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Stuart Grant from Leigh on Sea
Trail completed June / July 2015

Planning for the HALT started in January, but a sprained ankle in May put the whole expedition in doubt. After speaking with my GP and trying a test walk I decided to press ahead, but planned alternative routes in case of difficulty. As it happened, I thankfully didn’t need these fallbacks.

Day 1
My accommodation at Ravenstonedale was a little out of the village so day 1 (and day 2) was extended by about 1.5 miles without a problem. The Black Bull no longer has a shop, but may be able to provide some items across the bar if requested. I didn’t explore their range.

Another time, I’d be tempted to miss out the Poetry Trail, though this would make it a very short day. Even a local agreed that the stones were hard to read, and I found the trail itself without intrinsic interest.

Day 2
I always forget to count walls and beck crossings, but by my reckoning, Hazel Gill comes after a sheepfold and waterfall on the other side of Bowderdale Beck, and has a prominent tree growing in its bed. So, Ram’s Gill must be the next one. I was unnerved by seeing walkers on the other side of the valley before reaching this, because the OS map shows no other footpath. Nevertheless, I persevered and just before Ram’s Gill, I saw a sturdy square cairn across Bowderdale Beck. On crossing to explore, I found a thin trail rising, and this took me to Bowderdale Head. Inevitably, it was around this time of doubt that the rain started so I didn’t linger long at Cautley Spout.

The SP Bowderdale (p37) has lost its finger.

Day 3
The ascent by Cautley Spout was easier than it looked, but the next stretch to the col and broad track was much further than I expected, as was reaching the track leading to the left around Ellergill Beck (p48).

The FP via Riddings (p48) has also lost its finger, but this was on top of the wall at the time I passed.

Conversely, the broken arm (p52) has been replaced by a new three-way sign. Take the direction of Heights of Winder.

Day 4
At the BW sign (p58) and after some head scratching, I found that the way ahead is by following the sign and passing under the cables. The green lane is blocked in two places by fallen trees and in one place by a nettle bed. All blockages are easily avoided.

The ascent up Middleton Fell was indeed confusing in poor weather (p59), but I think this would apply equally to good weather. Whether or not a track is minor is a subjective judgement. I had rain almost all the way to the wall, but exercising judgement and keeping to a guiding rule of taking the right hand option at all times (minor tracks excepted), I reached the wall at the right place.

The weather improved in the afternoon, but I kept my waterproofs on to dry them. This made my appearance at the Barbon Inn all the more surprising to the locals who were enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon in the comfort of t-shirts and sandals.

The marker post (p65) points to the right rather than diagonally, but the route is the diagonal. The underpass can’t be seen from this point but soon becomes apparent.

Day 5
The route along Leck Beck was aided in places by small green signs. At Masongill, the FP Westgate sign still points in the wrong direction. The left turn in the book sounds improbable, and it took me 20 or so paces before Masongill House could be seen on the left, confirming the direction. The subsequent ladder stile has been repaired but as it’s surrounded by nettles, I stuck with the gate.

Day 6
Recalling that the waterfall route into Ingleton on the PJ was hard going, I deliberately varied the route this morning to follow the minor road towards The Beezleys, taking advantage of a footpath for the last stretch and mentally counting my £6 saving.

On the descent from Ingleborough, I found no double ladder stile (p88) but the path passes through a single wicket gate.

Day 7
The route via Victoria Cave and Attermire Scar is pleasant and remote, but it required some positive thought to take the uphill stony track (p103). From this point there is an obvious shorter and more direct BW to Settle, and it comes after the PB- Settle 2m sign, yet the book route is still further than this. Bad psychology! Bear in mind, too, that this was the hottest July day on record.

I had some doubt at the gate in the wall on the right (p103). A thin trail can be seen on the other side, though a more obvious (but wrong) path continues on the left hand side of the wall.

From Settle, I took up the suggestion of looping back to Kirkby Stephen by following the Pennine Journey in reverse, revisiting Ingleton and Sedbergh along the way. An enjoyable addition to the HALT route, but a story for another day. Overall, I found HALT easier to follow than the PJ, and more consistently enjoyable. And, I’m tempted to say that the PJ works just as well if not better in reverse, which gives me an idea…..




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