Day 32, Horton-in-Ribbesdale to Kirkby Malham, 16 miles, 'Pennine Chronicles II: The Annie Trilogy'.
In an extremely exciting change of pace, we now start the first section of this blog to feature an additional walker, my sister Annie. So let's take a second to get the low down on the Pennine Way's newest walker before we crack on with yet another hilariously entertaining blog entry.
Likes: Running marathons, cycling silly distances, maintaining a healthy calorific deficit at all times, and beanie babies.
Dislikes: Any music made before or after the indie wave of the early noughties, food with weird textures, and older brothers being deliberately annoying.
Key Hiking Strength: Already possesses the necessary fitness to hike miles every day without complaint.
Key Hiking Weakness: Very quickly becomes freezing cold even in the warmest of conditions.
Fun Fact: As a 3 year old, Annie's (then) chubby hand featured in a 1990s coffee advert where she very professionally threw a spoon into a cup. Wow.
The day began after a solid breakfast at the Crown, which came with as many crunchy nut clusters as I could eat and despite cheekily ticking the box marked 'sausage' twice when it came to order, I only received the standard single morning tube of meat - I can only presume my cheery Glaswegian friend from last night was out of the kitchen. Whilst I had lost out on a potential sausage, I had gained a sister as Annie was waiting for me at the Inn when I returned from breakfast. Swings and roundabouts I suppose.
We set off in the morning drizzle and immediately avoided Pen Y Ghent, one of those classic Pennine Way hills that climbs into the dreary, drizzly clouds, only to tumble down to the bottom resulting only in a very unpleasant 2 hours - we successfully got the first leg down to a slightly unpleasant 45 minutes by skirting the entire thing. Indeed the first 3 to 4 hours of this day were pretty trivial, I was secretly thrilled to show someone else just how rubbish the PW is, though it was lovely to be hiking with someone else for a change and hearing about Annie's recent travels across the world to New Zealand and Australia. To her credit, Annie moaned about all the right things on her first stint - Why was the weather so crap? What's the deal with this monotonous scenery? People actually walk this path for fun?! Standard Pennine stuff really.
The rain finally began to ease off as we circled around Malham Tarn (ie: a big lake), I purchased a delicious can of Vimto from an enterprising lady in an ice cream truck on the path, and just like that the day evolved from a bit of a slog into a truly wondrous afternoon of hiking. The main reasons being the steadily improving weather and us reaching the land around Malham which is full of amazing glacial limestone formations and gigantic boulders strewn around the ground like the remnants of a giants' game of marbles. School trips became a frequent obstacle for us to overtake as the largely empty paths of the North PW were suddenly overrun with scabby kneed kids running around the rocks talking in broad Yorkshire accents playing old schoolyard games like 'shove the weakest member of the group onto the rocks'. Malham Cove is achingly beautiful, albeit very busy, and after soaking up the sights we left the direct route to Kirkby Malham and made instead for Goredale Scar, and what a detour it was. For a relatively small waterfall the cascade has carved out a gigantic cavern in the limestone over many thousands of years that takes your breath away - it was easily one of the best sights on the hike overall and regrettably the below photo does the site less justice than an American jury debating whether or not OJ Simpson was an 'ok dude', I can only recommend visiting in person if you ever get the opportunity.
After the Scar, Annie and I headed back to yet another enterprising food van, but this one had been operating from the same spot since the 1970s - very impressive. I wolfed down a hot bacon and egg roll (I think they're called cobs in this part of the world), whilst Annie tucked into an irritatingly healthy snack (hummus, celery and filtered unicorn tears or something similar, which is just vintage Annie). We wound our way along the side of a beautiful river, through Malham itself and we're soon at our lodgings at the Victoria Inn at Kirkby Malham. What a great Inn it was too, lavish and surprisingly cheap rooms, delicious food in generous portions, a roaring fire, and a long run of locally brewed ales. The staff were top notch too, even getting a picture of me outside the door and posting it online to help with my fundraising. Just like that, Annie's first day on the trail was complete and it had been a solid 16 miles with genuine highlights. However, if I know the Pennine Way - and unfortunately we have become very closely acquainted over the last week or so - I don't think tomorrow will be quite as good, but we shall see.