Welcome to your table, do sit down and enjoy LEJoG Day 45

Day 45 pre-amble 

Today’s post is named after the early sighting (from a distance) of Malham Cove, which is used for the header image. The meal analogy continues with the next two stages: there’s a very unequal split between Days 45 and 46 in terms of memorable attractions. It is also very likely (near certain) that no day to come will be as short as this one. So, in more ways than one, Gargrave to Malham was little more than a mouth amuser.

LEJoG Day 45 (Sunday 5 May 2019)

Gargrave to Malham (6 miles)

Cumulative: 625 miles

Facts: Time on walk: 2 hours. Average speed: 3.00 mph. Weather: Cool, overcast, dry.

Practicalities: Nothing of note until after the walk (see below).

The walk

Start: Corner of North Street and West Street, Gargrave, 10:30am. End: Bus stop opposite Buck Inn, Malham, 1:30pm.

As you may have gathered from the introductory downplaying, there isn’t much that really stands out from today’s walk. The opening, along a road NW out of Gargrave, is described as “steepish” by Trailblazer but I thought the subsequent climb through the fields was more testing. That said, it was very brief. Most of this section is spent on level ground by a plantation or stone wall, or on a gradual descent along Eshton Moor.

Somewhere around here a pair of male walkers were photographing a waymark. Nothing inherently odd about that (I photographed one for the Hebden Bridge Loop), but they were doing so right in front of a stile as I approached it. Little bit inconsiderate: there are plenty of other opportunities. Later I saw the same pair missing some steps and going through the wrong gate instead. Obviously the waymark photos weren’t helping them that much. As an intermediate walker, I try not to be mean-spirited about the less experienced. These very trivial incidents are in my notes though, and I’m just padding out the report. Rolling the amuse-bouche around my palate, if you like.

After Eshton Moor, there’s a lovely and all-too-short section around the River Aire. The stone wall re-emerges on your left. Follow it parallel with a bend in the road, cross a footbridge over the river, then walk through trees by the river for about 10 minutes before reaching a minor road. You have to cross this road and cross a small and blind hump back bridge in order to reach the continuation of the riverside footpath. The traffic has to drive single file over the bridge, so you can imagine how much care walkers should take here. I turned off my podcast for a start. It isn’t a busy road, but I had to wait for four cars before crossing.

The footpath continues heading north by the Aire, but this section is not quite so pleasant. There are no trees; you’re in an open field and then crossing cow fields by way of stone walls and stiles. You also pass under telephone lines. The next road crossing is at the village of Airton (approximately halfway between Gargrave and Malham). After that, the mile and a half or so to Hanlith Bridge starts with bridges, stones and becks but soon settles into another long stretch in open fields. There are woods close by, but there’s no shelter on the path itself.

Just before Hanlith Bridge came the polite interruption (see yesterday’s teaser): a phone call from H. Yes, she of Day 39. She was looking after her new bloke’s dog in his absence and wondered if I fancied going for a walk. Obviously this was a little impractical, but we ended up chatting for a full hour (during which the waymark guys passed me again). Mainly about her new relationship and about the dog she’d adopted earlier in the year.

Restarted with a properly steep hill – the only section of the walk justifying this description – past Hanlith Hall. Back into fields at the top, passing several stone walls and arriving at the weir near Aire Head. Here the Aire re-emerges from its course as a subterranean stream. Traiblazer are quite right to describe this as a lovely walk.

Aire Head Weir, LEJoG Day 45

Aire Head Weir (Malham in the middle distance)

There’s a short, sharp descent to river level shortly afterwards, as you cross Gordale Beck. Here one can turn right and follow a path to Gordale Scar. Although this was a short day, I had people waiting for me in Malham and therefore resisted the temptation. From here it’s a straightforward, level walk past the visitors’ car park and visitor centre, into the centre of Malham. Stopped at the bus stop opposite the Buck Inn, as I’d probably be getting off a bus at the start of Day 46. Malham welcomes visitors with this artistic, evocative stone:

Malham village stone, LEJoG Day 45

Malham village stone – if you look closely you can see sheep and rams

(some with golden horns) in the design

After the walk

Met up with my parents and had a small picnic outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park Visitor Centre. Malham was easily the busiest place since Hebden Bridge. They’d driven there this morning to pick me up, as I was saving money by not booking an extra night’s accommodation. We discussed visiting Gordale Scar, but they wanted to get back and it was only fair that I went along with their wishes. I was quite keen to go home myself in all honesty. Went all the way back to their house with them, spending May Day with the family instead of at home.

Postscript – My Listening Pleasure

More Rule of Three, with two from the Series 1 clip show that sounded good enough to listen to in full:

  • David Quantick on Time Bandits. I haven’t seen the film but it was interesting because of the people involved.
  • Matthew Holness on Monty Python’s Holy Grail LP (executive version). Of course I have seen this film, but have never listened to the album.

Picture (taken 5 May 2019) shows the first view of Malham Cove, from close to Aire Head Weir.

Next: Day 46 (25 May 2019)… in which, well, if you can’t stand to eat like this, get out of the dining room.

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