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A Yorkshire Walk Through Malhamdale

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It was the first walking day of a weekend break in Malhamdale with HF Holidays. Looking out the window first thing was rain and sleet but as many of you know, the Yorkshire Dales is a fabulous place to get the boots on and walk and hike, whatever the weather. Plus, they have a range of walks to choose from daily. Today’s choices ranged from 6 to 9.5 miles. I chose the latter… bring on the miles to enjoy.

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Plus, with the walk being through Malhamdale it was done straight from out the door of the accommodation at Newfield Hall. This was to turn into a walk of miles of fresh air combined with quirky local history, great natural features and together with some great  new friends.

It wasn’t long at all before we came across an interesting place with a historical connection. Calton Hall, the birthplace and home of John Lambert, who was one of the leading names during the English Civil War and effectively Oliver Cromwell’s number 2 for much of this period in history.

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After Cromwell, John Lambert was the last commander to fight against the Restoration of the Monarchy. Eventually he was imprisoned for life, found guilty of treason against the by then restored King, Charles II.

The next place we came to was not so long later, I do find walks in the great outdoors when broken up with interests can add many memories to the walk. The beautiful old village of Airton, even in the light rain it retained its old and quiet look in its setting.

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As we walked through we went past the old Quaker Meeting House. A Quaker community started up here in the 1600s and Quaker meetings are still held here to this day. I made a mental note to come back here when I have more time than walking through. The village green had lots to discover more about from the old stocks to a squatters cottage.

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Back out the other side of Airton we went, through the woods and up onto some wide open tops. Fresh air was definitely order of the day. In the group it was a great time to get to learn more of the people we were walking with.

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It was one of those walks were the drizzle of the rain really did not matter. With all to see and learn together with social company the miles came and went with joy. It didn’t feel too long at all before we came to our next place, Kirkby Malham.

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Another beautiful place that offered more quirky history. The village is dominated by the church, St. Michael the Archangel Church, and its graveyard. An ancient church indeed, believed to be founded as early as the 7th Century. It was rebuilt in the 16th Century.

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The graveyard we passed through was vast, but one grave in particular catches the attention both with sight and story. The grave of Colonel John Harrison and Helen, his wife. Known as ‘The Watery Grave’

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The Watery Grave came about because Colonel John Harrison spent so much time abroad on duty that his wife decided that they would have spent so much time separated by water that that is how they should be laid to rest after death. The plot of land in the graveyard was gained that enabled a grave area split down the middle by a small stream. When Helen died she was buried on the left as you look at it. You can see in the pic that the idea was for John to go to the right across the stream. Alas, a few years later when he died the gravediggers could not get through the rock on that side so they ended up buried together after all.

This was the perfect place for the lunch stop. A pub lunch stop too! Something that HF Holidays has started building into their guided walks. Bonus! The local pub, The Victoria Inn, let us in and allowed us to warm and dry with lots of choice of food to eat.. a lovely stop en route.

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Belly filled, coffee drunk, it was time to get back on the path through Malhamdale. Back up onto the tops for some fresh air and impressive landscapes. I do enjoy walking this part of the world. It was time to go up and over toward the River Aire where on a clear day you get stunning views across to Malham Cove and beyond.

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As we dropped down to the River Aire we would also join the Pennine way beside it all the way back to the accommodation. What a well really though out circular route I must admit. The interesting things to see along the way have not all passed us by either.

Not far South from Malham we walked past Airhead Spring too. As we know this is truly limestone country. Way up at Malham Tarn the water mysteriously flows out underground. Then a few miles away it comes back out from deep under as a Spring like this, Aire Head Spring.

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Thus, this is the area where the River Aire officially starts.

From here it is all riverside walk along the Pennine Way. Kingfishers flying backwards and forwards along the river, tree creepers could also be seen hopping up the tree trunks. Plus, a massive bonus, the clouds parted a few minutes and offered us a full view back up the valley to Malham Cove, as can be seen in the main image atop this post.

Plus there were plenty of passers by greeting us on our last few miles.

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After a couple more miles we passed by Airton once more and then back to the accommodation. A wonderful days walk and one with many memories gained. This was only day one, it really wet the appetite for the next day.

The guides for HF Holidays really go out of their way to make sure you never have to worry about route and you just get on with enjoying the walk, the company and the sights. They are a font of knowledge for anything on route which all adds up to a great day out. Time to clean off, get rested and fed, ready for a new day of miles tomorrow.

Written by Paul Steele

Founder of BaldHiker.com and avid hiker, climber and trekker. Never liking to sit still and always seeking new adventures around the world. Sharing personal views here and tweeting live via @paul_steele

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