Day 40 Malham to Cowling Tuesday 21 June

After the ritual battle with the midges, which seem to be bad everywhere at the moment, we had a gentle riverside meander and short climb over to Gargrave, where following the obligatory co op resupply shop, we visited the tea room. The quaint tearoom was full of old fashioned kitchen utensils and food tins and by our table was a road map of the British Isles from 1966. We now understand the vintage of road map our respective Dads must be following our route with.
We met more walkers today. One fella was attempting to walk the Pennine Way ‘there and back’, in 19 days ‘to save a train fare’ and is due to finish back in Edale on Thursday. We bumped into him a few times and as we peeled off to our overnight stop he carried on, looking a little the worse for wear as he neared the final few days of the challenge he had set himself. Most walkers will try and do the PW in just the one direction and fit it in within a two week holiday which still requires a few longer days. To complete it in both directions in 19 days is ‘quite hard’ no wonder he looked ‘very tired’. 

Another walker we spoke to had last tried to complete the PW 37 years ago and had to give up in Cowling with heat stroke after 4 days. He always said he would return to try again and here he was.

We also got grilled by 5 ladies who were spending 6 days on the trail and they were fascinated by how we were doing our walk. 

Our principal, and as it turned out most costly, encounter of the day was with Len. On entering Gargrave much to our surprise we crossed a canal, which tells you how much attention we are paying to the map at times. A few miles later the PW joined the Leeds to Liverpool canal and as we walked on to the towpath Len was walking along in the same direction following the canal. He turned out to be great company and was a real canal buff and being from Wakefield he knew the local area well. He was fascinating to talk to and the time passed quickly. We were concerned we should not miss our turn off so a quick glance at the map confirmed we needed to turn off after the next main road crossed the canal. Unfortunately we had already passed the main road in question so engrossed were we in our chat with him. Fortunately, the penny dropped and we ended up adding a couple of extra miles to our day.

Whilst on our route extension we saw another long distance trail cross the canal, the Pendle Trail, which uses a witch on a broomstick as its waymark logo. We had briefly entered Pendle in Lancashire. The Pendle witches are famous – yes, we had never heard of them.

In 1612, twelve witches from Pendle were accused and tried for ten murders by witchcraft. One died in prison before trial, ten were found guilty and hung and one was acquitted. Their trial was one of the most famous in English history. In 1998 the then Home Secretary Jack Straw was petitioned to pardon them. The convictions were upheld. Today the Pendle witches are much in evidence as the basis for promoting the area to visitors. 

Having got back on track we climbed Pinhaw Beacon to enjoy 360 degree views, dropped into Lothersdale. and finally climbed up to Cowley to conclude one of our longer days.

We hope to be leaving Cowley in the morning but are a little concerned about the sinister logo on the 30 mph speed limit sign we read on entering the town – or maybe it was all the talk of witchcraft that had spooked us.

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