Friday May 5 Malham to Horton-In-Ribblesdale

Breakfast was a serve yourself buffet with sausage, bacon and eggs, a very nice layout. Sausage was excellent so I took some for lunch. I saw Ruth (the JOG lady) at breakfast. She is having foot problems so left early to have time to rest along the way. The B&B flower garden is incredibly colorful in the morning sunlight. Horses in the adjacent green pasture with hills around make an idyllic scene. Leaving the village I follow Malham Beck, a picture-perfect stream, to Malham Cove, a half-circular vertical limestone cliff. The steep climb to the top reveals an eroded limestone surface bringing to mind sections of dinosaur backbone. Its like I’m on top of an ancient world hidden from sight. The surrounding view of the mountains is truly spectacular.

After climbing down the far side, I follow a narrow canyon to Malham Tarn, pass through a forested nature preserve, a manor house posing as an eco field center, and on to Tennant Gill Farm. Here begins the long climb up Fountain Fell. The ridge seems high above as I pass shake holes, pot holes and old mine shafts. On top, at the two stone man cairns, I have lunch and marvel at the view of Penyghent across the valley. I will soon be scaling its face, but from this point I don’t see how it is possible.

Its hot today and I’m shedding clothes. After descending into the valley and passing Dale Head, I met a couple near Churn Milk Hole who said they talked to Ruth. Her feet were very painful so she took the shortcut to Horton, bypassing Penyghent. Soon I began the climb up the mountain face, reached a ledge and thought “how could anyone climb up this vertical cliff”? But as I watched a fellow come down, I gained confidence to start up, testing my vertigo, finally making the top after a scramble on the last bit. I rested at the trig point, basked in the views, then descended the far side. It seemed like forever to get to Horton on this very rocky track, very hard on the feet, possibly a contender for the most unpleasant part of the PW.

Braecrest B&B is barely adequate, but at least has a decent shower. The Crown Hotel has Theakson’s ale and a good selection of food. Their shrimp cocktail is a to-die-for appetizer and the vegetable lasagna with salad (instead of chips) was excellent. I sat with five Americans working in England for Hewlett-Packard. They had just finished the 25 mile, 12 hour, 3 Peaks Walk, boisterous and fun, still working off the adrenaline.

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