed the main road for a couple of hundred metres, before forking left onto a minor road and then left again onto a reservoir access track.  After passing the second reservoir, Wessenden Reservoir, we parted company with the Pennine Way and instead followed the Kirklees Way down into Marsden, from where we took the train back to Manchester.

Written up in March 2012 from photos and memories

Saturday 8 March 2008

Pennine Way: Day 1 - Edale to Crowden

Saturday 8th March

Distance: 27.5km; Ascent:810m; with Lynsey

After completing the Gritstone Trail back in January, we had set our sights on the southernmost sections of the Pennine Way for the next training walk for our first TGO Challenge, which we will be starting two months tomorrow.

Therefore we took a morning train to Edale from Manchester and set off across the fields to Upper Booth before beginning the ascent up the valley and then on up Jacob's Ladder.  Soon we were exposed to the full force of the strong westerly wind as we ascended up to the trig point on Kinder Low.

The wind remained strong as we followed the western edge of Kinder northwards and it remained windy and grey, but mostly dry, all day.  At Kinder Downfall, the wind was so strong that very little of the water appeared to actually be going down the waterfall; instead it was being whipped up by the wind into a fine spray that coated everything nearby, including the path!

We were now walking into the wind for the next couple of kilometres, which was quite unpleasant!  At Mill Hill we made an abrupt turn to the NE onto a mainly slabbed path to the Snake Pass, where we crossed the A57 and ascended up to reach the summit of Bleaklow Head (Nuttall, HuMP).  Given the weather was so bad, I didn't actually take any photos today so here is a photo of Bleaklow Head from a more recent walk in 2011:

Bleaklow Head cairn (photo taken on a day walk in 2011)

We descended NW to reach Torside Reservoir before following a path through the trees to reach the old road to Crowden.  The OS maps still show the old location of the youth hostel, so we had to seek out the new building, which was a few hundred metres away.  We had booked ourselves a 2-bed room, which came with breakfast (there was no option just to pay for the beds only!)  Also the new hostel doesn't have a self-catering kitchen, which seems a bit odd for a youth hostel!  Luckily we discovered this before we left home, so I had brought our camping stove with us and we cooked our pasta dinner on the patio outside the hostel.

Written up in March 2012 from memories