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Merc Blog #1 – I Arrived In Malham In Time For Tea

Posted on October 25, 2010.

I arrived at Malham in time for tea on Friday, after a tortuous drive up the M5/M6. It felt like I hit every intersection and city at rush hour! The last 12 miles, as I left the main road from Settle to Kendall, made up for the first 245… I had never been to the Yorkshire Dales! I always knew it as the place that the Pennine way weaved its way through… and, just as promised, I could already feel the draw of exposed moorland, (which I know will buffet me probably next Tuesday, says the weather forecast), and the sense of loneliness, austerity and drama of the countryside.

The reason for the trip you might ask? Well, I thought it would charge up the batteries and help to return some of my resilience, lost in the challenges of the last 8 weeks… it was also partly Dave’s fault (David Wilby, CEO of Team Breakthrough). He said that the last thing I needed was to expose myself to a “scaring” as the reason I was in this state was due to the huge excess of my cortisol curve (the bit that has stressed me). The goal should be to modulate that curve and “come down”… more sleep (in bed by 8pm and up at 5am!) to correct the pattern. We never did talk about the Dales, especially with him being a Yorkshire man. But, suitably tooled up with special a diet and supplements (as you would expect) and instructions to drink lots of water, I am here. It was ironic that on the morning of the escape from Bath, I met with “Hempy” (David Hempleman-Adams) who confirmed that we would keep an eye out for the high and the balloon ride… more of that later.

It was during those last few miles that I remembered, as you do… that I’m sure Malham was either what we studied during our GCSEs, or what came up in the exam. Must check with Andy Edwards. It was huge glaciers that flowed along the previously raised and fractured Craven Faults that created the Pennines. The huge glaciers flowed along the valleys, deepening and straightening them and smoothing their sides. As they moved, they dropped different kinds of debris, leaving large boulders that stand alone in the landscape. Scouring and scraping clean, huge areas of rock in combination with the melt waters, which would carve out the gorges, most famous of which was Gordale Scar near here at Malham… as you will see later!!

So, after an early rise, (sorry Dave, not that early, but definitely no carbohydrate for breakfast) I left with a spring in my step…..well, not really…..packing my rucksack and re-familiarising myself with my camera equipment took an age. With a large and medium format system, plus 35mm and Katie’s Digital EOS (I will look after it Katie, promise) choosing what to take was difficult….strapping the tripod to the rucksack also proved problematic. I am embarrassed to confess that 15 minutes in to the walk and still on the flat I came back to dump the tripod and the large format……it is not like Merc to be that ambitious. Which is why I choose to walk out of the front door for the first walk. Described in the guide as being only 7 miles…

“An easy walk through spectacular limestone scenery. A little scramble is called for in Gordale, made intimidating by the cascading falls, but not as difficult as it looks. Above the falls a wide limestone plateau opens up to Malham Tarn, followed by a delightful amble back to the top of Malham Cove – but the true splendour of this walk derives from its wealth of geological and botanical interest”

…there should have been a footnote: Not suitable for idiots with large and overweight rucksacks, especially when climbing Gordale Scar if its raining (and slippery)… if you keep stopping to take pictures and get lost it will take all day.

Enjoy the video. Apologies to Katie Perry.  My brushing with danger is the breach of her copyright……nice track though.

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