(25th March 2013 – 10 miles)
My stay at ‘The Lion Inn‘ was one of the best of my holiday. Yep, this trekking across tundra was a holiday. 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. Next time, perhaps.
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 she might be 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.
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 had been no new, deep snow up here on the moors: had there been, I doubt whether I would have been able to wade across.
But where there was surface water it had frozen hard and the going was treacherous. (I carried a pair of Yaktrax in my rucksack and though they have proved invaluable on other walks, I didn’t need them once on this trip).
I’d always thought that the Herdwick is 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 – and less shelter too.
I had been texting Pat hoping that we could meet up. But as he was starting out from Clay Bank and had nine miles to cover before even reaching The Lion, he was far, far behind me. 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 selfie 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 studied dry-stone walls (plenty of them)
and red grouse (plenty of these too).
The snow had fallen only on the tops of the moors and I left it behind as I descended into Glaisdale. I wasn’t carrying a packed lunch so I was delighted to find ‘The Arncliffe Arms‘ 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 the otherwise empty pub.
After lunch, and having arranged to meet Pat and Sue in the evening, I only had a mile and a half to walk along the River Esk. There was a little going up;
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 in an old fashioned way. (I’ve included the link to their website but, looking at it now in 2019, the hotel has had a major refurb since I stayed). I was the only guest and all alone until Pat and Sue turned up. 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 on the C2C and I 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.