Finally, after a few weeks off, I got back on it. It was a free Saturday so it meant I could get out and onto a leg of the walk. After deliberation I decided on the Keld to Reeth leg, or Day 7 on my itinerary.
It's never easy getting up early on a Saturday, especially as I like my late night Fridays, but I was up and ready for 8:30am. Dad picked me up and we met at Ged's, then the three of us set off for what would be the second dry run of a day of the walk.
It was no time at all before we got to Richmond, but the journey from Richmond to Reeth seemed to take forever, it was driving along the winding roads that we had walked along a month or so ago. We left Dad's car at Reeth then headed to Keld in Ged's. I think we actually set off walking about 10:30am. It was a nice day weather-wise, even worthy of unleashing the legs, although we did get some funny looks from the locals. I assume people don't normally dress like that in March.
I never used to be a lover of 'the beautiful countryside' or 'the great outdoors', but I think it sunk in yesterday what a great area is on our doorstep. After leaving the car park, it was a short walk and then we hit our first incline. It blew off some of the cobwebs and gave us a spectacular view of a waterfall, a nice start to the walk. We had decided to follow the 'low route' which took us right along the River Swale. A number of times throughout the day we simply stopped and observed the beauty around us, we were in a valley and pretty much wherever we looked we could see snow capped hills and fields that stretched for miles.
After pointing out the most useless bridge ever which led nowhere, I ate humble pie as it turned out we weren't getting over the river without using it, so we backtracked slightly to it and as we passed we swapped pleasantries with fellow hikers going the way we just came. Despite us only having walked a mile or two, Ged was convincing enough in assuring them they 'only' had 15 miles to go, they were devastated. I can sense that these people didn't quite get the Thornaby sense of humour.
One noticeable feature of the day was the amount of wildlife which was, let's say no longer living, in the fields. Rabbits, pheasants, rats, stoats, and at one delirious stage - a lion and a horse, were all present, and once when we heard the farmers gun we did wonder whether we would be next! We followed the river right along for 6 or so miles up to a little village called Gunnerside. It was there we sat on the Queen's Jubilee benches and tucked into our scran. Having seen a local tea room charging £5.65 for a bacon sarnie it made me appreciate Mam's even more!
We left Gunnerside and before long we were back into the fields. Now I am not against stiles in priniple, but when you get to number 438, then they make me hate them! We had walked over all types of surfaces today - grass, bare soil, hard road, tarmac, water (ok stones in the water) and sand, but the best was when the path led us across what looked like a Roman wall, it was a nice treat to save us from the usual stile/gate/field combo.
I have never been a fan of crossing rivers on stones, and yesterday was no exception (see photo below). Added to the fact I had a £400 phone in one pocket and a £400 GPS tracker in the other, it was no wonder it took me 30 minutes to cross (OK, a slight exaggeration). There was no falling over as such by anyone but I suppose Dad got the closest with his Vicar of Dibley impression. We were walking roadside and he was walking in the puddles to clean shoes off a bit, as you do, and then all of a sudden he disappeared having found the big hole in the road. OK, maybe another slight exaggeration, but it makes for a better story.
As is usual for any sizeable walk, it was the last mile which was the worst. We knew Reeth wasn't far away but it seemed to take an eternity to appear. It was at this point that every stile was a chore, and the slightest uphill was a challenge. We got finished somewhere around 4:45pm, and although that leg of the walk is said to be the relaxing day of the C2C, it didn't particularly feel like it at that point. I am sure though, come May, after a few days crossing the Lakes, it will be looked at as a nice easy day. In total, we had clocked up between 12 - 13 miles.
We all congratulated ourselves on a good days walk and compared aches and pains at church this morning. It is hoped that the three of us will be doing all of the walk together, and if the camaraderie shown yesterday was anything to go by, the twelve days will fly by, and we might actually start to enjoy it! Cheers guys.
I will be planning another one soon, but I have done the two 'easiest' days, so the next one will be a bit more of a grueller.
Just a final note to say we have a new boss! Not only at work (although he is not based in my office), but in life in general. Well done and good luck Pope Francis.
Oh and happy St Patrick's Day to y'all.