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]

Monday 14 June 2010

Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Gargrave

Distance: 19.5 miles
Weather: AM: runny nose weather; PM: fair and warm
Number of eagles possibly seen: 1
Number of freakily coincidental encounters: 1

With the train running just a few minutes late, it was just after 10 that I found myself walking through Horton, which turned out to be the exact same time that everyone else who was setting off from there for a walk today got going.

My heart sank as I found myself heading towards Pen-y-Ghent behind one group of a couple of dozen people, as I know how hard it can be to pass big groups (assumings, of course, that I would be moving faster than they were).

I was right in amongst them, chatting to a lady from Rotherham, when the eagle was spotted. That it was an eagle was the consensus of all of those around me, and that's perhaps not as far fetched as it may seem if I disclose that it was being flown by a falconer. All I can say for certain is that it was a mightily big bird of prey.

At the first gateway of the day a group-faff allowed me the opportunity to get ahead, so with many a nod and a hello, that's what I did.

I did try to maintain a sensible pace but, in the absence of my pacemaker, failed, and so it wasn't long before I was puffing up to the shoulder of PyG and turning down to the road.

The weather obviously hadn't heeded its forecast, as a wind-blown drizzle set itself up and didn't (as I had expected) blow through in a few minutes. After half an hour, I finally conceded that I was quite wet and getting cold with it, and decided that the best tactic to get the rain to stop was to don my waterproof trousers. Sure enough, it wasn't much longer before the dampness started to abate.

Happily, by the time I'd got to the top of the climb on Fountains Fell the cloud had finally lifted and the day was showing promise. Having not seen the views from the top before (it was fully in cloud last time I was there) that was a treat.

By the time I reached the limestone pavement above Malham Cove, it was fine and warm, which made it seem like a sensible place to have lunch.

The first contender for my night-stop was Malham, but as I sat there looking down on the campsite I concluded that, as early as it was, I may as well continue and push on for Gargrave.

Down the massive stone staircase I went, and through the hoards around the cove, thence into the village, where I made a bit of a meal of finding the path out the other side.

It was just as I was wandering about, head in the map, thinking 'I'm sure it was that last turn and I'll feel quite silly when I have to do an about turn', when a chap ran over to me and hailed me by name.
It was Jeff (Trentham Walker), and by complete co-incidence our paths had crossed as he (plus friend Geoff) are walking the Dales Highway(ish) this week. What are the chances, eh? And if I hadn't just overshot my turn by twenty yards, I wouldn't have walked past them.

Half an hour was spent chatting in the warm sunshine until, with the clock striking 4 I had to accept that if I was going to reach Gargrave at a sensible hour, I really needed to get going.

I must have flown those last miles and two hours later into the campsite I wandered, where I'm now pitched with two other Pennine Way walkers.

So, not a bad day at all to start my walk, with reasonable weather and incredibly nice scenery. I wonder where tomorrow will take me?

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Nice one, Gayle. Have a great walk.

  2. Only a bit jealous...
    Planning my first solo overnight in the next couple of months (timing is crucial with four little treasures to take into account!) and must confess to being a little nervous. Wild-camping is, as you point out, at least legal up here, but I still feel a little nervy being without David. And he's got to trust me with the gas!
    (word: chaffe. I hope not.)

  3. Your In my country Gayle. I know it all so well and love it. Glad you are enjoying it.

    I am in sunny Cromer tonight. My Lowestoft to St Bees Head walk has been excellent so far (day four today).

  4. Great stuff, Gayle! On to the next day :)

    Word = salkwort. Some sort of flower, perhapas?

  5. Louise - Your first solo trip: exciting stuff. I'll look forward to reading about it.

    My top tip (based on my very limited experience) is to pitch in a really discreet/out of sight place. That way, when your imagination is making you think that every noise in the night is a mad axe murderer trying to get into the tent (or is that just me with that sort of imagination?), you can rationally convince yourself that the chances of anyone wandering in such an off-path location in the middle of the night is remote.

    Aside from that, is there a reason why you shouldn't be trusted with the gas?!

  6. No, you are not alone with that kind of imagination. Last time we camped at Gairloch, (as a family mind, so on my own I'll be worse!) I was convinced we had a rabbit rifling around The Palace. I'd 've said elephant but I 'know' we don't have those wild in Scotland. The next night, we were playing card games sheltering from the rain and a tiny shrew came to visit us, ran over Ciara's feet, into Rhiannon's trainer, found a snail and disappeared out into the rain. It sounded huge when I couldn't see it, honest!

    The gas. I'll either gas myself, or blow myself up. Maybe I should just take a flask and sandwiches!

    (word: subjesto. An underlying Italian joke?)