Feb 26 2011

Walk 23: Loafing Around

Malham Cove

route: Rye Loaf Hill from Malham
Date: 26th February 2011
distance: 6.7 miles
ascent: 1,508 feet
time: 3 hrs 40 mins
walkers: Charlie, Dave, Graham, Ian, Janet, Leanne, Roger, Ryan & Simon

Never again! Never again am I going out the night before a walk, or at least not until I forget how much difference it made to getting up. I wasn’t rough as such but I didn’t have the spring in my step I usually have when it is time to ramble. Within two hours of getting up I was in Malham and looking forward to the off, albeit not as enthusiastically as I normally would. We took the now traditional teams shot which this time contained two new walkers, The Goat and Janet, then set off through the lovely little village of Malham.

As we left the village the road bends left and rises slightly and off to our right was the path we would take for the early part of our journey. We followed this path (Pennine Way) for a little while and Malham Cove soon came into view. It was the first time I had been here before (although my mum tells me I came here a few times as a child, I can’t remember and therefore it doesn’t count) and I have to say I was very impressed with not only the cove but the other landscape as we approached. Malham Beck was delightful as it snaked along near to our path and above that the hillside seemed to have a lot more walls than other areas in the Dales. Maybe this was just the fact the fields were smaller I don’t know, but something about it looked different. The cove itself wasn’t as big as I was expecting but it was certainly a decent size and visually as impressive as I imagined it would be.

The walk had started nice and gently and the fact I had been out the night before hadn’t come into it, but that soon changed as we began to climb the steps that climb up the side of Malham Cove. Things were getting tougher and I began to slowly lose touch with the others as they climbed steadily. It wasn’t as if they powered away from me, more a case of me taking things easy and making sure I didn’t decorate the steps with last night’s pasta. I don’t really think it would have come to that but better to be safe than sorry!

As I took the last few steps up and on to the Limestone Pavement that runs along the top of the cove, I could see the others inspecting it and taking in the views. The stone was extremely slippery and we all had to be extra careful not to do something silly that would result in an injury.

After spending quarter of an hour on the Limestone we checked the map and headed off on the next part of our walk, to find the bridleway to Rye Loaf. We spotted a sheep carcass on the ground as we walked by. Carcass maybe a bit farfetched as it was simply a spine, ribs and skull so maybe a sheep skeleton would be a more accurate description. Ryan took a keen interest but nobody else took too much notice due to the fact we have seen all sorts of similar things on our travels. We approached a stile over a wall as the mist quickly descended over us reducing visibility down to 30 yards or so. The Goat and myself had another map check and we worked out we had a longer route round to our next target or we could back track a little and hopefully cut the corner off. The team vote as is usually the case goes for the shortest route and off we went. We met another stile and had the choice of going over and following the wall to the road or staying this side of it and doing the same. Little decisions like this may not seem too important but sometimes they do have an effect on what you encounter a little further on. In this case we crossed the wall and when we met the road we had to climb up and over a wall onto the road. Had we stayed on the other side there was a gate waiting for us.

We walked the short distance down the road before we came to the gate leading to the bridleway, which would in turn, take us almost to our intended location of Rye Loaf Hill. As we neared beaky could see two Highland Cattle stood to the side of the gate but as he squared up to the gate he was met face to face with another one which gave him a fright.

After a brief chat and a bit of gentle convincing that they were more wary of us than we are of them, we opened the gate and made our way onto the bridleway.

After we moved slowly beyond the first group, we then encountered a second and then third group, who like the first kept an eye on us but never seemed bothered by us as we kept our distance and made our way around them

We had climbed even further as we continued along the bridleway and the good underfoot conditions we now had. Some places were a bit muddy but other stretches were nice short grass ideal for striding out and pushing on to make sure we were done in good time as we had a date with a pub to watch Leeds play Swansea on TV in a few hours.

From our more elevated position we had views back to Malham Cove and a short while later we got our only glimpse of Malham Tarn which we will no doubt visit another day.

The path continued for a while longer and through a couple of gates before the grass underfoot was replaced by more of a track as we dropped towards another gate.

From here we would leave the bridleway and follow the wall away to our left over the squelchy thick grass and towards the trig point we were seeking. Once again the mist decided to pay a visit and the wind picked up as we made the final climb to a trig we couldn’t actually see.

After a little bit of moaning from someone at the back (no names mentioned,…… ok it was Janet) we finally reached the top and we sunk down into the crater next to the trig for a sandwich. The Goat and G went and sat at the other side of a pile of stones to avoid the wind as the rest of the team chatted away. I wandered around as I do taking my pictures and today I ate up any spare food as I now had beer hunger! After fifteen minutes or so at the top and with the wind blowing we were starting to get a little chilly, so we packed up and headed off. We made our way back down to the bridleway we had walked on earlier asthe mist lifted once again.

After following the route back towards the Highland Cattle we picked up a sign post we had noticed on our outward journey and headed off down that path back to Malham.

The descent was a little treacherous in places as the ground was wet but quite compact underneath meaning it was like a skating rink. All but a couple of us ended up on the deck and I had to haul myself back up on three occasions. Still that made for a bit of fun and everyone seemed quite content to take their chances and laugh at others misfortunes.

We made our way past Hoober Edge and away to our left we had sight of a lovely little waterfall as we continued over a little stream and towards the farm road that would take us back into Malham.

We picked up this track and just had the simple job of following it back to the cars then heading off to the pub. As soon as we reached the track we noticed a smell of fish which we thought was a bit bizarre but the only thing to be seen was a dozen or so chickens/hens/cockerels (delete as applicable)

Ryan had twisted his ankle earlier in the week and it was now beginning to hurt so we waited in the glorious sunshine for him and Roger to catch us up then walked back into Malham as a group. As always the walking isn’t about who can go fastest or finish first, it is about the team and we start and finish as one. We got changed in the car park as a large rainbow stretched over the cove, before we headed for the pub and the football. That didn’t go exactly to plan and unfortunately we lost 3 – 0, but a couple of beers completed my recovery and I was back to my old self. I think the walk had more to do with it than the three pints but I am sure they helped too. I can certainly recommend a walk to Malham Cove and up the steps as a hangover cure but no doubt the walk would be even more enjoyable without having had a skin full the night before. I might just have to return soon to find out!

Sir Edmund

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