Ok, this should be three posts as these were not only done on different days but in different years! But something has gone awry with my photos and I can’t find those of Hebden Bridge to Ponden Reservoir completed in 2006 and Ponden Reservoir to Gargrave completed in 2009 a bit annoying since the late great Dougal, my best friend, joined me on the first of these legs.
Day 3 Hebden Bridge to Ponden 11 miles/ 17.7km
Good job I’m a bit lame and make notes of routes so there’s a description at least. I started the route from the A646 as Dougal and I had managed to get a lift, saving us the walk from Hebden Bridge train station. Which is good, as the route rises quickly out the valley through farm fields and then drops down and back up into Colden, above Hebden Bridge centre. As you cross the moorland and head towards Gorple Reservoir its worth considering having lunch a bit early as if its the right time of year and the Pack Horse pub is open you will fill your boots for a reasonable price. I admit its quite early into the walk for such large portions though! Nevertheless Mum, Dougal and I did manage it.
The walk on to Withins Heights is more grass and less heathery making the walk seem less bleak. Top Withins is a popular walk from Haworth’s Bronte museum, due to its link to the Bronte sisters, so whatever the weather you will not be alone up here.
From here you walk down to Ponden Reservoir.
Day 4 – Ponden Reservoir to Gargrave 14.4 miles/ 23 km
This section of the route I completed without Dougal in 2010 and despite the route being without much hardship, the day was certainly eventful.
I start out leaving my car at Keighley train station and getting a taxi up to Ponden, knowing full well I could get a train from Gargrave back to Keighley. Best laid plans and all that!
So being dropped at Ponden by the taxi I set off on my march over to Gargrave for the train. To be honest I’m mostly gutted I’m missing photos of this section as it wasn’t a particularly interesting bit,covering the space between the South Pennines and the start of the Yorkshire Dales. I’m not doing the area down, its certainly nice, but from the wildness of the moorland and before the prettiness of the Dales it feels like your just covering ground. To be honest its not the last time I felt like this on the Way.
So I set off on the Sunday with the intention of getting to Gargrave for the 3.45pm train, and frustratingly it wasn’t speed or determination that let me down that day but unclear footpaths between East Marton and Gargrave. I’m sure this has been improved by now, but I’m not in a rush to go and check! The villages the route passes through are very pretty but much of the walking is across farm fields.
As I crossed through the last of these looking down on Gargrave I could see my train leaving the station. I’ve never felt so disappointed! Especially when I got there and realised the next one wasn’t until 6pm! So I’m forever grateful to the couple who dropped me in Skipton that day, so I could get the train home.
Day 5 – Gargrave to Malham 18.6 miles / 29.8km
It was 2010 before I made it back to do another leg of the Pennine Way and after the escapade of transport back I managed to do this section with a lift at either end. Starting at Gargrave the route heads towards the pretty village of Airton through farm fields and by the river.
The route continues to follow the river in to Malham village centre.
Malham Cove is a very popular spot in the spring and summer months and so the car park and campsite can often be very busy. I did this leg in March and despite it being cold with snow still on high ground it was hardly a quiet day.
Malham Cove is an impressive wall of limestone. Formerly a waterfall which flowed as the glacier above melted during the last ice age, the glacial lake of Malham tarn still exists but now the river flows underground towards Malham. The Cove is now a popular spot for climbers, but if you like to keep your feet on the ground the Pennine way follows the 400 or so steps on the left of the cove onto the limestone pavement top.
From here the Way heads on towards Malham Tarn and circles behind it.
From there the route continues northwards over the moorland to ascend Fountains Fell. Whilst you definitely gain height it is a bit of a nondescript hill top so it is great to descend, through snow in my case, towards Horton in Ribblesdale and Pen-y-Ghent.
Horton in Ribblesdale marks the last place where the Pennine way is accessible easily by public transport as this is the last time you will be close enough to a train line until you get to Dufton, near Cumbria.