Malham to Fountains Fell

Malham Cove8th April 2012 – Easter Sunday – 16.6 miles

Quite a bright morning as we set off down the easy footpath to Malham Cove. Surprisingly, we were the only ones there. Heard, and then saw, a woodpecker! My first one, apart from the glimpse I think I caught of one on our garden fence!

A family appeared on the footpath as we set off up the steps, and the younger ones soon caught us up and overtook us as we admired the view. I’d forgotten quite how eroded the limestone pavement is – quite difficult walking in parts, but not so bad when you got onto the larger stones (there is a proper name for them, but I can only remember clints and grykes).

Watlowes Valley

Watlowes Valley

The Pennine Way took us up a narrow valley, running north from the cove. We saw our first odd patches of snow underneath the dry stone walls, but we wouldn’t have been bothered if we had known what was to come later … We could see cloud sitting on the tops of some of the higher hills, and, as we approached Malham Tarn, it got mistier.

The tarn was fairly busy, considering the weather, but I imagine on a sunny Easter Sunday, there would have been a lot more people about. We followed a well-made path around the tarn, past the field studies centre, then took a path off across the fields and hills. There was a lot more snow here, again lying in drifts against the walls and in the hollows.

We reached a road, but took the decision to go on a bit further over Fountains Fell. It was a bit of a slog heading uphill, and the mist was very damp. As we got higher, the mist grew thicker – we could see the way, but nothing in the way of a view, or where we were headed in the longer term. It did feel a bit like ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ – do you think it had that sheep? The snow lay quite thick in places – some footprints seemed to go down a good 6 or 8 inches – and we slogged on, getting a bit cold and wet, until we decided to turn round at a National Trust sign. The next road was still a good mile off, so we turned round and headed back.

Fountains Fell

Once we got to Malham Tarn (deserted!) we sat in the hide and put on overtrousers. I wish I’d done it before – I hadn’t wanted to put them on over damp trousers as I thought they would never dry, and be more uncomfortable, but they seemed to dry out and warm up – something that’s worth remembering for the future!!

We came back from the Tarn to Malham village a slightly different route over the moor, taking us to the minor road to the east of the village, rather than over the limestone pavement and down the cove again.


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