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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Tuesday 26th July 2011 Malham to Stainforth

Weather:  Overcast to start, sunny and warm for rest of day
Distance:  10.3 miles

We didn't get much sleep last night due to noisy fellow roommates.  One, in particular, spent the night tossing and turning in her rickety, squeaky bunk bed...I shall now draw a veil over our youth hostel experience...
We were up early, breakfasted and on our way by 8:25am.  A good start to the day as we walked up to Malham Cove which Mrs C hadn't seen before and again she was very impressed.  As we were early we had the place to ourselves and it was magical - the flowing beck tumbling over the rocks, a kingfisher flashing by, rabbits hopping about and the sound of the peregrine falcons.  We also saw some ducklings, swifts, meadow pipits, a robin, a green woodpecker and a dipper.  We climbed the stone steps to the left of the cove which was hard work but the views were splendid.  At the top we swung right by the limestone pavement and joined the trail again.  We now followed the path through Watlowes which is a dry limestone valley.  This was amazing.  We were surrounded by limestone rising up on both sides and growing everywhere were the most beautiful plants such as Maidenhair Fern, Dogs Mercury, Harebells, Wild Thyme and Cranesbill.  We also saw birds including Wheatears and Meadow Pipits.  At first glance the valley looks barren but once you tune in and look more closely it is teaming with wonderful nature. Marvellous.

Next we were heading for Kirkby Fell via Langscar and Nappa Cross.  The path here is part of the Pennine Bridleway which is a national trail so it is well signposted and maintained.  We had to walk past some Highland Cattle.  I was nervous but Mrs C led the way again.  It was steady climbing to Kirkby Fell and then the path dropped down until we reached the Attimire Caves and Attimire Scar which are geological delights.  There were huge limestone cliffs and crags with caves.  Oh - and there were more Highland Cows and they seemed quite sweet although to be on the safe side I was the other side of the gate when I took a photo.  We found mushrooms!  It was then a steady but steep descent into Settle which we could see nestling below us as we ate lunch by a wall basking in the sunshine.

It was market day in Settle and we had a cup of tea at the Naked Man Cafe then shopped for postcards, stamps and tomorrow's lunch from the Co-op.We chatted to a couple outside the tearooms and they told us about their trip on the Settle to Carlisle Railway the next day - much cheaper to go on an ordinary train rather than the steam train.  Soon we were off again on the last stage of today's route along the River Ribble.  Calming walk along the river bank through meadows  and we met a man and his dog.  The dog was friendly and he has a job - he goes to hospitals and care homes and helps with the therapy and rehabilitation of the residents and patients.(Pets as therapy.)  We soon arrived at Stainforth Force which was busy with daytrippers - families paddling and picnicking and teenagers hanging out and barbecuing sausages.  Stainforth village was a short walk up a steep lane past a field with a sign which made me smile.  No sign of the bull.  We were staying at the Craven Heifer Hotel.  We had drinks on the terrace, quick showers and then dinner in the pub followed by a walk round the village.

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