Pennine Way Day 5: Ponden to Gargrave

Ponden Reservoir

Getting back to Ponden reservoir was easy enough. The bus to Howarth leaves from near my house, and a taxi took me to where I previously left the trail. I’d booked a room in an Airbnb in Gargrave and it was a simple sixteen miles or to to my destination. I was leaving a little later than usual, but planned to arrive around six.

The day’s walk began with a stroll around Ponden reservoir before climbing out of the valley, with some good views on the way up. The route was wiggly but well-signposted, delivering me to a lovely stretch of moorland. I even passed a peacock on the way up.

A good stride across an empty moor took me to some grouse-hunter’s huts. From here, the landscape was mostly tamed and felt less interesting. I passed through Ickornshaw village and hopped between fields. When I reached the Hare and Hounds at Lowthersdale I stopped for lunch and had a couple of non-alcoholic beers. It took a little time to rebuild my momentum after that.

Passing through Lowthersdale

The day’s highest point was Pinhaw Beacon, which features a new ‘toposcope’ in memory of those who died in the Covid-19 pandemic. I love seeing little guides to the landscape like this, although it was marred by a ghastly poem, based on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare you to a summer’s cold? / You are more virulent and fatal”).

There were a few wild stretches in the second half of the day, but the route was mostly farmland. It rained for a while, forcing me into waterproofs. For a section it followed a canal (although the double-decker bridge was curious).

Gargrave is one of the main towns on the Pennine Way, with the famous Dalesman cafe sitting directly on the route. There was a choice of a few places to eat, but I didn’t fancy two pub meals in a day. The gastropub revolution has raised the standard of British pub food, but a lot of it is overpriced. Every pub likes to pretend its meals are worthy of gastropub prices, but that’s not always the case.

The local curry house was booked up, but they allowed me to take one of the tables on their patio. Eating al fresco on an April evening was chilly, but the food was good.

Overall the day’s landscapes were pretty, but this section is not as exciting as some. It’s also, perhaps, churlish to complain about sections not being wild, given that much of the moorland on the Pennine Way is now paved with flagstones. In the days before these were laid out the route was extremely challenging, and I’d probably not walk it without the man-made paths. The accounts of people being swallowed up by the bogs do not sound much fun.

I went to bed straight after the curry, tired and needing rest ready for the 21 mile hike I’d planned for the following day.

A thin, faint section of the Pennine Way
If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *