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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