Day 49 – Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes

Today was a day of brilliant sunshine – a beautiful blue sky and little fluffy clouds – and I headed out from Horton in good time. Horton to Hawes is a fairly short day and I was toying with the possibility of continuing on to Keld if I got to Hawes in good time, so I set off briskly, aided by an enormous cup of strong tea from the cafe/tourist information centre (got to love a place where you are offered the choice of tea in a cup or in a pint mug). The route heads gently uphill out of Horton, with nice views across the valley.

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Just before the top of the hill I met a very nice local man out walking his dog. I didn’t get his name but we had a good chat about the walk, the Pennine Way, local accents and a variety of other subjects and I eventually went on my way, smiling and full of goodwill, about an hour later!

The path runs along next to a fenced off area with signs up saying ‘nature reserve’; I was initially a bit puzzled by the need for this in the wild isolation of the Pennine moorland, but then realised it’s probably to stop sheep eating the plants. A bit later the path crosses Ling Gill, where a stone plaque commemorates the funding of repairs to the bridge in 1765.

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There’s then a long stretch of track over open moorland across Cam Fell and Dodd Fell – you can see right across the valley and the landscape is full of massive hills dotted with small patches of tree plantations. As I wandered along I heard the by now familiar sound of a military jet (in any area of outstanding natural beauty, odds are that the military will be manoeuvring somewhere nearby). I looked up, only to find that the jet was heading right towards me as I walked along the exposed stretch of track on the hillside. It passed directly overhead at what felt like about 20 feet and then disappeared round the side of the hill. It’s certainly the closest I ever want to get to a fighter plane.

I rounded the bend where the path contours round Dodd Fell, and just ahead of me were 12 hang-gliders, all lazily revolving in the air above the hill. They looked beautiful – like a flock of very large brightly-coloured birds or a giant mobile – and I stood and watched them for some time. The Blackberry was completely unequal to getting a photo though! I passed a very nice Dutch couple – Cea and Leonard – and we chatted for a while before I headed on down the long gentle descent into Hawes.

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Arran and the children were at the Wensleydale creamery and I joined them for a cup of tea, deciding that 3.30 was probably a bit late to start the 13-odd miles to Keld that day. We did buy some excessively nice cheese though.

Highlights: Sunshine and blue skies after the grim day to Horton; a flock of dark birds (starlings?) wheeling across the valley just at eye height; the sunburned Yorkshireman sitting on the stile and his obvious affection for and enjoyment of the landscape around us; the change from bleak moors to tidy green pastures as you descend into Wensleydale.



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