2nd August 2022 – Home to Garsdale Head
It was absolutely lashing it down when I left the house this morning. I’d planned to leave about 8am, but when the rain on the window woke me about 5.30 I decided the potential for long delays on the motorway was too great, so an earlier start would probably be prudent.
My plan today was to drive to the end of the walk, drop my car off somewhere safe and then use public transport to get to the start of the walk, ready for the first day’s walking tomorrow. That entailed a bus trip to York, then a train to Leeds and another train to Garsdale. A short walk from the station would then bring me to my bed for the night, in the Moorcock Inn.
I’d had a bit of a scare last Sunday, when I’d taken a call from the owner of the Moorcock, saying that they’d lost a staff member at short notice and they’d have to close on Monday and Tuesday for the next few weeks. That meant they wouldn’t be able to accommodate me. I explained my situation (basically my whole holiday was at risk if I couldn’t stay with them) and was very relieved to be able to arrange a compromise. They would honour my booking, but there would be no food or drink in the evening and no breakfast in the morning, but I would be able to stay. I was happy to agree and I’m now heading for a basically empty pub for the night, which feels like an odd experience.
The rain was torrential as I headed up the M6 and traffic crawled in places, with long delays on the M60 before it became the M62. I stopped for a comfort break at Hartshead Moor services, leaving the motorway just before I would have joined another long queue. I decided to wait in the service station, rather than on the carriageway, so I only set off again when the queue (which I could see from the car park) had died down a bit. I was at today’s destination, and the end of the Yoredale Way, for about 10.30am and killed another hour in the car listening to an audiobook. I’m on book three of Jan Guillou’s Crusades trilogy, which I’m finding to be a bit of a slog after an absolutely brilliant book two.
The rain had stopped thankfully, by the time I left the car and headed for the bus stop. I stopped in at the public toilets and immediately wished I hadn’t! It’s a rare ‘treat’ to find public toilets open nowadays, but these were disgusting and I’d rather have peed in a bush! The bus at least was on time and a long, winding and uneventful journey brought me into York, at about 12.30pm.
I’m writing this part of the journal in the Punch Bowl Inn in York, in the shadow of the hugely impressive Micklegate Bar, a gate tower in the old city wall. I have a couple of hours to fill, so I decided a slap up pub lunch, followed by a wander around the city walls would see me through nicely to my train. The pub is a Wetherspoons, so it wasn’t the best lunch I’ve ever had, but it was cheap and using their app meant I didn’t even need to go to the bar. The pub is packed and I only got a table by hovering over a couple as they tidied their stuff away in readiness to leave.
I had a fleeting moment of melancholy in the pub, listening to a man and his wife talking to their 3/4 year old grandson. He was a lively little lad, full of quips he’d obviously picked up from his Mum or Dad and I wished I was sitting here with my wife and our grand-daughter. It soon passed though and I left the pub and climbed up the steps behind the gatehouse and onto the walls. I only did about a quarter of the full circuit, just as far as the gatehouse before the Ouse and then walked back along the road to the station. The walls are quite impressive and you probably get the best view of York Minster from them. Worth a visit if you have time.
York train station is shit. It’s huge, but there’s no comfy seating that I could find. So I wandered over to the platform and sat on a bench waiting for the Leeds train. This left and arrived on time (to the sound of a fanfare of trumpets – in my head at least) and I had a plenty of time to change from platform 17 to platform 1 for the train to Garsdale. This one was packed, and the seat I secured was so cramped my leg had to go into the aisle. After Skipton a few seats cleared though and I got a seat with a bit more legroom. Once again this left and arrived on time, which let’s face it is a minor bloody miracle on Northern Rail!
My journey ended as it began, in lashing down rain, which started just as I left the station at Garsdale. As I was leaving I saw the chimney and smoke of a steam train as it flashed through the station. That’s twice in just a couple of weeks now that I’ve missed seeing that train! It’s only about a mile to the pub from the station and although I got wet legs, it wasn’t too bad. I retrieved the hidden key and let myself in. An empty pub is a strange place, and unless you work in one it’s probably not something most people will experience. I went upstairs to find my room – not a problem, as I’ve stayed here several times in the past – and hung up my damp gear.
I’ve brought a snack for tonight, having had a big lunch I don’t need much, and I’ve got some pains of chocolate for tomorrow morning. I should be OK. The lure of the bar is not as tempting as I thought it would be. It’s all dark and a bit eerie down there, so I’ll drink what I’ve brought with me, and be thankful for the kind consideration of Jo who runs the pub.
When we were kids (14-17), if you announced your parents were away, you’d invariably end up with a dozen friends, and friends of friends appear at your door, carry-outs in hand, for an impromptu house party – it was against the law not to let them in! With that in mind I’m not going to post this until tomorrow morning!
Hopefully the weather will have cheered up a bit.