Day Two - Skipton to Malham, 13.9 miles.

Plus almost 1 mile to Otley bus station.
Total ascent, 773m.

When I got up two of the family had already gone to school. School! Catch up Yorkshire, school finished last Friday. After breakfast I walked to the bus station for the journey back to Skipton. My back had been fine first thing but after 50 minutes on the bus I was as stiff as a board.

(Choice remarks heard on the bus:
"I'm going to Skipton because I was told it's colder there."
"If you see something you like, buy it in every colour they have.")

I waited for everyone else to get off before I attempted to stand up. Unfortunately another man had the same idea, though he had the excuse of being about 85! I won and he had to get off before me, then we both did our stretching rituals at the bus stand. After a minute or so I was fine and made my way up high street through the market.

At the top of the very short high street I stopped in the churchyard for a rest, it was boiling! How was I supposed to walk 14 miles in this? After a few minutes I decided I had to make a move, so I walked across the road to Hettie's cafe and ordered a coffee. I know it sounds grim on a hot day but it gave me the oomph I needed to get going.

The first challenge was a steep lane and field, but as soon as I reached the top of the field it all changed. There was a decent breeze, and more importantly it was obvious that although it was possibly hotter than yesterday my prayer for a fall in humidity had been answered. The air was much drier, there were little fluffy clouds everywhere (cue song 3 - the also rather obvious 'little fluffy clouds' by The Orb) and the views were superb.

My first target was the very prominent Sharp Haw, a straightforward climb with views in every direction from the top. The descent provided my first animal adventures, beginning with a bull. He had the whole hillside to himself but I could see from a distance that he happened to be very close to my intended path. When I drew level I realised that his path and mine would join in about 30 yards, so I needed to get there first. I did, but as it turned out he wasn't remotely interested in chasing me around the countryside and just watched as I passed him.

An only slightly interested bull.

My next meeting was with several hundred sheep in a ridiculously small enclosure, and they weren't quite sure how to get away from me, so they panicked and jumped all over each other. In the next field was a heavily panting ram, who struggled to stand up under the weight of his unfeasibly large testicles, and collapsed again as soon as I'd passed him. Almost immediately I saw a red kite. I wouldn't have believed it had Fatman (aka Mike) not told me yesterday that they have recently been introduced to the area, I suspect with great success.

I was shortly at the Angel Inn in Hetton for lunch, and it was apparent that today's walk was going to be nowhere near as strenuous as yesterday's. Mike (aka Fatman) had said that it was quite posh, but my two course meal was ridiculous. I was still starving when I'd finished it. Still the two pints of shandy went down well and before I knew it I'd been there for an hour.

A walker's lunch?

A long but not unpleasant uphill slog led me to Weets Top, with just the descent to Malham to come. I still had plenty of energy left so after an ice cream decided to bypass Malham for now and extend the walk to Malham Cove as the late afternoon light would be better for photos.

The Malham area is wonderful and I was glad to be staying as I hadn't visited for a while and had never stayed here. It has the dramatic Gordale Scar gorge and Malham Tarn, but Malham Cove is something else. It is without doubt one of the 7 wonders of Britain, especially impressive as the other 6 are pubs. I've never met anyone who doesn't love limestone, or should I say nobody's ever told me that they don't love limestone. So it must be good. I wandered across the limestone pavement on top, then descended to watch lunatic climbers trying to climb the vertical rock face. The whole place was quiet, because the kids are still at school! Well done Yorkshire!

Malham Cove.

Beck Hall in Malham is not a hall, though it's a pleasant B&B. And it's a short stroll to the two village pubs. I sat outside and had a steak and ale pie with a few pints before heading back. More days like this please!

The Listers Arms, Malham. Note unashamed product placement.

-- Posted from Kev's iPhone

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