Thomas P. Ogden

Day 7 - Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hardraw Force

Pennine Way Day 7, via Ling Gill and Cam Fell.

Up and packing to leave soon after six o’clock on Friday, I was somewhat disheartened to find thick mist outside the zipper. What happened to the clear skies of Thursday? I shook as much water as I could from the outer tent and heaved up my bag to go. The friendly farmer waved ‘bye’ from a distance across the field, where I surmised he was off to do something farmy in his wellingtons. I shuffled quietly through the village, past the Inn I’d visited the night before.

A stone-walled path carried me gently out of Ribblesdale, and to my delight I suddenly broke through the ceiling of fog, which I now saw blanketed only the sleeping valley. Above this, I strode in fresh, warm daylight; the disc of the sun rising quickly from behind Pen-y-ghent’s peak. I could hardly contain the bliss of being such a pretty moment, so quiet and early in the day. I suddenly felt strong and young. That is to say, impossibly fortunate. Such reflections are rarer than they really should be. It was certainly a feeling I wanted to savour; one that made it worth all effort expended.

Apart from the distant summits, including Ingleborough—the other giant of the area—the views changed little as I progressed through the morning. One or two shadowy holes suggested locations of the caves indicated on the map. Past Cave Hill (there’s a clue), I arrived at the head of a deep cut in the limestone, Ling Gill (A). Ancient ash trees (and other old species I don’t know the names of) lined the sides of the gorge, steep enough to offer protection from nibbling animals.

‘Anno 1765 thys bridge was repaired at the charge of the whole of West Rydeing.’

The track met the Cam High Road, a well-trodden Roman route over Cam Fell (B). I gained height gradually, overlooking a vast conifer plantation stretching out to the east, before turning left onto a packhorse trail along the edge of a rounded valley. This was one of those sections I underestimated from the map; it took much longer than I expected to reach the highest point, Ten End. From here, however, the view opened out to Wensleydale and more alluring Dales villages.

I eventually dropped down and across a few flat fields into Gayle. The Way enters this hamlet via an ugly pebble-dashed housing estate—something of a shock after a day of walking in open country. It quickly leads on to the larger market town of Hawes, where I dropped my bag briefly for a rest. I was beginning to boil in the afternoon sun. I circled the wonky streets forming the centre of the town, looking for somewhere to find supplies in between the many touristy craft shops. I had to pick up some local cheese in Wensleydale, of course. Once stocked up, I set off toward the day’s destination: the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw. This pub has Britain’s highest waterfall, Hardraw Force, in its back garden, which I thought would make it a pleasant place to rest for the night.

I was tired and hungry by the time I got there and set my tent up, and rather churlishly admonished the barman when he told me there was no hot water to wash in. I do still think a fiver is a bit much to charge for a patch of grass if you’re not even going to provide a hot water tap. A bath under the falls perhaps? This was where Kevin Costner took a dip for that scene in Robin Hood, so perhaps not out of the question! Other patrons may not have approved. Anyway, I thought the landlord was ‘monetising’ that waterfall a bit much. Apparently it’s two pounds just to have a look at it. It can’t exactly take much maintenance.

The Force is certainly impressive though: a 30m single drop. After checking it out and enjoying my cheese with some bread, I settled down for a late nap. In the evening I went back into the pub to find a cozy seat next to the fire. I spent a while chatting to a sweet couple from St. Helens who were out on their motorbike for the weekend. He wore a Pantera t-shirt and merrily described adventures he’d had on his bike; she seemed genuinely excited about camping ‘for the first time’. I was starting to get used to it. As it was £3.60 for a pint of bitter (in Yorkshire!) I didn’t ask for a second, returning instead to my tent to sip on whisky and listen to the rumbling falls.

Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hardraw Force Profile Map
Day Distance Ascent Duration Waterfall Price
7 24.1 km 560 m 7 h 6.67p/metre