Day 7 - 14th August 2006
Thwaite to Reeth (11
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
Anyway, all pleasant enough and we were into Reeth before 1pm; that
was blasting through; we probably should have stopped a couple of
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.