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]

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Day 43 - Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale

27 May
Distance: 12.5 miles
Number of times I got blown off the path: quite a lot

What's worse than walking into a strong headwind? One answer is quite obvious: walking into rain being driven by a strong headwind.

Our easterly/north easterly wind, which has been troubling us for a few days, is persisting and it was at about quarter to seven this morning, as I was sitting outside of the tent eating porridge, that the rain started.

Breakfast was abandonned for a while and with remarkable speed we had the tent and our belongings packed away.

The rain did let up as we made our way up the just-under-400 steps to the side of Malham cove, but the wind was still fierce and the cloud low. The cove being such an awesome spectacle, I would have felt cheated had it not been for having visited just last October in good weather. That trip also meant that I didn't need to get the camera out today - I'll stick with the blue skied shots that I already have.

The break in the rain was short-lived and for the next couple of hours it was usually hitting us either head on or from the side, the former smarting somewhat on the face!

Second breakfast was a very short affair, being cold as I was. I was even eager for the next hill so that I could get warm again.

Although I'd seen Malham Cove before, the other notable feature on today's route, a jaunt over Pen-y-Ghent, was something to which I was looking forward.

Alas, from the moment that the cloud covering it came into view, it was clear that this was not a day for such an ascent. Rain and low cloud alone would perhaps not have deterred us so much, but battling against the wind such as we were, combined with the wetness and the lack of any views meant that a trip to the top would have been purely an exercise in being able to say we'd been there. It was disappointing to miss it, but then out objective is to get to John O'Groats, not to battle to trig-points for the sake of it.

So, in common with some other people walking the PW, who were just behind us, we omitted Pen-y-Ghent and headed straight down into Horton.

Incredibly, there were other people going up there. Lots of them. Including plenty of families dragging their children up. Quite why anyone would choose to do a day-trip up a hill in such conditions...

With the wind now mainly behind us as we made our way down things should have been easier - except that the force of it (over 40mph I would say, with some big and prolonged gusts) repeatedly blew me off the path. It certainly made a couple of the rocky steps rather 'interesting'.

Even down in Horton the wind is howling around. We made a bee-line for the campsite, only to find that despite the 'camping with prior permission only' signs, there was no-one home from whom to seek that permission.

Until such time that we are able to get permission, we are sheltering in the tent which we pitched anyway. It was only after pitching that I saw the 'no vacancies, pre-booked persons only' sign (but there are only four other tents here on the generously sized field), so I'm now sitting here in fear of the signs being enforced and us being ejected from the place.

As for the battle between Mick's feet and his shoes, although he's blister free it is not a happy experience for him. Hopefully at some point in the next couple of days the boots and his feet will come to a mutual understanding.

Update: three hours later and we're all legal; the farmer has returned and hasn't thrown us off his field. He also commented (as us Brits are prone to do) on the weather - he says he's not seen the likes of this at this time of year. Mick says I've seriously understated the ferocity of the wind conditions in my report above - he'd like it to be known that that was some wind we walked in today!


  1. You'll be glad of Wendy tonight then, children!

    Snap those bracing straps in place and feel all snug and secure.

    Wise choice about Pen-y-Ghent, by the way: there are a couple of nasty exposed bits on the clamber up that in a north easterly could be pretty horrid with packs on.

    Tomorrow's a far gentler walk.

  2. PS: You will be over halfway there tomorrow - I shall raise a glass to you both.

  3. Well done both of you. Bit of a puzzle, the weather, it was calm at Burton-in-Kendal!