Malham Cove - Malham Tarn - Tennant Gill - Fountains Fell - Base of Pen-y-ghent - Three Peaks track to Horton
I was awake at 07:30. There'd been some more rain overnight, but it had stopped by the morning. We finally got a decent breakfast, thanks to the café (open at 08:30), of sausage, eggs, beans, and toast – much more useful than muesli, which leaves you hungry after, at most, half an hour's walking. The steps up to Malham Cove seemed relatively easy compared to when we did this stretch at Easter. We took the "normal" route to Malham Tarn to avoid the glutinous "Dry" Valley: it's much the easier and quicker route anyway.
There were a lot of people doing the Malham to Horton stretch that day – people that we'd probably caught up. We had our first encounter with the Bucket Brigade as we were having snap after Tennant Gill on the approach to Fountains Fell. They were a trio of an old man (who had the eponymous bucket fastened to the outside of his rucksack) who appeared to be the leader but looked likely to keel over with every step he took (I later thought the old man might have been E. Hector Kyme), and a young couple, of whom the male looked distinctly like he was finding it all less than enjoyable. In spite of the fact that it was neither cold nor wet, all three were wearing cagoules with the hoods up, and the younger male even had overtrousers on. Their pace left them in danger of being overtaken by any passing snails, and they seemed appropriately eerie for Fountains Fell.
We skipped the silly bit up and over Pen-y-ghent, leaving it to those of a more pedantic persuasion, and dropped down into Horton via the Three Peaks route, a steep and fast descent over limestone that was becoming wet with the drizzle that had started when we were at Churn Milk Holes. The shop opposite the campsite provided food for tea and breakfast – "tea" being a tin of ravioli, a tin of green beans, and a tin of coleslaw. The first two were not so bad, but the last…! It's difficult to buy food in this way just for one because all the tins seem to be aimed at two or more people. We also had to go through the "official" (i.e. if you want your badge) Pennine Way routine of a pint of tea and clocking in at Pete Bayes' café.
Sally volunteered to do my washing – two pairs of socks, pants, and T-shirt, all of which were rather sweaty and/or smelly: brave soul, stout scout and all that! The campsite gave us the first opportunity of a decent clean up since we left Edale. The shower was so hot and soothing that I was reluctant to come out – especially since I'd had to queue for it for about half an hour. We took the wet washing along to the pub (New Inn) in the hope that it would dry out, but this proved less than successful. I had my first beer of the trip – a bottle of Guinness that had outlived its sell-by date. I was also one of the (lucky?) few who managed to get a pastie. Sally wanted one too, but Richard would not be rushed into going to the bar to order one. Unfortunately, by the time that he did get to the bar, the cupboard was bare, the last few having been taken by a couple of kids – which went down really well with Sally! We saw Pat and Ivan in the other bar,the first time we'd seen them since Stoodley Pike. They'd stayed at Gargrave last night and had had rather a heavy pub session there. There were also two very fat "girls" in the pub, all tarted up; Richard suggested that they must be the "to Hawes" that everyone rings home and says they've got…