Pennine Way Stage 5 takes you from the Ickornshaw to Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a 17 mile walk through a lot of farm land and the famous Aire Gap which splits the South Pennines from the Yorkshire Dales. Day 5 highlights include the view from Pinhaw, walking beside the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Gargrave as well as entering the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Pennine Way stage 5 passes through Ickornshaw and there’s a classic red post box which stands out here. Look closely, the VR on this post box means it dates back to the Victorian period. As of course does the building it’s built into.
Todays walk will pass through a lot of farmland. As a result you’ll see lots of sheep and cows. Always be careful when entering a field full of cows, it’s not uncommon to be chased by them. If they’re disinterested in you then you’re probably ok to walk as normal. However, if they’re interested in you and start walking towards you, be sure to have a quick exit to the field and take a long route around them.
Lothersdale is a small village which you may walk through without realising! An interesting fact about Lothersdale Mill is that it’s home to Britain’s largest indoor waterwheel.
Hare in a Meadow – Pennine Way Stage 5
As I made my way from Lothersdale to Pinhaw Beacon I saw several hares. I was lucky enough to look over a wall and see a classic hare in a meadow right before my eyes. The exact spot I took this was crossing White Hill Lane.
Curlew – Pennine Way Stage 5
I saw several curlews in between Lothersdale and Pinhaw Beacon. In June they are protecting their young so may fly around you. This one was stood on the wall as I crossed White Hill Lane on my way to Pinhaw Beacon.
Pinhaw Beacon is the highest point of Pennine Way day 5 at 388 meters altitude. What’s more, it’s an easy walk to the top. On a nice day, Pinhaw Beacon makes a good place to sit down, eat something and enjoy the view. Again, on a clear day it’s possible to see the Yorkshire 3 peaks of Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside. Lastly, the view may provoke thoughts of day 6 when you’ll reach the summit of Pen-y-ghent.
Classic Pennine Way Sign
A classic Pennine Way marker post is located bv close to the Pinhaw trigpoint. Once upon a time there won’t have been as many sign posts and just a few stone markers to guide you along the Pennine Way.
Pennine Way Marker
Today, the Pennine Way markers are a little more informative than the old stone ones. From Pinhaw Beacon, it’s an easy 1.5 mile downhill walk to Thornton in Craven. Throughout the moorland of Pinhaw Beacon, you’re likely to see red grouse and meadow pipits.
Little Owl on the Pennine Way
As I made my way through a farm before Thornton in Craven I crossed paths with a little owl. By chance, as he was hunting he landed on a fence post right next to me. Before I could photograph him, he’d seen me and headed into the tree to look at me from a safe distance. No doubt, he hunts in that area on a regular basis.
Thornton in Craven
The Pennine Way passes by a Boer Goat Farm at Thornton in Craven. These goats are incredibly friendly and will come pose for you. It’s definitely not what I expected when I came down from Pinhaw Beacon!
At Thornton in Craven the Pennine Way crosses over the A56 before walking through farmland to join the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
Leeds Liverpool Canal
The Pennine Way joins the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath for a short while. As a matter of fact, you could stay alongside the canal all the way to Gargrave but the official route takes us back through farmland. East Marton Double Arched Bridge is a famous bridge in this area. The top arch was added as part of the A59.
Ducklings on the Leeds Liverpool Canal
If you take the Pennine Way in Spring you’re likely to see ducklings on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. As well as these common ducklings, I also saw moorhen ducklings.
Buzzard over the Pennine Way
As I walked through farmland between the Leeds Liverpool Canal and Gargrave I saw a Buzzard sat in a tree in the middle of a field. Of course, he’d seen me first and flew into the sky away from me. Lastly, buzzards are a common sighting here but if you’re really lucky you may see a red kite.
Gargrave is a decent sized town with lots of places to stay as well as a supermarket and eateries. For this reason, you may be tempted to stop here before heading into the Yorkshire Dales tomorrow. It’s another 6 miles of farmland and riverside walking to reach Malham. In Gargrave you’ll cross the River Aire which is where the Aire Gap gets its name.
Pennine Way Sign at Gargrave
As you leave Gargrave you’ll see the Leeds Liverpool Canal for the last time. The sign here gives you confirmation that it’s almost 6 miles to Malham. Fortunately, it’s a relatively flat walk through farmland and alongside the River Aire to its source at Malham Cove.
Farmland Walk to the River Aire
After leaving Gargrave you’ll pass through many farmers fields for a few miles until you reach the River Aire. Amongst the grazing farm animals I saw a few hares as well as a flock of lapwing.
You’ll follow the River Aire for the last couple of miles of the Pennine Way stage 5.
Otter in the River Aire
I saw an otter hunting for fish more or less as soon as I joined the River Aire. Welcome to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
I stopped for a quick sit down and a snack as I passed through the small hamlet of Airton. As I sat I could hear a bird singing close by. It was a Wren in the tree beside me, I must have been sat close to the nest.
Goldfinch on the Pennine Way
After passing Airton, the Pennine Way goes through lightly wooded areas alongside the River Aire. All kinds of wildlife will present itself to you. In addition to this goldfinch, I saw heron, wren, redstarts as well as many other common birds. After walking through the woodlands the path will reach an uphill which leaves the River Aire. When you reach the top of this hill there are stunning views of the beautiful Malham Cove. Consequently, you’re reaching the end of stage 5.
In the village of Malham there are a few places to stay as well as campsites. In addition, there are a few eating places including a good takeaway place to get a bacon / sausage butty. As for buying snacks, you should have topped up in Gargrave.
Janet’s Foss / Gordale Scar Evening Walk
Maybe you still have a little energy after settling into your accommodation? If this is the case you could consider walking off route to see Janet’s Foss and Gordale Scar. Now it seems so easy walking without your bag! Finally, the famous Malham Cove is part of the Pennine Way route for Stage 6 so you can see it close up tomorrow.