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Pennine Way
Horton to Gargrave
Saturday 30th August.
Day:10 - Distance:20 miles

Another day dawned dry and bright. We slept until 07.30 getting a little extra sleep after our longer day yesterday. Breakfast quickly consumed and with everything packed into our back packs we are ready to start walking at 08.30. The Pennine Way leads north east and then east as it climbs out of Horton towards Penyghent. There are two steep scrambles along the route but after 2 miles in 45 minuets we are at the summit. On a bright sunny morning this should be a beautiful place. However Penyghent is the first of the peaks on the traditional Yorkshire 3 Peaks walk and at 09.15 on a summer Saturday it was thick with walkers. We moved quickly onward down the steep scramble before diverging from the 3 Peaks route and its crowds across the open countryside towards Churn Milk Hole. We took a short break once we were away from the crowds to re-tie shoe laces, organise our clothing and shake out the tent which was wet with morning condensation.


Navigation was easy with good views and several Pennine Way white acorn way markers to follow. These way marks are few and far between along the length of the walk so don't plan on using them as your guide. We walked on along the gated road looking up at Fountains Fell on our left. The walk turns west from the road and climbs around the north flank of the fell on a well worn track. This is the second climb of the morning and we were glad to reach the ridge and take a short mid morning break before beginning our decent. At morning break we munch on a cereal bar and drink water. Cereal bars have a high level of carbohydrate along with fats and sugars which we feel is the ideal balance for a snack stop. The sun is shining and a breeze blowing as we restart our walk down Fountains Fell.

As we headed down we passed a group from the activity centre at Malham climbing up. I would guess they were 18 year olds, a mixed group of boys and girls. Its always good to see younger people out in the hills, but sadly I suspect this would be the first and last time for many of this group would be out walking. One quick look showed that they had absolutley everything wrong. They were all carrying ridiculously heavy backpacks which were badly fitting and uncomfortable and they all wore heavy climbing boots. They would not be walking many miles today and the miles they did walk were very evidently going to be torture. It was not their fault. Some instructor somewhere had specified all this ridiculous kit without any thought of the practicalities of what the kids might be capable of or what they might actually achive with sensible recommendation of shoes and packs. I feel sorry for the kids and loathing for the hapless instructors.
At the foot of the fell the route crosses a road and continues through fields with high stone walls. This limits visibility and route finding is a little tricky, but eventually we found the road around the north shore of Malham Tarn and walk east towards Malham Tarn field center. We had started the day with only 1 litre of water which was now gone so I took the opportunity to fill up the water bottles from a tap in the yard at the field center before we headed on around the tarn. Malham Tarn is a popular visitor destination and the area was full of people enjoying the water, surrounding parkland and the famous Malham Cove rocks. It was 14.00 and lunch was over due so we found a spot at the top of the cove and cooked up lunch and aired our feet.

With lunch over we climbed down the cove and walked into the village of Malham which was buzzing with visitors. Our waterproof map case has disintegrated with the use/abuse we had given it over the previous week we so we took the opportunity to buy a replacement at the outdoor shop in the village. The long day yesterday and this mornings 2 climbs ment we were flagging a little so we took a 15 minute break in the village before carrying on with the walk. Our target tonight was Gargrave another 6 miles futher south. The walking promised to be easy as the Pennine Way contiues through fields along the banks of the river Aire to Airton and we soon realised that this was indeed the case. In fact the route continues in this leisurely style for a further mile before leaving the course of the river to climb over Eshton moor. This is not hard climb. No more than 300 feet of ascent but we were feeling tired at the end of the day and the last mile of descent down into Gargrave was hard work.

As we arrived on the edge of the village we found a farmer who kindly told us where the camp site was and within 5 minutes we were dropping our packs and beginning to pitch our tent. A hot shower and a few minutes admiring the sunset raise our spirits and hot cooked food made us feel really good. As the sunset behind the trees the temperature dropped quickly. The clear skies overhead signaled that we were in for a chilly night and having decided to give the pub a miss this evening we added an extra layer of sleeping clothes and got settled into our bags.

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