Day Three. After two easy days this years Pennine Way walk got tough on Day 3.
Thirteen miles including the ascension of Malham Cove, Fountains Fell and Pen-Y-Ghent. We’d be over 600m above sea level for most of the day and climb 3 times that, up hill and down dale. The remnants of neolithic farms and Anglo-Saxon stone walls would be almost as much of a wonder as the vastness of water that must have carved Malham Cove from the rock millions of years ago.
The limestone pavements of Malham and the view South across countless miles of the north of England are jaw-dropping. Norman Nicholson proclaimed that whale ribs glinted in the sun whilst Bill Bryson simply declared it might just be heaven on earth.
Beyond the glacial upheaval and the windy shore of Malham Tarn a long arduous climb to the abandoned mines of Fountains Fell got the blood pumping. A double packed lunch was devoured half way up the moorland path, before we reached the site of a disused mine right at the top of the peak. After admiring the open mine shafts that littered the moorland we hopped a stile and were presented with a 200m descent, at the bottom of which was the winding approach to Pen-Y-Ghent. We’d broken the back of the day in miles but certainly not in metres climbed. Fortunately the base of the 3rd of the 3 Peaks is well above sea and an hour later we were sat atop, peering down on Horton-in-Ribblesdale where our luxury B&B awaited.
The Pennine Way gods decided to make me work for my beer though, as the winding lanes to Horton were littered in chunky grey stones. These are a walkers hell, each step is a blunted knife in the sole of your foot, each jab a sucker punch to morale. Finally the lanes become tarmac, better only in it’s predictability, and eventually after a smart piece of navigating took us to our boardings.
A nap and then the bustling pubs. The Crown for food, who were unable to explain they did bar food as we waited patiently for a restaurant table. The Old Peculiar was faultless though, a rich, molasses and liquorice treat to sooth our weary frames. Old Peculiar is oil for the Pennine Wayer, essential engine lubrication to revive the soul. And this night it sparked a father-son heart to heart.
A swift nightcap followed in the Golden Lion, an odd pub with a quirky mint green exterior and Burnley-inspired claret and blue interior. The barman was friendly and the Old Peculiar still pleasing, so we didn’t judge the colour scheme until we’d left.