Day 51 - Elslack to Malham
Another day when the weather forecast was not anything like the reality. I should have been walking in the rain all morning, so set off all togged up, only to be shortly sweating buckets under my wet weather gear as it was thankfully mild and sunny.
After a good breakfast Susan waved me off, and the footpath set off clearly over the fields. I had an unwelcome section on a busy road, a few yards on a canal admiring a fabulous double arched bridge, and then I was off on the Pennine Way proper again.
I try to chat to David a couple of times a day, signal permitting. This morning we were talking about how walking for a charity instead of just for myself has impacted me. I was concerned before I started all those weeks ago that the responsibility of it might feel quite onerous, and would detract from the point of the walk. In fact I think it’s been the opposite. Aside from the very welcome free drinks and the upgrades and so forth, it’s been a helpful way to make the connections that keep me going. The solitary nature of the walking could be quite difficult, but having a sign on my back and my t shirt means that people say hello, and I’m not alone for long. So for it to benefit me as well as raising money for the TVAA has been an unexpected bonus.
I’m surprised how few people are doing the Pennine Way. I had thought that given it is one of the most well known National Trails that it would be busy with hikers. I think I’ve only met two other people walking the whole thing. Most of my interactions are with dog walkers or others out for the day. Maybe it will get busier as I get to the tougher northern section.
An ideal scenario for me on a walk is at 11 o’clock or thereabouts to cross a village or town which has a cafe. Gloriously, that occurred today in Gargrave. The Dalesman cafe is an old fashioned sweet shop which is also a thriving cafe. I’d heard tales of their fruit cake, but sadly it had only just come out of the oven, and thus I wasn’t allowed to partake ‘you could only eat it with a spoon and custard’. I made do with two excellent slices of fruity tea bread with a large wedge of Wensleydale cheese. For we are in Yorkshire, and they know what’s what.
The Yorkshire Dales to be precise, undulating farmland, little rivers and bridges, stone houses, lots of sheep. And a large number of cows. I think it was 11 fields today that I had to traverse with my bovine nemeses placidly observing me. A couple got a bit curious, but really there was no more drama than that. The film track of apocalyptic cow attacks that goes on in my head as I walk around the herds though. Mentally I’ve been scaling fences, leaping over walls and even diving into rivers to avoid them, all the while they just chew and poo at my side.
The Pennine Way isn’t a bridle way mainly - the Pennine Bridle Way was created to allow cyclists and horse riders to enjoy this scenery on suitable tracks. So I have seen hardly any riders so far till today when two women passed me on their beautiful horses, giving them the freedom to gallop up the grassy hill I’d just descended. It was exhilarating just to watch.
Most of the rest of the walk was along the Ricer Aire. A small brook, it ran either to the right or the left of me for three or four miles, bubbling along and looking very appealing. I had a few crisps and a cup of tea for my lunch (not winning good nutrition prizes today, I’m afraid) next to it before heaving myself up again to finish the walk. My leg is a bit improved, but the way that I regain a standing position from sitting on the floor is not elegant.
I’d not slept especially well last night, and I really notice the effects of poor sleep after three or four hours of walking. I was therefore flagging somewhat when I saw Ken and Carol sitting by the river finishing their picnic. They’re from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, a part of the world I’m very fond of. We discussed the Scarpa boots which we were all wearing. Don’t say that walkers haven’t got interesting conversational gambits. Carol has worn no other boots than Scarpa for 30 years. Quite the recommendation. Certainly since I swapped back to mine since the horrendous blister, my feet have been very comfortable. Here’s hoping they last to the end of the trek.
As I approached Malham I had the option of adding 2 or 3 miles to the day by taking in a detour to Janet’s Foss. I felt I couldn’t resist. I enjoyed the glimpse of the Cove across the fields and set off on the well maintained footpath to the waterfall.
The path followed the Aire again, and after hesitating a moment I decided I could resist no longer. I took off my boots and hot socks and sat with my feet in the blissfully icy water. There is nothing like the feeling of that cold on hot tired feet. And not for the first time I was grateful that I packed a tiny camping towel so that I could dry them properly before putting my boots back on. The tingle from the chill lasted for ages, and completely perked me up.
The waterfall was perhaps not worth the walk. It was not especially dramatic, and the pool it formed was busy with families in the water, some children shouting in encouragement to tempt others in, some mothers shouting at their small children as retribution for some earlier terrible behaviour, a little boy slipping and banging his knee on a rock and wailing as his father said ‘no, we don’t cry, you’ve got to be brave’. It wasn’t quite the magical atmospheric place that legend says was named after Janet, queen of the local fairies, who was supposed to live in a cave behind the waterfall.
I left the cacophony to return to Malham and continued today’s poor nutrition by demolishing a massive scone in the sunshine.
Another treat this evening, my old friends Louise and Digby have made the incredibly long journey up to see me with their dog Basil. They kindly bought me a lovely dinner and understood when I flagged and left them to it before 9pm. I’m no longer the party girl I was. Louise is going to walk with me tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the very poor forecast doesn’t come to pass!
Distance travelled:12.5 miles
Total ascent: 1780 feet
Calories burned: 1653
New song of the day
Jackie Onassis - Sammy Rae & The Friends
My lovely daughter Jessie suggested this, saying that she’s recently been listening to this album and nothing else. I think it’s fantastic, a really tight band, especially the sax solos, and the most amazing singer. Also love the clever metre changes. Thanks Jessie!!
Local tipple: Hetton ale from Dark Horse Brewery
Dinner at The Lister Arms, very good.
Caesar salad with halloumi and anchovies
Bread and olive oil
Video of the day