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A Pennine Journey

Trip report by Owen & Joy Fripp
May 2012 / May 2013

Having read the story of 'Wainwright’s 1938 Pennine Journey,' and finding it absolutely riveting. It was a must, when on discovering that David and Heather had devised a similar route and produced a guide book - to do this walk ourselves. On May 13th 2012, we left Settle station, after paying homage to The Pennine Journey Memorial Plaque in the waiting room. The first few days walking across the Dales were mostly straightforward and without complication. The weather was variable, mostly cold with some wintry showers. A dusting of snow glistened on Penyghent top as we passed by en-route to Wharfedale and the first nights stop at Hubberholme.

The next day saw us walking to Muker in hard drizzle, taking shelter in the church porch at Stalling Busk to drink our flask of coffee. At Keld we teamed up with two Pennine Way walkers. On reaching Tan Hill, they advised us to walk with them on the road and farm track to Sleightholme: having previously walked across Sleightholme Moor, they had found it to be very wet and boggy. At Bog Scar, all four of us were confused with the route, but eventually found the way up to Trough Heads.

The walk from Middleton to Langdon Beck was an absolute delight. It was only on leaving the Pennine Way that we began to experience some difficulties. Gates that couldn’t be opened and some stiles that needed repair: particularly between Hanging Shaw and Scar End. After crossing the stream just beyond here, we made a major mistake by following the wall to the right of the track. Finding we were somewhat off course, we had to resort to the compass, following a bearing onto the moorland and passing through a different gate to the one described in the guide book. It was with some relief, when on reaching the top of a rise, we were able to locate the telegraph poles ahead on the skyline and made our way across very rough terrain to the double post at Swinhope Head. Thank goodness for good visibility!

Another mistake at the top of Bolt’s Law, where we somehow failed to locate the prominent stile by the post; we walked along the track for much further than we should have. In desperation we found a stile and climbed over, but found no indication of a path. Luckily the solitary tree was in sight and after tramping for a distance in thigh deep in heather, we managed to find the path. The rest of the journey via Hexham and Hadrian’s Wall, was more or less without incident, apart from a dramatic change in the weather; from cool and showery to positively tropical: too hot to walk comfortably. Time to discard the waterproofs and gaiters (or adder protectors) as one local person had described them. On May 24th we arrived at Greenhead and for now our journey was at an end, but we would be back next year to complete it.

On May 16th 2013 we arrived at Greenhead avid to complete our Pennine Journey. It was good to find the new waymarkers in place this year. On the first day’s walk from Greenhead to Alston, we discovered that the South Tyne Trail path runs parallel with the railway line from Lintley Halt to Alston station. We chose to walk this direct route, rather than the detour around Whitley Castle. The next day we were blessed with fine weather for the climb up to Cross Fell; where incidentally, there were still some large pockets of snow. With such good visibility we couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk over the summit and continue on The Pennine Way path over Little and Great Dun Fells, with a direct descent to Dufton, where we had overnight accommodation. Our evening meal at The Stag Inn was excellent, having recently come under new management.

A very short walk from Dufton to Appleby ensued, which was fortunate as this was by far the worst day for weather. Torrential rain led to extensive flooding; becks in spate with some of the small bridges washed away. The most sensible option was to walk the road to Appleby and even this was flooded in the dips. Appleby to Kirkby Stephen was pretty, following the River Eden, although we did encounter a lot of mud mainly through the animal pastures and the riverside path to Great Ormside. Just before arriving at The Moorcock Inn, we saw that we could have walked The Pennine Bridleway down to the B6259; instead of the very boggy, muddy route down to and around Blades Farm.

From here to Cautley the route was quite challenging, the path not always being obvious after Flust. However by following the guide book carefully and once again with good visibility, we never encountered any serious problems. The walk from Sedbergh over Whernside was wonderful, with some magnificent views; again we had been granted a fine day. I must admit that I didn’t enjoy the very steep, pitched path on the descent though! Arriving late afternoon, we did in fact walk the waterfalls walk into Ingleton for free.

May 23rd and the final day’s walk back to Settle, weather had turned very windy and cold with some sharp hail storms. We returned to the station and once again sat beneath the Pennine Journey plaque, more than a little sad that our own journey had come to an end. We both agreed that David and Heather had done a cracking job in devising this varied, beautiful and sometimes challenging walk. We would certainly like to repeat it all again in the future.

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