Distance: 21 miles (Tot: 295)
Weather: mainly overcast, some sun
Number of other backpackers seen: 6
What an excellent day! Most of it was spent, according to the signposts, in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I'd never heard of the Howardian Hills before, but I would tend to agree that it was indeed outstanding.
The first notable features of the day (albeit manmade ones) were found as we walked through the grounds of Castle Howard. From the top of a remarkably steep bridge over a lake we enjoyed an excellent view of the mausoleum, a temple and the house (or at least I enjoyed the view whilst Mick trotted off to retrieve the camera bag which had blown away). We'd already passed a monument and 'the pyramid'.
Beyond the grounds of the estate the village of Coneythorpe lay on our route. The bit we saw was a delight, and bore hallmarks of being owned by the estate (matching paintwork and picket fences on every house). We were soon beyond the village and making our way steeply onto a ridge where our second-breakfast break gave us the opportunity to sit and enjoy the views over the plains below. We also had a hare come within feet of us - the closest I've ever seen one.
With the signposts announcing that Hovingham was 3 miles hence, a bit of a spurt was put on as we contemplated the bacon/egg baps we would have there. This wasn't our usual 'if there's a tea-room open' fantasy, as today I knew there was going to be a tea-room. When we finally got there (the village store took up a disproportionate chunk of time first), however, we couldn't bring ourselves to part with £5.80 per sandwich and so made do with a cup of tea and goods from the bakery (the tea-room was part of the bakery and we found as we were leaving that the bakery does bacon sandwiches 'to go' for £2.50; how in the world can they justify £3.30 just for putting it on a plate?!).
Outside of the bakery was where we encountered the six backpackers. So far on this walk we've seen very few people out walking and those we have encountered have mainly been dog walkers. And then six backpackers all come along at once - a D of E group.
It was a while later, approaching Sproxton, when I disclosed to Mick that I was taking a bit of a flyer on the next part of the route. He rolled his eyes and said I'd kept that quiet as I explained that the best (and most direct) route I could see to get where I wanted to be involved a 2-miles trespass along a track. I was rather hoping that the track would turn out to be a customary route for local dog walkers. The worst case would have been to find the track barred by 15-foot estate entrance gates, as there was no route around other than an A road or a back-track and lengthy detour.
We found the way barred by 15-foot estate entrance gates. Damn!
By good fortune, before we even had time to consider what to do, a farm truck pulled up at the gates, opened them, went through and leaving them open went to the lodge. We wasted no time in grabbing the opportunity and walked purposefully through at a brisk pace, hoping that we weren't going to get shouted back.
Our trespass was a success, and after another steep climb even afforded us views of another temple and of Dunscombe House.
To put the icing on the cake, our route then took us past Rievaulx, which houses the remains of the impressive-looking Rievaulx Abbey. On the route as plotted, we would have gone straight past the Abbey itself, but last night we had decided that we would camp tonight at Bungdale Head Farm, which was a mile and a half off our route, so our view of the remains was at a short distance.
As I huffed and puffed up the long, steep access road to the farm, I questioned why this had seemed like a sensible night stop, but having got here it all made sense. The climb up has been rewarded with far-reaching views. The cherry on top of the icing.
Tomorrow our destination is Osmotherley, and I've come to realise that the Cleveland Way is a more sensible route than the convoluted one that I've plotted. The only problem is that the rerouting requires us to walk 2.5km off our map. Anyone want to have a stab at giving me some rough directions for the Cleveland Way between Cold Kirby and Boltby Scar?
(JJ - thank you for the weather forecast - it arrived just as I was considering putting out a plea for news of the latest forecast. Even better that the rain stopped well before getting-up time)
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