We should have actually done a mile less today because we were staying at the top of Richmond and could cut across. So that 23 miles should have been 22.
But. Oh my goodness. 25 miles! How? Well firstly I was master navigator and the last time I took the helm was day 5 so hey, be afraid! I managed to get it wrong really early, following one path for a while when it should have been another. That added nearly a mile. And luckily that was my only mistake. Then there was the A1 roadworks detour that we had to make which added at least another mile.
Finally our accommodation for the night was past Ingleby Cross, still on the route luckily, but up a VERY steep hill and that also added a mile, which I guess we can knock off tomorrow but really we could have all done without that final ascent today.
Oh, and did I mention that in this leg of the journey we were required to dash across the A19, which we managed to reach at half 5, so, errr, during the rush hour!
We’d left Pottergate B&B at 8.10. The people there were very friendly in themselves but they had signs up everywhere that said ‘Do Not..’ and ’No ..’ which would have been much more kindly received if they’d added the word ‘Please’ in front. But never mind. We’d had a fantastic dinner the night before, The La Piazza 2 was the only Italian in town so we weren’t expecting much but the food and the service there is amazing. We said goodbye to Simon then and Heather this morning. They’d enjoyed the easy stints. Time again for the Six Pack to hunker down for the hard stuff.
We pushed on after my initial mistake. On farmland and road, road and farmland. There is a lot of flat farmland between Richmond and Ingleby Cross. Wainwright writes:
‘To walkers whose liking is for high places and rough terrain this will seem the dullest part of the whole walk; those who believe the earth is flat will be mightily encouraged on this section.’
We were quite happy to have a break from hills but this long trudge did indeed get tedious. We did pass some pretty villages along the way; Colburn, Bolton on Swale, Danby Wiske. The last has a pub called The White Swan, where a friend had come whilst doing the Coast to Coast another time. He and his son thought they’d made good time getting to this point so they stopped to have a bite and maybe a pint here. He said that last 9 miles after was absolute torture. We, therefore, steered clear of that joint. Although those last 9 miles still felt like absolute torture.
On a happy note we met the bloke who went up the High Stile alternative route on Day 2. We’d last seen him leave his friend at that juncture to start climbing. This was in the wooded bit before we came out into the ‘breeze’. This time he was walking with a stick and a bandage on his right leg. Apparently, that particular day was not such a good day to try crazy ridge stunts. He was very lucky and I was glad to see he was okay. Yet he was carrying on to the end and still walked at a faster pace than us. So after relating his story he left us behind.
The A19, at the point we cross, is a thundering duel carriageway. And not only was it busy, we had been walking nearly 10 hours by this point so we were just a tad on the tired side. However, there is nothing like the sight of an articulated lorry bearing down on you to put a bit of fire in your legs. Using the central reservation as an island of temporary safety, we scampered finally to the other side with all limbs intact.
Poor old Ingleby Cross is very close by and a pretty village but with that rumbling all day I wouldn’t choose it as a destination normally. But tonight I could have slept happily right next to the A19. We sadly trudged through its streets and out on the other side to Park House. Beverley, the owner, who reminded me a bit of Denise in The Royle Family, was lovely and opened up a bottle of fizz as we trudged in and just handed out the flutes, which was a lovely welcome. We were all able to toast getting to the end of the longest day of the route and I was able to get my burning feet out of my shoes and socks and cool them on the slate floor. Heaven!