(25th March 2013 – 10 miles)
My stay at ‘The Lion Inn’ proved to be one of the best of my holiday (yep, this trekking across tundra was a holiday) and after breakfast I was sorry to haul myself up and away from the already lit fires.
Yet again it was snowing when I stepped outside (not for the last time). The first mile or so along a busy road was fairly miserable walking. With the roar of the wind and my hood up it was difficult to hear approaching traffic. I was relieved when the route turned off onto a quiet lane.
A little further on I sought out White Cross aka Fat Betty: a white-painted cross on a large stone base. Tradition has it that travellers leave and take offerings but I had no sweets or snacks to leave and the ones on offer were sodden and unappetising. Perhaps next time.
Betty is possibly Norman (by which I mean C11th or C12th – not that she’s transgender) and is a form of cross known as a wheelhead. She stands at the junction of three parishes and might be a waymarker for travellers crossing the moors. Or perhaps she is commemorative – one story tells of two nuns from nearby Rosedale who got lost on the moors. The cross marks the spot where their dead bodies were found. Cheery.
But I prefer this tale: a local farmer and his wife were crossing the moors on a dark, foggy night. When the farmer arrived home he realised that his wife, Fat Betty, was missing and that she must have tumbled from the cart. He went back the way he had come but all he could find was this large, squat stone. Poor Betty. (With thanks to The Crosses of the North York Moors).
I had walked for nearly an hour but as the route described a large semi-circle, I could still see ‘The Lion’ – once more alone on a distant horizon.
The way now ran along Fryup Lane – a word which was beginning to make me blanch. A good Full English is undoubtedly a marvellous thing and a real treat for the first few days of any walking trip. But after almost two weeks, the thought of yet another fried breakfast was beginning to turn me a little green about the gills.
Luckily for me there was no new, deep snow up here on the moors: had there been, walking would have been impossible.
But where there was surface water it had frozen hard and the going was treacherous. (I carried a pair of Yaktrax in my rucksack but didn’t use them once on this trip).
I’ve always thought that Herdwicks were the hardiest, toughest sheep breed but having now crossed the North York Moors in ‘winter’ I’m going to transfer my vote to the Swaledale. (I think that’s what these are).
Were it possible, there seems even less to eat up here than on the fells of Lakeland – certainly there is less shelter.
I was in contact with Pat by text but as he was starting out from Clay Bank he was far, far behind me and we wouldn’t walk together this day.
I was on my own
and had to entertain myself. It took me some time to perch my camera on a wobbly cairn for this photo but let’s face it. Hardly worth the effort.
The path skirted Great Fryup Dale and then followed a wide track over Glaisdale Moor; visibility wasn’t great and so I stared at
dry-stone walls (plenty of them) and
red grouse (plenty of these too).
I left the snow behind as I descended into Glaisdale and, as I wasn’t carrying a packed lunch, was delighted to find ‘The Arncliffe Arms’ pub open. And sitting inside waiting for Pat and desperately trying to get warm was Sue. It was a lovely surprise to see her and we had lunch together in an otherwise empty pub.
Afterwards, I only had a mile and half to walk along the River Esk. There was a little going up and
there was a little going down but this was a walk-in-the-park compared to some of the terrain I’d covered recently. Even though I had slowed right down and taken a long lunch-break I still arrived at Egton Bridge early at 3.15.
I was staying at ‘The Horseshoe Hotel’ and jolly nice it was too. I was the only guest but Pat and Sue joined me for dinner. I ordered a great steak served with remarkably awful mashed potato. I can only think that the kitchen ran out of potatoes but then found an old plate of mash at the back of the fridge and sent it out to me without first warming it up. Sublime sticky toffee pudding somewhat salved my indignation.
Tomorrow would be my last day and I now wished I had carried through with my original intention of walking an extra day – from Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough along the Cleveland Way. But I could see from Pat’s expression (and spluttering) that he didn’t agree that an extra 15 miles would be a marvellous thing.