Pennine Way, 2013

Pennine Way (UK National Trail), 267 miles, 18 walking days, May/June 2013

May: Baldersdale – Langdon Beck – Dufton – Garrigill – Greenhead – Once Brewed – Bellingham – Byrness – Clennell Street – Kirk Yetholm

June: Edale – Torside – Standedge- Calder Valley – Cowling – Malham – Horton-in-Ribblesdale – Hawes – Keld – Baldersdale

This was a tough trail, probably the toughest UK trail we’ve walked. We divided the trail into two sections: from the halfway point at Baldersdale to the northern end at Kirk Yetholm (but see later) in May, followed by the southern section starting at Edale up to Baldersdale in June. As the name suggests, the Pennine Way follows the Pennine Hills up the spine of England crossing first Hadrian’s Wall at Keld and then the Coast-to-Coast at Once Brewed. The trail is very hilly and in the northern section characterised by boggy, misty, desolate moorland, and in places treacherous with worn-out paths, bad waymarking and very few other walkers. We also encountered more than our fair share of rain accompanied by high winds and on one day, snow (in May!). In the end, we abandoned the walk when we limped into Bryness, cold, bedraggled and disheartened. So, we never made it all the way to Kirk Yetholm. We stopped 27 miles short.

We also had more than our fair share of disasters: Carol banged her head on a low-lying branch and then compounded her misfortune by slipping down some very slippery limestone steps, whereas I tried to wade through a slurry pit formed by a nearby manure pile and had to be hosed off! And then that evening I stubbed my toes on a very unforgiving iron bedstead – twice. All these accidents happened on the same day and were followed on later days by getting stuck in the mud (Carol) and a painful bunion (me) thereby contributing to our abandonment of the trail when we reached Bryness.

The southern section in June was not so bad. The weather was better, the trail easier to follow and not so arduous, the passing scenery was more interesting and there were more walkers around.

Events and places that stick out are climbing up the side of Cauldron Snout waterfall on the River Tees; Jacob’s Ladder climb out of Edale (puff-puff no-talking zone); 49th wedding anniversary in the B&B at Torside (yes, I’d remembered – I had a card and some nicely wrapped muesli bars for Carol!); precipitous drops at Laddow Rocks escarpment; passing the 600-year medieval waymark known as the Aiggin Stone at Blackstone Edge; monument at Stoodley Pike commemorating the defeat of Napoleon in 1815; walking through and over Malham Cove, a natural amphitheatre and local beauty spot; climbing up the south side (the steep side) of the mighty Pen-y-ghent fell (one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks); passing unprotected swallow holes (big seemingly bottomless holes in the ground – don’t get too close); and getting caught out by a board bearing the initials WYBMADIITY in the White Horse in Hawes (Google the initials).

North section, 6 images to follow.

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South section, 21 images to follow

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