The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday, 19 October 2007

A Stroll in North Yorkshire

As is unsurprising after the cold, clear night that we had, Thursday presented itself as a perfect walking day.

Admittedly it was rather on the parky side first thing, making me wish for my Rab Vapour Rise trousers in lieu of the summer-weight Paramo Azuma that I was wearing. However, I acknowledged that the temperature would rise during the morning and that was indeed the case.

Parking just south of Malham Tarn, we set off along the Pennine Way, walking in the direction that some would claim is ‘the wrong way’.

Except for half a dozen youths who were just making their way north along the PW as we were faffing in the car park, meeting up with their leader before carrying on, we were had solitude to admire the surroundings for the first half an hour of our walk. Passing the first walker a while later I had to conclude that they breed them hardy up north; whilst I was sporting jacket, hat and gloves, the first person we passed was wearing a skirt and shirt sleeves!

As I’ve commented before, North Yorkshire is not an area with which I am familiar – and this walk was truly surprising me. Not only for the landscape in general (you can't see the terraced fields in this small version, but they were there): and the carved out limestone pavements (look at those grykes!):

but Malham Cove really is a sight to behold which diverted our attention for quite a length of time. Looking down from the top of Malham Cove. It's quite a way down, but someone's installed a staircase that goes the whole way down...

As a result of all of the landscape features that held our attention we were surprised, an hour and a half into the walk, to see a signpost back along the PW which indicated that we had only walked 1.5 miles!

My surprise at the surroundings continued (including a bit of analysis in my mind as to why I’ve failed to visit this area before) as we made our way through Malham and out the other side.

We missed the path that we intended to take (not that we looked particularly hard for it), and came out in Hanlith a few hundred yards (and a few hundred feet closer to sea level) from where we had intended.

At Hanlith we left the course of the Pennine Way as we followed uphill first a track, then a path up to a trig point on Weets Top, which proved to be an excellent venue for lunch (proved by the fact that a group of about 10 walkers were just leaving as we arrived).

Our route from lunch back to Malham Tarn led us along a lane and through a remarkably large field filled with at least three distinct herds of cows. Worryingly some of those cows appeared to be bulls, albeit reasonably young ones. Many worried glances over my shoulder ensued until we escaped the field.

I had particularly planned the route to pass through the Roman Camp marked on the map (a marching camp according to the sign in the area), but was disappointed that to my highly untrained eye the only thing that I could see was an area of flat ground. There were no tell-tale indentations, so if it hadn’t been for the information sign and the marking on the map, I would have been oblivious as to what had been there 2000 years ago.

Meeting back up with a road, we could have taken a short route back to the car, but we were in no particular rush and it seemed a shame not to take the detour to see Malham Tarn, so we headed off to walk adjacent to Great Close Scar and thence along the side of the Tarn.
People were aplenty in this area, and we soon found that we were now far from the only car in the car park.

The stats for this fine walk (which ended in significantly warmer conditions than those in which it had begum) were just under 10.5 miles completed in an extraordinarily leisurely 5 hours.

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