Malham and Gordale Hike, Camp and Climb
Members John Castick, Virginia Castick, Dave Wylie, Graham Harkness, Sue Harkness, Lester Payne, Dave Shotton, Oi Ding Koy, Lorna Marsland, MeirionTanner, Laura Collier, Jim Gregson, Sandy Gregson
Guest David Swindlehurst
We arrived first at the most beautiful of sites set just below Gordale Scar. The farmer was strange to say the least. After vetting me to make sure I wouldn’t drink, take drugs, be in a group or light a BBQ he made up a price and let us on. This farmer is a hoarder. Every nook and cranny of his yard, including the shower area and one ladies WC, was stuffed with hoarded rubbish. Each KMC arrival was greeted with the same vetting process and given a different price to pay. It was cheap though averaging £5 per person per night.
The evening was freezing with a biting wind so we managed to cram all 7 campers into our van for a while.
Saturday was another glorious but cold and windy day. Lester had a real struggle putting up his ancient canvas frame tent at 6am. Needless to say no-one was willing to help at that time in the morning. Don’t ask why he didn’t put it up the night before.
Climbing was not really an option with those present so a pleasant walk took us past Janet’s Foss, down the river to Airton and then along a long broad ridge to Weets Top. It was less windy on the summit than at the campsite. We were back fairly early so the meet leader went for a dip in Janet’s Foss and even went under the waterfall. On returning, Ding had us all engaged in some yoga practices. She and Dave Shotton are very bendy! Another draughty evening saw us move into Lester’s Frame tent after tea, warmed by Graham’s ancient but smelly primus stove.
Sunday was less windy and eventually beautifully sunny. Laura arrived on the train and Dave Shotton kindly collected her from the station. Lorna and Dave, who were staying in the area, joined us for the walk as did Meirion, Jim and Sandy. We raced up Gordale Scar which was very dry, then sauntered across to Malham Tarn for elevenses. Jim and Sandy, carrying huge rucksacs left us here, to attain greater heights. We strolled off in the other direction, passing and pausing at our first ice cream van before we got to Malham Cove. The crowds were now getting bigger but that doesn’t detract from the sheer spectacle of the place. We went down the steps to the bottom, passing loads of gasping tourists on their way up. We lunched at the bottom and admired the climbers with their cheating sticks as they made their routes into a top-roping game. John lay back with his binoculars and tried to pick out the bolt route he had done right up the middle of the cove with Lord Hyde probably 45 years ago. It is no longer in the modern guidebook and no one has even heard of etriers. At least he got to the top unlike the modern climbers who do a few feet then get lowered off.
Another ice cream van in Malham village was negotiated before walking back to the site past Janet’s Foss again. Although some of us were tempted to swim, the crowds were too big.
Thank you to all who came. The weather couldn’t have been better and the company was a delight.