Sat 4th Jan 2014 – Malham Tarn Circuit

I have been doing some thinking about the best day of the weekend on which to go walking. I ended up coming to the conclusion that Saturday would be the better of the two days due to many people going shopping, and others possibly working, so it should be less crowded. Additionally, there is also the advantage of having a ‘free’ Sunday in which to recuperate before going back to work. That is my thinking anyway.
 
For today’s walk I decided on the Malham Tarn circuit. The main purpose for this route was to judge my performance on a relatively flat route. In November I tore a muscle in the top, rear of my left leg and have been having physio’ on it – at first I was laid up for two weeks in bed unable to walk and the pain was excruciating (akin to having someone stabbing it with a hot knife). In December I started to gradually get mobile again, and now I can move much more freely, although I am still getting a numb pain and stiffness when I wake up in the morning. I needed to get some frame of reference of where I was at physically, and so having done the Malham circuit a few times previously, it should give a good indicator of where I was up to.
 
The route is a circular one starting at the small car park south of the outfall from Malham Tarn, or Tarn Foot as it is noted on OS Maps.
 
Route Map
Route Elevation Profile

Route Distance: 3.58Mi
Estimated Time: 1:09
Total Ascent: 248 ft
Total Descent: 250 ft

3D view of the Malham Tarn Circuit


We eventually arrived at Malham just after lunchtime. The walk wasn’t going to take long and there was no rush to get back home, hence the late start, and additionally, I really do enjoy the atmosphere of finishing a walk just as it is starting to get dark with the farmhouse lights on the fell-sides starting to twinkle and the growing aroma of woodsmoke in the air… with a promise of a pub complete with open fire, serving decent beer – I ask you; what could be better?

The weather was becoming promising as it had rained on the way over to Malham, so the rucksack was on today with waterproofs inside. The new boots stayed at home though, however the new Karrimor Alpiniste jacket my better half had surprised me with was being worn. A great jacket and enough pockets for map, phone and sweets for the walk. The wind was blowing a bit and it did feel ‘fresh’ when getting out of the car – cars really should have an ‘acclimatise’ button you can press when nearing the walks’ start, or maybe, just wind the windows down and save the cost!

We proceeded to follow the Pennine Way from the car park and along a very muddy path which headed to Lings Plantation. There was a surprising amount of water underfoot making the ground very slippy, and the outflow from the Tarn was quite high and rapid. I have seen children paddling here on hot days in summer, but that would be only for the foolhardy in the conditions today.

Tarn Foot

We got onto the metalled track that leads to Tarn House and started making better progress than on the grass. There were some large excavators and tracked tipper trucks parked next to the track which would have had little boys wetting their pants with excitement. The question was asked about what what going on, and right on cue, a signpost came into view with an explanation. It turned out The National Trust were undertaking some work to the bank of the Tarn at this location. Surprisingly, the waves on the Tarn were damaging the peat banks and severely eroding them and work was taking place to reinforce the bank with timber posts to try and prevent further erosion taking place.

We continued up through the woods adjacent to the house, and walked past the Orchid House and around onto the main vehicle access road that leads to the building.

Tarn House looking from the East

The current Tarn House was built in the 1780’s on the site of an old farmhouse. For a time it belonged to the Morrisons, a wealthy family with diverse business interests throughout the Victorian era. It was handed over to The National Trust in 1946, and in 1947 it was leased to the Field Studies Council who have occupied it ever since.

We continued following the Pennine Way down the main driveway, part of which is impressively cut through the bedrock, and headed west until we got to “Keepers Cottage”, where the Pennine Way turned abruptly right at 90 degrees to head north, and we continued along the access track east. Before we got to Home Farm, the Malham Estate Office and the unclassified tarmac road, we took a left turn at a wall mounted post box and went along a drystone walled track marked as a permissive path on the map. The track was level and provided easy going underfoot, although it was quite waterlogged. This track eventually brought us out on the unclassified public road that headed over to Arncliffe.

We continued along this road heading towards High Trenhouse, which was a working farm at one time, but is now a “leadership workshop venue“, whatever that means. Call me cynical, but maybe I need to go on a course “of blue sky thinking, outside the box, to push the envelope forward to catch the low hanging fruit for a re-engineered paradigm” (Really?!? Anything that contains the words ‘workshop‘ should involve light engineering in my opinion!). A great read here on High Trenhouse prior to being taken over by leadership workshop facilitators.

View of the Tarn from High Trenhouse

We actually took the opportunity to rest on a bench at High Trenhouse and have a late lunch of home-made lentil soup, ham sandwiches and home-made mince pies (with orange flavoured, sweet crust pastry – yum!). The Scotch bonnet chillies in the lentil soup certainly made it warmer than the original recipe dictated. After resting for about 15 minutes, and finishing off the comestibles we departed High Trenhouse to continue up the road as it ascended a small hill. At the summit of this small hill it we had great views of the Tarn and surrounding countryside as dusk approached. The pink tinged clouds above went scurrying past as the blue sky darkened and stars started to shine in the graduated sky. We descended down to a cross roads and headed left down to Low Trenhouse Farm. This is still a working farm, unlike High Trenhouse, and as we passed the farm entrance some pale brown coloured calves watched us intently from the gates to the open fronted outbuildings. We presumed this farm must be part of the Malham Estate as the buildings’ woodwork and rainwater goods were painted the same colour of burgundy as Home Farm and the Estate Office we passed earlier. The semi Gothic architecture and burgundy paintwork reminded me of a railway stationmasters’ house. We made good progress to the outfall of Malham Tarn, and passed over the beck as it gushed in culverts under the road. The now deserted car park was visible beyond the approaching cattle grid, and as the last of the light faded we drew nearer to the car. 

After a change of footwear we drove down to the Listers Arms in Malham for a quick ‘freshener’ to keep our fluids in balance after our exertions! We parked on the small car park to the rear of the pub and went in through the rear entrance. It looks like some work has been carried out since we last visited in the summer of 2012 – new accommodation has been added at the rear, along with a large patio area with teak tables and chairs. The pub is run by Thwaite’s of Blackburn; it is great to see Lancashire beer being served in a Yorkshire pub!

Listers Arms in Summer 2012

The pub was very busy, in fact the busiest I have ever seen it in all the time I have been coming here. We managed to sit at a small table for two near the bar, although it would have been better to sit beside the log fire and take in its sybaritic warmth. I had a pretty decent pint of Wainwright, and we “ummed” and “ermmed” about grabbing a bite to eat, but eventually decided against it this time as we anticipated the wait to be quite extensive as all the tables were taken, and the earlier soup and sandwiches were quite sustaining. 

After gradually draining our glasses, putting our coats back on, we reluctantly sauntered back out to the car and unhurriedly made our way back home where we discussed possible locations for our next trip into the Great Outdoors.

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