|The Pennine Way|
Brow Gill disappears into Calf Holes
This was an easy days walk with good tracks all the way. The weather started out fine but ended up overcast with a light rain.
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The Pennine Way leads out of Horton next to the Crown Inn on a green road that climbs a little between dry-stone walls. This green lane (Harber Scar Lane) is an old packhorse road from Settle to Langstrothdale. The view back to Horton and down the dale is good - so long as you ignore the large limestone quarry behind the village across the valley. On the other side of the dale is the imposing bulk of Ingleborough. I quickly gained the first feature of the limestone country the Pennine Way passes: Sell Gill Holes. On the left there is a rather modest cleft in the ground. However the Hole on the right is more impressive with Sell Gill vanishing into its depths. This drops to a huge 70 metre high cavern and is popular with cavers - a group was descending as I passed.
Jackdaw Hole (a green-clad chasm with a stone wall around it) and Penyghent Long Churn (quite small with a trickle of water falling into it) also provide glimpses into the Earth's depths. The grassy moorland to the right is pockmarked with suspicious green hollows, signs of the underlying limestone landscape. To the left (on the far side of the valley) are some of the finest stretches of limestone pavement in the Dales.
The Pennine Way crosses a stream and goes through a gate to lose the left-hand enclosing wall just before Rough Hill. After the hill the green road approaches the large Greenfield conifer plantation and is deserted for a path across farmland to Old Ing Farm with Dismal Hill poking up on your left. Then another packhorse road (Settle to Hawes) is joined. After the farm I peeped over a stone wall at the Calf Holes where Brow Gill disappeared. A little further on, I left the Pennine Way temporarily through a gate and dropped down to Browgill Cave where the stream reappeared. This is in a pretty little gorge with an old limekiln above it. The cave itself is accessible for a few metres (remember to take a torch and watch your head!).
Walking back on the Pennine Way, I soon found myself on the rim of the deep (around 60 metres) limestone gorge of Ling Gill. The woods on the steep sides are very pretty and the stream (Cam Beck) itself is loud in the depths but not visible. This is a national nature reserve that protects the remains of the old woodland cover of the limestone country (mostly ash trees but with a sprinkling of rowan, aspen, birch and hazel in the understorey). The woods give a hint at what the landscape may have been like before farming impacted the landscape. The bridge across the beck has an interesting (just legible) inscription on a tablet: "ANNO 1765 THYS BRIDGE WAS REPAIRED AT THE CHARGE OF THE WHOLE OF WEST RYDEING". The bridge was made of gritstone - I was leaving limestone country.
Climbing up from the bridge, I met the Dales Way joining the path from the left and proceeded along Cam High Road - a Roman (or even prehistoric) trade route across Cam Fell between Ingleton and a fort at Bainbridge. The easy walking is rewarded by views down Langstrothdale. The two Ways fork after 1.5 kilometres with the Dales Way heading right down into Langstrothdale. The Pennine Way keeps to the higher ground and the Roman road. After another kilometre the path becomes a tarmaced track (an access road to Cam Pasture farm down in the valley). The walking levels out and a limestone step to the left hides extensive pavements. The track is followed to Kidhow Gate where I sat down and had lunch in the shelter of a stone wall.
After lunch I joined the old packhorse route of West Cam Road that branches off just before the gate. This contours along the edge of Dodd Fell giving good views into the valley containing Snaizeholme Beck. The beck is fed by numerous small stream (gills or sikes depending on their volume). The track becomes a bit damp underfoot as it reaches the highest point of the day (570m) at Ten End. Through the gloom of the overcast sky I could see the bulk of Great Shunner Fell ahead - my next days target. The next stretch is downhill along a grassy path to join Gaudy Lane and then through fields to Gayle. On the way you pass the pretty Gaudy House farmhouse, converted to holiday accommodations but retaining an old-fashioned spinning gallery.
The official Pennine Way actually bypasses the old section of Gayle through fields on its west to a modern housing estate. The better route is to turn right at an iron wicket and stone steps and wander down to the old bridge over Duerley Beck (a great photo opportunity). From the bridge the Pennine Way is regained by following the road and Gayle Beck past an old mill. The last section to Hawes is over an interesting flagstoned path down to the church. The town has a youth hostel and plenty of other accommodation (I stayed at the White Hart Inn). Hawes is the home of Wensleydale Cheese.