Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Pennine Way South - Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes - 20th May 2014

Heading across the moors to the Cam High Road

The previous evening, after checking in at the Crown Hotel, I had left my room and returned downstairs where I encountered a familiar face who greeted me as I entered the bar. After a moments confusion, I suddenly realised that I had sat close to the person who now introduced himself to me as Neil, days earlier in the Bay Horse pub in Cowling. Although we hadn't spoken at the time, I remembered him because he was also alone and I had wondered at the time if he was a walker. We both ordered a pint and sat at one of the tables in the bar and it turned out that Neil was walking part of the Pennine Way. We sat and chatted for some time and I discovered that he was from Gateshead in the north-east, which from his fantastic accent was not really a surprise. We spent the rest of a convivial evening dining and drinking together in the bar before I decided that I had had enough and retired to my room fairly early. 

The Cam High Road

In the morning, as I paid my bill in the bar, Neil was there and we set off together in the direction of Hawes where we both had rooms booked for the night. Although, according to the guidebook, this leg of the walk was a fourteen mile stretch, because the route followed wide, walled tracks across the moors, it felt shorter and easier than the previous days 'yomp' over Fountains Fell and Pen-y-Ghent. This was partly because it only involved one ascent but it was also because it was a long, gradual climb that was easy underfoot. The weather conditions, although fine, were very 'hazy' and it was difficult to make out much detail in the surrounding landscape. Having said this, the walking was excellent and Neil and myself soon found ourselves high above Horton. As we neared the summit of Jackdaw Hill, my mobile phone suddenly burst into life and I bade a temporary farewell to Neil as I took advantage of the signal to reply to messages. 

A hazy Snaizeholme Valley

Keeping in contact with my wife and family had been one of the frustrations of the walk, particularly in Horton, where there was virtually no signal. I had been advised by the barman in the hotel to try standing on the bridge over the river across from the hotel but this had not worked. Thankfully, there was a public phone in the village and I had used this to 'report in' and let my wife know that I was okay. After sending my messages, I continued in pursuit of Neil who by now was out of sight. The Pennine Way joined the Dales Way for a short distance and I was slightly disappointed that the view from here to the Ribblehead Viaduct, which should have been superb, was less than impressive in the strangely murky conditions. It was along this section, known as the Cam High Road, where I caught up with Neil and we walked together for the rest of the days section to Hawes. 

Entering Hawes

The walking was quite easy as we followed the walled West Cam Road over Dodd Fell and enjoyed occasionally excellent views into the impressive Snaizeholme Valley when the haze cleared a little. It wasn't too much longer before we were in the streets of Hawes, an attractive, busy little town and we headed for the nearest pub and sat outside enjoying a pint in the sun, which had now put in an appearance. Later, after we had checked into our respective guest houses, we met up for a meal in another pub in the town centre before retiring fairly early once again.

Hawes street scene

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