‘And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green’.
I’m not quite sure for which part of our green and pleasant land ‘Jerusalem’ was written for but the amazing scenery this weekend often evoked thoughts of the poem. We had two near idyllic walking days; I say ‘near’ because there was a bit of a biting wind coursing through for a lot of it. But at least, for the most part, it was behind us and it may well have been responsible for pushing the few grey clouds over our heads and keeping us dry, so it was all good.
The only thing that wasn’t good was that Chris and Ali, our friends from the Wirral had a motor malfunction just 15 minutes from meeting us at Keld to come and walk with us for the day. So we didn’t get to see them at all.
Simon, Julie’s husband, and Heather, Paul’s wife, had come down on the Friday evening and had planned to walk both Saturday and Sunday with us. Given that the last time they’d come with us was on Day 1 they were probably wondering whether we’d made all the hardships in between up!
The last two or three miles were a bit tiring for me and I think Derek had a sore foot, John had a pulled muscle and Sally had a tight achilles to contend with. But up until then we’d had a pretty lovely day. We had chosen the low route which follows, in part, the river Swale. This is only briefly touched on by Wainwright but the Henry Stedman – Coast to Coast Path book, which we’d been using a lot, has comprehensive maps and descriptions.
The ‘low route’ isn’t a fully apt description as there were a few up hills along the way, the steepest of which was right after we’d stopped for tea and scones in Gunnerside. Scones with jam, and cream. Well we were walking right past and it seemed to be calling us in! But it was nice to pretend for just a while that we were all out for a gentle stroll for the day.
I had a great time taking pictures of wild flowers (all at the bottom). I don’t know the name of most of them apart from the English bluebells and Derek told me the white ones with the long leaves were wild garlic. If you can enlighten me on the others, that would be great!
No tea stops today but a nice early arrival into Richmond. Again, we followed the Swale occasionally but by no means all the way. However our climbs up the hills seemed gentler. The views were stunning again. What more is there to say? Oh yes, the mileage was shorter.
We saw the Aussies again too. The band of 4 whom we’d first met at St Bees and 2 out of 3 of the other group who we’d seen on the road here and there. It’s been quite a social affair has this walk sometimes. We’ve met various groups and individuals following the trail. A few were doing the first half only, some were doing the whole thing with rest days here and there. And others, like us, were chipping away every day.
There have been a few regulars. Collectively as described above, the Aussies, who are older than us and generally very friendly. Although the band of 4 did look smug after we came in late on Day 5, but we felt much better when they staggered into Kirkby Stephen the next day and past our B&B window whilst Julie and I were having cake and tea! Then there was the Israeli with the big backpack. Now he was hardcore. How he managed to haul his whole luggage up Loft Beck in those winds I know not! The younger lot are the Yompers, two boys (in their 20s?) who seem to walk very fast and often look like they’re in a huff with each other. Maybe they were a couple. And the Girls (2 young women, again somewhere between the 20 and 30 mark) who’d met two older men during dinner one of the evenings and had then spent several days trying to shake them off! If you’re looking for a holiday to get away from the complexities of life, then this is not it!