Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Malham to just past Tennant Gill Farm

Morning in Malham came too soon.  Our clothes were not completely dry from the massive dirt removal process we'd begun the night before. Unfortunately, as with most B&Bs, the radiators had been turned off at night when the landlord went to bed.  So, once he was up in the morning, we turned the radiators back on full blast, got the space heater working and headed down to breakfast.

We left around 10:30 and decided to see if there was any place to get some food. Once again, our supplies were running low.  There was nothing in Malham that would have classified as a grocery store, but there were 8 places to find accommodation, 6 eating establishments, 2 pubs, and 1 gift shop/outdoor supply store - total number of actual businesses providing all these things = 10.  I guess it pays to be multi-functional in Malham.

Of all of these businesses, the only one which even stood a chance of meeting our sustenance needs for the next days' hikes was the gift shop/supply store - Gordale Gifts and Outdoor Wear.  It wasn't open when we got there, and so we stood trying to peer into the darkened windows to see if it might possibly have food.  Chuck had broken a boot lace that morning, and it did appear that Gordale Gifts could possibly supply a replacement.  With some things at the back of the store that looked like they MIGHT be food, we decided it was worth waiting for the proprietress to open the shop at 11.
Waiting patiently...
We wandered around the village, such as it was, waiting for opening time and watching hordes of people preparing to go for a walk.  These people didn't appear to be Malham residents.  Some had arrived on a small red bus, but most were parking along the main (and essentially only) street in Malham, digging their walking apparel out of their boots - car boots and not hiking boots - and consulting various maps.  It made me excited for the day's walk. If this many people were coming to Malham in the middle of the week to walk, Malham Cove and what lay beyond must be spectacular.

Finally it was time to go back to Gordale Gifts, and it was definitely worth the wait. If Aladdin's Cave (back on day 7) had been an oasis, this was an oasis within an oasis! Gordale Gifts had its share of knick-knacks and souvenirs, and it also had lots of outdoor wear (as you would expect from the name of the shop), but the new owners had taken it one step further. They had made a point of asking their hiking clientele what they would want to purchase, and as a result, they had all manner of wonderful supplies for the walker: tent stakes, rain gear, gaiters, compasses, foam sit pads, all manner of small toiletries (individual disposable razors, for example), blister packs, camel backs... the list went on and on.
We were spoiled for choice.  Looking at the foam sit pads, I couldn't help but think of a line from my favorite movie of all time - A Room With A View - "Observe my foresight. I never venture forth without my mackintosh squares.  At any time one may have to sit on damp ground or cold marble." - Eleanor Lavish (played by Judi Dench).  Since damp ground was par for the course, of course we had to get the pads!

We left the shop after 11:30 and finally headed out towards Malham Cove.
As we got nearer and nearer, the rock formation just became more impressive. It is 260 feet high and over 1000 feet wide.  A small stream, Malham Beck, flows out from a cave at the base of the cove, and it seemed like a lovely spot for a picnic.  We had to climb about 400 stone steps to reach the top.  The climb was difficult for me, but I was amazed to notice that it wasn't nearly as hard as other climbs had been earlier in the trip.  I must be improving...

The top of the cove has been described as uneven limestone pavement.  This site was actually used to film a short scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) - Harry and Hermione apparate in and out in attempt to avoid the forces of evil.  But, there were no wizards popping in and out today, just beautiful landscape.

We idled our way through the limestone and the valleys. There were small caves and interesting rock formations to look at, and we passed some shaggy cows along the way.  Shaggy cows.... so cute!  Emerging from the limestone, the areas leading up to Malham Tarn were wide and expansive.
The tarn itself was pretty placid, but the winds around it were starting to pick up.  We were getting a little tired and hungry, but it was hard to find shelter near the lake, or at least shelter that wouldn't be more soggy than our new sit pads could handle.

We were also getting a little grumpy, and this led to a small spat over picture taking, the details of which are hardly worth recounting.  Suffice it to say that it was soon over, and we sat right in the middle of a gravel road to take a break and have a bite.
The view from our resting spot
All too soon, we were back on our feet, winding around Malham Tarn and walking along the tree-lined lanes past the Malham Tarn House Study Centre.  We were quickly back to walking through farms and thus through mud.  The time spent on lanes and roads was over too quickly, as I immediately sank ankle deep into mud, and our pace slowed.

We had about 3-4 miles of farmland trekking before we would finally stop for the night.  As the day progressed, the clouds got lower and lower in the sky.  The mists were starting to descend.
The last stretch took us right through a farm, Tennant Gill Farm.  It was the end of the day, and the farmer and his son were rounding up their animals - sheep and cows - for the night.  The son was riding around on a four-wheeler with his border collie following along, trying to find the last of the cows.  We located a camp spot along the trail but fairly close to where the farmer's son had just passed looking for cows.  We figured he'd be back later (and he was), and so we sort of stood around trying to look nonchalant as we waited for him to head home.  Finally he came back through with the dog now balancing on the back of his vehicle, and we set up camp for the night right in the middle of the trail.  We huddled into our sleeping bags, broke out our new purchase (a book by Alfred Wainright, A Pennine Journey), and passed the hours from dark until sleep with reading about someone else's travails on the trail. 


  1. Likewise, I enjoy reading about your travails on the trail.

    I suspect that two traveling companions will experience every emotion on their travels. You can’t help but learn a great deal about yourselves when put in these conditions.

    These pictures seem to indicate one of the more beautiful sections of the trail.


  2. Thanks Craig! Our walk from Malham was one of my favorites. The top of Malham Cove was just stunning. We took so many pictures; it was hard to decide which ones to include in this post.

    Emotionally, this was a big journey for me (and I think for Chuck too). They ran the gamut, but were mostly very joyful and positive. :)