Wednesday 15th June – Osmotherley to Richmond
Today I shall mostly be trying to remember the words to “The Walk” by The Cure.
I was absolutely steaming mad this morning, or like Gerald the Gorilla I was 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 said. 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 hold a grudge.
So that was the state of mind I was in when I left Os 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 th Pennine Way I did that distance and 4,500 feet if 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 limped into Richmond feeling like chucking the whole thing in and going home. But I didn’t.
It’s 3km from Os 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, 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. This felt like 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 9am 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, I wouldn’t need it on a flat day like today – although I did miss it once or twice when cows got too friendly – just so I could have the map in hand all day and not feel encumbered at stiles and gates.
I hate having to navigate so carefully all day, it’s hard work and requires concentration, you can’t drift off and follow the path, 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, for both directions, but not enough to reduce the amount of navigation – not enough to rely on them, I’m not sure other local paths are as well maintained or 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 Yorks 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. These are basically freezer boxes filled with cold drinks and an 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 Farmbut more importantly they have a freezer full of lollies, cornettos and choc-ices in their shed. 40p for a large lolly is good value too! It’s nice to see people doing this. I saw some on Hadrian’s Wall – very organised ones with tea making facilities – but not seen them elsewhere. 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, do 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 West Highland Way, Great Glen Way, Ben Nevis, Yorkshire 3 Peaks, my last Coast to Coast, the Pennine Way, the Ridgeway and countless daywalks – is dead! Laid to rest in the bin of the B&B in Richmond.
The barbed wire was totally unnecessary – just bloody senseless, or possibly intentionally nasty – I don’t know – bloody farmers.
The White Swan had just opened for a group of westers as I arrived in DW. 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 – it’s 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, 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 and 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 his 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 inside 5 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 B&B, rather than have to walk back into town again.
I bought the shop out – some Ben & Jerry’s Fish Food ice cream, two tubes of Pringles, a huge bottle of Irn Bru, some Diet Cokes, Maltesers and a big bag of ice.
I arrived at the West End Guest House at about 6pm, mostly tired, feeling quite depressed and thinking about quitting – I gave myself a shake and reminded myself of why I was so tired and the fact that I had two easier days coming.
When I got to my room I dumped the ice into the sink and stuck the ice cream and the bottle of pop in there too. I had some Pringles, finished the ice cream and then some more Pringles – while watching some TV. The Irn Bru worked wonders, especially ice cold. I super glued my boots, where the sole had started to come away and fell into a deep sleep – sleeping the best part of 10 hours pretty much uninterrupted. Bliss – no bells!