16th June 2011 – Richmond to Reeth – 13.4miles
I had the best night’s sleep of the walk so far. In fact I more accurately just died at about 21:00 and awoke again at about 05:00 before dropping off again until the alarm at 07:15.
A lot of that was to do with the lack of sleep in Os of course, but also the comfy pillows and the quality quilt made all the difference. I just had enough time for a quick shower and then down to a lovely breakfast. I shared the dining room with a regular guest, he was something akin to an old time travelling salesman I guess, or more likely someone not on expenses and having to spend two or three days a week in Richmond. You could do an awful lot worse than the West End, it was excellent and excellent value for money too.
I took my time over breakfast and then lounged around my room for a while too. I eventually set out about 09:00, heading down into the town to see if I could find an outdoor shop to replace my Merino baselayer. The one I’m using is full of holes and is becoming scratchy – I thought it would last me the whole walk, but I’m beginning to regret not buying a new one before I set out. The town was sort of on my path anyway; just a short diversion – but the two shops I tried were no help. I’ll have to live with what I’ve got.
I was taking a non-standard C2C route today, hoping to pick up a trig point and visit Willance’s Leap – a monument that overlooks the usual path and somewhere I’d wanted to divert to on my last two crossings, but had run out of steam and inclination both times.
I climbed the long road, north out of the town, the hill getting steeper the further I went. My feet were still feeling a little battered from yesterday and the road wasn’t helping much this morning. I felt quite good though, considering; I didn’t really need to stop along the climb and I was soon at the beacon and trig point on Beacon Hill, the reason for my road diversion.
The beacon is impressive – a 15 foot high stepped stone column with a metal brazier on the top. It looks like it would hold a proper blazing beacon and I would be surprised if it isn’t lit on occasion. I’d love to see it.
Trig point bagged I dropped down to the road and then along to another path that took me to Willance’s Leap. This is an old monument to a chap who was obviously a big Star Wars fan. In 1606 his horse jumped (with him in the saddle) off the edge of the cliff at this point. It’s a fair way down and miraculously the chap survived; he came round to find his horse dead and his own leg broken. He was worried gangrene would set in before he could be rescued – so in order to keep his leg warm he cut open his horse’s stomach and thrust his broken leg inside. He lay there for some time until he was missed and then rescued. His leg survived though, just as Luke did 370 years later. There are three monuments on the cliff top. One raised by the man himself to thank God for sparing him, one to mark the 300th anniversary in 1906 and a third to mark the 400th anniversary. Bizarre but true.
As I stood admiring the drop and being glad I wasn’t on a skittery horse, it started to rain. I deployed the poncho and followed the path along the face of the cliff. It was blowing a small hurricane at this point and the poncho isn’t great in wind, it tends to bunch up around the gentleman’s area and lets the knees of your trousers get wet. It’s easy to deploy though and works fairly well. I dropped down the path to join the usual C2C route, at the foot of Applegarth Scar. I started to meet lots of westers from this point, many of whom commented that the wind was not really in my favour. No shit Sherlocks! My poncho was flapping like a sail – all I needed was wheels and I could have tacked all the way to Reeth.
Just outside Marske the rain stopped and I quickly packed away the poncho. I made a route change decision here and opted out of the high route up over Skelton Moor and Fremington Edge and decided to stick to the usual route. It’s still not flat, but it’s easier and the wind was putting me off the higher route.
The sky was beautifully blue now with high white clouds and other than the wind it was a glorious day. I took it really easy along the path, probably only averaging a little over 2 mph – but yesterday’s exertions were still hurting and although my legs felt fine, my feet were sore.
With no maps covering this route I relied mostly on memory from my previous two walks and also on my iPhone. This isn’t the best device for creating a new route on, but I dropped a few waypoints at crucial path turns and aimed between them. I found I knew the route pretty well though and I never felt lost at all.
The iPhone has now replaced my PDA for “on the go” route finding and I will probably do a more detailed write-up at some point, but it’s very easy to use, quick to get a GPS lock and the battery has so far been fine – as long as you’re only dipping into it every now again to ascertain your position it doesn’t seem to drain the battery too badly. It would be impossible to use it to record your full days track though.
On the path at the top of the Nun’s Steps I spotted a TV aerial, probably for the farm at the bottom of the valley. My mischievous side wanted to jiggle it round to a different direction, just for the hell of it. I always get this urge when I see one of these things and it surprises me when I see them so close to a footpath – if I get the urge and supress it, there must be plenty of others without my self-control? I bet the farmer is always having to slog up the hill to adjust the damn thing back onto signal.
I’m the same with bowling greens and cricket pitches! I want to make a midnight visit with a bag of moles and let them loose to run and play 🙂 I’ve never done it – but perhaps one day – same for the TV aerials – perhaps one day.
I almost stepped on a rabbit in the long grass in one field. It just lay there, unmoving, but obviously alive. I nudged it with my toe to see if it would move, but it seemed ill. Its eyes were a right mess and the next dog along would not be as kind as I. I don’t know what the symptoms of myxamatosis are but that was my best guess as to its problem.
In the next field I spotted this caravan – a holiday let I’m guessing – but what a place! I saw the occupants chasing the cows away from their gate – obviously fed up of the attention and probably the smell too!
I arrived in Reeth at about 2pm and took a flyer on the Buck Hotel letting me into my room – which they did. It feels great to have an afternoon to relax and kick back and get the blog up to date. They even have WiFi (albeit in one particular spot on the landing between floors 2 and 3) so I should be able to get completely up to date.
I’m in the bar now, showered and shaved and feeling a bit better than I did 24 hours ago.
Coast to Coast 2011: Day Five Supplemental
Some readers (Dave) may be pleased to hear that I had a pleasant afternoon in Reeth, it’s still not my favourite place, but I had an excellent ice cream, got a good phone signal and had a lovely chat with the wife while sitting in the sun on the village green.
I’m hesitant to post this update – I know I have something of a reputation for being a moaning git and I don’t really want to re-enforce this, but I want to say it as I see it, so here goes…
I seem to be cursed with noisy rooms and last night was another one – I had an awful night in the Buck – the toilet in my en-suite seemed to have some sort of pump or shredder attached to it and every 15 minutes it would rattle to life and make a loud humming and shoot a jet of water down the U-bend. This wasn’t quite as bad as the church bells at Os, but it was still very annoying and it woke me up several times in the night.
What next? I know Keld Lodge should be OK, but I’m beginning to wonder who I’ve upset?!