Thomas P. Ogden

Day 6 - Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Pennine Way Day 6, via Malham Tarn, Fountain’s Fell and Pen-y-ghent.

To quote my dear Mr. Merritt, ‘What a fucking lovely day!’ I was up soon after dawn, and had my sights on the white crescent of Malham Cove to the north. Just one thing puzzled me: where were the baguettes I’d kept for breakfast? I thought back to the night: I’d woken with a jolt… a push on the tent and a rustled bag… silence…. Fox! The thieving critter must’ve got a paw under the tent and nabbed my petit déj. Ah well, I had some fizzy Lucozade to get me going.

I scrambled up and arced along the crown of limestone pavement to joyfully admire the view back. Nobody else up and walking yet, and not a nimbus or cirrus in sight. The path led across tough grass to Malham Tarn (A), a pretty lake with a grand house on the far side, which the guide informed me had been built by Lord Ribblesdale in the late 18th century as a shooting lodge. I bet the foxes stayed away from his breakfast.

Around the shore past the house, I rose again into open moorland, and hiked up an old miner’s track to lonesome Fountain’s Fell (B). Maintaining my high spirits, I sang Jonathan Richman over and over—sheep scarpering as I called ‘whaddyasay about that, you guys?’ at them like a lunatic. Pen-y-ghent stood imposingly on the other side of the valley. After descending and crossing the road to its southern base, the unswerving incline dared me to take it on.

The shelf which casts Pen-y-ghent’s distinctive profile provided a brief breather in the vertiginous climb, though I was unusually full of energy. Once over the stile at the summit (C) the steep track actually led away from Horton, but promised to bring me there the long way round.

I found a farm to camp at but no farmer, despite the alert of barking dogs. I eventually spied him at the back of a large shed full of sheep. I never understand what’s going in these buildings, so I stood tentatively in the light of the doorway.

‘Hello! Here to camp are you? Come down that alley in the middle. That’s it, all the way down. I’ve got a ewe lambing here, and she isn’t going to stop for you I’m afraid.’

The Pen-y-ghent café further up the road looked cozy, so I stopped in for a sandwich and a tin of ginger beer. And there I saw it. Up on the shelf, among a few assorted bits of kit: a gas canister, and unmistakably the model I wanted! After six days, I’d found my fuel. I signed their Pennine Way guestbook (only the second name of 2009) and headed excitedly back to my tent. I pulled out the stove, army tin and couscous I’d been carrying and boiled myself up some dinner. Cooking on gas. Friendly farmer Sutcliffe walked over to enquire how the day’s walking had gone, and where I was off to on the Friday.

I’d been out of phone reception for a couple of days, so I walked back up to the red phonebox to update the folks on progress. I stopped in the Crown Inn for a pint of Black Sheep and quietly observed a village council meeting around the biggest table. I didn’t stay long before calling it a night.

Malham to
Horton-in-Ribblesdale Profile Map
Day Distance Ascent Duration ‘Radio On!’s
6 22.9 km 852 m 6 h 625