Thursday May 4 Cowling to Malham

There is a promise of sun and a warm day, but it started off cloudy and hazy. A lady walker was asking directions of a local so I stopped and talked with her briefly and pointed the way. She was ahead of me yesterday but took a wrong turn at Ponden Reservoir and I wondered where she was heading. She is walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats, the full length of Britain. Whew!!

Over hills and fields to Lothersdale, then up over Thornton Moor to Thornton-In-Craven where I ate a banana on the village green with the John O’Groats (JOG) lady. The sky is clearing. More high hills, then down to meet the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Walking along the towpath is a pleasant change of pace. The boats anchored here seem to be mostly owned by retired people. Of course, I passed under the famous double bridge, the upper one built to accommodate modern traffic.

After leaving the canal, I lost the path and had to backtrack to a footbridge that I knew was on the path. Hopkins skips over details so it is easy to lose where you are, but I could locate my mistake by studying Wainwright’s detailed maps.

At Gargrave, I refilled my water bottle at a pub and left town on a country road. While crossing a pasture, the path completely disappeared. I came to a fence, but no stile. Where to go? Then I spotted several walkers coming my way across a distant field and I could see where they would meet the fence. I turned right along the fence until I came to a place to climb through and rejoin the path. Later, I was dive-bombed by a squawking bird who was protecting her nest in the grass near the path. But really! She should be used to walkers by now.

The walk was delightful along the River Aire to Hanlith Hall where I met two girls practicing their horse riding techniques. They said I should go to Kirkby Malham instead of Malham, “its a better place to visit”. Maybe another time. Its a steep climb on the road past Hanlith up onto picturesque cliffs over the river, then down into the village of Malham.

Mirefield B&B is a nicely restored old building, fairly comfortable, but with a commercial feel to it and an abrupt manager. The village is incredibly picturesque, bisected by the river and has two lovely connecting bridges. The Lister Arms was highly recommended and has a great selection of ales, but the menu was uninspiring. Eating with a couple doing the Malham circular walk, I had Timothy Taylors Landlords (again), smoked salmon with asparagus and cream sauce in pasta. Actually, that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

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