Limestone pavement above Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales, photographed by Charles Hawes

High Dales Hike Day 2 : Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale

February 8, 2015 · 12 comments

Date walked: 13th September 2014

Distance: 12 miles

Map required: OS Explorer OL2 – Yorkshire Dales, Southern and Western areas

Reference book: A Dales High Way Companion by Tony and Chris Grogan

I was using the excellent baggage transfer services of Brigantes.


I didn’t have the best of nights in the single bed of my miserable room at Miresfield Bed and Breakfast. And I didn’t fancy the pre-cooked breakfast that was being offered, buffet style, on a side table but I did have a fruit salad and some bacon and toast. That may have been a mistake. Read on.

The Pennine Way passes through Malham  and then heads straight to the base of Malham Cove.

Malham Cove photographed from The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

Several people already on their way ahead of me

I had walked here before in the 1980’s but was as impressed by the sheer wall of the limestone cove as if I was seeing it for the first time.

Malham Cove, photographed from The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

Now imagine the meltwaters of a glacier pouring over the top!

A series of steps to the left of the cove climb to its top and reveal an impressive view, even on a misty day.

View from the top of Malham Cove, photographed by Charles Hawes

You don’t get much of a sense of the elevation in this pic

But the truly amazing thing about the cove is the limestone pavement, its surface like a massive set of molars.

Limestone pavement on top of Malham Cove, photographed by Charles Hawes

Maybe not the best simile- it would be a most unusual set of teeth

Limestone pavement at the top of Malham Cove, photographed by Charles Hawes

With sheep!

I picked my way over the incised surface to join the Pennine Way again as it passes through Ing Scar.

Ing Scar, Malham, Yorkshire, photographed on The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

I don’t know why it’s called Ing

At the end was another short but steep climb to give a view of the scar and its snaking dry stone wall.

View onto Ing Scar from Ther Pennine Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Fab view, eh. Love that wall.

After a gentle climb up Comb Hill, the land  flattens out at about 1,000 feet; ahead  a first glimpse of Malham Tarn.

Malham to Horton-12

The Pennine Way heads straight for the tarn. At the side of  its car park a young couple were just emerging from their tiny tent; “Nice secluded spot you chose”, I quipped.  They smiled. I was surprised and shocked that the most unsightly thing I saw that day was the entrance to the Malham Tarn Field Centre.

Entrance to Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre, photographed by Charles Hawes

I guess it’s temporary, but did it need to be quite so prominently located?

Along the drive to the house, someone had been practising their dry stone walling on the specimen trees. Or was it Art?

Walled surround to trees in Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre, photographed by Charles Hawes

There were at least half a dozen trees given this treatment

The Field Centre is based in Malham Tarn House; I took advantage of its toilets. I passed several groups of Youth Under Instruction as I made my way through the wood on the north side of the tarn.

Malham Tarn, photographed from The Pennine way by Charles Hawes

The lake is glacial and is the highest in England

The Pennine Way takes a sharp right, heading north  through a dry valley, the path wide and easy next to a dry stone wall.

Pennine way north of Malham Tarn, photographed by Charles Hawes

More fabulous walls

Ahead, after crossing a minor road,  was a long and gentle climb over Fountains Fell. One cheery chap passed me as I sat and had a cup of  coffee from my flask, his progress up the hillside marking where I would follow.

View to Fountains Fell, photographed from The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

A nice easy climb ahead

This area was dotted with many dips in the moor called Shake Holes where the limestone has been dissolved by rain water and caused the rock layers to collapse.

Shake Hole on Fountains Fell, photographed from The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

Not easy to read in a pic

It was a cloudy day and the sky seemed a good fit with this reedy moorland.

Fountains Fell, Yorkshire, photographed from The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

Not exactly murky but no need for sun barrier cream

The highest part of the moor was around 2,000 feet and on the edge of some old mine workings (according to the map) fellow walkers had erected several cairns. I stopped to add a few stones to one.

Cairns near the summit of Fountains Fell, photographed from The Pennine Way by Charles Hawes

Wonderful building stone for cairns

Through the passing gap in a neat wall was my first sighting of Pen-Y-Ghent, a mile and a half away on the other side of  the valley.

View to Pen-y-Ghent from Fountains Fell, photographed by Charles Hawes

Anyone could make wonderful walls with this stone

The path heads directly for this hill….

The edge of Fountains Fell and view to Pen-y-Ghent, photographed from The Pennine way by Charles Hawes

…..before dropping steeply down the side of the valley, veering south-west now.

View to the side of Pen-Y-Ghent, photographed from the Pennine way by Charles Hawes

I couldn’t see a name for this valley on the map

On my way down the steep and now rocky track, I passed three walkers and a dog coming up, sporting Macmillan Cancer Relief  badges. They had completed the 267 mile Pennine Way and, without stopping, they were making the return journey. And they were carrying full camping gear and in all this time had only had one night in a B&B. Respect.

The path reaches a little road and follows it along the valley for about a mile. Around then I began to feel very insecure in the nether regions. I’ll spare you the details but you can imagine how uncomfortable this was on an open road with only treeless vegetation either side of me. I pressed on until, really quite desperate, I tried a gateway in a wall attached to a small farm. It was open I had just about time to tuck myself into the corner before the inevitable explosion took place. At least I had loo paper in my bag  and stones to hand for a burial.

The next two miles were quite unpleasant as my bowels continued to threaten a repeat performance and I tried to exercise mind over matter. At least I knew that waiting for me at Horton would be a change of clothes and a shower.

The approach to Pen-y-Ghent from the Pennine way, photographed by Charles Hawes

No way today!

The path approached the foot of Pen-y-Ghent and although the Pennine Way climbs it to the top and then descends to Horton, there was no way that I was feeling up to the challenge. From its base I took the path direct to Horton via Brackenbotton Scar.

Path by Brackenbottom Scar to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, photographed by Charles Hawes

Only a couple of miles to go

Thankfully I made it to the village without further mishap, glancing back from time to time to the rejected peak.

Pen-Y-Ghent photographed from Near Horton-in-Ribblesdale by Charles Hawes

Another time

In other circumstances, and if I had been in company, I might have enjoyed the bar of the Golden Lion, packed as it was with walkers exchanging stories of their Three Peaks Challenge.

Malham to Horton-33

Today I was just glad to see my bags waiting at the bottom of the stairs. All I wanted to do was to get to my room and the safety of its bathroom.  And to lie down.  My ordeal wasn’t over though.

I decided later that I should have something to eat. I had drunk a lot of water in my room so I risked a glass of wine and an indifferent chilli (ok maybe not the best choice),  self-served from a buffet in the characterless dining room come refectory.  I began to feel quite odd as I was emailing Anne and the next thing I knew I had a concerned looking young man (an off duty policeman as it happens) opposite me asking me if I was alright and telling me that I had fainted and had gone down on the table “quite hard”.

I was sweating profusely and did feel strange. He was all for calling an ambulance but I seemed to make a rapid recovery and he agreed that the colour was coming back to my face. To my right a woman who was also taking an interest asked if she could take my pulse, declaring herself to be a vet.  She said it was fine (not an incident of my SVT then). She advised drinking lots of water and adding a little salt to it.

So against police and veterinary advice (who were concerned about me being on my own) I thanked them for their very kind intervention and rather carefully made my way back to my room and wondered what was going to happen next. What happened when I eventually turned the light out was several more trips to the loo. Around 5am I took the only two anti-runs pills in my toilet bag. There was no chemist in Horton and besides tomorrow was a Sunday, so they would have to do the trick or I was definitely going to be in trouble.

They are a mean lot at the Golden Lion. I had given them nearly a week’s notice that Bob could not use his room but they kept his deposit. At £70 for my very simple double room this place is exploiting its customers. To charge £105 was outrageous. 


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Thorpe February 8, 2015 at 7:56 am

Oh dear! Sympathy for both your digestive problems and being overcharged for mediocre accommodation. Very attractive, moody images.


Charles February 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Thanks for the sympathy! I enjoyed the walk despite the difficulties. It gets better from here on.


Paul Steer February 8, 2015 at 7:16 pm

I felt your pain whilst reading this – but you are a true professional continuing to take photographs – thank you for not showing us where you had your ‘explosion’.


John February 8, 2015 at 7:42 pm

I just have this vision of, in a few years, the little pile of stones that Charles created to cover the evidence having grown into a cairn and being photographed many times by other bloggers! Well, either that or someone in authority using this blog as evidence that he didn’t “scoop the poop” and arresting him.

And you shouldn’t have put that thought into his head. He probably DOES have a photograph! There must be a joke somewhere about being treated by a vet. Maybe Charles was a bit sheepish? Has he been microchipped?


Charles February 9, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Nice vision, John, but I was so discreet, no one would see it. And, no, I did not take a photograph. Being chipped would be a good idea, cos then I could be found if I went missing.


Charles February 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Thanks. Yes, the show must go on. Actually it was a very nice spot that I found.


David Marsden February 9, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Pity poor Charles. You’ve had a walking day’s experience I hope I never share – and provided so much detail! For which I thank you … ish. Two consecutive bad B&B’s is unfortunate – I hope they get better. And you did too. Your Dehli Belly aside this seems a perfect day’s walk. Your molar simile seems perfect. D


Charles February 10, 2015 at 6:27 am

I’m glowing from all this symapthy, empathy and pity. But perhaps not so much that I will want to repeat it. As for detail, well I could have gone on….Things did get better all round. Anon.


julia fogg February 10, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Can’t wait for the next episode – better than Sunday night tv. Lovely stone by the way but still looks very cold. Brrr.


Charles February 10, 2015 at 1:41 pm

By popular demand and after threat of riot, I will put it out next Sunday.


rob grover February 19, 2015 at 7:28 pm

I don’t want to sound unsympathetic, but you do write good drama, and the last I can remember is the will he/ won’t he catch the bus, back in South Wales


Charles February 19, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Really? Thanks. I’ll try and beef up the drama for you. “Will he or won’t he get that third pint.” “Will there be fruit on the breakfast table?” Come to think of it I reckon there was a good drama about if the pub on the Lleyn was going to be open.


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