Coast to Coast

Day Eleven – 2nd May 2011: Reeth to St Giles Farm – 16 miles

We awoke eager to get going but first we needed breakfast. Once again the spread before us was first class and the tag team of Sandra and Les in the kitchen meant that our order was produced right on cue.

We had a longer day today than most as we were staying at St Giles Farm which is another 3.5 miles further on from Richmond. Many choose Richmond for their overnight stop or a rest day but we thought it preferable to spend our rest day in the country. The other reason we wanted to stay at St Giles was to reduce the following day’s mileage from 23 to 20 which in the event worked well.

We grabbed our packs and had one last look at the rabbits and the horses in the field from our bedroom window. We were rather sad to leave and over the course of the walk, to a great extent, we would be able to gauge the quality of the B&B as to how we felt when we checked out and walked away the following day.

The packs felt heavy, after our rest day, but at the same time it was good to have them back on our backs once again as it felt we were back in business. I did feel however that probably the best was behind us now, but this was born out of the fact that we didn’t know the area from Reeth to Robin Hood’s Bay at all. It would certainly be different and flatter but we were on holiday and so I was determined to enjoy it but I couldn’t get away from the feeling that something died inside me as we left Reeth. Thinking about it since I think it was more that we only had 5 days walking left, it would all finish on Friday and this was Monday. The adventure that took so much planning and had filled our thoughts for so long was in its final stage and it depressed me I suppose.


Reeth

We walked down to Reeth and had a last look around the green as we cut across and rejoined the main route once again. We decided that we had enough supplies to last until Richmond, where we would restock, so we passed by the general store and made our way to Grinton. The walk was pleasant as we walked along the river with views back to Fremington Edge. The route then left the river and rose slightly through some meadows until we could see Marrick Priory in the distance. The path crossed several fields with stone walls and it was as we crossed one of these that we had a bit of excitement.

The walls had stakes with wire fencing attached at the top which in effect increased the height of the wall to about 6 feet, the stone wall being about 3 feet high. I noticed that the wire fencing was moving quite violently but we couldn’t see what was causing it. I walked over to the wall and looked over. The field on the other side was lower than ours and dropped away another couple of feet or so. The field was empty apart from one ewe that had got her horns caught in the wire fencing. Her horns were curly and the wire fencing was made up of 6 inch squares but somehow she had managed to get the wire all the way around her horn so that it was cutting into her head. How she managed it I just don’t know but she was in a state of distress and we couldn’t just leave her. We managed to lean over the top of the fence and grab hold of her head but just couldn’t get her free. There was nothing for it but to get into the field but there was no gate and with the high fence it was impossible. Some of the stones from the wall had come away and so there was a gap of about 6 inches where the bottom of the fence met the top of the wall. I took a few more stones away and managed to slide through the gap and into the field while Rachel hung over the wall and held the sheep by its horns to stop it going berserk, as this strange bloke entered her domain.

Once in the field I grabbed one horn and her fleece and lifted her off her front feet, sticking my knee under her chest while pressing her against the wall. Doing this stopped her struggling and using her feet to get a purchase, it also meant that by raising the sheep the pressure was off the wire cutting into head and it created some slack to get the wire off her. But it wasn’t enough and she continued to struggle and we just could not get the wire off. She had been quite badly cut by the wire and there was no way she would be able to free herself. We had to try again. We tried several times and I was getting tired holding the front end of a ewe off the ground. Rachel managed to lean over a bit more and I managed to lift the poor girl (not Rachel!) a little higher and with a final supreme effort Rachel managed to unwind the wire. She was free at last and charged off across the field in search of her mates. The fact that she didn’t stop to say thanks or shake our hands didn’t matter but it would have been nice!

I clambered back over the wall, the gap being enlarged somewhat due to our efforts. We replaced what we could of the stones but having never been on the stonewalling course our efforts were practical rather than aesthetically pleasing. We stopped, looked at each other, laughed and then compared battle wounds. Both our hands were cut to shreds and bruised; Rachel also had her upper arms badly bruised where she had leant over the wall. We made a mental note to remember the following:

  1. Sheep are very heavy.
  2.  Rocks used in the building of stone walls are hard and heavy.
  3. Sheep horns are hard.
  4. Fingers should not be placed between horn and rock.
  5. Fact. Human flesh and bone is softer than sheep horn or rock and will break first.
  6. Don’t expect any thanks for being a hero.

We were both knackered but we had a days walk ahead of us, so it was on with the packs and off we walked, with just a slight self satisfied glow about us.


Marrick Priory

We got to Marrick Priory and just about caught a glimpse of the Abbey before ascending the Nun’s Steps which were carpeted either side with bluebells and wild garlic.


Nuns' Steps

Coming out at the top we passed through Marrick village and then through fields before arriving at the track that would have taken us to Elaines Country Kitchen. We resisted Elaine’s charms as we were proposing to have lunch at Richmond and besides we had enough provisions anyway. We continued down the hill to Ellers and crossed the river before catching up a solitary male walker who seemed to be struggling. We spoke to him and found out that he was doing the Coast to Coast in stages over a couple of years. We passed him by and continued up the hill and then down the other side and into Marske where we thought it high time to have a rest.


Marske

We found a convenient bench, which was a luxury, and as the norm took our boots off and tucked into some food. It wasn’t long before Solitary Man caught us up and passed by with a cheery wave. It was very pleasant sitting on that bench in the sun and it was a struggle to move on, but move on we must. Soon we caught sight of our Solitary Man again as he was crossing the field going up to Applegarth Scar and before long we had overtaken him just before Paddy’s Bridge.


Applegarth Scar


River Swale

It was a bit of a pull up to the top but soon we were at the white obelisk and joining the path that would eventually take us to Whitecliffe Wood. The wood was very pleasant to walk through with bluebells and wild garlic in abundance, the dappled sunlight filtering through the tree canopy. After leaving the wood, after a bit of a rise we had our first glimpse of Richmond which strangely seemed quite exciting. However, it seemed quite a long way from that point to the middle of Richmond but in reality it wasn’t really. Having to go along roads rather than directly across fields was a bit of a pain.


First view of Richmond

We needed to find a food shop first so we headed towards the main square and soon found a Co-op and a Greggs where we stocked up on goodies for three days until we got to Grosmont. The next port of call was Richmond Fisheries. We had decided to have our main hot meal in Richmond seeing as we were passing through at lunch time and then eat something at St Giles Farm from our supplies. We hadn’t had proper fish and chips at all on the walk and so it was the ideal time to partake. As it was a bank holiday, Richmond Fisheries was very busy which wasn’t great as we were now quite hungry and we had to queue. There’s nothing like the smell of fish and chips to tip you over the edge when you haven’t eaten for a while. We thought we would eat them in or around the castle but ended up walking all the way down to the River Swale.


Richmond


River Swale Richmond

We had plenty of time as we only had 3 miles to go so we sat on a wall and watched the crowds in and along the river. The wind was blowing quite strongly and we had to put our fleeces on, how the children and some of the adults could cope with being in the water I just don’t know. There almost seemed to be a party atmosphere and soon we were to find out why when we spoke to Jane and Simon at St Giles Farm later.

On May Day bank holiday they release plastic ducks in the river with numbers painted on, you pay some money and it is the first duck to get to a specific point on the river that wins a prize. Consequently, that explained why there were so many people lining the river and on the bridge. The ducks had either long gone or hadn’t been released yet as we didn’t see any.


Richmond

We crossed the bridge over the Swale and entered into some woodland and a field before emerging onto the A6136 which we followed for a while. The next point of interest was the sewage works which we thought was alright until a sudden gust of wind reminded us of exactly what gets processed at a sewage works! It stank! Fortunately we soon left it behind and we found ourselves walking through a pretty wood with the Swale for company, but soon we were faced with a sign warning us that we were entering a military area. Slightly off putting, but we crouched low and zig zagged our way along just in case. Belatedly, realising that we probably weren’t going to be shot, we settled down back to our usual gait and soon found ourselves approaching Colburn.


Oops!

We met a very friendly local man out walking and had quite a long chat. He hadn’t attempted the Coast to Coast yet but was wanting to at some stage, he wished us well and we continued on our way.

We were now flagging a little as it was quite hot again and as a consequence the last mile seemed to drag a bit. We had seen what we thought was St Giles Farm a little while back but the path took us away further from it at first and I think that didn’t help. But just around the corner there it was and after a quick short cut across what we hoped was their field we had arrived.


St Giles Farm

We were warmly welcomed by Jane and Simon and their dog who was also very friendly. We were ushered into the kitchen where tea and cakes were provided and we chatted for the best part of an hour. They mentioned that they had already seen us at the bridge in Richmond, we had apparently walked straight past them. They thought we looked lost but all we were doing was searching for a bin to put our chip papers in! We had already told them previously that our intention was to eat in Richmond, so once we had confirmed this Jane gave us some more cake to take up to the room for our tea. The room was massive and nicely decorated with some nice touches without being fussy.

We felt quite tired. Perhaps it was the first day being back in the saddle after our rest day, but it had been a varied day and perhaps that was partly why we felt like we did. Walking around Richmond, while being necessary, probably took more out of us than we thought. Another factor might have been that we didn’t stop as often as we had been doing, why I don’t know. It was only 16 miles but I suppose with the sheep and then Richmond, we just kept going.

We had left the dales behind and we were now firmly in flatter farming territory. The following day would bring the long trek across the Vale of Mowbray and I was looking forward to finding out whether it was as boring as most say it is. We had 20 miles on the flat to do surely it wouldn’t be too bad.

 

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