Coast to Coast 2006

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The Savage's Coast to Coast Diary
Day Seven
Day 7 - 14th August 2006

Thwaite to Reeth (11 miles)

End of Day 7: August 14, 3pm. Room One, Cambridge House, Reeth.

I had my concerns when we were allocated two single rooms at the Kearton Country House Hotel in Thwaite yesterday. (By the way, when does accommodation in rural settings get to become a country house hotel?). Our B&Bs to date have all been twin-bedded rooms. I envisaged two cells. I was wrong. We were allocated two, good-sized rooms, each with a double bed. I gave William the choice. He went for the larger room. Bad move. He forgot to check on the bathrooms. Mine had a bath (which, after a day on the hills, is a luxury). He had a humble shower. Always check the bathrooms… Another piece of fatherly wisdom passed on.

On arriving at Keld there is the choice of routes down to Reeth. The high path takes in the abandoned lead mines and mine buildings – an important part of Swaledale history – and, at least in parts provides good views down and across the dale. The low path mostly hugs the River Swale. The high path is the more physically demanding, a greater test of map-reading skills (there are a good number of paths up there, not all of which appear to conform to the maps) and, of course in poor visibility there is not the return for effort. Previously, I have done both routes as part of circular walks; William has done most of the high route. I gave William the choice; he chose low; probably the better option given the low cloud cover when we left our hotel at 9.15am.

The low route is a bit like a longer version of those nature walks many would have had at school: lush, green meadows, wild flowers, plenty of familiar wildlife and the gently, flowing/cascading Swale – although it can be a bit of a beast after rain. I found out recently that otters are coming back to the Swale. What I don’t like about this route is the large number of stiles you have to go over or spring-loaded gates you have to go through – I’d guess 60 or 70. Tubby legged beware; the path gaps between the dry-stone walls are slimline.

Anyway, all pleasant enough and we were into Reeth before 1pm; that was blasting through; we probably should have stopped a couple of times.

The last two walking days have been short. On reflection, we could have combined them into a single, long day. That would probably have made sense for us, given that we know the patch and have previously done a fair bit of walking round here. However, I’ve said before that the C2C is well judged; each stage is a different walking experience. It would be possible to combine stages but maybe something would be lost from the overall experience.

There are perhaps a half dozen other groups of walkers who are doing the C2C and who we come across occasionally; Some started earlier than us and some will finish later than us. We don’t see them every day but we know they are out there. One of the games that William and I play is giving names to these other walkers and creating stories around them that appear to us to fit. I know others also do it. I heard one family telling another group that they were giving walkers the name teams from Wacky Races; she didn’t know I could hear; we were called Dick Dastardly and Mutley. I found that pretty funny. If you give it, you’ve got to take it I guess.

I’ll maybe share with you some of our flights of fancy about other walkers over the coming days. But let’s start with the group of four mature ladies, two of them appear to have some difficulty moving smoothly in a forward direction; you know what I mean, you’ve seen it yourself; as much movement to the left and to the right as forward. We call them the Wombles (Uncle Bulgaria’s long lost sisters). We were thinking of calling them the Weevils (after the Seventies toys; remember the tag-line “Weevils wobble but they don’t fall down”). They have their own language – definitely recognizably English but with the odd word thrown in that I guess they understand (eg okeydokeydiddle). Maybe we should have called them the Clangers. They are very slow, always getting lost. Each day there are new stories about them doing the rounds; of missed paths and wrong trails being taken. They can often be seen in the distance taking completely the wrong route. (I just hope for their sake that there is only one Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea Coast). They always seem to catch the worst of the weather. Even so, they always make it through each day and whenever we see them, have smiles on their faces; good for them. Let’s hear it for the Wombles.

Tomorrow we have plenty of mileage although I’m not expecting too many challenges from the landscape.

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