The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Day 8 - Reeth to beyond Bolton on Swale

24 Sept
Distance: 18 miles
Number of fields with bulls through which we passed: 4

I had a note on the itinerary for yesterday saying "Peewiglet Caravan Fiasco". If that means nothing to you then pop over to and read the excellent account of her C2C walk last September. We approached Reeth wondering whether we were going to suffer the same fate on arrival at the Caravan Park, of being forced into a caravan against our wishes.

As I said yesterday, we pitched without permission as the wardens were out. They were back by the time we returned and a friendly welcome greeted us - followed swiftly by the news that had they been in when we arrived they could have let us have a caravan. We were offered one anyway, but we remained firm that we preferred to camp. I considered that we'd had a lucky escape.

Apart from the potential for caravan-coersion, it turned out to be a nice and quiet site.

I'd had a ridiculously large amount of sleep by the time the alarm went off this morning, but suitably refreshed we skipped off up the road just before 8am.

After a bit more riverside we veered off up hill past Marrick Priory (where they want you to know that the RoW shown on the definitive map is being 'investigated' and suggest that walkers take an alternative route, not through their grounds) and then through Marske.

The time flew by and we completely failed to stop for second breakfast (helped perhaps by having had Chorley Cakes for first breakfast; they make a good and filling breakfast item).

We eventually stopped for a snackette at a cairn/monument thing below Whitcliffe Scar, by which time we were again feeling like we were in a procession. Arriving at the cairn just as four others had left we looked down on the fields below to see three more coming up behind us. Talking to some of them later it turned out that they had not had an early start from Reeth, nor had we been walking abnormally slowly, but rather they had set out from three miles up the road in Marrick.

It was as we were setting back off that Mick noticed a scarf on the ground and seeing that it wasn't wet with dew, deduced that it had been dropped by one of the party in front of us.

A pace was put on so as to catch them up (it was their scarf and they confused us for a moment by asking whether we had lost a person; it turned out that they had last seen us when Martin was with us), then we had a bit more of a sedate walk down to Richmond.

Mick was interested in seeing Richmond and as we entered the Market Place he stopped and recalled walking across that very square having just had a tooth out aged 7, at which time he was living just up the road in Catterick. He also recalled swimming in the river and later pointed out where - I bet there aren't any 7 year olds allowed to play in such a dangerous place in these days of health and safety!

In common with most big places through which we pass, it took us a long time to get to the other side of the town.

Firstly there was the sojourn in a cafe which has been set up in the back of a pub. It was amusingly dated and badly decorated, the food was basic, and the service was ill-timed, but none of that mattered. What made this a memorable lunch was the woman serving. She was no spring chicken and was (apparently unexpectedly) rushed off her feet: back and forth up and down stairs to the kitchen, all with a running commentary and occasional muttering under her breath, not to mention a bit of laughter at serving a pot of tea and forgetting to put the tea bags in it.

Tearing ourselves away from the entertainment, it was then a trip to the bank to top up funds - not a quick process when the cash machine crashed just as I put my card in it. A nice man in the bank retrieved the card from the back of the machine and after a quick chat about his recent trip to Yosemite Park, my cash-mission was achieved at a different cash-point.

Food shopping was the final delay, then we were on our way out of this delightful town. Belatedly, on our way out, we did wonder whether we should stay the night and have a proper look around, but decided to stick to the plan and add it to our list of places to which we must return.

The rest of the afternoon was across farmland, where the guidebook maps were repeatedly called on to give detail not available on the 1:50k maps.

Almost before I knew it we had covered the final 5 miles to Catterick Bridge, where we had intended to camp at a farm. Arriving there, however, we discovered (as was quite obvious from the map, had I paid attention) that the farm was immediately adjacent to the busy A1 dual-carriageway. A bit of humming and harring was had, but it wasn't too tough a decision to carry on an extra 3 miles to a farm beyond Bolton on Swale.

Our full trust was in the guidebook, as if the information as to this farm allowing camping was wrong there was no obvious alternative accommodation nearby.

Fortunately it was not wrong. We're pitched on an immaculate lawn, with a picnic table and washing line at our disposal. The facilities are basic and could do with a clean (it's been a bit of a theme of this trip; do the more basic campsites stop cleaning their facilities at the end of July?), but it's perfectly adequate - and we were greeted with mugs of tea.

Admittedly by morning I may be complaining. To one side of us we have a pond full of quacking ducks and to the other we have roosters.

Tomorrow night, after nine nights in the tent, we're going for luxury. We've booked a B&B.

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