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Monday, 25 July 2011

Another Kind of Pennine Journey

high force malham cove

This could well be the very last time that I go banging on about  AJ Brown who wrote this ‘ere book, y’see…. anyway, the point is, I tried to walk one of his long distance routes along the Pennines. This was the one that goes from one serious health and safety hazard (High Force) which needs draining and another health and safety hazard (Malham Cove) which needs banking up with a ramp so that nobody can fall off. I mean ter say, its a very big drop.

And the point of the exercise was to see if I could walk between the two without using any navigational equipment at all, apart from the map in my head and a bit of whatever it is that allows you to make reasonable decisions about which direction to go in.

we'll keep the red flag flying here

And it was successful in that I left High Force albeit a day late due to duff weather, and arrived five days later at Malham.

Mrs K. dropped me off at High Force Hotel on Wednesday and I managed to find my way over to the South bank of the River Tees using a handy footbridge I knew about (!)

I then got a bit lost. I wandered up the Pennine Way towards Dufton and, after a bit , turned South, but missed the path over Hagworm hill because I had no bloody map, did I?

numbered boundary stone

I did manage to walk Southwards, parallel to the right of way and got to the top of Hagworm Hill (A Hagworm is an adder by the way. or a woman who can turn into an adder, perhaps.) And not long after this I located the Middleton to Brough road and had it in my mind that if I followed this Westwards, I would get to the Durham/Cumbria County boundary and I would be able to follow this for miles and miles and miles….   This worked well. It was a bit rough, but there were boundary stones (strangely numbered ) and a fence.

A long time passed and so did some miles, when I spotted an estate road --  over there…. and the outline of Great Knipe, a hill overlooking the A66. The A66 was a place to go. So I went.

sneaky camping spot

I camped behind a wall over the brow of a hill in a place where I though I would be out of sight of any wandering shepherds or estate workers. One did pass my tent within ten feet, but didn’t see me….

In the meantime, the gunners at Warcop Range had swapped their really big guns/bangs for withering machine gun fire. Note to self: Never try this on the Warcop range.

Thursday, I followed the edge of the scarp to Great Knipe, trespassed a bit in a sheep field and crossed the dual carriageway. The County Boundary would continue from the summit of the road, so I followed the line of the old railway to Tebay and guessed where the boundary was. I got it right and continued boggily Southwards.

boundary fence

And then I got distracted by a bothy. I had to have a look. It was a grand place for lunch. Very plush, in fact. I’m not going to say where it was. Those whom I know are interested in these things may apply for a location.

I returned to the County fence and plodge on through litterless bog, with a view of tan Hill Inn far ahead. Once again I got distracted by a road over there…..  or was it over here…. I plodged towards it and followed it to the sanctity and, indeed, sanity of the public bar. The lass serving asked if she could serve me. I said she could. She said she felt loved. I said that so did I.

tan hill inn

I followed the Pennine Way to Keld, applied at the farm and put the akto up on the campsite. There were a few midgies.

Friday, I refused the offer of direction from the Pennine Way – at first, at least. I wandered through flowery uncut meadows towards Thwaite and, once on the road, I came across a sign. “Pennine Way Hardraw 8 Miles.” Eight of your Queen’s miles to the George and dragon. Here be cold cider on a warm day. I gave in and followed the Way of the Pennines over Great Shunner fell to the public bar at Hardraw. It Was Worth It.

pw shunner fell

I continued to Hawes, to a phone signal, a Spar shop and a seat outside a pub in the sun. Eventually I left and went to gayle and then, turning away from The Way, I heaved my poor sotted body through the steep contours up to Yorburgh – a green hill far way without a city wall. Or a beck. Luckily, I’d filled up the platypus with three litres of cold beck at the bottom. I camped overlooking Wensleydale on the almost very top of Wether Fell. It was a windy night. No midgies at all.


Saturday, I joined the Roman road to Fleet Moss, wandered down the road to Beckermonds and was joined by three venerable ladies with a map for the climb up and over to Halton Gill. They looked at the map a lot. I didn’t.

ingleborough and penyghent

A nice, teetering path by Penyghent Gill brought me to the foot of Fountains fell where the Pennine Way meets it coming from the South – see how much distance I’ve saved here….  I couldn’t find any water. A rambling club descended. I asked if that green lump up there was flat on top. One said, helpfully, “It might be…” It was, but covered in thistles. I knew another spot, green and pleasant with a nice, clean beck. It was on the other side of Fountains Fell. crossing it, this late in the day would be a trial. It was. A trial. Oh yes. I did some swearing.

tent door view fountains fell

I got a signal and told everybody that needed to know (principally Mrs K) that i was just 12 miles from Malham. As it turned out, my nice campsite by Tennents Gill was more like 6 miles, which I covered the next morning, including a brew and a snooze and feeding the Malham Cove jackdaws on my spare cheese…    The Buck Inn gave shelter from the searing sun till Mrs K arrived to bring me home.


I would like to thank the designers of Ingleborough for placing such a dominating and distinctive lump in the landscape, without which this walk could have had problems. Malham is just behind the second hill to the left of Ingleborough, y’see and Ingleborough can be easily picked out from Shunner Fell – or even further North.

What happens when you don’t have a map? I need to let this sink in and will probably post something in a bit.

I measured the route, though – it was 62 miles and 8700 feet of up. I could have made it a bit shorter, but it would have been very very rough.

malham cove



Alan R said...

Hi Mike, 5 pubs in 62 miles. Thats are decent average i would say.
Congratulations on the route completion and some decent weather too going off the pics. (not Picts).
Did you have any Oh Sh--, moments where the hell am i?

Mike Knipe said...

I could have done more pubs, Alan, but I'd still be in Hawes...
As for the wherethelarewe moments - I had lots of trouble remembering where public footpaths were or went. At a macro level, finding your way is very easy. I seldom actually knew exactly where I was, so its a good job I didn;t have to call for help as the directions would have been vague to say the elast.

charlie allen said...

Well done Mike.

QDanT said...

You just missed Kylie camping at Dodd Fell, did the 40% work ?

Louise said...

I'd expect nothing less from my hero, Mike.

Martin Rye said...

Pubs and hills do seem to fit together sometimes. That looked a good walk Mike and you got some decent wild camps in as well.

Mike Knipe said...

Ta Charlie - the lesson is, never believe that i know 9or care much) where I am...
Dan -Eeee, That lass Kylie. Is that what you'd call a stalker? I didn't mention her in the hope she'd give up on her forlorn mithering. That, and I forgot to ut in the Kylie joke, dammit...
Louise - What can I say (simper.... examines shoelaces....)
And in new trousers too...
Pubs Martin? I can't say I noticed.. (koff) They must be strategically placed or something.

markswalkingblog said...

Mike, I have got to finish off the bit from Tan Hill Inn to High Force and I would have broken the back of much of the Pennine Way that I have done in sections. If you have done the Pennine Way going South to North - how is it doing the other way round? Does it feel any different?

OWDBUM said...

great report Mike, I was in the area meself not long since...lovely.

Mike Knipe said...

Mark - Going South is very much like going North, except you get a better tan. Whichever direction you choose, the bar at Tan Hill is on top of a hill, so if you start there, it's downhill. That particular section is very nice if you like miles of fairly flat moors.
Ta Owdbum. I like it. I even like the boggy bits.