"Over Cam Fell and Dodd Fell - 14 miles (23km)
Though there may not be any obvious highlights today, this is a very enjoyable section of the Way. It’s not too testing physically, route –finding is mostly easy and the views are plain wonderful. Though you follow old packhorse routes and Roman roads, you’ll see few signs of contemporary civilisation, instead mainly endless hills with grass swishing in the wind as a long, gentle ascent takes you over the Dales to a more abrupt drop into charming Hawes, the pot of gold at the day’s end.
Some may find it lonely and exposed, but the big skies, empty trails and wide-angled views are blissful, especially after the bustle of Malham and Horton in Ribblesdale.
Navigationally, most of the day could be sleepwalked. But there’s an awkward part coming off the moors down Rottenstone Hill into Hawes, where the path is a bit vague. There are no facilities till Hawes, which has everything you could wish for and more. Though if you’d rather stay somewhere quieter, perhaps push on the Hardraw". (National trail route description)
This morning we did one of the traditional things for Pennine Way walkers and visited the Pen-y-ghent cafe in Horton-in-Ribblesdale to add our names to their Pennine Way visitors book. They've got records of people who've signed the book from the creation of the way in the 1960's. We had a look through some of the more recent entries and their must be some interesting stories behind their entries. The couple who wrote "spent 3 miles walking in the wrong way" must have had a weary tale whereas the couple from New Zealand who wrote that they'd been planning the trip for 35 years would have a totally different perspective on the trail. Thinking about it later though, we should have checked to see if John had left a message this time last year.
Having left our thoughts for posterity we headed out into the Yorkshire dales and where very quickly heading upwards and into the open dales. We'd got a lunchtime viewing planned and so we followed farm tracks around hillsides to reach the Cam High Road in time for our lunchtime viewing. By the junction we found a good spot to take our seats and wait. After the west highland way a couple of years ago I've been on the mailing list for one of the heritage steam companies and a while ago they sent me one of their mail shots with details of a settle-carlisle journey today. One of the iconic journeys and to see a steam engine over the ribblehead viaduct was something we had to see, especially when that engine is the Flying Scotsman. It arrived early and under minimal steam as it would be too much of a fire risk with this extremely dry landscape. All day we've seen examples of the lack of rain as numerous stream beds are dry and the ground beneath our feet was cracked.
Continuing up along the Cam High Road, the route of an old Roman road we climbed steadily to reach the high point of the day below Dodd hill fell when the view suddenly opened up and in the background to the north was the hills of the Lake District. Gently heading downhill from Dodd Hill Fell day's end appeared in the small town of Hawes nestling in lovely Wensleydale (that's enough of Wallace's fantasies) and we've found another lovely B&B with a room that seems bigger than my flat!
So today has been a lovely walk and a really good way of reintroducing ourselves to the way without any real points of note (unlike tomorrow when we cross the 716m Great Shunner Fell on our way another dale, Swaledale)