Across England on the Coast to Coast walk, part 7

We’re on the downhill slide, figuratively speaking, on our epic UK Coast to Coast walk. We’ve been on the road for 14 days, having traversed the Lake District of Cumbria. We’re now well and truly on the Yorkshire Moors.

My last post saw us leaving Richmond, the largest town on the route.

17--Leaving RichmondThis post takes us as far as Great Broughton where we spent the night listening to revelers celebrating a 40th birthday party.

Once out of Richmond we set off for a day of tramping through fields with scenery that’s pretty but not stop-you-on-the-spot-to-admire gorgeous. Pretty pedestrian, if you excuse the pun.

That maybe explains why we got lost, which added a couple of hours to our day! On autopilot, not paying attention. We should have followed the River Swale—we still don’t know how we lost it—and by-pass Catterick, an army town, by a very wide margin. Instead we found ourselves smack bang in its centre, scratching our bewildered heads. Fortunately a local put us back on track.

Roman Catterick signboardNext stop was Bolton-on-Swale churchyard—intended this time because we wanted to see the monument to Henry Jenkins, a local supposedly 169 when he died. Can you hear my yeah, right. The church in which he’s buried dates back to the 14th century. It’s worth a short stop to check out surviving bits from Saxon and Norman times.

From Bolton we were supposed to cut across a field occupied by a herd of steers and we had every intention of walking through them. We’d already braved herds of cows along the way, so we figured we could handle neutered bulls.

Err, no, we couldn’t.

The closer we got the more interested in us they became. It was when they started coming towards us our courage failed and we did a smart right angle turn, hopped across a stream, and fought our way through what seemed to be a never-ending patch of shoulder high stinging nettles. Were we relieved when we spied a fence with a road on the other side! Whew. Never want to repeat that!

Sorry, no photos of that experience!

I’m not going to say anything about our next B&B, Rawcar Farm, except that we didn’t want to leave the next morning. The photos say it all—those rooms are just the guest accommodation! It can accommodate two couples and as we were the only guests we had the place, and hosts Ian and Jane, to ourselves. Five stars all the way!!

Ian told us we would have been perfectly safe with the steers—which apparently have very curious natures, hence their interest in us—as long as we didn’t break into a trot. Run and it’s, as they say, all over Red Rover.

On from the farm there are miles of more flat land with the promise of the Cleveland Hills hanging like a beacon in the distance.

Cleveland Hills in the distanceBefore we reach them though, there’s the A19 to negotiate, which means dodging cars and trucks as you hare across the four lanes. That got the blood pumping!

To our relief—short lasting because we were soon puffing—we eventually started slowly upwards into the hills.

You know how sometimes it’s better not to know how far you’ve still got to go? This was one of those times. The road seemed to just keep winding and going ever upwards!

But then, hey presto, we were there. Park House B&B, with the hostess welcoming us with glasses of bubbly.

A comment I feel bound to make is that generally the B&B rooms that greeted us were all small. Park House took that to another level with just enough room to manoeuvre around a double bed.

Rooms are pretty smallCouldn’t fault how well we were looked after though. Dinner that night ended with the biggest and creamiest Eton Mess I’ve ever had the misfortune of having to work my way through. Felt thoroughly sick by the time I’d finished. But it would have been downright rude to leave any, yes?

About a mile up from Park House our walk the next day was broken by a visit to the Mount Grace Priory ruins. If approaching via our route it’s down and around a few logging trails, so it took us a while to find. But worth it.

Mt Grace Priory ruinsDid you know those monks’ cells we hear about were in actual fact more like small townhouses!  Two storied with small gardens.  These monks even had servants.  So no more feeling sorry for those poor chaps in what I thought were small, dark and damp, bare stone one-room cells with barely enough space to move around.

Mt Grace Priory monks' cellsLook at the views we had on our walk today; 12 miles of absolute as-far-as-the-eye-can-see beauty.

At the end of which, at a spot called Clay Bank Top, we rendezvoused with our complimentary ride from our next accommodation, Great Broughton’s The Wainstone’s Hotel. No-one would stay in the town if they had to walk to it; much too far off the track.

Wainstones Hotel, Great Broughton

Wainstone's HotelAnd that’s where we laid our weary bones to listen to party noises until the wee hours. Ah well, some you win, some you lose.

 

 

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Across England on the Coast to Coast walk, part 6

Over the last few weeks I’ve been recreating a walk my husband John and I did in July 2013. We hiked for 18 days across England, following the famous Coast to Coast walk from St Bees on the Irish Coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea coast.

In the last post we had made it to the halfway point having traversed Cumbria and the Lake District to enter the Yorkshire Moors.

In this post I’ll take you from our last overnight stay in Keld, deep in the Pennines, to Richmond on their eastern side.

Once again I’ve loaded the post with photos. I hope you enjoy them.

From Keld to Reeth we had a choice of two routes: one high, one low. The guidebook suggests the high route for anyone interested in seeing the scars and ruins left from lead mining days. We opted for the more scenic Swaledale Valley route which takes in several little villages, one being Muker, where we took time out for a pot of tea in the local teashop.

A tiny, lovely, place with a claim to fame of being one of James Herriot’s favourite places. It’s just off the C2C path and involves walking through meadows of incredibly fragrant pasture land. Signs at the entrances ask you to stick to the paths and not trample the plants.

2--Walking through pasture

Walking through pastureland

3--A close-up of the pasture plants--they smelled wonderful

Pasture plants. The aroma is wonderful.

Once back on the road we noticed the trend towards increasingly hard to get through stiles and the ever-present abandoned stone buildings. Any takers for this duplex doer-upper?!

Our next stop, Reeth, is a quintessential Yorkshire village that featured frequently in the 1980s TV show All creatures great and small. It’s old enough to have got a mention in the Domesday book and has long been prosperous because of past lead mining and its role as the main market town for Swaledale.

Our B&B had the very grand name of Springfield House—before seeing it we thought we were in for something grand! Turned out to be a small private residence. Very nice though, with hosts who couldn’t do enough for us.

Next morning it’s on with the boots and once more on the road to head off to Richmond, a busy market town that’s the largest on the walk.

One of the things we never quite became used to was that the path often took us through farms, to the point where we’d be walking past the house and among the buildings. Always close the gates, is the motto.

8--On our way to Richmond. The path leads through yet another farm

Always close the gates behind you!

The walk is an easy one with a bit of a climb to Marrick, passing along the way the ruins of Marrick Priory, which have been absorbed into an Outdoor Education Centre.

We didn’t stop, content to take a photo from the path before continuing on and up through the woodland on what is known as the Nuns’ Steps. So-called because nuns are said to have laid the 375 steps as a walkway to the abbey.

The trail then becomes a long walk through farmland, heading towards Marske, half a mile out of which the guidebook told us to start looking for a white-painted cairn towards the top of Applegarth Scar.  Blowed if we could spot it!  After a minute of squinting I spied what I thought might be it only to find, through binoculars, that it was a reclining cow.

We ended up taking a punt, headed for the nearest hill and got lucky; it was the right hill!

Fortunately the rest of the walk into Richmond was straightforward, along paths alternately giving views of farms, the River Swale and woodland.

Until, at last, we spy Richmond from our lofty position above the town.
13--Our first view of Richmond

We have two nights booked at a B&B in the heart of the town. 17th century oak-beamed Willance House is just off the main square and it takes us only as long as a shower and change of clothes takes before we’re off and out exploring.

The town boasts the ruins of an 11th century castle built by Alan the Red. Not much remains as the stones were scavenged over the years by locals to build houses.

We could easily have stayed another day but our accommodation is pre-booked so we must be on our way.   We therefore bid farewell to Richmond.

17--Leaving Richmond