Footwear. It may be obvious, but we’ll say it anyway. Well-made, sturdy, comfortable, properly fitting, tested and waterproof boots or hiking shoes are the most vital piece or kit for a walk across England. Also near the top of our list: walking sticks, “waterproofs” (both jacket and pants) that are really waterproof not just repellant, maps and guides, and Ibuprofen. It seems that even the young need the drug at times but when you’re our age you need it every day–to keep down the inflammation in muscles and joints, not to mention to pain of sore feet and blisters.
We have found this a very demanding walk. The 14-15 mile days are near the limit of our endurance. Adverse terrain, weather and route conditions can make a day feel much longer. Everyone one we meet says this has been the wettest June in years. We’ve also encounter strong winds and high humidity. Route conditions have included some very rocky paths, others that have turned to flowing streams or ponds, still others seas of muck. It seems everywhere across pastures, moors or through woods muck is prevalent and slows our progress significantly. These environmental challenges are compounded by ailments such as Stu’s blisters and Janet’s Sciatica, and colds for both!
Lest we seem totally negative, these challenges have given us great admiration for the many fit and tough walkers we’ve met along the way. We’ve already mentioned our new/old friends, Rodger and Judy from England and Paul and Heather from Australia who we see often on the trail or in the Pub. But many others too seem super human. Take Colin from Dorset. Aged 49 he says he’s been walking for sport for about seven years. We met him as he whizzed past us on our way into Osmotherly, and we enjoyed dinner with him that evening. He’s doing the entire 190-mile C2C walk in eight days with no rest–more than twice as fast as we who have two scheduled rest days. Collin told us he had completed a 100-mile challenge walk in under 40 hours, non-stop!
After Bampton Grange we trod pastures to Shap, moorland to Orton, and some of each plus a stretch of disused railway (as they say) and a bit of wandering back lanes, to find our way into Kirkby Stephen (pronounced Kirby Steven). We took a ride next day, missing the boggy moors of Nine Standards in very inclement weather. The following two days we enjoyed a scenic, quiet, if showery walk down Swaledale to Reeth and then Richmond.
The largest community on the route, Richmond is an attractive, historic market town of about 9,000 people with a Norman Castle dating from 1171. We toured the castle and the Georgian Theatre Royal dating from 1788. It’s the best preserved one remaining in Britain (some of the original painted decoration remains though the building served as a wine warehouse from the 1830's to the 1960's!) The four of us got an excellent personal tour from Dave, a retired IT guy, very knowledgeable and passionate about his subject.
The two days following our break in Richmond mostly involved long trudges across the Vale of Mowbry to Danby Wisk, thence to Osmotherly where we met Colin and commenced phase three of the walk–the North York Moors. More to follow.
Janet & Stu
Donna, thanks for the offer--we may need emergency supplies. And, thanks for the comment--sorry it wasn't posted sooner but the staff around here (us) isn't too tech-savvy.
Janet & Stu