Weather: fine and sunny
Phil - thanks for your comment, if you want to wild camp this route it would be quite possible, and there are also campsites along the way. The main reason for our mode of accommodation on this trip is the fact that my good friend Andrew has never and will never backpack with a tent. That doesn't inhibit his desire for this sort of excursion, the enjoyment of which can be enhanced by meeting friends along the way.
Andrew's TV research, which is extensive, revealed an 'interesting programme' last night about the chandeliers at the Buck Inn that were made by the 'glamorous (former tax accountant) blacksmith' across the road. It all seems a bit unlikely, but we did hear hammering from the smithy. We missed the programme, as we were seated under one of said chandeliers, in the Buck's dining area that was mercifully TV free!
A long wait for breakfast didn't hinder our 9.30 rendezvous with Roger and Jacky in the car park at Malham, and we were soon on our way to the Cove (pictured), past grey and pied wagtails, goldfinches and various other feathered fledglings.
We could see the peregrine falcons from below, but having made our way across the upper lip of the Cove we found ourselves observing the three youngsters from just a few metres away. Trevor and another (resident?) photographer explained that they had fledged (left the nest) yesterday and that they wouldn't be perched on the nearby ledge for very long before they started to fly around whilst receiving up to two months of post-fledging training from their parents. Even then, they only stand a 40% chance of making it through the first winter.
We were engrossed for nearly an hour before moving on up Ing Scar, across Cove Road, and up to the summit of Kirkby Fell. On this lovely summer's day the views ranged far and wide, from Ilkley Moor to the SE to Whernside and other hills to our north, with Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent also prominent from around here.
A lone figure heralded our arrival on the next summit, our highest to date, Rye Loaf Hill (547 metres). Gary had been waiting for some time with his newspaper, watching our slow progress that had included a pause to rebuild a stone wall (Roger being an expert in this department). The redness of his visage indicated that he may have been there for a very long time, or has he taken to the bottle? He claimed his recent retirement was to blame...
We diverted from the planned route to admire Victoria Cave, the site of a prolonged excavation in the 1870s. Lots of animal remains up to 120,000 years old were found, including many species now found in Africa, together with tools that carbon dating shows are up to 11,000 years old.
Fascinating, but muddy with a dark interior, and just one of forty or so similar caves found in this area.
The walk to Stainforth via Langcliffe was equally interesting, if a little off our planned route beside the River Ribble. Instead, we explored the site of the Craven Lime Works to the east of the river and railway. It's not referred to in our guide book but is as unmissable as it is unheralded. Its dominant feature is the massive Hoffman Kiln built in 1873. This features 22 individual burning chambers around which you can now walk underground. We also scrambled up the steep sides to admire the kiln from above. Wild strawberries and ox-eye daisies are now rampant on the disused exterior. Impressive and fascinating.
Some essential car shuffling meant that we sadly missed out on a spell in the Craven Heifer's beer garden, but we were nevertheless soon installed in Roger and Jacky's rather more exclusive beer garden in Giggleswick. Thank you R+J for your great hospitality and wonderful food and for putting up our unexpected additional companion, Gary, who was expecting to camp.
A brilliant day.
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