25 March 2010


Although we won’t post this until we get back to London, I feel like I should tell you that I’m writing this while sitting in the kitchen of Old Hall in Hawkswick, making pancakes and looking out the window at the looming, mist-covered flank of the hill that rises immediately behind this property. Last night when we arrived, D and I donned our boots straight away and took a brisk stroll up the stiff slope to get a view of the dale in the dimming light. it’s all open access, which means you can scramble anywhere, but as we discovered it’s better to stick to the footpaths and farm tracks if you want to actually walk!

j and the os map

hawkswick from above

db and the path home

sums up the village

Yesterday we set out at about 10am, and D drove us most of the way to our lunch spot – the Derwentwater Arms in the little village of Calver. We got good seats, looking out towards the hills and edge, the food was good and the service fantastic. Dessert was a bit of a highlight: four plates with samples of bread and butter pudding and treacle sponge and generous jugs of custard. Mmm!

caramelised red onion and feta tart @ derwentwater arms


focus // crocus

Another highlight of a different sort was the petrol station, complete with attendant, key to the toilet and displays of vintage cars and paraphernalia. Very cool!

cannot for the life of me remember where this was

kids these days
Kid in the back seat!

The satnav in the car took us on a circuitous route from there to Hawkswick, directing us all the way over to Manchester before slinging us back east. As a result, we didn’t get here until around 6pm, but it was still worth it as we crawled along the narrow roads, past an enormous limestone overhang – Kilnsey Crag – over the River Skirfare (sp?), across a cattlegrid, and along the track to Hawkswick.

Saturday 20th March

We celebrated the best night sleep for quite some time with pancakes for breakfast. A was still fast asleep at 10am, so with itchy feet bothering us, we got M to drop us off at Kettlewell, the next village along, and we walked back to the cottage through light but driving rain and bleak and spectacular scenery.

j & d keeping warm-ish!

As we climbed away from the road and the river, a high fell with large patches of snow emerged behind the other valley wall. Although the cloud never fully lifted off it, we caught tantalising glimpses until we hit the highest point of our walk, climbed over the stone wall using the ladder stile, and were treated to another vista spreading out before us – this time looking up Littondale along the Skirfare, over Hawkswick and up to Arncliffe.

moss covered wall

view over wharfedale, near kettlewell

knipe wood from above

layers: dale and moor


refrain from rolling stones

cattle, hawkswick

BEST OF ALL, J got to wear his waterproof trousers - purchased years ago and never yet worn in earnest!


On our return, A was up and ready, so off we trundled in the car to the nearest fair-sized town, Skipton. After parking by the canal, we ambled through back streets, past their Saturday street market (mainly selling the same tat sold in markets everywhere), and through a cute Victorian shopping arcade – it was like walking onto a film set! Lunch was average fare – although the pub, the Narrow Boat, had an interesting selection of ‘Belgian and world’ beers (Belgium is not part of the world, apparently). Stopping off at the supermarket for provisions, we headed off to Malham, and arrived just in time to see the National Park shop closing. No postcards for us!

leeds - liverpool canal, skipton

d and m in the pub, skipton

Malham village was very pretty, with its little river, stone vehicle bridge, two plank-footbridges and ‘muddy boots welcome’ café. This walk was easily the highlight of the day, if not of the trip so far. The word ‘picturesque’ was literally invented for this kind of scenery.

footbridge over malham beck

d, m & a setting off

flagstone pathway

janet's foss: mossy trees

janet's foss: wish tree?
Wish tree at Janet's Foss

janet's foss (waterfall)

d, m & a near malham

The walk to Janet’s Foss (waterfall, above) was stunning enough – like walking through a mossy fairy landscape. But Gordale Scar – wow. What a sight! Approaching from the road, we walked alongside the gentle stream while the crags began to close in around us, looming above like scenery from a fantasy book. Further along, we saw the water rising fresh from the ground (and on the way back J filled his water bottle, so if he gets sick we’ll all know why!), and we felt as though we were shrinking in comparison to the cliffs at either side. Further still, and the path turned a small corner, bringing us finally face to face with a gushing double waterfall. The path appeared to end here, but all of our maps and literature told us that it actually continued up the course of the waterfall – not at all a feasible route in this weather without mountaineering expertise and proper equipment!

gordale scar


gordale scar, looking back down the valley

j on the footbridge over gordale beck

so many adorable stone bridges, so little time

Luckily we hadn’t planned to go any further, so we turned back to the road and followed it back to Malham. On the way we were treated as the sun broke through the clouds, lighting up the hills behind us with a honey yellow glow.

winter tree, evening

sunset near gordale scar (1)

The drive back to Hawkswick was spectacular – past Malham Tarn (quite a large lake), stopping at a random paddock so J could go and jump in a patch of snow and build a tiny snow person with a sheep-poo nose and one arm, then along the narrow unfenced road clinging to the massive side of Fountains Fell.

j, snow and tiny snowperson

We arrived home satisfied and tired and ready for dinner – jacket potatoes, coleslaw, baked beans and cheese! And whisky! And wine!


  1. how utterly, utterly perfect!

  2. I am so jealous that I am going to cry. A lot.


  3. *hands out hankies*

    soon we will update again, with more amazing perfect-ness-ity!