Day seven: Malham to Hull Pot, 13.25 miles
The best part of the Pennine Way, in my view, is the middle section starting from Malham and ending at Rapishaw Gap on Hadrian’s Wall. It includes the very best sections like this walk from Malham to Horton and Langdon Beck to Garrigill, which for me were the highlights of the whole Way.
Hooray, today the sun was shining and hardly a cloud in the sky. We were soon packed and left the hostel. If you’ve not seen Malham Cove, you really need to make the effort. It is a quite awe inspiring cliff over which a waterfall higher than Niagara once poured.
Like so many water features in the Craven limestone area, it is now dry. The path climbs up to the left of the cliff. At the top there is an impressive limestone pavement. This reminded me of my geography lessons with the clints and grikes. Beyond the Cove, Wainwright recommends following the dry valley rather than the official route. Who were we to demur?
It was now getting hot. We re-filled our water bottles at the water sinks and carried on along the track to Malham Tarn and its magnificent house. What a wonderful place it must have been to live in. From Malham Tarn House, the ascent of Fountains Fell begins. I remember this being quite a hard climb in hot conditions. The sun was beating down and by the time we reached the summit, we felt lunch was called for.
Although I can’t be absolutely sure, I imagine that lunch was Wensleydale cheese and bread, which was our staple diet for lunches. We usually rounded it off with a bit of Kendal Mint Cake. Our usual pattern was to have a little rest after lunch to soak up the scenery and any sunshine on offer.
From what I remember, the descent from Fountains Fell is quite steep on the north side. I do remember it being hot as we got to the valley floor. We girded our loins for what Wainwright describes as the only piece of top class fell walking on the Pennine Way (page xvii).
The climb up Penyghent (Wainwright’s spelling in deference), is strenuous and rocky, but actually quite easy. Nevertheless it is exhilarating and more like Lakeland than the Pennines. From the top there are glorious views. The weather stayed fine and we were rewarded with a fine panorama of the dales and the desolate wilderness of Horton Moor.
The descent is steep and we took care on the way down as we were tired after two hard mountain climbs (don’t forget we had quite heavy packs!). On the way down we had a good look at Hunt Pot, a small but deep pot hole. Not much further on, the impressive Hull Pot came into view. It’s a shame that I don’t have photo, but here’s a link to one.
We camped by Hull Pot Beck on an almost perfect lawn. If you’re ever in the area, this is one of the best pitches you can get in the Dales. I think we might have walked down to Horton for a pint, but I’m not sure. Whatever, it was one of the best days of the whole trip.
Day eight: Hull Pot to Hawes, 16.75 miles
By now we were getting into our stride and this day was to be the third longest day. The weather was cloudy, but not too bad. We reluctantly left our idyllic camp site and walked down to Horton. It is possible that we had a mug of tea at the café before setting off up Harber Scar Lane. The green lanes around here are a pleasant feature of the Way. Of course this was before there were 4×4 SUVs, so there was no danger of being run over!
The weather got a bit gloomier as we passed several pot holes (Sell Gill, Cowskull) on our way to Cam Houses. Wainwright waxes lyrical about Ling Gill, but I don’t remember much about it except the bridge. I think lunch was taken around Cam End.
The walk along Cam High Road was exhilarating and the features surprisingly desolate on both sides. We had a bit of rain, but not very much. The wind was cold, so it was no trial to have my GoreTex jacket on for some of the way.
Although nowhere near as good as current day materials, my jacket was still a considerable improvement over the PU sweat boxes that I had endured hitherto. On this trip, I tested the jacket to destruction as the material de-laminated and I had to send it back to Mountain Equipment to be replaced. To their credit, they did so without quibble.
As we neared Hawes the weather cheered up slightly and we bowled down to the camp site to pitch our tents. Although this was our longest day so far, I don’t remember being especially tired.
After dinner, we sampled the hostelries to ensure that they were as fine as we remembered them from our visit two years ago.