I’m not much of a cyclist but if someone put a gun to my head and made me walk this section of the Pennine Way again, I would attempt it on my bike. Its simply just not a very interesting walk I’m afraid to say, and I’m not usually that disparaging of an opportunity to get out. It was a hot day as I recall but the route undulates, has no significant peaks and is therefore a long dull slog. Only the promise of cheese in Hawes at the Creamery was a motivation!
Day 6 Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes – 13.5 miles/ 21.6km
Setting off from Horton in Ribblesdale the route heads along a track circling a large woodland. These pictures are looking back along the route to Pen-y Ghent, Horton and nearby Ingleborough.
From here the route climbs up to the single track road and Dodd Fell Hill. Having felt a bit like I was just trudging, I took a detour at this point to bag the trig point, since it is technically a mountain top by its height, and thus on the Nuttall list of hill tops. Frankly it was a bit of a non event but a highlight in a day lacking in one.
From here the route starts to drop, still on a track down to Hawes village, which represents the centre of the Yorkshire Dales for public transport links, pubs, shops and of course the Creamery, the home of Wensleydale cheese.
Of course no day on the Pennine Way would be complete for me without a lack of consideration of how to get back. Having left my car in Horton in Ribblesdale I made a wild assumption I could get a bus or at the very least an overpriced taxi back from Hawes. But this was before Easter weekend and so out of season, and not even an overpriced taxi was to answer my call.
So I was grateful to find my parents were having a day out in nearby Skipton and so could ferry me back to Horton to get my car. It took me until 2013 before I got around to doing any more of the Pennine Way, partly due to life getting in the way but also due to a need to properly consider how I was going to get from the finish back to the start as the route now enters more remote areas.
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.
I might have done this whole route nearly 7 years ago, but living in Marsden I regularly walk along bits of this route near my home. Something in the landscape never change! Looking back through these pictures has a tinge of sadness though, as my companion Dougal is no longer with me and he loved to roam the moors of the South Pennines.
Day 2 -Standedge to Hebden Bridge – 15.25 miles / 24.4km
We set off from Standedge in typical West Yorkshire mist and low cloud. This section of the Pennine Way is a nice one in good weather as you walk along the watershed of the South Pennines, first looking out over Delph and then crossing Buckstones Road you eventually reach Windy Hill radio mast and the bridge over the M62. Ok, not exactly the most picturesque bit of the route, but walking over what is the highest motorway in England its certainly interesting. (As a regular commuter on the M62 I can say it is never normally this quiet!)
From here there is yet more moorland to get to Blackstone Edge. On this day you couldn’t see down into Littleborough and Hollingworth Lake; Dougal could barely keep his ears on his head!
As you cross Blackstone Edge you also cross the old Roman Road and pass the Higgin Stone before you reach the A58 at the White House pub.
I’ve recently walked this next section a couple of times to see the new Simon Armitage poem ‘Rain’ which has been carved into the rock. Back when I walked this route though, the poem hadn’t even been thought of as a concept. Eventually you come to Warland Reservoir after which the route heads Easterly towards Stoodley Pike and views over Todmorden.
From Stoodley Pike the route drops down to the Rochdale Canal leaving you half way between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge. Dougal and I then walked into Hebden Bridge for a well earned drink and the train home.
Having embarked on the mission to finish the Pennine Way soon, I thought I’d share some old photos of the route from when I first started, back in 2006.
Day 1- Edale to Standedge – 29 miles/46.7km
Edale is a fantastic place to start a long distance trail, easy access on the train from Manchester and Sheffield and a really easy to follow route to start you off.
From following the track along the valley you eventually head up Jacobs Ladder a steep brutal ascent to get onto the Kinder Plateau. I’ve been up Kinder many times since and still haven’t seen a view from the top! In mist this isn’t the easiest area to navigate.
The route along this section has some great metal signposts by the Peak and Northern Footpath Society. This one is looking back to Kinder and the route back to Edale.
The path continues to wind across the moorland to cross the A57 Snake’s Pass and on to more relentless moorland up Devil’s Dyke – a large deep cutting in moorland top which feels like it is winding a lot before you finally reach Bleaklow Head and the descent down to Crowdon.
Living in Marsden it was too tempting to walk on and make it home so from Crowden I motivated my dad with ice-cream from the visitors centre before dragging him onwards.
The path becomes less barren as it rises up and crosses Laddows Rocks. From here much of the path is now paved to prevent erosion to the peat. Black Hill summit is a bit less barren than this now!
The paving continues down the other side from Black Hill trig point and down to meet the A635 at the top of the Wessenden Valley.
From here it was getting dark as we crossed to descend the Wessenden Valley and follow the route between Black Moss and Swellands Reservoirs to meet the A62 at Standedge.