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.


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.






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.



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?