The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 4: Ickornshaw to Malham, Sunday, 31st July

18 miles in 9hrs 5mins (09:05-18:10). Sun at first. Then warm and overcast. Rain by Airton Bridge.

Accommodation: Malham 50p

Lothersdale – Pinhaw Beacon – Road A56 (Thornton in Craven) – Road A65 (Gargrave) – Airton Bridge – Hanlith Bridge – Malham

I awoke at 07:20. There was yet another uphill struggle to start the day. We had intended to stop for a break in Lothersdale, which Richard said had a shop; unfortunately, it was a shop-cum-Post-Office and so was not open on a Sunday. Disappointed but undaunted, we tramped on to Pinhaw Beacon. My ankle started to become sore again, although it had been no trouble at the start of the day.

There was a non-stop march (at 4mph!) to The Cross Keys at East Marton and an assault on the eardrums by some brass band there. The pub was crowded with tourists (including us?), so we stopped just for sandwiches and then continued up and over to Gargrave (no mud even there). The café there is a staging point for Pennine Way walkers, and has a book to be signed along with any comments: “I’m knackered.” was the usual comment or implication, and I’ll go along with that! We had our meal here about teatime with lots of horribly sweet tea and, after about an hour and a half of this, I started to seize up. I also became aware that I’d got my first blister, which was probably because I’d tried to get away with wearing only one pair of socks. I put some Hirschtalg on the blister, but it was a bit too far advanced for it to do any good.

We had another break at Airton Bridge for a drink. A few spots of rain began to fall and became a proper shower by Malham, although it was not really very heavy. So, we’d managed to reach Malham in four days, and that, apparently, is essential if you’re going to reach Kirk Yetholm in 14 days. Malham, Gateway To The North! The campsite had little to commend it, the only “facilities” being in the public toilet across the road. Richard managed to hog the hot-air drier there to dry out his clothes.

The campsite did give us our first encounter with the dreaded Norbert tribe. This consisted of a goatee-bearded elder male, constantly jovial and jabbering to all and sundry at any time of the day or night, an elder female, very compliant with regard to requests from the former (such as “Pitch that tent.” and “Pack that rucksack.”), and two early-teenaged beardless clones of the former, both raring to be off at a moment’s notice.

We visited The Buck Inn at night (there’s nowhere else to go in Malham) for three shandies. The next two days are supposed to be easier – only about 30 miles to do, what a doddle!