October 2014


Just had to reblog this: because it is absolutely true.

The Greenery

56 Ways to Identify an American Post-Camino Peregrino in Withdrawal

colorful peregrinos

*note to visitors: This post is about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain and assumes a certain amount of knowledge in readers. If you’re curious, this article gives a brief overview: “Walking the Camino de Santiago: A Beginner’s Guide

1. Goodwill will not accept your used hiking boots.

2. You carry toilet paper, extra-powered Ibuprofen, and Compeed with you at all times.

3. You wash your socks with shampoo.

4. You have a fantastic tan…but only on your left side.

5. You have seen Pablito‘s special rock.

Pablito Pablito with his special rock

6. You fear cyclists.

7. You routinely approach reception desks and ask if the hotel is “complete.”

8. You hear that Alanis Morissette song in your head when you take long walks.

9. You can say “hello” in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, English, Dutch…

View original post 700 more words

It’s hard to resist the temptation to put all the stats together, particularly when there are some fantastic graphs in MapMyHike, so apologies for being boring – maybe this is just a private obsession and you can ignore.

First, the daily graphs, noting that I had the gadget on Autopause, so the breaks don’t show. Hence, it looks like we sprinted sometimes – and Terry pointed out that sometimes in the Lakeland valleys the iPhones struggled with GPS connections!

Day 1 (St Bees to Ennerdale)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 14.57.26

Day 2 (Ennerdale to Stonethwaite)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.08.19

Day 3 (Stonethwaite to Grasmere)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.18.27

Day 4 (Patterdale to Shap)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.18.42

Day 5 (Shap to Kirkby Stephen)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.20.53

Day 6 (Kirkby Stephen to Keld)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.21.49

Day 7 (Keld to Reeth)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.22.35

Day 8 (Reeth to Richmond)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.23.08

Day 10 (Park House to Clay Bank)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.23.49

Day 11 (Clay bank to Glaisdale)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.24.30

Day 12 (Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay)

Screenshot 2014-10-18 15.25.26

So there you have it: all the stats on the coast to coast. And a final summary…

Day Date Start Finish Distance Walking Time Start time Finishing time Real duration
Day 1

Mon, Sep 22, 2014

St Bees Ennerdale

28.2

5h 36m

8:19

4:30

9h 11m

Day 2

Tue, Sep 23, 2014

Ennerdale Stonethwaite

27.83

4h 50m

8:44

4:45

7h 1m

Day 3

Wed, Sep 24, 2014

Stonethwaite Grasmere

13.04

2h 57m

8:21

13:15

4h 0m

Day 4

Thu, Sep 25, 2014

Patterdale Shap

30.02

6h 35m

8:38

6:30

10h 32m

Day 5

Fri, Sep 26, 2014

Shap Kirkby Stephen

35.2

7h 9m

8:32

5:15

8h 43m

Day 6

Sat, Sep 27, 2014

Kirkby Stephen Keld

20.88

4h 23m

9:14

15.30

6h 14m

Day 7

Sun, Sep 28, 2014

Keld Reeth

19.8

4h 9m

9:10

16.10

9h 0m

Day 8

Mon, Sep 29, 2014

Reeth Richmond

22.9

4h 19m

8:40

13:45

5h 5m

Day 9

Tue, Sep 30, 2014

Richmond Park House, Ingoldby
Day 10

Wed, Oct 1, 2014

Park House, Ingoldby Clay Bank

19.6

4h 11m

9:29

15:30

6h 1m

Day 11

Thu, Oct 2, 2014

Clay Bank Glaisdale

32.6

6h

8:47

16:15

7h 28m

Day 12

Fri, Oct 3, 2014

Glaisdale Robin Hoods Bay

32.9

6h 35m

8:28

16:45

8h 17m

Total Distance

282.97

Total Time

56h 44m

TOTAL DURATION:

81h 32m

Average

7h 25m

I’m not even going to pretend that this edition was prepared after the walk. By the time we got back to our digs at the top — yes, at the top — of the cliff, we had celebrated on the sands, had our mandatory pint in the Wainwright Bar — preceded by a couple of bottles of champagne — stayed and eaten, staggered up the fifty degree cobbled street from the Bay Hotel to the Grosvenor, had another pint and bid farewell to all our friends, we were a bit tired. Of course, for Paula, substitute Pinot Grigio for best bitter, but you get the picture.

By the time we had scrubbed our boots and re-packed everything in travel order, it was after ten and we were over it. It was a day when things were tougher than we all expected, as lingering injuries took their toll and Wainwright’s insistence on the scenic route seemed at times like a bad joke, and we’ve told enough of our own along the way without the double “s”-bend that made today 31 kms rather than the 9 it would be direct!

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One can sympathise, however, because it was almost like the old bastard was determined to to show us the last, tiniest jewels in his Northern treasury. The picture-book beauty of the Beggars Bridge, with its charming story, set beside that amazing railway engineering from the great Age of Steam that never ceases to amaze me; the packhorse trail through the woods beside the salmon stream, where Autumn had finally come; the great estate we walked through, and on and on.

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Even though the promised sunshine didn’t appear until the afternoon, the rain held off and the cold wind taught the antipodeans why four seasons gave one an appreciation of both hot and cold, sunshine and wind, rain and snow. The heather was brown, the leaves are falling and we were leaving. It seemed time was both ripe and right.

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We badly coordinated our departure, the three musketeers heading off for some male bonding and a lingering concern over Matthew’s shins — although they looked OK for a man of his age — while we were worried about holding them up, with my knee causing trouble and Paula’s ankle finally showing signs of strain. The others couldn’t get an early breakfast, so we set out in bits. As it turned out, this was fortuitous, and even less closely associated types like the “Nottingham” pair and the “Vermonts” (Kyra and her husband, with whom we’ve had two meals but we barely seem to know) were setting off in drabs and drabs for the last, long day.

As an aside, I should remark on the interesting differences in the relationships that we’ve seen develop on the Coast to Coast in comparison to those on the Camino. I think, in reflection, the wonderful people I met on the Camino were travelling very much for themselves, even when they were travelling together. With very few exceptions, even when people stayed together for days on the path, the relationships were very open. On the Coast to Coast, we haven’t met anyone who is travelling ostensibly alone. It is a joint project between friends (e.g., the musketeers), or a couple (e.g. Paula and me, or Terry and Karen), or even a mother and son (the inspirational Cairns). Only Neill did is specifically for a cause. But the friendliness is similar, if less deep. The Camino fostered an almost confessional seriousness and openness; the C to C, In the best British traditions, seems to be about cheery openness, fortitude and optimism.

It seems in keeping, therefore, that we remember everyone more by labels than by the first names that were indispensable on the Camino. The Nottingham pair, the Vermont Americans, the Three Musketeers, “Neill and James”, initially the “Californians” before we knew them as Celeste and Pedro, and the couple with the “lovely dog” before we got to know all three as Terry, Karen and Incey. So many stories I haven’t got room for here — Terry’s story as an RAF helicopter pilot before his airline career, Karen explaining the life of an airforce wife, Pedro’s family history and long journey to his vocation as a surgeon, the laughs when Neill and James confessed to being chartered accountants, and the Nottinghams stories of travels with the “Barmy Army”. We are probably known as the Aussie pair!

And (starting a paragraph with a conjunction, but who’s going to argue?), I’m prepared to defend an awful lot of Britishness — and specifically Englishness — to anyone who wants to criticise. We’ve met a wonderful collection of cheerful, hardworking people who do a good job well, we’ve eaten much better than rumour might have you imagine and quite healthily, our rooms have never been less than good and sometimes wonderful, we’ve never asked for help and been met with less than kindness and warmth, and all this in the midst of a natural beauty and sympathetic development that any country would be proud of. Yes, we’ve skirted all the industry and dark satanic mills, but I like these northerners, and those who’ve moved up here to make a go of it.

Did I mention the beer?

So, to return to the main narrative, we walked in the lowland beauty for a bit, and had to turn only a glance at the Sir Nigel Gresley Museum (if you know the name, you’ll understand why it’s now on the bucket list, and if not, you ever had a Hornby Train set). We met the boys and slogged up the hill to the moor, where the leaden skies and cold wind were a complete contrast to the previous day. We got to Little Beck, which has a history as an alum manufactury from the 17th Century to the 19th, but is now a picture-pretty village. The path by the beck led up though rehabilitated woods, beside the deep ravines left by the mines, to gorgeous Fosse Falls and its Victorian tea house. There we ate lunch, watched a wedding in the garden, smelled the pig roasting on the spit (obviously a Christians-only feast) and greeted the others as they rolled in.

Too much tarmac and too much moor followed, with only a brief pub stop for coffee and shandies before the last couple of miles to the coast. Through mini-Butlins we limped, all very sore and somehow all a bit tired and down. The coast path seemed to go on and on, notwithstanding rousing renditions of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from me and the Daves.

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The path hid our destination from view until the last minute — the Bay was a smugglers’ cove and haven of wreckers in years’ past — and even a burst of late afternoon sun and the expanse of the North Sea beside us at the base of the steep cliffs didn’t ease the pain. Mercurial Dave launched into a tirade against lying Nothern Bastards, but through the hedges we sighted the Village, and then we stood at the head of the cliff and we could see the Bay. There seemed only one thing to do: I led the congregation in a chorus of “Jerusalem”, both verses.

The it was down to the village, by painful steps, to the sands where we share congratulations, photos, hugs and threw our pebbles into the sea. Incey stole the show, as always, by attempting to retrieve his!

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Celebrations at the Bay, dinner, beer at the Grosvenor, home to our digs. Enough now… the obligatory Love Actually quote. No regrets, sore feet, perhaps never again, but thanks for memories that were worth blood, sweat and blisters.

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I had to start this post with a Coast to Coast sign, as it shows what a perfect day we have had. Indeed, there is not much to report, other than we walked along the abandoned railway line for most of the morning quite comfortably, met up with all the friends we had made along the way and potter along cheerfully chatting, even when our feet were burning from the miles under our feet and a bit too much tarmac.

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So we have ended up in this pretty village — miles from top to bottom, and of course the pub and our B and B were at the bottom — with just about everyone we have walked with along the way. There is Terry, Karen and Incey, the Three Musketeers (mercurial Dave, magisterial Dave and lugubrious Matt), Celeste and Pedro (nurse and surgeon, now we know) and Neill and James, who was not well today and did the Sherpa van express. Neill is raising money for cancer charity and just left one job before another. He seems to be finding it tough, but chirped up remarkably tonight at the pub.

It was a near perfect day, climbing out of Clay Bank on our own and out onto the moor, joining up with Incey and his owners, and finally the boys. The sun shone and the path lay along the old mineral railway. It was long and perhaps a bit hard under the foot, but as more of us joined up the chat pushed us along. It’s actually hard to remember details of the walk, because most of what I recall is moving in and out of conversation and failing miserably at remembering all the verses of “Waltzing Matilda”, giving the boys the chance to completely mystify Celeste with “Ilkley Moor” — how does without thy had become abaht t’at? And my synopsis of the song didn’t really satisfy either Paula, Celeste or Pedro… and nothing beat Mathew’s solemn response to each chorus, “wi’ thy pants down”!

Mercurial Dave has had so many disappointments with distances the he now believes that all the books, all the advice from locals and the Wainwright path itself are the work of “lying Northern bastards”, and as the afternoon drew on and everyone’s feet started to burn, we started to agree. We got to pretty Glaisdale and started down what we thought as the main street without seeing the promised pub, before realising that, like a couple of other places, the whole village was divided into two by a common, with half the houses at the top, and the other half with the pub at the bottom of the hill, which is where the railway station is as well.

We split off to our accommodation, and Paula, myself and the lads ended up at the wonderful Beggars Bridge B and B, drinking tea and earning toasted tea cake, a wonderful reviver before showering and heading off for the pub at 7 pm. Karen and Terry would be feeding Incey and tucking him into his bed in their pub bedroom — he really is a wonder dog. We have convinced them to finish the walk with us tomorrow rather than stop and Little Beck: the weather is going to hell on Saturday, and it’s fifteen minutes by taxi from the “Bay”, as everyone calls it, so they can celebrate with us and then sleep back in the village. A taxi ride against a 30 kilometre walk? No contest.

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When you look at today’s walk on the map, without carefully looking at the contours, you might mistakenly believe that is is an easy day. One thing we learned about Old Man Wainwright is that he was not motivated by making it easy. This is in contradistinction to the Camino, where everything is about getting safety and easily from one village to another, and usually from one church or chapel to another. Wainwright, apart from the trek around Catterick, seems to have been motivated by a desire to go where no one without a pack pony trained in the Himlayas would bother to go, and then use the thin excuse of stunning views to escape criticism.

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So twenty kilometres looked good until I had a really close look and realise we had four steep, though short climbs during the day, and as the sunny morning turned into a very grey afternoon, the hills got more dreary and the steep descents became more painful. Paula still carries her foot injury and I struggle with the knee injured on the descent to Hawkeswater — it seems an age since we were in the Lakes.

We didn’t spot Incey, Karen and Terry today, because we left a bit ahead of them, and we made great time through a golden morning, up through the trees and onto the moor. We were sharing the track with the Cleveland Way for the whole day, skirting the Vale of Cleveland looking like a perfect Hobbitland below us and looking north to Teeside and a glimpse of the sea.

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The countryside changed dramatically: we were out of the Dales and into the North Yorkshire Moors, mostly National Park. The access were also quite different, as we found out that evening at the pub. Most of the local folk who don’t work in farming commute to Middlesborough, and it’s that kind of dialect that dominates, probably the hardest to decipher so far.

The path rose quickly from Park House and, after joining the path up from Osmotherly, joined the Cleveland Way for the rest of the day (and most of the next). We emerged out of the green tunnel and onto the moors, to the careful inspection of grouse, who were either more stupid the normal or knew in advance when a shooting party was on. The whole upland area is now dominated by grouse and the business of protecting the grouse until they can be killed. While it is amazing how much industry and mining took place up here from the Middle Ages until the early Nineteenth Century, it’s all about heather and birds.

And very valuable they seem to be. It was explained to us later in the pub that there was more money than sense in the whole game! For a thousand quid, you can drive your £60,000 car up to the moor, carefully dressed in London tailored togs, use your £2,000 gun for the second time in the year or something, and not get to take home all the birds you shoot. The hunters keep a brace, while the landholder keeps the rest and sells them on to the game meat market. We haven’t seen a game pie since we got here, so I assume that it is all heading south to London. Well, the Northerners would tell you that that is where all the money goes anyway.

We plonked our way across the moor, then engaged in Wainwright’s and Falconer’s obsession, moor edges. The hills at the edge of the moor all seem to end in cliffs with deep valleys between them. Do we skirt the cliffs lower down? Never! We go up and down crazily. Not even the pleasant stop and the Lord Stones Cafe could remedy the day, although the appearance of the Three Musketeers, who have been drifting in an doubt of our path since Patterdale, brightened things up considerably.

The two Daves and Matthew were up for a chat, and we had lunch; but even Matthew’s desire for coffee couldn’t dent David’s rule about no lunch until 60% of the day being over, so off they went to the next climb, while we had our sandwiches and took a breather.

We found the next hour a real pain, as the sun had disappeared behind thick cloud and the haze covered much of the dale.

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Just as the evening was getting very tiring and irritating, we came across the three lads in full voice, the mad strains of “On Ilkley Moor ‘baht ‘at” chorusing from the bottom of the hill. The two Daves and Matthew are infectious company — as they said, not bad for two chartered accountants and an former advertising executive who now works as a postman! David Bowen has a magnificent baritone and the other Dave knows all the words, and a few more.

We climbed crazily up to the Wain Stones, a craggy peak with climbers and abseilers practicing on the steep side, clambered painfully down to Clay Bank and were met by various lifts to various accommodations. The lads went off to Great Broughton (miles back) and we ended up in a Victorian farmhouse, beautifully restored and run by Dave, an ex-builder who looked like an aged Neil from the Young Ones. We were joined by the real Neill and his mate James, who we knew from earlier, and we dined at the pub — a real English classic — ferried by the obliging Dave, who seemed to be able to find his way about the lanes with two pints of Guinness inside of him.

The time is growing short and tomorrow is a long, but more even day. What tricks will Mr Wainwright have up his sleeve?

Yes, we cheated, but we should have built this day into hire calculations from the beginning. Walking through Richmond on the way to our B and B, it became abundantly clear that, first, we were going to make nagging injuries worse with a flat 37 km tomorrow; and, second, we had failed to add enough time to tour this wonderful town.

From all accounts, we missed nothing if the English countryside by doing so, and we explore a little jewel in about five hours. We were lucky in that our digs were right by the old station, disused by the railway since 1964, but fabulously recycled as a cinema, arts and bar-restaurant. One of the early station buildings in the middle of the nineteenth century, it’s a mini-cathedral to steam and, now the tracks have gone, a great piece of creative recycling. The little shop had lots of Alice in Wonderland stuff, because Charles Dodgson came from up t’road, and went t’local Prep School (now I’m starting to channel the Four Yorkshire-men — stop!).

Tuesday morning gave us a bit of a sleep in without the need to face a foot-crushing route march. Once again, we could only have words of praise for our accommodation. I have to confess that I have become a bit of a convert to tea for breakfast on the walk. Three cups of coffee would have me swinging from the branches of trees and looking for the natural amenities at every turn; but I can knock over three or four cups of tea and it just seems right. Mind you, I still hang out for a good, strong latte — no flat whites outside Australia. A tea room stop was a highlight of today.

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Possibly because walking has become a drug, we walked along the old railway path — now a stunning, tree-lined walk — to Easby Abbey and back. Ruins and stately homes are things we’ve never managed to do, and this was a small start (I refuse to count bloody Shap). The old church was lovely, but the sheer size of the monastic foundation was stunning (well, for the record, it was Premonstratensian Canons, but I’m only putting that down so I can look it up later).

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We wandered along and did all the other touristy things: St Mary’s Church, the castle, not the Green Howards’ Museum (because Paula was starting to hobble and the whole idea was to rest her foot), and back to the Station for a cold drink, some gifts from the exhibition by a talented local jeweller, and a taxi over to Ingoldby Cross.

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We really should have built this day into our trip, even if we had to leave a day early. Richmond is a delightful little place in the midst of a green and pleasant land, especially as Summer is fighting a rearguard action with Autumn. The mornings are rapidly getting crisper, but today is another superbly sunny day, and the uplands are dry and firm. I don’t think we would ever Coast to Coast again, but I can see us day tripping around this lovely area and do walking along the amazing number if rights of way and footpaths.

The taxi drive was a garrulous gent from Brompton, who provided a running commentary for the thirty minutes to Park House. Bev and Mike run this place especially for walkers, because it is well out of the village — halfway to Osmotherly, in fact — and so it has one of the features of this trip, a common dinner table. We felt very unworthy to be greeted by a glass of prosecco when our fellow guests staggered in an hour later, old companions from further up the trail — Terry and Karen with Incey the wondering, and Celeste and Pedro from California. It was an interesting mix of accents that evening. Terry is ex-RAF and has a precision of speech suitable to his rank, while Bev used to be an ‘airdresser in ‘Ull (I kid you not, but for some reason she kept reminding us of Julie Walters in Educating Rita), and Celeste hailed from Alabama and kept giving me soundbites from Steel Magnolias.

The others didn’t hold our rest day against us, and were of the opinion that that the trudge to avoid Catterick Army Base (20,000 troops, all of whom seem to be doing small arms training this morning) was only just worth it. Apparently our other occasional companions, the two Daves and Matthew, had to plod on to Osmotherly, poor lads. Anyway, it was nice to sleep without aches and pains.

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