Pen y Ghent from the south-west
After leaving the Water for Kids AGM (held in the outskirts of Bradford) I half thought about going back up the road to Scotland and the domestic comforts of The Chookery, but sense prevailed; I had, after all, been on the road since four o’clock that morning and was really in no state to start several more hours of motorway driving. In any case, I had my camping kit and the day was becoming more and more sunny as the afternoon went on.
I remembered from my caving days a small farm campsite at Horton in Ribblesdale between the two hills of Ingleborough and Pen y Ghent and which lay on the Pennine Way. I also recalled a couple of half-decent pubs in the village, so set off there. Got to the farm at about half-past-five and made contract with the farmer for the night for the small sum of five pounds. Set up the tent, grabbed a bag of nuts and raisins and a daysack with the usual necessities and set off up Pen y Ghent.
Pen y Ghent is one of the three peaks of the Yorkshire Dales, together with the aforementioned Ingleborough and the less-dramatic, but highest summit, of Whernside. It was six o’clock when I started up out of the village and met loads of people coming back down the hill, which was pleasantly deserted of the usual sunny summer Saturday crowds. It’s been a long time since I walked on limestone hills such as these and I found it very beautiful. Limestone scenery (“karst”) is always cool and refreshing, even in warm weather, and the silver-grey of the rock sets off the green grass and blue skies to perfection, as the toggy should demonstrate.
The ascent to the top of Pen y Ghent is dramatic, as the path climbs up through the two rocky ramparts of the escarpment. Because of the wear and tear of the Pennine Way, which climbs over the hill before returning to Horton, there is now a man-made staircase climbing about three hundred feet up the steepest part of the route. It is still a dramatic climb through the rocks with a couple of short scrambles to make the walker feel they’ve made some effort on their own part to reach the summit, which appears very suddenly after the second set of crags as the path opens onto what seems to be ordinary sheep pasture with standard Yorkshire stone walls.
The national park authority have built a seat/shelter into the wall itself, which provides respite from the wind from whichever direction it listeth. I stopped to take a couple of toggies from the trig point, assuming I had the place to myself, when suddenly a grey head appeared up over the wall from the other side; a man and two women were taking a breather before continuing on their way to walk the three peaks in the long summer evening (and no doubt into the warm summer night).
I returned to Horton along the Way, which added an extra mile to the route over returning the way I’d come, but it gave more variety of scenery, including a river gorge long since deserted by the waters that made it, except in times of flood.
Back down to the tent and dumped the kit before heading down to the Brass Cat (as all Golden Lions in Yorkshire are so wittily re-christened) for a few pints of Timmy Taylors and a yarn with a lantern-jawed, but diminutive, lorry driver up for the day with his kids.
And so, dear readers, to bed.