The bus trip to Malham started off promptly and was very near full when it left the pick-up in Newcastle. Progress up the M6 was painfully slow, as the supposedly smart motorway was still at a remedial stage. Once we cleared Thelwell viaduct progress picked up until we were just a few miles from our destination. Having turned off into a narrow road, a set of road works and a road closure left us in a very tight corner. The driver Mike, known to many from last year's trip to Tenby, magically managed to turn the bus round in what seemed to be an impossible space. The resulting 18 mile detour meant we were well behind schedule when we arrived at the Visitor Centre, but we split into two groups.
Malcolm Sproston led the larger party past Janet's Fosse to the spectacle of Gordale Scar, where the beck cascades over a 100 ft drop. Ignoring the right of way up the waterfall itself, we retraced our steps a little way and climbed steeply up Cawden Hill. There we stopped for a picnic, basking in the sunshine and marvelling at the views back into the gorge and its waterfall. From there, a very pleasant walk led us first to Malham Tarn, then along the Pennine Way by way of Malham Cove. The limestone pavements at the top were enjoyed by all, with some of us being told the difference between clints and grykes. A long series of steps led to some welcome shade at the foot of the cliffs, then a short walk back into the village gave plenty of time for refreshments. Some chose the pub to slake a thirst while others opted for tea and cakes, but all were able to sit out in the sunshine.
While Malcolm and his followers were toiling in the hot sunshine, Dave Martin and his party took a leisurely stroll. Firstly down the Pennine way to Hanlith then after a short steep ascent followed a green lane then a moorland path to Weets Top at 414 metres. Visibility was about 30 miles and Penyghent was clearly seen. A descent down a lane led to Gordale Scar and a lovely ice cream at the refreshment caravan before continuing to Janet's Foss then back to Malham.
The return trip was not without incident. Avoiding the morning's road closure, after a few miles of narrow country lane the coach was confronted by a tractor with a large excavating shovel at the front, followed by a convoy of cars. They were not giving way, so Mike had to manoeuvre backwards until we could find a wider stretch of road. By then a convoy had built up behind us, and they were reluctant to reverse. One local in particular was rather bloody minded, and would not shift until one of our party went out and told him where to go! That incident held us up a while, but worse was to come. For the last few miles before Lancaster, the dual carriageway was down to a single lane and again our progress was painfully slow for 15 or 20 minutes.
It was well after 9 when we dropped off in Newcastle, but despite all the delays everyone agreed it had been A Grand Day Out!
(see below for photos)
Dave's party on Weets Top