(Read December 2 post for Part 1 of the tale of two friends walking across Northern England.)
Day 1 Walk--early in the morning the Coast to Coast Wayfarers leave the Swan Hotel in Newby Bridge for a short hike to an inlet where we ceremoniously dip our boots in the Irish Sea to mark the eastern beginning of our walk through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors National Parks. In six days we hoped to walk 85 miles to finish the trek in Whitby on the North Sea.
Already, as we left the sea and began to climb the first mountain,I decided that to finish the walk I would have to attack it in stages. I would walk to our mid-day stop and then set another goal. Dave, our walk leader,(kneeling, blue sweater)very wisely didn't reveal that we would cover 16 rough, hilly miles the first day. The walkers began to sort themselves out--the competitive lead dogs, the sociable middle group and the rear guard--my position for most of the walk. Sally, my walk buddy, was a stronger trekker than I, so we didn't spend a lot of trail time together. That was probably a good thing because in a couple of days she was asking "Exactly when does the vacation part of this trip begin?" or "Who's big idea was this?"
Foot Triage--this photo is of our first break. Bill, the walk manager, met us twice a day at accessible points with the supply van. We began cheering on seeing the white van with Bill's smiling delivery of drinks,(barley lemonade-yum!) snacks and Compeeds! As you can see, many were already having foot problems from shoes or boots that weren't properly broken in. So, Dave and Bill began their ritual feet inspections and dispensing Compeeds, English industrial quality blister patches. At this point I'm feeling smug about my happy feet, but in a couple of days it gets ugly!
By mid-day we reached Beacon Tarn(lake). In the distance we could see the "Old Man", a craggy outcropping towering over Lake Conistan. Dave gave us a mini geological lecture about how over 400 million years ago the Lake District hills and valleys were formed from smooth Silurian rocks, providing the softer wooded landscapes of Conistan and Windermere. Glaciers following the Ice Age scraped through the valleys forming huge bowls for the lakes. Frankly, we feigned interest, but our honest reaction was "Yeh, yeh, yeh--whatever." We were just grateful for a chance to sit down by the lakeside and rest our feet! That is, except for some of the lead dogs who actually took notes. . .
Dog a Day--in the village of Conistan on Conistan Waters we stopped at a local pub for a traditional pub lunch. The Ploughman was a hefty serving of bread, cheese and ham spiced up with a relish called Branston pickle--very good, but I have no idea what made it brown. We met these two pub dogs, one inside waiting for his person to finish a drink and the other out on the patio with us, hoping to share the hearty ploughman.
Fueled by lunch, petting the pub dogs, and a bit of rest, we headed back up the mountain. We climbed a natural rock quarry--should have listened to Dave's geology lecture--and walked through a deep, quiet almost primal forest. Once through the forest we looked down at Little Langdale, a valley that has some of the most dramatic scenery we'll see along the entire walk.We curve down the Langdale Pike into surrounding farmland for the last leg of this first day of walking.
The Concierge--our first night on the route was spent at Skelwirth Bridge Hotel near Grasmere. The 17th century inn was charming with its beautiful gardens and comfortable rooms. However, all of us were captivated by The Conceirge, this beautiful black lab who greeted arriving guests with tourist information and peppermints from his spot under the table. The following morning Sally and I spotted him from our window coming across the carpark with a leash in his mouth--ready for his walkies before getting on about his work. The only thing that would have made us happier with this place would have been to have The Concierge sleep in our room that night. Instead, we leave Skelwirth and start Day 2 of our walk.
TO BE CONTINUED--See Dec. 7 post for Yorkshire Dales Walk.
- Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.