Mankinholes. What a fabulous name. It’s a little hamlet near Hebden Bridge, and I stayed at the Youth Hostel there – the night I ate my infamous Kit Kat and satsuma with custard pudding. From there I had some steep slopes to leave Caulderdale and ascend to Heptonstall Moor and Stanbury Moor. On the latter I came across some Wuthering Heights fans, as I was now in the area around Haworth that markets itself as Bronte Country.
For me this day and the following one were memorable for the sweeping pale moorland expanses, fierce wind and occasional blasts of hail. It was all rather wild and lovely. I actually walked for three days without seeing another walker (a couple of day tripping Bronte followers excepted). My company instead consisted of very squawky lapwings, with their extravagent headdresses. Also there were a few oyster catchers trip trapping along grass fields. Wonderful birds. And on the moors, of course, plenty of grouse clucking out their undulating alarm calls.
After Elsack Moor I descended to Thornton in Craven, and all of a sudden the valley looming in front of me seemed such a vivid bright green that I almost reached for my sunglasses. I had now come out of the South Pennines area, and was approaching the Yorkshire Dales. The difference in the grass and also flowers I could see around me was due to the change in rock. The South Pennines area is predominantly gritstone, whereas the Dales are a limestone region. I am finding that the subtle changes in vegetation are so much more noticeable on foot.
At Thornton I diverted off route to stay the night with an ex colleague and his family. It was wonderful to soak in a hot bath, my first for weeks. (I have been washing! – it’s just always been showers). Thank you so much, Jason, Ashleigh, Ruby and Faye.
Next stop was Malham. An easy day weaving around and over drumlins and along rivers and canals. Suddenly on Thursday afternoon the arctic weather seemed to disappear and I was able to so a quick change into shorts and T shirt. I’ve been to Malham before, but it was so much better this time, approaching it across fields, on foot, with grand Gordale Scar and Malham Cove suddenly coming into view in the distance.
From Malham was a stage I had looked forward to. Up beside the Cove and the Tarn, over Fountains Fell, and finally the summit of Pen Y Ghent. The weather was kind – the cloud base was fairly high, and the visibility was outstanding. From the top I could see even the Lake District hills. A good moment.
Also during this day I had some excellent company. First of all I had a surprise breakfast visit from an ex colleague, armed with Scottish tablet for my food supplies. Then I met four very jovial walkers from Lancashire, who are doing a week’s worth of the Pennine Way. George, Tony, Peter and David, if you are reading this, thanks for the company and laughs. And the tea and wine! I forgot to do my Viewranger app demo. So, next time…
The next day was rather wet and boggy, with low cloud. I felt glad to have been up Pen Y Ghent the previous day, for this day I’d had had no view whatsoever. Just a proper soaking. The miles flew by as I had ex colleague Annette, husband Tony, and their hardy hiking hound Bobby (namesake Robson) for company. An added treat was that Tony had a flask of hot bovril which he shared round. I realised that I’ve missed my flask on cold wet days. We arrived in Hawes after 15 somewhat damp miles in good spirits, and were met by a raucous welcoming party of Family Ritson. Guys, it was fab to see you! Young Jack got to meet up with Little Flora the elephant, who he’d only previously seen on video. I hope he wasn’t disappointed that she didn’t sing and dance in person.
This walk is probably sounding like one big social occasion. In Hawes I also got to meet up with another friend who lives nearby. I’ve actually seen more of my friends this year due to the walk than ever before. It’s something I hadn’t anticipated when dreaming about the journey beforehand. But it’s been an enormous pleasure.
Finally, before I started out, one of my friends said that he imagined I would be walking north on a carpet of bluebells, as the northern flowers would bloom later and I would therefore catch up with them. Due to the late spring and my upland route, that hasn’t been the case. Instead the colour accompanying me has been the yellow of daffodils. They were out in force in Cornwall back at Easter, and they are still going strong now, in mid May in the Yorkshire Dales.