15th June 2011 – Osmotherley to Richmond – 25.5 miles
I was absolutely steaming mad this morning, or like Gerald the Gorilla I was absolutely livid!
But joking aside I had to calm myself before I went down to breakfast. It wasn’t the fact that the bells had rung all night, although I suppose that was the nub of the problem, but I was angry that the landlord had two empty rooms at the front of the pub and he could have put me in either of them. One was a double and one was a twin. Their doors were wedged open and I could see the rooms had been unused as I went down for breakfast. You couldn’t hear the bells from the front of the pub and he must know about them.
I was physically shaking; my hands were like a drunk’s after too long off the beer and I felt like I’d been wired into something. I think this was a combination of no sleep – literally no sleep, I bet I didn’t get more than 30-40 minutes at a stretch all night – and being very angry. I wanted to refuse to pay and given other circumstances I would have done. I know my brother would have 🙂 But the guy was holding my luggage for the Brigantes driver, so if I got all arsey he could be just as awkward and refuse to release my luggage, which would cause me no end of problems. Feeling powerless isn’t a very nice feeling!
After I’d finished breakfast and was settling my bill, he asked me how the room was and I said “fine, apart from..” before I finished he said “..the bells?” “There’s nothing I can do about them” he added. I had to bite my tongue.
All I can do is to warn people – by all means stay at the Queen, it’s a lovely pub and the food is great, just make sure you get a room at the front of the pub, overlooking the street. I won’t forget the fact that he could have “fixed” the bell problem for me – I’ll never stay at the Queen again – I am a man who holds a grudge.
So that was the state of mind I was in when I left Osmotherley this morning. I was still a bit foot sore from the long hike across the hills yesterday and feeling very tired from no sleep and feeling very frustrated at not being able to do anything about the situation. Not the best head to have on at the start of 26 miles.
I’ve done that sort of distance several times before, last year on the Pennine Way I did that distance and 4,500 feet of ascent, in baking conditions, so I felt like I would cope with it. I really struggled though. I’ll tell you now, and spoil the ending; I slogged soggily into Richmond feeling like chucking the whole thing in and going home. But I didn’t.
It’s 3km from Osmotherley to Ingleby, lots of that are uphill too, along a forest road with poor views. Richard is right, there is a downside to staying in Os, and this is it. By the time I reached the Blue Bell at Ingleby I was hot and sweaty and had passed about 30 westers already. Walking past the pub felt like it should have been the start of the day and I was already knackered.
I crossed the A19 – it only took 2 or 3 minutes, which surprised me, as it was close to 09: 00 and rush hour. From there it’s into the fields and onto the back roads. I was on the map all day. I’d left my pole in my luggage, just so I could have the map in hand all day and not feel encumbered at stiles and gates, of which there are a few. Although I wouldn’t need the pole for its usual purpose on a flat day like today – I did miss it once or twice when cows got too friendly. I never seem to have a problem with cows, unlike lots of other people I’ve spoken to. If they get too close I turn and face them and that on its own is often enough to deter them (I have a face that deters cows!). If it doesn’t, then waving my arms at them and shouting has nearly always done the trick. I’ve only ever had to resort to whacking a cow on the nose with my pole once, so it’s reassuring to have it with you just in case.
I hate having to navigate so carefully all day, it’s hard work and requires concentration, you can’t mentally wander or drift off, you have to stay one field boundary ahead of yourself at all times.
The sun was out and the wind was almost non-existent, making for a sweaty day.
I spotted a deer this morning – yes it was a deer – I’m not quite so bad at large animal identification as I am at insects and such. I got a shot off before it bounded away – with the camera of course 🙂
A little further along I spotted the first west-bound “Coast to Coast” sign as well – in fact this section is well signed, in both directions, but not enough to reduce the amount of navigation and certainly not enough to rely on them. Judging by some of the stiles and hedges I saw, the other local footpaths are not as well maintained, or more likely; as well used, as the C2C is.
This is a section to get over and done with, it connects the North Yorks Moors and the Yorkshire Dales but it has little to endear it to walkers. The off-on-off again saga of the White Swan pub in Danby Wiske means you could have to do the whole 20 odd miles without any refreshments. Fortunately some people along the route have seen this and there are now at least 3 “tuck shop” boxes between Ingleby and Brompton. In their simplest form these are basically freezer boxes filled with cold drinks and a Tupperware honesty box for you to drop your money in.
I picked up a can of coke for 50p at Northfield Farm and then found the best of the lot. There’s a box of cold drinks at White House Farm but more importantly they have a freezer full of lollies, Cornettos and choc-ices in their shed. 40p for a large ice lolly is good value too! It’s nice to see people doing this. I don’t suppose they make much money from it, but it’s a super service for walkers and on a hot day like this I found them very welcome.
When I walked part of Hadrian’s Wall in 2009 I saw a few of these; some left by locals with cans and crisps, but one or two seemed very organised. Some had tea and coffee making facilities. A shed with power, a kettle, tea bags, milk in a little fridge – the whole shooting match! I’ve not seen these elsewhere and I wondered if they were sponsored by the National Trail or something. The Pennine Way could do with some and I’m sure other long paths would benefit.
The final one I saw was by the church in Brompton on Swale, but they wanted £1 for a can of Coke, which seemed like profiteering, so although I could have done with a drink at that point I passed on that one. You can buy multi-pack Cokes for about 25p, so charging a pound is a bit rich.
Shortly after my lolly break I was crossing a stile and needed to steady myself on the top bar of the wooden fence it was crossing – unfortunately the bastard farmer had booby-trapped the fence top with barbed wire, so I reflexively pulled my hand away as I felt the barbs, only to over balance and catch my shirt on the barbed wire – I’m damn lucky to have all my hand and both nipples still intact – my shirt wasn’t so lucky – it’s ruined. Survivor of the West Highland Way, Great Glen Way, Ben Nevis, Yorkshire 3 Peaks, my last Coast to Coast, the Pennine Way, the Ridgeway and countless day walks – is dead! Laid to rest in the bin of the Bu0026amp;B in Richmond.
The barbed wire was totally unnecessary, it was just bloody senseless, or possibly intentionally nasty – I don’t know – but I cursed that bloody farmer for a good while.
The White Swan had just opened for a group of westers as I arrived in Danby Wiske. I stood at the bar with the guy nominated to buy their drinks and we swapped destinations. He was heading for Ingleby and told me “only 11km to go now!” I guessed he meant miles and I said “11 miles”. “No” he replied “I’ve checked it on the map and it’s only 11k”. I didn’t want to argue too much but I thought it would be best to reset his expectations. “Unless you’ve found a hidden shortcut” I said “it really is much closer to 11 miles than 11km”. He didn’t like this, I could tell, so I dropped it and wished them well.
I had a pint of Diet Coke in the Swan and snacked on some of my flapjacks in the sun on the village green. A group of 10 westers arrived and all sat on the green eating their sandwiches and drinking their own supplies. I thought it was a shame that they didn’t buy anything in the pub. The Swan teeters on the brink of profitability – its recent history proves that – so walkers who don’t use it put it at risk for all future walkers who come through. It only needs each person to spend a couple of quid and it would make all the difference.
The landlady told me that the pub is only open at lunch time for the walkers. She opens at 12:00, unless she sees a group arriving earlier, in which case she opens up early. Makes sense for her to catch the trade and is great for walkers who see the pub opening as they approach. Please patronise the pub if you’re passing – they do tea and coffee, beers of course and cold soft drink too, which are quite cheap. They also have a selection of sandwiches and crisps etc.
I left the Swan at about 12:20, still with about 13 miles to go. I passed a few more westers, mostly destined for Ingleby – all asked me whether the pub was open!
The heat was rising and I was flagging rapidly. I was soaked in sweat – I’d put a flannel in the brim of my Tilley to act as a sweat band, hoping to keep the worst of the sweat out of my eyes, I had to keep wringing it out – it was literally soaking.
The next few miles passed in a haze of fields, stiles, narrow lanes and the occasional wester, now headed for Danby.
After 20 miles and almost 8 hours of walking I arrived at Catterick Bridge. I had to stop, I needed a drink and a sit down. I found a pub on the bridge itself – coming in the other direction you don’t notice it because it’s so close to Richmond, but in this direction it’s an oasis. I had another pint of Diet Coke in the Bridge House Hotel and met my first easters of the walk; an older guy walking with a younger one, possibly his son – taking it very slowly indeed. They would set out mid-afternoon and finish late evening – a bit odd I thought, but each to their own.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, but still pretty knackered I pushed on for Richmond. The sky was getting darker and the wind was picking up and I passed through a field where all the sheep were taking shelter under a tree. They were dead right too, because within five minutes the heavens opened and I was forced to deploy the poncho for only the second time of the journey.
It rained all the way into Richmond. It looked like it would rain all night too so I decided to grab some supplies from the Co-op in town and eat them in the Bu0026amp;B, rather than have to walk back into town again. It wasn’t just the rain that forced this decision – I wasn’t actually sure I could walk the extra mile or so that the trip would involve, so I decided it was best to stock up and be safe.
I bought the shop out – some Ben u0026amp; Jerry’s Fish Food ice cream, two large tubes of Pringles, a 2 litre bottle of Irn Bru, several 500ml bottles of Diet Coke, a bag of Maltesers and a 2Kg bag of ice cubes.
I arrived at the West End Guest House at about 18:00; feeling very tired, quite depressed and thinking about quitting – I gave myself a mental kick in the arse and reminded myself of why I was so tired – 46 miles in two days and no sleep in between – and the fact that I had two easier days coming.
With a few long distance paths under my belt now, I know that days three and four of a long walk are typically the most depressing – you’ve reached the point where everything starts to hurt; muscles that aren’t used to being exercised constantly are screaming, the shoulders are sore from the pack, your back hurts, your feet ache and you’re tired. It does get better though and this is what I told myself.
When I got to my room I dumped the ice into the sink in my en-suite and stuck the ice cream and the bottles of pop in there too. The ice cubes and ice cream had been a complete gamble – I wasn’t sure if I had an en-suite room tonight and they’d have been completely useless to me without one. So I suppose someone was smiling on me from up high 🙂
I scoffed a full tube of Pringles, finished the ice cream before it could melt too badly and then wolfed down some more Pringles – while watching the TV. The Irn Bru worked wonders, especially with ice, if there’s a better sugar delivery system in a drink I’ve not yet found it.
I was glad I’d had the foresight to pack the Super Glue – my boots were starting to fall apart quite badly. 46 miles in two days had taken its toll and the sole had started to come away from the footbed on the right boot. I stuck it back down and hoped the fix would last. I have a new pair of Missions waiting for me in the Go Outdoors in Manchester, but they were still several days and a hundred or so miles of walking away.
Chores complete and appetite satisfied I fell into bed at about 21:00 and fell into a deep sleep – sleeping the best part of 10 hours pretty much uninterrupted. Bliss – no bells!