Life, Travel

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 4 (The final day!)

The three of us in front of the Crow's Nest pub.
Last orders at the Crow’s Nest!

John first cooked up this idea last summer. A way to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease research, and to have a bit of a challenge. When he asked who wanted to join the ‘fun’ I foolishly put my hand up . He said it would be about 30 miles a day over 4 days. Something I could definitely work towards.

Well I didn’t work towards it in the way that I would have liked, as life got in the way, and ‘about 30 miles a day’ was a bit of an understatement.

Today was probably the most urban leg of our trip but it ironically turned out to be the most cycle friendly one.

As it was Monday we figured that we’d need to start super early to try and get across Manchester without being mown down by the traffic. So at 7.30 am we wheeled out of the Premier Inn in Denton and got going.

The three of us cycling out of the Premier Inn in Denton
Setting off very very early

Mike has a whizzy woo Garmin computer on his bike but because it’s fairly new, he’d only just got the hang of the sat nav on it this morning. Perfect timing! Instead of taking the main roads that took us around the north of the city, as my Google maps was showing me, it took us the other way and through a gorgeous, green and well tarmacked path around the south that took us all the way to Chorlton.

The birds sang, a few runners, cyclists and dog walkers passed us but hardly any sound of traffic and it was blissful on this re-purposed train-line route.

We made such good time that Chorlton’s trendy cafes weren’t even open as we passed so we had to carry on further for breakfast: to a not so trendy Wetherspoons pub. It was just around 9 am and the full Englishes didn’t touch the sides. It was a little strange to see people actually ordering beer at that time of the morning but a couple of people were and hey, each to their own.

Having congratulated ourselves on a good first stint we carried on further west through Urmston and Irlam, all the way to Newton-le-Willows. We did have to do a little bit of walking around some farmland but generally it had been a lovely day. But we realised, as we stopped for a coffee, that we still had nearly 20 miles to do in under 2 hours and I was flagging in the sun.

Apparently this sun’s been shining here all weekend  but we only just experienced it now. All the way from Lincoln we have had slightly overcast and breezy weather which has actually been perfect for cycling. But now, since coming out of our green idyll this morning it began to get a little warm.

We decided to go down the A580 which would get us almost all the way and hoped that it would tolerable for cyclists.

Well we didn’t need to worry as there was a well maintained cycle path that ran alongside the thundering traffic, which meant we could make really good time, and we happened to be on the shady side of the road. Hurrah!

Our final stop before the end was Sefton Church where we were met by several blokes on bikes and one in running shoes. These were people who had been good friends with Mark and one of those friends had actually introduced Mark to his sister Carole all those years ago!

They will actually be doing a spin off Scotland ride in a week for the same charity. Just one day but 100k over some serious Scottish Hills!!

These fellas became our entourage for the last three miles and brought us in to the Crow’s Nest to rousing cheers and claps from everyone waiting for us there.

John led the way in, as this whole crazy tour was his idea. In fact he will be carrying on in a few days to do a further cycle tour in Ireland with family and friends for the Irish part of this journey so he’s a glutton for punishment but hats off to him.

Mike will be jumping on his super light bike again for the day in Scotland, and I will frankly be putting my feet up for a couple of days and then have to get back into the running fray to get training for my half in 8 weeks time!

Me on my bike in Crosby at the finish
Me and my trusty metal steed

Today we did 50 miles of cycling and a 1000 ft of going up a bit, so no wonder I was beginning to droop by the end. We did 160 miles in total, a little more than the 30 miles a day John reckoned. But all very much worth it.

Our fundraiser link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life, Travel

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 3

If you’d told me to get on a bike again after the end of day 2 I may have told you that I was throwing in the towel.

My forearms ached, my shoulders were sore and I couldn’t actually squat far down on my right leg before the pain kicked in. I won’t even go into how my backside was feeling.

Still, we had got over some serious challenges and we all knew that the hardest day was done. So this morning, as I was woken (gently) from my slumbers by Maureen, John’s wife, I downed some paracetamol and got into my kit.

Although there were some plumbing issues with our dorm of a room, I would highly recommend the Youth Hostel in Hartington. There are smaller, private rooms if sharing a bunkbed is not your style, as well as yurts and glamping tents on the grounds. The food and bar is pretty well stocked and it’s an excellent location from which to explore the Peak District.

We prepared for our ride with some hearty breakfasts and then wended our way towards Buxton at about half 9

Coming out of Hartington was a bit of an effort. I was pushing my bike twice up some steep gradients before we’d got to the main A515, and I realised that my quads were also grumbling at these excessive exertions.

We had hoped that the main road would be a little quieter, what with it being Sunday and all, but it didn’t feel like that was the case. Many cars were considerate and slowly overtook, giving us a nice wide berth, but not all. Mike said that I looked stronger, going up these hills, than the previous day. There may be an element of working myself into fitness but feeling the woosh of cars and vans whizzing past you can also help to keep you from stopping, and keep ploughing on.

Buxton, however wasn’t too far away and we decided to have a mid-morning coffee break. Another lovely looking town and one that I’d like to explore further. We didn’t get to St Anne’s Well to fill up our bottles with the local water but it’s apparently very tasty.

Originally we were going to stop in Whaley Bridge for lunch but as the boys had had the supersized English breakfast, and I’d polished off a lovely Portuguese tart in Buxton, we decided we would carry on to New Mills which was a few miles further.

The ride out of Buxton was slow going for me. Those hills that aren’t too steep but go on, seemingly, for ages. But plough on I did, and we were eventually rewarded with a fabulous downhill that also went on for ages. Again not so steep to make it scary, but a lovely, exhilarating, rest for a good couple of miles. The scenery too, was stunning, and I would mark this section as one of the most enjoyable parts of the ride so far.

John and Mike pausing a moment to get our bearings with the lovely Peak District scenery in the background
Mike getting our bearings while John and I appreciate the amazing vistas

From New Mills to Denton (east of Manchester) was generally straightforward and we got in quite handy at about half 3.  I definitely feel a lot better this afternoon than I did yesterday evening. Sometimes, it is worth doing a really hard thing just to make everything else feel a little bit easier in comparison!

Tomorrow is the final leg of the journey, and we are really looking forward to having a pint at The Crows Nest, Mark‘s local in Crosby, with family and friends.

Stats: 2000 ft climbing. Around 35 miles.

Rough map of our route from Hartington Hall to Denton
I managed to miss a chunk of activity on my Strava but this google maps pic is fairly accurate for the day.

Our fundraiser page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life, Travel

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 1

The day before, we were thinking about setting off on the first leg at just after 9. To let the rush hour pass but to make sure that we could get to the end destination while it was still light.

Then as the warm, sunny evening wore on and drinks were had, we thought around 10 ish would give us ample time to make our meandering way to Nottingham.

It turned out to be half 10 in the end, after bacon butties etc, before our gang finally waved us off, and some of the neighbours came out to give us a send-off too!

All the people on the road trip
Full team involved on the road trip including support crew

The morning leg was very picturesque. John lives in South Hykeham which is to the south of Lincoln, so the plan was to hit Newark by lunchtime and then end the first day in Nottingham. We wended past little villages, like Haddington and Stapleford (listed in the Domesday Book), instead of attempting the more direct and the more dangerous A46.

Map from South Hykam to Newark
None of the places I have mentioned are on this Strava map but they are there somewhere along the red line …

It was definitely worth the few extra miles for  the bucolic scenery, although as I admired one old church, John told me that it was completely gutted inside. So, perhaps all a façade, but a pretty one.

Newark-on-Trent, to give it its full name, is a strange town. Definitely lots of history about the place, possibly even as far back as the Roman times, and there were some lovely old architecture and many quirky little alleyways. But it also felt a bit drab, and insular. It’s a fleeting impression and I shouldn’t make such fast character judgements. I did, however, have a very nice spinach pie for my lunch there.

The second half was longer, but it was nice and flat, and the roads, generally, were smooth. We made good time again, although I did have a moment, while traversing a particularly busy roundabout, where my chain came off as I walked my bike across. I forgot to shout out, but luckily, the other two realised that I wasn’t bringing up the rear and came back for me.

Another highlight of this bit, was seeing four planes go overhead in kite formation. Absolutely inch perfect it was. Neither John nor Mike saw it as they obviously had their heads down grinding away the miles, but it was very impressive.

Map from Newark to Nottingham
21 miles ish for this leg. I will sleep well tonight

Our residence in Nottingham, the Jury’s Inn, has been besieged by stag do parties. So much so, that we’ve all be flung far and wide around the edges of the hotel so that we’ll not be too disturbed by the debauchery that will inevitably ensue. I will probably sleep through anything right now though as I am tired. And after exploring tomorrow’s route (to Buxton via Matlock) I need to get all the rest possible!

Today was about 35 miles in total in the flat lands. Easy peasy. Tomorrow I think, not so much.

Our fundraiser link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life, Travel

‘Will you cycle with us?’, they said

My idea of getting back to normal after the last few months is to fret about a bike ride.

My bike in the hallway.
My bike when I bought it, all shiny and new. Doesn’t look this clean any more.

It’s the one that had been arranged by Anne’s brother John (sometimes called Jack), way back last year. It was a way of raising money and awareness for Motor Neurone as their brother Mark was suffering from it. Sadly, Mark passed away, back in January, and following that, my Dad got sick with lymphoma and has also now died.

However the ride is still happening, and because I had said ‘I would’, all those moons ago, I’m getting in the saddle over four days, for the first leg which starts this Friday:  Lincoln to Liverpool.

I had written about a lovely ride I’d done with friends, just over a month ago. Nearly 40 miles, into Wales and back. I had intended to get a few more under my belt between then and now but it hasn’t been possible. I’m thinking though, how hard can it be to go from one day’s ride over a month ago, to four consecutive days now?!

I had pondered practising this week but I knew it would do no good, like cramming for your exams the night before, I wouldn’t feel the benefit of it, and on top of all of that, it’s just too darn hot!

So I am fretting instead.

The group of riders, that was initially as high as six has been whittled down to three for various reasons. There is John, Mike (another brother) and me. So that means that I definitely cannot back out.

I’ll be fine once I get going. At least on the first day. But I know that, however cushioned my shorts are, I’ll be feeling it in the backside area when I start day 2.

But I just need to remind myself of the bigger picture. We’re doing this for the people that follow Mark in getting this terrible disease, for which, currently nothing can be done. A few extra pounds to go into the research pot to learn more and hopefully develop treatment and even a cure one day.

All the charities have felt the crunch during this pandemic with fundraising events having to be cancelled. We’ll do our little bit to refresh the coffers of one of them and hopefully get back to Liverpool in one piece.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Travel

Coast to Coast Day 14 – Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay (15.5 miles)

This is actually the day after as, well, who has time to write when someone’s handing you a glass of champagne or three?

I’ve been brought back to the west coast again in less time than the Tony Blackburn radio show. This automobile idea may just catch on. The first lot of washing is on and I’m slouched on the sofa. Back to normal then. So, one last report.

Yes, there are pictures of us all on Facebook happily dipping our boots in the North Sea but you know, it wouldn’t be like Wainwright to give us a straightforward final day. In fact, the way’d he’d planned it, we would have started in Glaisdale, thereby adding another 4 miles to our count for the day AND stopping me from climbing into the beating heart of steam train! But really, you can’t complain too much when the final leg of your journey takes you through moorland and woodland and along the tops of the cliffs, especially when it’s all on a beautiful sunny day.

We had all put on our Claire House charity t-shirts ready for the big finale. But before that my train had come. It was sitting idly on the platform smoking away and waiting for the starting whistle to blow.  I couldn’t resist asking the engine driver if I could climb aboard to have a look and happily he said yes! It was a brilliant start to a memorable day.

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We ‘climbed’ the road out of Grosmont, as that is the only way to describe tackling the 1 in 3 gradient.

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It took us back onto the moors and from the tops there I could now properly see the sea! En route though we lost sight of it again for a while but our path through Littlebeck hamlet and the Little Beck woodland nature reserve was a happy diversion. These woods felt even more magical than yesterday’s East Arncliffe Wood by Glaisdale, and that’s definitely saying something. It felt more ancient and tranquil and I could imagine, if I sat in one place for long enough, that I’d see so many different birds and animals. There was also a tea garden at the other end which looked really lovely but we had to keep walking, as we still had a long way to go 😦

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There was a signpost in the second half of our walk that said 3.5 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay.

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But we did, of course, decline this direct path. Wainwright began the Coast to Coast trail by taking us North West along the edges walking away from St Bees. Paul pointed out that it was a nice symmetry that we’d ended up walking South East along the edges down towards the Bay. I can say, having seen them both just the once that they are comparable in beauty (one slightly negative point about this side though was the number of flies that were about today. A hell of a lot, and all of a sudden near the end! Don’t know if it’s always like this on sunny days?). Sally was saying that she’d quite like to (but not all in one go) get around all the coastal paths of the country. Quite a feat if she manages it. 

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Eventually, and finally, we started passing the first houses in Robin Hood’s Bay. My feet were tired and they were telling me but as we walked down the streets I think we all started to get a little excited. I wasn’t sure where Simon and Heather were going to meet us as we passed both their cars outside the B&Bs but none of us could ring because the signal was pants.

The last street down is a very steep descent, probably on a par with our first street up this morning. As we came round the final corner some whoops and cheers erupted and there were Simon and Heather and some other people I didn’t recognise, holding up a big banner for the Six Pack!! What a welcome! I couldn’t stop grinning! As we crossed through their banner like champions through the tape Simon cracked open a bottle of champagne and started filling glasses. The ‘other people’ were John’s son and daughter and her partner.  They’d made the banner and come to surprise their dad and Simon and Heather had met them accidentally at the water front!

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It was the most amazing ending to an amazing adventure!

Travel

Coast to Coast Day 13 – Blakey Ridge to Grosmont (pron. Growmont: 13.5 miles)

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Chopping the last bit up in a different way to Wainwright.

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It was the penultimate day! And the first day that John cracked open his bottle of suncream. All of us tramping with him lathered some liberally on our arms as hey, it was a short sleeves day!

Bucolic is a word I have always had problems with, because I always forget the definition. To me it sounds like some description of an illness but it means an idyllic rural or pastoral scene and so today, or at least this afternoon when we came down from the moors, was typically bucolic. We had small villages with stone built houses and village greens and woods and streams and steam trains (although I missed the train!!!) and yet more English bluebells and we had the sunshine. It was like we’d strolled into an episode of Heartbeat and that was not so far fetched as the programme was filmed very close by.

We had a lengthy walk along the moors to begin with but being fortified by yet another cooked breakfast (for nearly all of us) and perhaps because we were now getting used to this walking lark it went by at a fairly decent pace. We weren’t quite yomping but we did surprise ourselves pleasantly each time one of us asked Julie how far we’d come.

We made our votive offerings to ‘Fat Betty’.

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This is also called the White Cross but there are myths and legends about why this stone was erected, involving nuns or farmer’s wives or both, who may have been called Elizabeth or something like that and anyway apparently it’s now a bit of a tradition for walkers to take and leave some food on this ancient stone slab. I solemnly put down my last packet of jaffa cakes as it was only right to give someone else the benefit of the main thing that has kept me going this couple of weeks. 

On one of our stops we got treated to a couple of fly-bys by a ‘Hawk’. I had no idea what it was called really, it was just a fast, loud plane to me but Paul and Derek know these kinds of things. Then as we walked down and into the first village of Glaisdale it flew higher up but kept circling every five minutes until I started feeling paranoid. Was someone carrying something in their rucksack that was sending dodgy heat signals? Eventually I tried to block out the still considerable noise and distract myself with some inviting signs for a tea shop. 

We were due to go through three villages today; Glaisdale, Egdon Bridge and Grosmont where we were staying. Sally had suggested waiting until Egdon Bridge before we stopped anywhere as that meant that we wouldn’t have far to waddle with our cake filled bellies. The signs here cannily pointed out that this was the LAST teashop UNTIL Grosmont. It was like it had read Sally’s mind! That in itself was a sign that we should stop and after all we had less than 5 miles to go. As we walked in, the Aussies were on their way out.  This was the second group (not the band of 4) that we’d met on and off and today they were stalking us in reverse. I.e. they kept getting to a place before us. They had been two guys and a woman but now it was just her and one the guys,  Doug and Sally.  Nice people and intrepid travellers by the sounds of it.

With the cakes and scones scoffed we wended our way past the Beggar’s Bridge and into the lovely woods between this and the next village. It is so called because apparently a pauper who was courting a young woman in the village decided he needed to go off and better himself before he could marry her. On his last night before heading abroad he wanted to say goodbye to his sweetheart  but the rains had come down heavily and the ford was not fordable. But he did make his riches and eventually came back and married her. Then he had a bridge built over the Esk so that no other lovers would have to go through his heartache. I love a nice happy ending 🙂

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The Gallery cafe in Grosmont is a lovely place to stay. Lovely rooms and they cook a mean evening meal. Doug and Sally were also staying here (see what I mean about stalking?). It’s above an art gallery and a cafe funnily enough and the whole place is run by a local artist and Julie even bought one of his paintings. Grosmont is tiny but it does have a train station and although I missed seeing the steam train pull in this evening there is, fingers crossed, another one coming at precisely (because trains are always on time!) 9.15 tomorrow morning.

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Spot the pair of grouse!

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A fording point

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Travel

Coast to Coast Day 12 – Clay Bank Top to Blakey Ridge (11 miles if starting at Great Broughton)

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Which way is the Bridleway?!

We went to the pub today.  It was only 11 odd miles away so just enough to work up a thirst.  

The Lion Inn sitting atop Blakey Ridge is the only habitable building for a few miles. But that doesn’t seem to stop the trade as on this Wednesday night it seemed very lively. It’s a rabbit warren of a place with rooms tucked away in this corner and that and solid stone walls that feel like they will stay up forever. Indeed parts of it have already stood for more than 400 years and can definitely be dated back to Elizabethan and perhaps even older times. It’s had bits added to it over the years. Sally and Derek are in a modern wing while Julie and I and the boys need to climb up steep narrow steps to find our beds for the night.

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So we realised, retrospectively, that perhaps we should have done yesterday and today’s walk in one go and maybe broken up the 25 miler day instead. Partly because the diversion to Great Broughton which we insisted on walking ourselves added 2 or 3 miles onto the whole route. There is no accommodation at Clay Bank Top so it can’t be done any other way. 

Reading the books regarding the Clay Bank Top sleeping problem we have noticed differences between the two editions of the Wainwright. Obviously there are changes in what’s on offer but the following lines are the 1st edition but sadly not in the 2nd.

‘The nearest communities [are] not at all tourist conscious and not unlikely to suspect, if you ask for a bed, that you are suggesting a sexual adventure, which, of course, is ridiculous (or is it?).’

On the upside of the way we’ve done it means that we’ve had two days of the moors which, frankly, are spectacular and again, all I can say is the pictures don’t do it justice.

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An aside:

During the walks, I think since the ‘Ruby’ misunderstanding, John’s taught me a few ‘new’ old words.  Words that aren’t used very much any more.  I told him at one time that I used to live in Todmorden (West Yorkshire)  for a while.  He told me that ‘Tod’ means fox and quite often boys with red hair are called Tod. Also ‘blunt’ used to mean blond.

I didn’t know that the word ‘ford’, a passable point in a river, was also a verb. So you can ‘ford’ a river at the ‘ford’ in the river!

Another word he taught me yesterday was ‘ghaut’ which is a road that goes down into the sea, which may or may not have houses on. His aunt used to live in small terrace house on Tin Ghaut in Whitby. The link below shows a picture of the road and John was able to point to the house she lived in. The link also talks about the word having viking origins. However when I did a google search on it, all I got what a reference to the hindi word ‘ghat’ which means the path or steps leading down to the river. Fascinating.

http://www.francisfrith.com/uk/whitby/whitby-tin-ghaut-1913_66292

Travel

Coast to Coast Day 11 – Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top (12 ish miles)

Well who would have thunk I’d be craving a hill but it really did feel good after yesterday’s interminable monotony.

Our route today, after Beacon Hill with its radio station,

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was virtually all on the Cleveland Way, a path that, by our experience, was really well managed and well signposted. The full route is 110 miles long and runs between Helmsley in Ryedale and Filey in Scarborough. It skirts around the edges of most of the North York Moors National Park in the shape of a mangled horseshoe. We had a little 10 mile nibble of the north west part today and it took us through a variety of terrain. 

The main part were the moors themselves exposed on the hills. Our path was a stone slabbed walkway which made it fairly easy for us to pass through (at least in this season) and protected the flora and fauna around us. I didn’t quite realise that it would be so colourful with a real autumnal vibrancy. My camera just could not do it true justice. 

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The view of the farm lands below

It did get really warm and sunny sometimes and we also got our friend the wind back on the tops after he’d gone off in a sulk yesterday. But we also had rain and some terrific hailstone meteor showers. I found the white balls whizzing down past me from behind mesmerising  but a few of us had peeled off too many layers from the previous sunny patch and found it all too cold and painful. It was a bit of a ‘four seasons in one day’ kind of a day and we were adding layers and taking them off again several times.

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We met the Girls again at the cairn at the summit of Live Moor. Turns out one of them lives in the next street to me! What are the odds!

As well as the moors we had a few lovely woodlands to trail through, some of which were carpeted with bluebells. Some of which were muddy quagmires! Sally managed to fall over in it, which would have been a good camera moment if anybody had thought in time, but she still managed to have less mud on her shoes than me.

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This particular path was slightly off the track as we were staying in Great Broughton tonight, so instead of taking up the offer of a lift from Clay Bank Top, we walked straight there. We’ve kind of decided that for the whole two weeks of this challenge our only mode of transport should be our feet, and occasionally, after comedy falls and arduous journeys, our knees. 

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Arrived at the Newlands B&B in time for afternoon tea.

Travel

Coast to Coast Day 10 – Richmond to Ingleby Cross (23 miles: long moderate)

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.

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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.’

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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!

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Sorry, more flowers, but I’ve never seen pink bells before!

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A gate decorated in a rather macabre fashion.

I can just see Paul as a Roman centurion :-)
I can just see Paul as a Roman centurion 🙂

Travel

Coast to Coast Day 8/9 – Keld to Reeth to Richmond (22 miles ish in total: moderate)

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‘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!

Saturday

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!

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Simon and Julie ready to rock!

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Applegarth Scar

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Just, you know, the usual rustic barn and rolling hills shot

Sunday

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!

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