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Pennine Way – Day 15 – East Marton to Ponden (or Bridge, Up, Down, Up, Down)

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Good bye my lover.
Good bye my lover.

Alas with a case dropping into her dairy my most beloved Hannah was taken from me. The more observant of you will notice that this is in fact the picture of her arriving in Malham but who cares? Fortunately, or should I say unfortunately given our intended arrival back at Ponden this evening, it was not before she had driven us back to East Marton to restart our journey. Our delightful hosts at Ponden Hall are to be thanked for a most excellent breakfast but I suppose this should be expected at what was by far the most upmarket establishment I suspect we shall visit throughout this entire trip.

When two bridges collide.
When two bridges collide.

Sadly there is no evidence on the map that this bridge exists and certainly nothing I noticed pointing out that there is no way down from the road to the canal and thus we added at least a half of a mile getting from where we dropped off at the pub next to the bridge walking to the bridge and then walking back round so that we could pass under the bridge. Any hope that we might walk along the canal for a little while was dashed when we soon after came off and went into a field.

The top of Everest.
The top of Everest.

With the rain of yesterday passed a beautiful days walking lay ahead. Having been able to be moved about in a car allows for all but the last day to be less than 14 miles. Today was also the day that we would pass the symbolic milestones of having walked over 200 miles and have climbed more ascent than between sea level and the top of everest. It seems odd these two milestones should occur in such close proximity.

Well in a statistical sense.
Well in a statistical sense.

As a child I remember having three “life goals” of which one was to run a marathon and another to climb Everest. Given that I can think of no actual reward for achieving such a goal and the astonishingly high probability of death (approximately equal to that of Alan Johnson leading labour into the next election) I suspect I will take this as my proxy and think not of doing any such silly thing.

A patchwork quilt.
A patchwork quilt.

Is my father thinking of taking an extraordinary running jump at this wall? If I am honest by this point of our journey any novelty has completely worn off and from when we set off in the morning until we arrive at our destination in the evening I find myself paying less and less attention to the countryside we are walking through and of nothing more than putting each new step in front of the previous one.

Is that rain I see before me?
Is that rain I see before me?

Eventually we arrived back at Ponden and though we were not extravagant enough to stay in the exceptional Ponden Hall this evening we were fortunate enough to stay in the still quite delightful Ponden House which can be little more than 10 yards away from our previous lodgings! Oddly enough despite feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere Just-Eat were able to provide us with two delightful pizzas and (due to a perceived minimum spend on my part which may not actually even have been real) 8 cans of Pepsi.

And the award for the world's smallest Cairn goes to ...
And the award for the world’s smallest Cairn goes to …

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Pennine Way – Day 14 – Malham to East Marton (or Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain)

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To the rescue
To the rescue

Knowing that Hannah was coming to visit I had been able to book accommodation outside the immediate vicinity of Malham. However, never being wholly satisfied that Hannah won’t get a last minute High Court injunction I’d had to book somewhere on the path (6 miles away in Gargrave) we had a great evening in a lovely room at the Mason’s Arms and she was able to drive me back to meet dad in Malham for a decent start around 10 am.

Cow goes moo, sheep goes baa
Cow goes moo, sheep goes baa

Today was a rest day of sorts and it absolutely threw it down. We only had ten limes to do and so thus needing less water than might normally be the case and having to wear our waterproofs due to the deluge I decided to leave my rucsack in the car with Hannah. A lead my father seemed happy to follow.

The end of the BGFA
The end of the BGFA

It briefly stopped raining as we reached the BGFA limit. I assume this has something to do with a fishing association. It being a Saturday on fairly flat terrain but with nice views up at Malham we expected to see a number of other walkers though the number we saw was quite unexpectedly large! We would later pass a church hall with a LDWA sign in front of it near Gargrave so I assume that it was the “Long Distance Walkers Association” and that they all came from there.

We spin cotton.
We spin cotton.

What I found really odd though was that they all had their own maps and didn’t seem to be following each other which, for such a large group, seemed quite redundant. I suppose there would always be the risk that the person you happened to follow would not be part of your group and you would end up off in the middle of nowhere but that seems highly unlikely.

Can you see the path.
Can you see the path.

I was, however, once again very happy for GPS for we fell off the path several times as there was often a requirement to get from one side of a field to another with little to no information to guide you, or worse a false friend like this which was a completely different path that was clearly followed by many of the other not using a GPS.

A rising lock lifts all boats.
A rising lock lifts all boats.

We arrived at East Marton in time for a delicious lunch though sadly Hannah had not grabbed us a table by the fire and so we ate it without really drying out. However, the staff were kind enough to let us put our boots out to dry in front of the fire. Of course this would prove to be unnecessary.

Uh-oh
Uh-oh

Trying to find somewhere to stay for a Saturday night in so tourist friendly a part of the world as Malham with only a days notice is not very sensible and in fact is likely to leave you unable to find anywhere. Fortunately as Hannah was staying I was prepared to splash out on a little bit of luxury and Ponden Hall was found.

Have we stumbled into a palace?
Have we stumbled into a palace?

The rooms were huge and my and Hannah’s room even had a “box bed” which made it feel much more like a sitting room than a bedroom. Both rooms had delightful wood burners and the owners were very friendly even lending Hannah and I a chess board on which Hannah beat me. When we arrived they even invited us down to eat some cake and have a chat – really a most delightful place to spend the rest of our rest day.

Has, has Hannah won?
Has, has Hannah won?

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Pennine Way – Day 13 – Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Malham (or up, wind, up, tarn, cove)

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Can you see the face?
Can you see the face?

Perhaps it should have been obvious but having got to the Golden Lion and having had a shower dad was happy to attempt to continue. Given that all the remaining days until the last two are much easier than our previous days I can see no way that we will now fail to complete the walk. Of course we have not yet had any bad weather and perhaps this will dampen our spirits.

A long way down.
A long way down.

Exactly as I remember it the path up Pen-y-ghent was essentially immaculate. I recall with some clarity that when we arrived at Horton-in-Ribblesdale 10 years ago that from here it would surely be easy and that we were only giving up due to the pending start of term in Cambridge. I suspect that this opinion was made much easier by the lack of a requirement to actually complete the walk.

We claim this hill, for Yorkshire ...
We claim this hill, for Yorkshire …

For some reason I thought it would be fun to carry a Yorkshire flag around with me on this walk. I had only had it out on the first day so far and having decided to continue past our obvious break point it felt like a good day to get it out again.

PATH!
PATH! But then another hill.

At the top of the hill the wind was substantial but it was but nothing compared to how it was on the way down. The side down which we were climbing was, of course, the usual ascent side and it was quite a scramble. When climbing up almost shear rock one is not in much danger as a fall forwards would be not very far at all but coming down it feels quite unstable. Though as hard as it was it was but nothing compared to the difficulty one person was having as they attempted to carry their rather large and rather rugged looking mountain bike up the side of the hill for their first attempt at off road cycling!

Conservative Party Logo?
Conservative Party Logo?

Once we were over the days two hills the scenery really opened out at the countryside was very beautiful. One thing that can not really pass without comment was the number of people who appeared to be walking their dogs. “I’m just popping up Pen-y-ghent to stretch the dogs legs,” must be a common refrain in the houses of Ribblesdale but it seems like total madness to me.

An idyllic path
An idyllic path

The final approach up to Malham is through some rather well maintained national trust property. With weather like we had it looks particularly splendid. There was even a couple of people out on the Tarn in a little boat, though I imagine they were scientists from the nearby research centre.

An Idyllic cove
An idyllic tarn

Sadly once past the tarn it is a real scramble round to the cove. Despite being very clearly a vibrant tourist attraction it would seem that the tourist mainly drive between the Tarn and the Cove for the path seemed almost impassible in places. Our progress was excessively slow. But we did eventually get there and after looking around for a path marked on the map that must actually be straight down the cove crossed the cove and headed for Malham.

An idyllic cove
An idyllic cove

Down the cove and we were in Malham. Dad was satying in the youth hostel tonight (which along with everywhere else was full) but they were kind enough to let me shower there before I met Hannah. (Who was meeting us in Malham tonight!) which had the distinct advantage of leaving me smelling almost tolerable so we were able to enjoy a nice dinner in Malham rather than rushing off to the place we were staying 6 miles down the road!

An idyllic extinct waterfall
An idyllic extinct waterfall

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Pennine Way – Day 12 – Hawes to Horton-in-Ribblesdale (or Track, Flags, Flags, Bridge, Peaks)

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Perfect walking weather

Having found the Hawes laundrette last night our start was slightly delayed by our having to use it. I had expected to have to set 2 hours aside for a wash and dry but we were done in under an hour. For some reason rather than this leading me to be at the shop for its opening time of 0930 and getting all of our admin completed for 1030 we were instead not away until 1115. Dad, however, finally had two sticks of his own which allowed me to return to having two sticks of my own. Whatever I may have thought before we set out I am satisfied that ski poles make a long distance walk much, much easier.

Flags, roman style.
Flags, roman style.

The road out of Hawes was beautiful. I assume, Romans had laid out humongous flags that made the track out of the town a very easy walk. Having left so late we stopped for lunch quite quickly and I really do have no idea what these markings are on the hill opposite where we stopped for lunch.

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Funny Walls

Hawes falls away very quickly and before you know it you are out on the West Cam Road. It is astonishing to me just how different the locations of Roman settlements must have been from their modern counterparts. I can not imagine what the cost must have been to build this road between two (or more) places which one assumes no longer exists.

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The road to nowhere

In actual fact on the section above we are supposedly heading towards a farmhouse of some description, though we actually came off the path before we got to see it. For a breif moment we overtook only our second group of walkers (they were completing the dales way) who advised us that if we were having trouble with Midge bites we should use Avon’s skin-so-soft. Of course not being within 300 miles of my Avon representative (my sister) this wasn’t a huge amount of use.

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No photo filters.

We passed a small group of what I assumed (or hoped) were soldiers as they had set up some sort of camouflaged tent with a very large radio antenna. We would later discover that there was something going on called the Lanyard trophy which had booked up all the camping in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I think they had lovely weather for it anyway.

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Really, I wish I knew how I’d done that.

Which does bring me to an interesting question. If Horton is called Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Middleton is called Middleton-in-Teasdale why is Hawes not called Hawes-in-Swaledale. I assume that the lack of a ‘ton’ at the end of the name implies it was not named by anglo saxons but if anything the land looks more fertile than the others so it would seem odd for it to have been left fallow.

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An actively maintained bridge?

With less than six miles to go we stopped for our final snack of the day by this idyllic bridge. It looked far too well maintained for it to be original but the track was far too green to be being actively used by a farmer. Perhaps it was maintained by the parks service. Whatever the case it was very beautifully done and as there were not many flies made probably the most idyllic stopping place that we have had so far on the walk.

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Almost there

Horton was the limit of our trip when we attempted to go South-to-North back in 2005 and so was the point at which it would have been most legitimate to pack the whole thing in. I made it very clear to dad that I was indifferent to carrying on and he admitted that the previous evening he had gone to bed expecting that today would be our last walk. Of course as we had accommodation booked in Horton the decision would not need be made until the morning after by which time we will have had a shower and a nights rest. My suspicion is that if we don’t immediately pack it in upon arrival then we will continue.

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The first view of Horton

We were overtaken by a couple of people who were out running (I assume on the Three peaks) and I must say that I can think of nothing that would interest me less than running on such uneven terrain. Sadly I had not properly researched Horton and had booked us into the Golden Line (admittedly very nice) but not as close to the path as the Crown. This led to a certain level of disappointment when we arrived and my map was showing me that the building was a public house and then it was but it was not ours! Given that I remember walking past it on the way to the Railway station back in 2005 perhaps it is just more evidence of quite how woefully lost we used to get back before GPS.

1209-pennine-way-final-approach-into-horton-in-ribblesdale
The final approach

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Pennine Way – Day 11 – Tan Hill to Hawes (or Path, Mist, Track, Hill, Laundry)

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Leaving Tan Hill Doesn’t Look so Bad

Inside the Tan Hill there are many pictures that suggest that arriving at Tan Hill is considered to be a moment of great relief, and I am sure it is. However, arriving on this track can be nothing in comparison to arriving through a bog so deep that people have reportedly fallen in it up to their necks. Don’t get me wrong the journey from Hawes is not easy but I think the journey from Middleton is harder and that the South-to-Northers doth protest to much.

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Let’s hope we don’t fall in a bog.

Having walked through an incredibly thick mist yesterday today’s much better weather was a great relief. It was possible to see a little farther than yesterday and it was arguably perfect walking weather, if not perfect viewing weather. Unfortunately we got going on a path and as can happen the path was of such high quality that when the little footpath came off it to the side we kept going and ended up climbing up a rather steep bit of someone’s drive. Very frustrating!

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Distance measured in fifths!

Seemingly for very little reason the path goes round the wrong side of a hill to get from very near Keld to the Tiny village of Thwaite. The distance in meters is probably not so great and neither is the ascent the problem is that on the way up the path is appalling and on some parts of North Gang Scar we did not go very fast at all. I was rather envious of those we could see at the bottom of the valley on what looked like a beautiful flat level track to Mucker.

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Stop running.

Eventually we reached the top and thus could begin our descent at which point the path seemed to change from a horrible little niggly thing in to a big wide beautiful track. Having been slightly late of at breakfast though I’m not 100% sure that dad even saw this waterfall (which was surely the whole point of all the walking) as having been given both my sticks he seemed to have taken to a kind of half run down hill which I am sure can not have been good for his knees one bit.

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Not exactly cauldron’s snout.

It isn’t really a fair comparison but given the high visibilty we had on the day we went up cross fell and the enormity of Cauldron’s Snout I doubt very much if anything we see in the rest of the trip is really very likely to compare.

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Doesn’t look so big from here

Hawes is hidden behind a hill which is actually very high (even for the Pennine Way) but for some reason even though you start off at a similar elevation it just doesn’t look anything like as imposing as Crossfell.

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Thwaite, so small it’s hidden by this hill.

We met several walkers today who relayed news of a delightful little Tea Room in Thwaite. If only we had been able to walk a bit faster. Our average pace was quite a bit below two miles per hour and thus desperately keen to avoid being stuck out in the moors at night I was always very reluctant to stop anywhere for more than the minimum possible amount of time and so sadly we had to give it a miss.

1108-pennine-way-trip-hazard
Have you had a trip or fall anywhere?

We did, however, receive very exciting reports of beautiful flags all the way up Great Shunner Fell and they proved to be every word true. The final descent into Hawes was even described as “like a bowling green” which I think was a very slight exaggeration but even so it really was a delightful walk.

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Flags, Flags, Flags!

Some of the Carins on the way up the fell were a little on the high side for me and I am quite sure my dad leaned against this one which struck me as a rather dangerous thing to do as it genuinely looks like it is about to fall over. I can imagine, however, that in thick mist having a taller Cairn can be a great advantage.

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JENGA!

Rather surprisingly the Pennine Way is a little short of OS declared view points and Great Shunner Fell is in fact the only one that is officially declared. Sadly it was far too misty for us to get a trully impressive view. My pictures have not done Crossfell justice but it is very hard to imagine that the view from here could really be superior but perhaps it is. Since I don’t know what the criteria are I suppose I should not really judge them too harshly, perhaps accessiility is one of the criteria?

1110-pennine-way-the-view-from the-summit
We made it to the top.

On our final descent into Hawes for the first time on our trip so far which actually overtook someone. Sadly, for our ego at least, they were simply lost. I’m not sure why they were so worried as they were on the only path off the hill and it was going to where they wanted to go but they kept stopping and seemed very worried. We advised them to follow the Acorns to Hawes which they did successfully.

1113-pennine-way-near-green-dragon
Like a Bowling Green

Much to my shock the YHA in Hawes does not have laundry facilities but it does cook a very good three course evening meal for less than a tenner. It took me a little while to find it with map provided by the tourist board but the laundrette was real but sadly would not be open until tomorrow morning.

1111-pennine-way-laundrette
Is that a laundrette I see before me?

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Pennine Way – Day 10 – Middleton to Tan Hill (or Mist, Mist, Mist, Mist, Mist)

Think this walk looks hard? Why not sponsor me here. I am raising money for my old scout group and donations can be made here.

IMG_1464-0
Mist
Yesterday was a long day and when we first arrived in Middleton I was a little apprehensive that it might be the last day. It was such a hot day I ran out of water and with it being over twenty miles when the first ten were over the usual ‘only six miles to go’ was replaced with an. ‘Eeek we are not even half way!’

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This mist is not rising.
We were away at a sensible time as today was another long (though not quite as long) day coming in at a little over 17 miles. However, with no where that I can find to break this journey there are no ways to get that distance down. Today was thus the first real test of the GPS and there is no doubt that it really excelled itself. Apart from a few tens of meters right at the start we were on the path all the way to Tan Hill.

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Half way there.
Due to Tan Hill’s position as the highest pub in England the walk today certainly felt mainly up hill. Perhaps the only problem with using GPS in the way that we have is that it creates a very strong insentive to follow the blue line on the GPS rather than letting local circumstances override. We learned this lesson the hard way over the top of Greenhead and for future walks I have thus been trying to plot the route to use the black dotted line that indicates a path over the green dotted line (or diamonds) that indicate a right of way.

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It’s not lifting
As we approached the top of our first hill we clearly came across our first set of South to Northers of the day. They were clearly quite a large group and had followed a path rather than the right of way (probably very sensible without GPS) and so they were about 100 meters away to us to our left when they passed. I wish I had a photo because they really looked like ghosts in the Mist.

IMG_1474
It’s almost a view
We met a youngish camper who was hoping to complete the route in 19 days who told us that the half way point was nearing. My GPS had told me it was much closer to Middleton but as he had a book I assume he is probably more likely to be right plus my count includes coming off and on at Trows farm and the spur to the top of the Cheviot (even though we did not do it!) so perhaps he is right.

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Will this be excluded in the prenup?
As the end of the day approached we met a couple of runners and I was at first a little concerned as surely if they had only got this far from Tan Hill today then they would never make it to Middleton. It turned out they weren’t from Tan Hill they had come from Hawes! Though they had stopped for a pint at Tan Hill and stayed long enough to be warned (and warn us) off the bog for the final approach into Tan Hill. They were planning to complete the route in 10 days. Thats a Marathon a day! astonishing really. Dad was most impressed by their T-Shirts and the fact that they “had” to eat 4000 calories a day just for the running. I imagine they will make it since they were already ahead of target.

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Still not quite a view,
This walk crosses a lot of grouse moor and there were clearly many people out shooting today. As we approached one road my heart rose a little as I thought that what I could see was clearly a burger van. I was confused though as there was only a dirt track on my map and I there didn’t seem to be any body about. Perhaps it was abandoned? Turned out to be for those out shooting and though we didn’t ask, I imagine was thus no taking open payment.

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Are we in Malham?
The shooting party did however seem to have a lot of dogs and one of them seemed overly aggressive. I do wonder what the legal situation is with kicking an aggressive dog in the face? Do you have to wait for it to bite you before you can strike? Who knows. The final approach involves going under a road (since we were not going on the Bowes loop) and we later recommended this a potential bivvying spot to a couple of Eastern Europeans we met only a couple of miles away from the pub.

I can see ... nothing
I can see … nothing
Having missed out the bog section and taking the 500m hit of extra road we arrived at the Tan Hill. I had thought it compared very well with Youth Hostels at £25 for two people to bunk but it transpired this was only for one person. Originally I tried to book a twin room but these were all booked so I asked to book into the bunk house instead. I don’t know why the owner thought I wanted a twin room when there was only one of me but only one bunk was booked. Fortunately we were able to upgrade to a twin room and after some hearty food a peaceful nights sleep was had.

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Invisible at 250m
Think this walk looks hard? Why not sponsor me. I am raising money for my old scout group and donations can be made here.

Pennine Way – Day 9 – Dufton to Middleton (or UP, down, down, waterfall, down)

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Who is that tall golfer?

Thanks really must go out to our exceptionally kind host Anne Perry at Mid Town Farmohouse in Long Marton. I imagine that she will quickly get a sale (and that the new owners will not be running a bed and breakfast) so if you want to enjoy the best hospitality in Cumbria you had better book quick. Consequently we were away from Dufton by 0730 having had a very filling and breakfast and a lift from Long Marton back to Dufton.

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Out of the mist.

Great Dun Fell Radar station is above the cloud line for two thrids of the year and as we were going almost as high I suspect that it is no surprise that we rose above the clouds. In the distance the Lake District was clearly visible and the weather was delightful or at least it would have been if I hadn’t kept sitting on my drinking spout and wasting water.

Into the mist?
Into the mist?

As we approached the summit of our journey (the day was skewed towards a steep climb at the start followed by 15 miles of steady decline) I was briefly concerned that we would be entering the cloud line again which at the time seemed like it would be a great labour but actually with hindsight some cloud cover would have been really useful.

Man-made cave?
Man-made cave?

As we approached the top we found this man made cave. I wondered if it might be a lime kiln but inside it appears not to be covered in soot. It required a little extra climb to go and have a look at it which I wasn’t wholly convinced was effort that was really worth it but dad seemed keen so we went to have a look.

Out of the frypan and into the cauldron.
Out of the frypan and into the cauldron.

The highpoint of todays trip was a waterfall known as Cauldron’s snout. The climb down the side of which was very difficult and seemed rather treacherous. My altitude graph gave the impression that the resultant walk into Middleton would be a delightfully easy stroll along the river. Unfortunately I hadn’t factored in the many requirements to scramble over sections of stones which proved to be difficult, slow and probably dangerous. In a previous post I said that crossing the road at Greenhead had probably been the most dangerous thing we have done so far and while this is likely true climbing down here was surely the second most dangerous.

High Force isn't very impressive
High Force isn’t very impressive

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Do people really come here for this?

Once we’d scrambled over three separate sets of stones and calmed a fisherman by assuring him that there was no fishermen further upstream nicking all his fish the path became quite well maintained. I had hoped that this would continue all the way into Middleton but it turned out to only be a nice path up until the car park to allow you to see the waterfall that was actually High Force.

Ahh, this is High Force
Ahh, this is High Force

On the way to highforce at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon we met a small group near to Langdon Beck who wanted to know how far it was to Dufton because they had accommodation booked there. They seemed to be optimistic of finding a tax to take them to Dufton (there is a pub in Langdon Beck so they have a chance) I tried to encourage them to stop at the Langdon Beck Guesthouse as they had 14 miles ahead of them and had only managed 6 miles in 6 hours. I hope I was successful. The end of our nice path was clearly marked with a delightful set of sheep statues which my father kindly agreed to model.

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The path is ending.

Fortunately I was essentially right and though this path ended as we approached Middleton proper the amount that had been spent on the path clearly began to increase and eventually we arrived at the best path yet. Not only was it flagged but there were trees to provide shade.

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Contender for best path on the Pennine Way?

The end was now in sight and for those with a nervous disposition you should look away now, We arrived at the B&B in time for an evening meal but had not been sure that we would so had cancelled it. This was probably a mistake but given how tired we were going to bed was the only sensible choice. I did, however, have time to snap a picture of my blisters. If I can work out what the difference is between the days that the blisters all go wrong and the days when it goes well perhaps I can stop it going wrong.

Not the worst, not the best.
Not the worst, not the best.