Pennine Way(s)

Since I returned to England at the end of 2015 I’ve been trying to steal some time away with friends in the Cumbrian Lake District.  Recently we managed to get a trip organised, which provided me the perfect excuse for a little walk. I set out a week before everyone else, seizing the opportunity to shakedown some of my new gear on a 106 mile pre-amble north to the Lakes from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. Connecting parts of the Pennine Way, Pennine Bridleway and Dales Way, it was a joyous few days tramping; new-born lambs bounded about in the fields, the trees were budding and I found northern England at it’s finest. There was snow on the ground when I started but the sun soon came out and everything was feeling quite summery by the end. Plenty of fascinating people crossed my path and I thrived on the chance to become reacquainted with some of the most picturesque parts of my motherland.

Elevation profile for Hebden Bridge to Ambleside hiking route

Despite hiking with far more than I intend carrying on more serious hikes (see full gear list at lighterpack.com), it felt great to be outside and free for a couple of weeks. It was the type of trip that was neither particularly challenging nor adventurous, just great fun. A welcome opportunity to lose myself in the rhythms of daily movement and get back to the joys of tent life.What more could a man want than the chance to immerse himself in the outdoors and enjoy time away with good friends?

Here is the story of a relaxing six days out on the trail…

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Having caught the train up the day before, I set out early from Hebden Bridge…

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… enjoying a section of the ‘Hebden Bridge Loop’ before eventually joining up with the Pennine Way

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Climbing up onto Heptonstall Moor brings a notable drop in temperature…

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… rain clouds roll in and patches of snow start appearing on the higher moors

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Day 1 ends in Cowling where I settle in for the first night in my new Zpacks shelter

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Day 2 then starts with a continuation of the wind and rain that followed me into Cowling the previous afternoon…

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… but as the day rolls on the clouds disperse…

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… and I enjoy a sunny stroll towards Malham

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After a night in the tent at Town Head Farm, I start Day 3 with a lovely approach on Malham Cove…

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… but the perky morning soon turns grey, leading to a moody tramp around Malham Tarn

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After Malham Tarn I catch up with Pennine Way thru-hiker Kev, from Accrington and we team up for the day’s hike over Fountains Fell (668m)…

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… then on towards Pen-y-Ghent (694m)…

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… which we quickly scale…

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… to the reward of some glorious summit views

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Day 3 ends camped at Home Farm in Horton-in-Ribblesdale where we find a gaggle of like-minded individuals. Alan (in blue) out riding his Surly Ogre briefly has me lusting after a return to the bike…

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… but striding out into the new day from Horton, I’m happy to be on foot

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Not long after Horton comes Cam End, where the Pennine and Dales Ways connect

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Instead of diverting immediately onto the Dales Way I hike on up Cam High Road to connect with the Pennine Bridleway and detour over Wold Fell (558m)…

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… and Great Knoutberry (672m), from which I win inspiring views down on Artengill Viaduct

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On the descent into Dentdale I pass Dent train station, at 460 metres, the highest station on a main line railway in England…

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… before pitching up for the night by the River Dee in Cowgill

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Early next morning I pass through Dent village where I stock up for a 25 mile day on the Dales Way…

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… hiking through numerous small villages and countless lambing fields…

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… before a night camped at Burnside Hall Farm in Burneside

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After a few more miles on the Dales Way I then leave it in Staveley to follow a number of bridleways into the Lake District

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The weeks walking ends at Baysbrown Farm campsite near Chapel Stile in the Langdale valley. There I’m joined by Jamie Ramsay who is in the process of running the Three Peaks (scaling the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales and running between them). With Jamie having recently completed a 17,000 km unsupported run down the Americas, we find plenty to talk about.

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As the sun sets on the first half of my holiday I look forward to my friends arriving and the second part beginning. I doubt there’s a better way to celebrate finishing a hike than a weeks hiking in The Lakes.

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