Today we had a 20km hike in perfect walking weather. There was a breeze and it was overcast, with the occasional glimpse of sunshine. We encountered a few kilometres of tarmac (we had very little yesterday). Most of the roadway we walked along was through the North York Moors but as you can see from the photo to the right, there was very little traffic. This Wordsworth poem (while referring to Grasmere), nicely sums up how we have felt at various times during our journey across England:
William Wordsworth, in Extract from Poems on the Naming of Places: IV:
A NARROW girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interposed
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy
And there myself and two beloved Friends,
One calm September morning, ere the mist
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.
Eventually we left the heather and moors behind us. But before this post says goodbye to them, here are another couple of photos. This one is of a butt, a stone shelter used by grouse shooters to shoot…grouse. They are also a convenient location to shelter sheep, and to sit around to have morning tea.
We came across three farm dogs, Ben, Skye and Merc, when walking on the moors. These dogs are used to round up the sheep (with the assistance of a quad bike). The sheep in these parts are used purely for lamb breeding - there is no wool worth keeping, and they are self shedding so they don't need to be shorn.
We left the moor to walk through the woods of Grosmont, which is a very pretty railway town. There are many steam engines which still operate in the midlands. Some of the earliest railroads were constructed here in the early 1820's.
Advice for Coast to Coasters
Firstly, an apology to anyone who read the early version of this post. I was typing in the dark and fell asleep mid way through, but managed to press the publish button anyway!
Dinner: There aren't so many walkers on the trail, but if one is staying in a small tourist village like Grosmont (which caters to local people with a fondness for steam engines), ensure you book ahead if you wish to eat at the only pub for miles. We arrived at 3pm today to find there was no room at the inn, and the small co-op closed at five pm. Luckily our lovely B & B had cooking facilities and we managed to buy a few frozen pizzas, and cheese and biscuits, before the establishment closed. Otherwise we would have been pooling our resources and sharing muesli bars, nuts, sultanas, and Acid Drop's last bottle of beer (she bought three bottles 'on special' and has been dragging them around ever since).
Pub food ranges from excellent to ordinary. Two nights out of three Sherbet Lemon eats fish and chips. There is always a pie on the menu. It is difficult to get a salad. Then again, Wainwright stays away from towns (which is our preference too) so a pub or two is always a welcome sight after a day of walking, and mostly we fall asleep at the table anyway.
Breakfast: Everywhere we have stayed has provided 'A full English Breakfast.' Some have been more welcomely received than others. Coconut Water, for example, has given up on eggs because a few miles into the first incline she feels like throwing up. Now she eats porridge (and feels like throwing that up instead). The Water Tank ate kippers once. They looked like they'd been smoked a century ago and preserved in a bog. Tea Bag has a penchant for baked beans on toast, and bacon. The good thing about eating a big breakfast is that you don't need much lunch. Which brings me to...
Lunch: Some establishments offer a packed lunch. At most all that is needed is a sandwich between two people (if there is a co-op shop it is more cost effective to buy the sandwich there), and a piece of fruit. Digestive biscuits are excellent. And tea is a welcome addition. In other words, carrying the thermos is worth the effort.
A Cautionary Tale:
Besides footsoreness and blisters, occasional (huh!) muscle aches, and stiff joints (particularly knees), our party has maintained excellent (physical) health. There is always the potential to come to grief however, particularly when clambering over rocks and through streams (particularly in the Lakes District), walking through fields (Butterscotch Keeper's rash is a testament to this) and walking along uneven and treacherous paths.
Yesterday we saw two walkers with far heavier loads than ours (they were camping so carrying all their gear). The man was striding up ahead when his companion tripped, and fell over backwards. She couldn't get up! Her legs and arms were flailing in the air as she tried to flip herself over. She was like Kafka's cockroach Gregor in Metamorphosis!
The walker managed to right herself before her partner looked around (and before we could reach her). What happened next was a testament to the courage and endurance of the Coast to Coast breed. The woman, disheveled and limping, her pack strapped to her back, was compelled to catch up with her partner (who still hadn't noticed she had fallen). Quasimodo-like, she hobbled over the hill and disappeared from view...
Now it is 4.30am so I'd better rest up before breakfast. Our last day of walking! The time has flown by and I can't believe we are nearing the end of our adventure. Robin Hood's Bay awaits!