5th October 2019: Garsdale Head to Askrigg – 12 miles
I’m in the small single at the top of the stairs, the same room I’ve always had when I’ve stayed at the Moorcock in the past. I don’t remember feeling as cramped in the bed on my previous stays though! I haven’t grown much (other than outwards) in the past couple of years, so I guess I must have spent the night kicking the wall previously too. Despite that I had a good night’s sleep for the most part. I was awake about 6am but that’s not unusual and I snoozed until 7.20 when I got up and decided to try and solve the water problem.
I looked out of the window to find it was grey and misty outside but it wasn’t raining and there was no wind, so I’d take that I think. Hopefully the mist would lift during the day and the rain would hold off.
In the end I boiled the water in the room’s kettle and even though it was still a bit cloudy it would at least be safe I figured. I left the water to cool in the kettle for a while then half filled my platypus and dropped it into the sink, filled with cold water, to cool it off properly.
I was down stairs at 7.57 and had the choice of breakfast tables to choose from. I picked the one with the best view and had a very nice eggs on toast with bacon.
I was out and walking by about 8.50 and already I was able to see some of the hills that had previously been under clag. A good omen I figured. I know today’s route like the back of my hand and could probably do it blind folded (although I decided not to try) which I was concerned would lead to apathy and a boring day, but I’ve had a lovely day. To be fair I’ve had headphones on all day, listening to an audiobook recommended by a friend on Twitter (@markrickaby) The Wall by John Lanchester (which is OK, but a bit slow). It’s great not having to concentrate on route finding, or feeling the need to converse with a walking partner (although I really enjoy the time I spend with Chris and I’m looking forward to a few walks we’ve got planned for later in the year).
The path was wet in places and the long grass meant that my boots were soon muddy and wet, but I’ve been very pleased with the Inov8 Roclite 345 boots I got for the Cape Wrath Trail in May (another recommendation from Mark) and despite being wet all day they’ve kept my feet pretty dry. My socks were damp when I took them off in the B&B a little while ago. In trail shoes or in my ‘waterproof’ Salomon Comet 3Ds my feet would have been swimming within the first couple of miles.
I arrived in Hawes a little ahead of my schedule, covering the 5.5 miles in just over 2 hours. So I stopped in the first pub that was open (the Crown Hotel) and ordered a pint of Blackcurrant and Soda (£1 👍) and a bag of crisps (£1.25 😯) and sat and relaxed. On the way out of town I bought some Chocolate Hobnobs and a bottle of Oasis for a lunch on the path.
You’ll need to look back over @dean_read ‘s recent Pennine Way to understand the significance of the biscuits. They are like power ups for walkers. It’s been a long time since I’ve had them and I found them in the Spar as I was browsing, so picked them up.
I climbed up the slope to the outskirts of Sedbusk, passing a man taking his chickens for a walk (yeah, I know, but trust me!) and found a south facing wall to prop myself up against and have my lunch.
I had my back to one inside corner of the wall, with the other corner running away on my right ahead of me. As I sat there enjoying my Hobnobs a red squirrel ran along the top of the wall, stopping occasionally to look around. He didn’t see me, but I didn’t want to make a move for my camera in case I scared him off. He playfully bounced along the wall, dropping down to the ground just ahead of me at one point before scampering off towards Sedbusk. I got my camera out, in anticipation of him returning to the woods behind me, but he never came back, so I eventually packed up and moved on.
I crossed a few more wet fields and dropped down to the road beneath Litherskew. On the other side I joined the track of what used to be the Wensleydale railway and this made an easy path all the way into Bainbridge. One or two sections had been badly cut up by large flocks of sheep being brought down from the fells into the lower fields, but a bit more mud didn’t make much difference to the day so far. At Yore Bridge, outside Bainbridge I took the lower path into Askrigg, more muddy but less heigh gain, my legs were feeling a bit tired from the exertions of the day, my feet were damp and I just wanted to sit down in the pub.
I’ve decided the only pub in Askrigg worth bothering about is the Crown Inn, the one at the top of the village, the one that’s generally frequented by the locals. The other two seem a bit more upmarket and a bit more expensive (judging by the menus outside their doors). I ordered a pint of Blackcurrant and Soda (75p) and sat in the corner by the fire. It was 3pm and I needed to kill an hour until I could get into the B&B and I thought I’d get a head start on the blog. The WiFi was OK and I kept an eye on the football scores while I did a bit of Twitter and began the blog for yesterday.
The fire was nice, but at 4pm I dragged myself away from it and hobbled across to the B&B. My legs had seized up while I was sitting beside the fire and my feet were now feeling quite sore. I needed a shower. You get a great welcome at Thornsgill House and Ann remembered me from my last stay in June last year when I was walking the Tributaries. I watched Final Score on BBC iPlayer on my tablet and was gutted to see Liverpool rescue a win from a contentious penalty in injury time against Leicester.
I felt much better after the shower and wandered back across to the Crown about 5pm in hope of securing the same table before it got too busy. I was in luck and I had the first pint of Black Sheep in ages and wrote up today’s journal. I remember having an excellent Steak pie and chips last time, so ordered the same thing again and wasn’t disappointed, it was excellent!
As the pub filled up, three people, two guys and a lady, joined my table and we got chatting about walking. It’s not often I get recognised, but very quickly the lady asked “are you Stuart Greig?” I admitted I was and we got into a very enjoyable and lengthy conversation about long distance routes, paths they’d been walking and everything in between. I have to say thanks to Tracey & Jimmy (who run the Cafe by the Lake on the Kilnsey Park Estate in Wharfedale) and their friend Glen who made a solo evening in the pub writing my blog into a lovely, friendly couple of hours talking as if we’d been friends for years. Glen had thought he’d spotted some Pine Marten scat on their walk from Muker today, but investigation on Google seemed to suggest this improbable. I was quite pleased to be able to trump his Marten shit with an actual Red Squirrel and a bloke walking his chickens! Tracey and Jimmy have done the Herriot Way and even though they got completely soaked for four days they were polite enough to say they’d enjoyed it 😉 – so much so that they’re looking at doing the Swale Way next year too. I hope you have better weather guys and next time I’m in Wharfedale I’ll pop in.
Once their food arrived and my boots had dried nicely beside the fire I made my excuses so they could enjoy their meals and I’m now back in my room listening to some music and finishing this blog.
The weather today was excellent and much better than expected, but it looks like tomorrow could be a different story, as much to say I’m going to get wet, very wet if the forecast is correct.