With the Lakes planned and the eastern section sorted, I turn my attention to the middle bit and the final night.
From Osmotherly I had the choice to split what would normally be a 25 mile stage into two, with a night in Danby Wiske. However a brief pause for thought I decided I just wanted to get this section out of the way – it’s the least inspiring section of the whole walk and even at 25 miles it’s not especially arduous. I’m a veteran of the long final day of the Pennine Way now, so 25 miles and 900 feet is a doddle. Best to get it over and done with. As a result, my first stop in the middle section would be in Richmond.
After my atrocious behaviour in Willance House last time around (I set fire to my Paclite jacket by hanging it on one of the bedroom wall lights, which I then left on, despite signs asking me not to – and then compounded that by trying to hide the evidence of a very smelly and Paclite encrusted light bulb in the bin in the en-suite) I’ve sort of ruled myself out of one of the best B&Bs in the town – I couldn’t in all good faith go back and face the owners. So I needed to find somewhere else. The first two places I tried were full and a third was ridiculously expensive. I eventually chose the West End Guest House, which is a little way out of the village, but it is almost on my path for the following morning, so it works for me.
The next village along from Richmond, is my least favourite place on the route – Reeth. I don’t know why I don’t like the place, it’s something unconscious I think, too many people and not enough space perhaps. I wouldn’t stay in Walpardo again, it was too small and cramped, despite a great breakfast. I don’t like the Black Bull and two of the other B&Bs I tried were already full. I’ve enjoyed a couple of pints in the Buck Hotel before now, so I thought I’d give their rooms a try this time round. I have a single room for £45 and the knowledge that I’m only a hop, skip and step from the best bakery in the Dales – just down the street from it – so lunch for the next day is sorted.
From my least favourite place along the route, to one of my all time favourites – Keld. I’ve stayed in the village several times now and used it as the start of a walk dozens of times, I keep coming back to Keld and it’s still a lovely place. I’ve secured a “pod” room in Keld Lodge – which should be interesting – it sounds very small, but I know the standard of accommodation is very high in this newly refurbished hotel, so even if it’s small it should be comfortable. Keld Lodge also has the sort of bar area where you can’t help but chat to the other people – nearly all of whom will be walking the C2C – with maybe the odd Pennine Walker thrown in for fresh blood.
From Keld I have a short hop (bog hop) over the top to Kirkby Stephen. Both my first and second choice was full here. Fletcher House and Old Croft House have been fully booked for a while and my third choice, the Jolly Farmers had the whole house booked to one party! In the end I decided on paying a bit extra and staying central, rather than look for something cheaper further out. I’m in the Black Bull Hotel, where I would probably want to eat as well. Another place where I can walk to dinner in my socks! Grand.
And finally, flying over the Lakes section, we arrive at St. Bees. The decision to stay here, rather than walk in and straight out again was fairly easy. It means I can relax, have a shower, put clean clothes on and sit and watch the expectant faces of the C2Cers who will be setting out in the morning. I can bask in the warm, internal glow of knowing I’ve done the best walk in the UK – backwards! I’ve booked Outrigg House, which is just on the edge of the village and somewhere I’ve not stopped before. Fingers crossed.
So all the accommodation is booked – deposits are sent and confirmation letters are arriving each morning now. The total cost for accommodation has come to £520.50, making an average nightly cost of £37.18. The most expensive stay is at Grasmere of course (£55) and the least expensive is at the Lion Inn, only £22 for a single room there.