Saturday 15 August Icknorshaw to Malham

Mileage: Today 19 miles Cumulative 690.7 Belligerent rams 1

A long day. My original plan was to take three days to get from Hebden Bridge to Malham. However, the Silent Inn has not yet re-opened after lockdown and, it is not feasible for Earby hostel to accept bookings from single travellers.

Icknorshaw

It was overcast with mist over the tops when I left the campsite. My first task was to cross the ridge into Lothersdale. On the way I arrived at a field containing three rams (no horns). One came to the gate to challenge me with an aggressive bleat, well more like a growl. I looked for a detour but none was available so I entered the field. He bottled out and ran off.

From Lothershawe I climbed up to Pinshaw Beacon. On the way I was passed by a fell runner (twice! I am a slow walker). As I entered the moorland I was again walking in heather but there were no views. According to the runner, from the top you can see the Lakeland mountains to the North-west and Malham Cove ahead. Not today.

Near the top the map indicates Robert Wilson’s grave. Apparently there is a stone about 200m from the path in the heather. I had a long way to go so I didn’t look for it. Pinshaw Beacon was one of the chain set up across the land to warn of a Napoleonic Invasion. Mr Wilson was a beacon watcher. During severe weather he and his colleagues were stranded at the beacon and running out of food and he volunteered to get supplies. He got lost in the storm and the stone is said to mark where his body was found.

I now descended down towards Thornton in Craven. I was not finding the walk particularly interesting and my hamstring was beginning to hurt again. Most End to Enders get bad days and if you have been following me all the way you know I have had days like this before. My mood improved when I reached a canal which I followed for about a mile. There was a narrowboat selling cake. A Sprite and a slice of lemon drizzle cake gave me some energy for the next few miles.

After the canal I crossed a field where three riders were trying to train their horses to do cross country jumps. The horses were not keen, maybe they didn’t like an audience.

The walk continued across farmland to Gargrave where I stocked up on supplies for the next two days. I then crossed Eshton Moor to descend into the Aire valley. I was tired but my mood picked up as I followed the river. I like the sound of a moorland river bubbling over rocks and the valley was very peaceful this evening. It made up for the lack of views earlier.

River Aire near Calton

Now it was easy walking, following the river upstream to Malham. just before the village I detoured off the Way to pass Aire Head, the source of the river. There are multiple springs entering a marshy area with varied waterplants.

Malham is a lovely village and is a tourist honeypot. There are great daywalks round here. Janet’s Foss is a pretty waterfall over tufa (fossilised moss) and there is a fairy that lives in a cave behind the waterfall. Nearby is Goredale scar where you can watch rock athletes in action and an impressive waterfall with an entertaining scramble up on to the moor for us mortals. The other attraction is Malham Cove, more of which tomorrow

I went to the Buck (recommenced) and took my revenge on the ram by enjoying glazed lamb shank. I find these less popular cuts of meat are often more tasty than the more traditional (and expensive) chops or roast, although they take a bit more cooking. Lamb breast is great too, especially rolled with a stuffing. And if we are going to kill an animal to eat then we should use all of it, although I must admit I am not a fan of offal.

I am beginning to get used to pubs in the post Covid era. One way systems, hand gel, table service etc. I fear for their viability though. The pub would normally be packed at this time of year, and they take most of their profit during the summer. Today we were all sitting, socially distanced. The servers told me that footfall is down over 50%. Their costs are up as they need more staff to serve at table than if everyone orders at the bar.