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Deborah and Gwen's
Coast to Coast Diary
DAY 11 – a day of crops and a slight tumble
Thursday 27th July
Richmond to Danby Wiske – 14 miles
Enjoyed a tasty breakfast and sorted out payment for the rest of the bag transfers. Mary runs two very efficient businesses but is perhaps a little more serious than most of our hosts. The only time we saw her smile was when the cat walked all over the driver’s itinerary – perhaps she is more of a ‘cat person’ than a ‘people person’?
We left Richmond at 9.00 without a packed lunch, thinking that we would get something on route. We went over Richmond Bridge and bumped into Henny and Albert near the sewerage works. They were going all the way to Ingleby Cross today so apologetically pushed on ahead. Much of Wainwright’s original route was on roads today so we followed an alternative route described in our guide book using footpaths over farmland. Today was to become known as ‘the day of crops’. We walked through fields of potatoes, wheat, barley, oats and rye grass and probably some others we didn’t recognise. We were at Catterick Bridge by 11.20 and stopped for a cold drink in the pub opposite Catterick Racecourse. A second look at the map revealed that the possibility of finding somewhere for lunch was remote. The barmaid in the pub seemed to think that the CoOp at Catterick village was only 10-15 minutes away; I think she must have thought I was on a moped. Anyway, leaving Mum with the rucksack I legged it down the road to in search of a picnic lunch. After ¾ of a mile and still no sight of the CoOp I began to wonder if the barmaid knew what she was talking about but eventually I reached the shop and was able to purchase provisions. To justify such a long detour I stocked up with some extras, unfortunately the extras were all fruit and weighed heavy in the pack until we found a suitable picnic site. By the time I got back to Mum she was glad to move on as she had been cornered by the one legged cellar man who insisted on telling her details of how the landlord of the pub had run off with a Russian prostitute. Catterick Bridge is not a place we plan to visit again in a hurry. We lunched on the banks of the river Swale just before leaving its shores for good, happily lightening the load by eating melon, strawberries, cherries, an orange and a huge tuna salad sandwich.
After lunch the day just got hotter and hotter. On the road near Kiplin Hall we stopped to talk to two local residents, one invited us in for a drink of water and insisted on refilling our bottles from water in his fridge. On leaving the road near Plumtree Moor Plantation we were surprised to spot a small plane parked in what looked just like a very wide garage. The owner appeared and explained that it was a short takeoff plane needing only 300m of runway, when he realised what we were doing he boasted that he could be at the coast in 15 minutes if he wanted ….. you can go off some people!
Our onward route took us through more and more arable landscapes, the ground underfoot was bone dry and was badly cracked, it felt more like being in The Prairies than in North Yorkshire. We went through several farm yards until we joined the road again near Brockholme Farm. At this point Mum took a tumble as she was coming out of the field. Her fall resulted in a scraped knee and a bruised hand; she was a bit shaken but brushed herself down and was soon up on her feet. A driver in a passing car had seen the fall and kindly reversed to see if we were OK, with a tinge of embarrassment we waved him on saying that we were fine and only then did a more thorough examination. Luckily a scraped knee and a blood blister on her left hand were still the only injuries. As we approached Danby Wiske Mums hip seemed to be troubling her more than usual but she assured me that it wasn’t as a result of the fall because it had been coming on all day. There wasn’t much I could do to help but offer sympathy. I was careful not to get too far ahead of Mum so I could offer the appropriate encouragement but keeping your 75 year old Mum going is not quite the same as egging ones own children on. We arrived in the village both feeling a little unsure about the 21 miles planned for Saturday. We forced ourselves to remember our motto – ‘one day at a time’, tomorrows walk was only 9 miles so let’s not worry about Saturday just yet.
We were booked into The Old School House and found it right next to The White Swan on the village green. We were greeted by Doreen and served cold drinks in the lounge, and then she showed us to our room in ‘her’ part of the house. She was expecting wedding guests to arrive much later and was worried that we might be disturbed. The whole house was in shades of white and cream, Doreen apologised for the sheets draped over the furniture - apparently at this time of year the area suffers from a plague of flies which soil the furnishings. Unperturbed we showered in a very luxurious bathroom and went over to the White Swan for supper.
There are all sorts of stories told about The White Swan, some of which we had read before we left. The pub in run by Paula and Terry, it doesn’t open until 7.00 and only on some weekday lunch times. It is true that their loyalty lies with the beer drinking locals who don’t come in until much later. If you want to eat you have to book several days in advance and the choice is limited. Our meal was better that our expectations, the venison casserole was tasty and Paula served a very good bread and butter pudding but the portion size might not satisfy heartier appetites. Paula gave the impression that the catering side of the business was all a bit too much trouble and that she would rather concentrate on building a report with the locals.
After eating Mum went back to The School House to rest and I dashed down to the church to see if I could find the monument dedicated to a 17th century man who was reputed to have lived to the ripe old age of 169. Of course I didn’t find it because it was in the Bolton-on-Swale churchyard, 7 miles back, rather than in the Danby Wiske churchyard. I returned to the pub to chat and have a drink with 3 more C2Cers who were camping in the pub garden. Stuart, Dave and the man from Prenton (sorry I didn’t get his name) were attempting the crossing in 10 days for charity and were suffering from bad feet and general weariness but not from diminished spirits. On returning to The School House Mum was already in bed so I stayed up talking to Doreen, her daughter and her grandson Charles. I was soon to learn that it was Doreen and her husband Frank who used to run the White Swan which explains the glowing reports of the pub before it changed hands. Doreen is obviously disappointed with the new owners and explained that the pub cliental has dramatically declined. You might say there was a touch of sour grapes there but hey – the evidence speaks for itself.
Thought for the day:
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