It is wet when I get up, the road outside the pub slick with light rain and it is still drizzling slightly and overcast. This is not such a bad thing as I have lost my brand new hat. I rememeber coming into the bar with it but not what happened after that.

 At least I have some sunblock if I need it later. But losing this hat after one day is annoying. The last one I bought, in Haworth, I lost after one afternoon!

I have breakfast and set off moderately early. The road to Malham Cove is pretty much my own except for a brace of cyclists and one other walker. The road gives way to a footpath and there is an interpretation board explaining that the multiplicity of dry stone walls mark a prehistoric field system.

Looking around it is distinctive. There is something amazing about this place. Malham Cove is extraodinary in itself. To be housed in such an eerily ancient human landscape, so near to a picturesque village and the delights of Malham Tarn seems positively greedy. Most places would be happy enough with one of these.

 As I get near to it I start to apreciate the grandeur of Malham Cove. This is a an ex-waterfall. The water has gone but the horseshoe cliff remains, with startling overhangs in places. The metallic caw of Jackdaws echoes around it as I get nearer.

And then something else, more compact and yet streamlined flies along the top of the rim. A perigrine! Two! A pair. They soar above the limestone sill of the cove before disapearing beyond it. But keep reapearing as I start to climb the long stairway at the left of the ex-waterfall.

At the top, gasping a bit, I get slightly lost for a while before deciding that I need to cross the limestone pavement that covers the top of the cove. This place is amazing. The steps were not that high but I have gone, in ten minutes or so, from the verdant valley at the head of the Aire to proper uplands. Rough grazing, craggy rocks, wild looking country. The transformation is astounding and more sudden than anywhere that I can ever remember walking in.

I pick up the proper path which takes me into a picturesque dry valley. As I set off the peregrines return and I waste some time trying to get a photo. Though both pose obligingly, one on a dry stone wall, the other on the moor, my camera is not up to getting a decent shot at the distance.  I press on feeling a bit frustrated.

At the top of the valley the path rises and then obligingly switches back to give me a fine view of the walk I have just made.

Then it turns to a side valley to the left, looking rougher and more mountainous all the time. It now reminds me of the lake district, particularly parts round Coniston like Tilberthwaite, but it is greener, all grass and no heather.

Eventually the valley debouches onto open moor and once I crest the top of this I get my first views of Malham Tarn.

I also get my first views of a field with cows with calves en-route. A bunch are standing on the path and I skirt them. I have become aware of a two pairs of walkers coming down the hill behind me and, once I cross the road and start along the path to the tarn I pause to watch them, and the cows. The people walk close by the cows which completely ignore them. I conclude that whatever madness has been afflicting cows this spring and early summer is gone or on the wane. And that I have got a bit paranoid since my earlier encounters.

And then it is on to the Tarn which is a picturesque lake framed by wooded hills. The path skirts some woods and then goes through some boggy looking ground and I see flowers that I only recognise from books. They are birds eye primroses, lots of them scattered amongst orchids on the wet land that fringes the tarn.  I am not sure what they are called (until I look them up) but I remember them from wild flower books because they are so distinctinctive; pink primulas. Delighted as I am I press on as I am a bit worried about my leg. It isn't just my knee that hurts but most of my left leg and the small of my back. Something feels far from right and it is worrying as I had planned to go across the top of Pen-Y-Ghent today.

The path goes into woodlands which lead picturesquely up to the house, now a field study centre, before plunging back through a remarkable cutting. A sort of man-made, square-cut, ravine. It is the sort of thing you sometimes see on modern roads and often enough in railways but seems like an amazing effort for a drive up to a single house. I guess that the limestone is fairly soft. This has had time to weather and it seems to have its own micro climate as there are rampsons still in flower here whilst they are finished everywhere else.

Out of the woods I meet a road by Waterhouses and then take a track off and up again, still following the Pennine Way. I stop by an old barn for some water and a museli bar and then set off, down for a short spell to the the road. But almost immediately I take a track which winds upwards, past a farm and then up to the top of Fountains Fell, marked by strange cairn like things that, at first, I think are the gable ends of an old house. Looking back I think this was my first encounter with "curricks."

They take a long time to reach. Not just because I am slow but because the rise is gradual and the footpath takes a gradual traverse. Not that I am complaining about that. One of the pairs of walkers catches and overtakes me as I limp a bit up the fell. On the other hand I meet a party of four kids carrying heavy packs, as kids doing things like Duke of Edinburgh awards always seem to do and we cross paths for the next few miles. They are much faster than me but keep stopping to smoke fags.

But at last I reach the top and start to drop back down and at last I get to see Pen-Y-Ghent. It looks fantastic. And also more effort than I am capable of to climb over on the way to Horton. Horton, I should admit, is not really called Horton-Hears-A-Who but Horton in Ribblesdale. However, the Who version has stuck firmly in my head and I am now, it seems, incapable of thinking of it as anything else. This being the case I thought I should acknowledge it in the title, but so as not to inflict this infantile disorder on my revered readers, from now on, I shall refer to it simply as Horton.

Some study of the map reveals that the mountain can be by-passed, but I am loath to do so. I had been looking forward to Pen-Y-Ghent. I trudge down the hillside planning my next ibroprofin intake and gauging my knee pain. As I do so two men pass me with cheery greetings.

At the road in Silverdale I stop for more food and water. The route takes me down this little road for a while and I get barked at by a very unthreatening old dog passing a house. Just beyond it the two guys are making a cup of tea and ask me for directions as their map is inadequate. Now I realise that they are the two German guys who were very loudly celebrating Germany's victory (which means they will now meet England in the next round) in the pub last night. Germans celebrating football victories is obviously not a thing that any England fan can view with equanimity but I had confined my displeasure to muttering and scowling.

They offer me some chocolate which I decline and I stride on. Almost as soon as I get off the road and onto rough ground my leg feels like it is going to sieze up altogether. Clearly it would be madness to go right over the mountain. So I take the footpath round the south end of the hill.

I am not sure what it is. Maybe ibroprofin that I took earlier starting to work or the stretches I have done taking effect, but as the path starts to wind down towards Horton my leg starts to feel much better. Maybe it is just the sight of Pen-Y-Ghent rearing up above me combined with the knowledge that I do not have to clamber over the bugger.

"Sink holes" are marked on the map and I begin to pass them. Funnel shaped holes in the ground where the rain has dissolved limestone. It makes for a peculiar feeling knowing that the rock beneath your feet is porous and liable to collapse.

The view is less scenic to the West with a huge quarry defacing the landscape behind Horton. But the Settle-Carlisle railway is in view as I make my way down, slowly because I am early having bypassed Pen-Y-Ghent.

The footpath turns into a little road, lined on either side with dry stone walls, and this road into another. Flowers are thick on the verges including some thistle like things that I do not recognise. I have to join the main road for a last little hobble into Horton, and tonights pub is almost the first building I come to.

But I am too early and it is shut. So I limp on a bit and find both a shop and an excellent cafe. Horton, it seems, is home to the three peaks challange in which, for some reason best known to themselves, hoards of people try to go up the three main Dales peaks in a day. Apparantly this activity is tightly controlled and you have to get some sort of paper stamped in this cafe, recording your start times, for it to count. Count for what? Who knows. Such things have always been a mystery to me. But, despite the throngs of walkers (not three peaks challengers but a great mob of mostly older people on some sort of organised walking holiday) the cafe is a delight dispensing tourist information with the tea-cakes. I have something nice that I cannot remember in custard with great quantaties of tea.

The pub is strange and a bit gloomy. Being far too mean for two successive nights of B&B I am staying in the bunkhouse. This proves spartan in the extreme but I have it to myself which is great and at least it has a shower. I soon resort to the near deserted pub and after a bit change bars to watch some football. Later the two German guys come in. They tell me that Pen-Y-Ghent was very tough with the path down being extremely steep. "Our knees are destroyed." One tells me, making me very glad I took the easier option. Then we start to talk about the football.

The funny thing is this. What they have not noticed is that this bar is a sort of football shrine. Not just any shrine. When I came in I thought maybe that the brewery had bought some England junk for the World Cup duration. But looking at it I realise it is not that at all. The red shirt in the glass frame is an England shirt of the 1966 final. A replica no doubt but it has been signed by Nobby Stiles and at least half the victorious side. And there is another, white shirt that has England 5 Germany 1 written on it in felt tip, celebrating that momentous victory.

So here I am in a village pub in the Yorkshire Dales discussing World Cup Football with two German guys, in the only bar I can ever remember being in that is decorated with memorablia that specifically celebrates Englands (few) World Cup victories over Germany.

And they haven't noticed.

They are walking the Pennine Way. I advise them to try to get to Scotland before England plays Germany.



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