Wednesday 20th August: Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hawes – 14 miles
Horton is a narrow, stretched out village, along a single road. We left the Golden Lion at the southern end heading north (where its other pub, the Crown is), stopping along the way at the Pen-y-Ghent cafe for some sandwiches. Being on this walk, and also the three peaks, it was quite a well fitted out place. I chatted with the proprietors about the Pennine Way: there hadn’t, so they said, been many Pennine Way walkers passing through in recent weeks (which tallied with the total of one that I’d come across so far). I left my details in their Pennine Way book – the first addition for a week.
Out of Horton, through Ribblesdale
The way out of Horton went along farm tracks, bounded by dry stone walls and enclosed sheep fields. The walking was pleasant rather than strenuous or spectacular – broken clouds made up the sky, allowing the sun to periodically pass through.
After a while we got a lovely view across Ribblesdale, with the famous viaduct in the distance; a steam engine crossed the landscape towards it and beyond.
Further away from the village, the track became grassier and began to gently climb a little: the fields became wilder and the stone walls were gone. The going, as we passed within distance of some plantations higher up, turned from stone to gravel. We gently descended back down to the grassy pasture level again, and then reached the effective halfway point, the old bridge at Ling Gill where we stopped for lunch.
Ling Gill is a steep limestone gorge, obscured by a mass of trees and vegetation and fenced off (it looked quite dangerous to approach). Just up from it is its bridge, an old packhorse crossing (18th century with a weathered dedication stone) in a lovely spot in the valley hollow. Mark and I dropped our bags and settled down for a long lunch: my sandwiches were notable for the amount of onion that was with the beef.
From Ling Gill, the track climbed up away from its valley, meeting the Cam High Road at the top. This was a newly laid chalk road for the use of logging wagons running along to a large plantation below to our right.
This three mile trudge along the lorry track was a monotonous and uninspiring stretch. I babbled to my brother whilst following the trucks making their way around the forest below.
Beyond this, the walking was alleviated by an open, blank vista beyond of the Cam Houses in the middle distance and Wharfedale far away.
The West Cam Road
At the end of the road, towards Dodd Fell, we forked to the left. This led to a fine stretch of walking along the West Cam Road, which skirted along the west side of the Fell.
It was bordered for its whole length by a stone wall, overlooking Widdale. As we rambled along in the middle of the afternoon, we enjoyed the view across the dale, over the plantations and holdings that Snaizedale Beck passed through. This was a very attractive three miles, the highlight of the day.
Gayle and Hawes
Having rounded Dodd Fell, we left the West Cam Road to descend on a footpath (treacherous in areas but with a splendid vista of Wensleydale) down towards Gayle and Hawes.
I thought Gayle a charming little village (tightly bunched cottages and country houses). By now however we were hurrying along, keenly wanting to get finished for the day.
From Gayle, after passing through a modern housing estate and then by the Wensleydale Cheese factory, we got to the YHA at Hawes around six o’clock. It had been a straightforward days0 walking, not demanding too much of us, but we both felt drained by the end – one of those days where finding the hostel at the end was one job too many.
The hostel itself was a 1960s/70s building that, unlike Malham hadn’t been recently renovated (the washrooms had an old-fashioned ambiance, like an Austin 1100), but was comfortable. For tea we didn’t go for a pub meal but instead went to the fish and chip restaurant in Hawes. After going to the bank ATM for some cash (the next town being several days away) we then finished up with a pint in the pub (the pub TV had football on: Celtic were playing in Slovenia).