14th June 2011 – Blakey Ridge to Osmotherley – 19.2 miles
Wow! What a cracking day it’s been – some of the best weather I’ve walked in for a long time and some stunning views from the high points today – I could see Ingleborough and Whernside – and they’re 50 miles away! I had to have them pointed out – by a hill finder on a memorial – but I could still see them.
I’m going to jump to the end of today initially – I’m in the Queen Catherine Hotel in Osmotherley and I’m absolutely knackered – I’ve done 20 miles today and it was hot, right from the outset – so the 3000 feet of ascent that went with the 20 miles have rather taken it out of me. It doesn’t all come in one or two lumps either – there were 5 distinct climbs today and 6 descents and by the end I was almost crawling up the incline. However, as much as it contributed to my knackeredness, the weather made the day – it was superb – it was a clear blue, cloudless sky all day and there was next to no wind, for which I was most grateful.
I didn’t sleep great again, despite being pretty knackered – I awoke at 03:40 and again at 05:00 and from then on I was pretty much waiting for the alarm to go off. So I was downstairs at 07:15 trying to get some breakfast. There were a couple of ladies around, doing the laundry and they helped me sort out some Corn Flakes and juice and one of them kindly made me a pot of tea too, so I at least had something inside me when I set out at 08:00 on the dot.
I’d set my sights on doing the first 5 miles along the Rosedale railway in about an hour and 40 mins – 3 miles an hour – it’s all flat, so that shouldn’t be too hard – that would make a nice dent in the 19.6 mile total for the day. As it was I did it in an hour and 30. I met loads of westers on the way – dozens of them – even that early in the morning. By the time I reached Bloworth Crossing at 09:30 I must have seen 15-20 of them.
By the time I reached Clay Bank Top I’d lost count of the number of “Hellos” and “Good Mornings” I’d got through. I was keeping an eye out for a forum member called Doug, who said he’d be walking this section today – I kept waiting for the greeting – making eye contact with everyone, looking expectant – but nothing. He was staying in Great Broughton, so once I got beyond Clay Bank I gave up – I assumed we’d passed each other and he’d just not recognised me.
The Rosedale railway was like a motorway for baby Grouse and their parents – I saw thousands of them – scampering across the path and disappearing into the heather on either side – the babies trying to fly to safety, but for the most part they are still too young, but their attempts are quite comical. Come the Glorious 12th the grouse butts either side of the track are going to be busy with shooters and they’ll have plenty to aim at if the current batch of young are anything to go by.
As well as grouse, the path was covered in tiny centipedes (see correction below) – millions of them – I gave up trying to avoid stepping on them, I must have looked like a right daft sod dodging around the path, the Minister of Silly Walks – long stride, short stride, dodge to the left, long stride……
The number of guide stones and boundary stones is something to remark on as well – the North Yorks moors are littered with them and many of them date back several hundred years. An American couple stopped me and asked what the “little monuments” were for and I explained. It’s hard to relate to them when the path is as clear and obvious as it is today – but a couple of hundred years ago they were vital to the safe passage of people across the moor.
On the way up to the Wain Stones I met a guy and exchanged greetings – he was obviously a retired naval captain – used to shouting orders across a windswept, heaving deck, making sure his hands heard him – because his cheerful “Good Morning” nearly knocked me over – I actually thought he must be shouting to someone behind me, further up the hill, but a quick look round confirmed it was me he was shouting at 🙂
Once beyond Clay Bank my progress slowed considerably – the heat was taking its toll and the multiple steep climbs and descents were beginning to hurt. I’d hoped to reach Lord Stones cafe by about 12:30 – spend an hour there enjoying the tea and cakes and then push on to Osmotherley. I shuffled into the car park about 13:00 – and was greeted with an “are you Stuart?” from a guy in a group of four taking it easy on the grass beside the path. I’d found Doug. He apologised for getting his dates wrong by a day – he wasn’t due into Great Broughton until tonight. We chatted for a while, it’s always great to meet people from the forum and we swapped notes on the path. They’d had a mare the day before, with lots of rain along the stretch from Danby Wiske.
I made my apologies, as I was gasping for a brew and stepped into the cool shade of the cafe. I made a bit of a pig of myself – I had a chocolate flapjack, a chocolate covered caramel biscuit, a pot of tea, a can of Diet Coke and a bottle of water to add to my Platypus. I spent an excellent 30 minutes or so resting my feet and recharging the tanks, before I set off into the heat of the day again.
There’s only 7 miles or so from Lord Stones to Osmotherley – but they were hard work – the climb up to Carlton Moor seemed interminable and the path along the top of it stretched off into infinity. I passed more C2Cers – not sure where they must be staying, but it was a long way to Great Broughton and already 14:30 or so – I guess the total for the day – albeit a long day, probably counting people across a couple of days – was about 60; a lot more than yesterday.
As the path drops down off Carlton Moor it descends through a wood – which gave some welcome shade – and then follows the shaded edge of the wood for a while too. On the other side of the valley it climbs gently through a field, along another shaded forest path, which was great until it reached the foot of a long steep climb. I remembered coming down this on my last crossing, thinking it would be a real grind to climb up it. This is part of the Lyke Wake path – coming almost at the end of 40 miles of tough walking – it’s a killer of gradient. Sitting at the top is a memorial stone to Bill Cowley – founder of the Lyke Wake Walk. I thought the top would never arrive. I slogged it out slowly and eventually reached the stone.
A few dozen yards further on I reached the road at the foot of Scarth Wood Moor – I should have taken the path up the steep bank, over the top of the hill and down into Osmotherley. I couldn’t face the climb. I was knackered. I followed the road. It was a little longer than my planned route, but did avoid 300 feet of ascent that I could really do without and I was able to walk on the grassy verge for large parts of it.
I dragged myself into Osmotherley. The village was a welcome sight – I was pretty much at the limit of my endurance. The whole of my route today, was along the Lyke Wake Walk, but there’s 20 miles of that walk before the Lion Inn, so anyone doing all the 40 miles into Os has made one hell of a journey and I take my hat off to all of them – I doubt I could do it and I’ll need to be much fitter than I am at the moment before I try.
The Queen Catherine is great – I have a small single with an en-suite shower, they have WiFi and they are right next door to a chippy (closed tonight unfortunately) and across the road is an outdoors shop and a little village store with all the essentials. Why anyone chooses to stop in Ingleby is beyond me, when you have this little oasis just over the hill.
As an easter it does mean I have an extra mile or so to do tomorrow into Richmond, and my choice of B&B in that town wasn’t great – “West End” is exactly as it suggests – on the far side of the town for me – so 26 miles tomorrow – mostly flat though – 1400 feet of ascent, evenly split between the first couple of miles in Ingleby and the last couple of miles into Richmond – eek!
I’m showered and fed now – feeling much better – feet are still throbbing though. The Queen is pretty quiet, but they have an Eighties hits CD playing on a loop – it’s brilliant – it’s on its third loop and I could happily sit here all night and listen to Kim Wilde, Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears and a load of others.
Coast to Coast 2011: Day Three-Supplemental
It sounded like it was all going really well at the Queen Catherine – and it was until I went to bed. I had an excellent meal – they hand make their own burgers and proper chips too. It was brilliant.
I turned in early and watched a Romero zombie film on my laptop before bed and became very aware of the location of my room and its proximity to the church at the back of the pub. All that separates the two is a thin stretch of graveyard. The church is quite tiny, as you would expect for a small village, but it boasts a bell – well two in fact, one small and one large one.
I say “boasts”, because that’s what it does – the church tells everyone it has two bells. Not only does it ring the hour – an appropriate number of chimes for the hour in question, but it also rings the half hour – now that’s not unusual – ringing the quarters too, however, is unusual. The Os bell rings all four quarters! It strikes twice at the quarter past – one small chime followed by one large one. It rings four times at the half hour (a double set of the quarter past chime) and then it strikes six times at the quarter to (a triple set). Then at the hour it rings the big bell for the number of the hour. That’s 12 strikes before it even gets to the hour chime.
The windows in the Queen Catherine are old – they are old wooden, single glazed sash windows – so you can hear a bird fart at 20 yards – they do nothing to suppress the sounds of the bells.
I hoped (beyond hope it turned out) that they would stop chiming at say midnight – which to me seemed reasonable. No chance. Every time I started dropping off, the bells chimed – after a while my nerves were jingling – in the end I was waiting for the bloody chimes – pointless drifting off when you’re going to be jolted roughly back into wakefulness.
I suppose at some point I must have got some sleep – I don’t remember the 3 chimes at 03:00 for example. The quarter to the hour chime was the most irritating – you may be able to ignore a double chime, but not six in a row.
Anyway – you get the idea – I was a bit unhappy!