Walk completed August 28, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 46, Saturday, July 16, 2011 – Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale – 15 miles

The rain which started last night was still falling this morning. In the true spirit of misery loves company, James suggested that he, Erik and I walk together from Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale. The three of us set off together at 9:15, and we were barely out of Malham before we were joined by Alec, an Australian. The four of us walked together almost the entire day.

The four of us not only provided companionship to each other, we also provided an extra level of safety for our walk in a remote area under difficult weather conditions. In many places the footing was bad, and the rain and high winds presented the risk of hypothermia. Shortly after leaving Malham, we arrived at Malham Cove, a limestone amphitheater from which Malham Beck (creek) flows. A short climb took us to the top of the amphitheater, where the limestone has eroded into slippery blocks, and where a slip would have easily resulted in a broken leg or arm. No strangers to danger, the four of us confidently stepped from one block to the next, until we traversed the entire field. Then suddenly from the hillside above, we heard a loud noise – a bull on the hillside had apparently slipped on the limestone, and was rolling over and over as he fell down the hill. I can’t imagine how he didn’t break a leg or his neck, but he immediately got to his feet, and stood frozen, obviously dazed from the fall. High above him stood another bull, so I can’t help but wonder whether they had been engaged in a battle which caused the fall. In any event, I was no longer so confident crossing over the wet limestone, especially since I have only two legs for stability.

In the barn
photo by Erik
The wind-driven rain continued to pelt us, and by mid-day, we were all getting uncomfortably cold. After descending off the moor, we came upon an old barn. Collectively we decided to unlatch the door and go inside for shelter, trespass laws notwithstanding. Alec had a stove, so he boiled water for hot drinks. Each of us added another layer under our waterproofs for warmth, something which would have been difficult outside in the high winds and rain. After a quick lunch, we were warm enough to venture outside again, being careful to remove our trash and restore the barn as it was. Removing evidence of our trespass might prevent the owner from securing the barn to exclude future walkers in need.


The path headed back up the high moor to Penyghent, one of the three high peaks in the area. We had all decided to bypass Penyghent due to the weather, but as we approached it short periods of sunshine peeked through the clouds and the mist on top of the mountain cleared. Erik and Alec decided to climb to the top. James and I decided to stay with our original decision and head straight down to town. My feet were wet, cold and numb, and I was concerned that continuing on might risk a blister. My objective is John O’Groats, not Penyghent, and it would be foolish to risk that objective by developing a blister for a non-consequential side-trip.

As James and I descended, clouds came and again covered Penyghent.

Not so drystone wall
I checked into my accommodation and took a hot shower to warm up. About an hour later, Alec and Erik appeared, pleased that they had continued on, but reporting that the weather on top continued to be as bad as it looked like from below. For James and me, though, coming off the mountain and warming up was the right decision.

The four of us will walk together tomorrow to Hawes.

View across Fountains Fell

© 2011 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. Wow, not a good day to be walking....amazing you got as far as you did. Take care of the feet and good luck for tomorrow.