The Coast to Coast

Walked in August 2008

Day 8 – Saturday 23rd August

Reeth – Richmond (Brompton-on-swale)
11 miles

Yet again I woke several times during the night to turn over, clearly unable to get comfortable. I think I only slept at all because I was so exhausted from the day’s walk. It had only been ten and a half miles, but the climbing had done me in. I wished I’d taken my self-inflating Thermarest sleeping mat after all. It was heavy but so comfortable. We both got up and managed to pack our things away fairly quickly. The air felt a little colder than the day before, but the sky was fairly clear and it was promising to be a bright, sunny day. We left the campsite at about 8am and walked up to the shop so that Darryl could buy sandwiches, before heading down the bank to a bridge over the river Swale, then through a stile, across a field of sheep and tents, then past another bridge to get to the Reeth to Richmond road.

As the morning grew warmer we applied hats and sun cream and soon approached Marrick Priory passing a very muscular bull in a field that was thankfully separated from us by a nice strong fence. Unfortunately the priory was only partially visible because it was surrounded by buildings that formed an outdoor activities centre. We pressed on and I missed a turning on the left that would have taken us through Steps Wood and up the Nun’s Causeway to Marrick hamlet. It was my turn to navigate that day and I’d already made an error. Because of it we ended up traipsing through a very muddy farmyard while being barked at by a large black Labrador. Darryl had a suspicion that we had gone wrong, probably because I kept slowing down and looking at the guidebook, and when I admitted we had indeed missed the turn, he was understandably annoyed. It wasn’t a big deal however, and we found our way up the hill to our left to rejoin the path, the dog still barking (or laughing) at us as we went.

We soon reached Marrick which we passed through fairly quickly, there being nothing of any great interest, certainly no shops or cafes, and then made our way across several fields and a multitude of small snap-stiles. Eventually we found ourselves wandering downhill towards a campsite where we crossed a road and headed across more large fields with an excess of cows and cow muck. There seemed to be mud and muck everywhere, and we dared not take our eyes from the ground for a second in case we trod in something we’d regret. We saw another hiker coming the other way, possibly doing the Coast to Coast from East to West (the wrong way). He commented on the nice change in the weather and we had to agree, it was refreshing not to have dull clouds constantly overhead along with the inevitable mist and rain. The Lake District was awesome, but it would have been so much better if the skies had been clear. I suppose you can’t have everything though.

We continued on up more fields until we came to a main road that wound steeply down toward the village of Marske. It was a very picturesque setting, another really good place to move to if you are looking forward to peace and quiet in your retirement. We found a bench in the middle of the village and sat down for a break. Again there was no sign of any shops, but we had enough food and drink to keep us going until we reached Richmond. We saw a few cyclists pass through the village, some seemed to be taking part in a race. We also saw some pretty dangerous drivers. One was a farmer on a quad bike with two Border Collies hanging on to the back for dear life, and another was a woman driving a small red car with a lawnmower sticking out of the open boot. Madness. We could only assume that the police coverage in the area was pretty thin. We moved on, dragging our tired bodies along a lane then across a very muddy track that stretched quite a way into the distance toward the steep bank of Applegarth Scar. Darryl was wearing trainers and the mud was now seriously giving him problems so I pushed on ahead toward the stream where I needed to answer the call of nature. I pushed through the undergrowth and headed down the bank, finding a spot to do the necessary. When I had finished I waited for several minutes for Darryl to catch up, but there was no sign or sound of him. When I eventually gave up and climbed back up through the branches and weeds to the field I saw that he was still way off in the distance stuck in the mud. I watched and waited for him to catch up, and was a bit surprised to find him rather annoyed with me for going off and leaving him. I felt like saying something about having to expect problems like this when wearing trainers instead of walking boots for these conditions, but it wouldn’t have helped. Besides, I did wait for him...

Managing to avoid harsh words we headed back down to and across Clapgate Beck, then up the side of the bank and along the high path leading to West Applegarth Farm. The path along the ridge offered great views of the valley below including a caravan park nestling among the trees. We passed by a few farm buildings, then wandered up and down the hill a bit across a small section of scrubland until we came to Whitcliffe Wood. I was looking forward to this section since it was the only proper forest section of the whole trip, and Wainwright himself had described it as ‘lovely.’ I was disappointed though. It amounted to little more than a dark, sloping path up the hill that lasted about ten or fifteen minutes, with nothing to really inspire the imagination. It was quiet and pretty, but that was about it. We soon emerged back onto the hillside path from where we would soon get our first glimpse of Richmond. Only twenty minutes later we were walking into Richmond town centre.

We managed to locate the Tourist Information Centre and Darryl went in to find out where the library was so that he could use the internet for his fitness coaching. We then went to find some shops so that we could buy lunch and groceries for the next few days. The bakers were doing a roaring trade, as was the small supermarket in the town square. The town was very busy, not just with people shopping but also with tourists. It reminded me a little of Ludlow which is near where I grew up. Both towns have an old castle which is visible for miles, both are situated by a river and in a valley, and both seem to draw tourists from all over the world. When we had eaten we visited the hiking shop so that I could buy a replacement knife, fork and spoon after I accidentally posted the others back home from Grasmere. Darryl then bought a small towel from Woolworths after his travel towel had dislodged itself from his pack during the day where it had been hanging to dry. After we were happy that we had everything we needed, we headed off to find the library. Darryl was able to use a PC but reckoned he would need a couple of hours so I decided to go on to the campsite at Brompton-on-Swale and wait for him there.

I headed away from the library and along the main road toward the village of Brompton-on-swale. It was quite a busy road and I was lucky to have a high grass verge to walk along. I took a diversion past Easby to have a look at the remains of Easby Abbey which were quite impressive, then carried on along a quiet lane to rejoin the main road.

I soon came to the Brompton-on-swale caravan and camping park. The place was huge – caravanning and camping on quite a grand scale. The price was fairly grand too. It was £8 for a pitch plus a £5 deposit for the toilet block key. I had to wait for a warden to come and show me where to pitch my tent. He soon arrived on a quad bike and directed me toward a nice area by cherry trees which at that time of the day seemed perfect. It had some tree cover, was fairly separated from the other tents, and was close to the toilet and shower block. It would be some hours later that I would come to learn just how ludicrous a place to camp this was. I can only imagine that the warden had been having a bad day and wanted to take out his frustrations on someone, with muggins coming along at just the right time.

I decided to eat the sandwich I’d bought in Richmond and read for a while until Darryl turned up about 45 minutes later. We put all our dirty clothes in a washing machine then I had a shave (first in over a week) and a shower. It’s amazing how nearly every shower you see at a campsite is different. Some are the basic ones with dials for power and heat that will last as long as you need, some will have a button that once pushed will give you about ten seconds of hot water before you have to push it again (unless you keep your finger on the button all the time), and others will be coin-operated. The ones at Brompton-on-swale were the push-button ones. Clearly they were designed to limit water wastage, but having to keep pressing the button was annoying. They vary a lot in quality too, but generally the showers at caravan parks are much better than those at campsites. That’s why camping at a caravan park (most have provisions for camping) is preferable to staying at campsites. The facilities in general are better, partly because they generally cater for larger numbers of people. There was a shop at the Brompton-on-swale caravan park too, and also a takeaway that opened in the evening selling fish and chips and pizza to the hungry hordes.

I returned to the tents to find that Darryl was suffering from painful swollen ankles. He was convinced he either needed the day off tomorrow or would have to get the bus to Osmotherley. Clearly he wanted to do neither and was pretty annoyed at the state his feet were in, but he didn’t want to just carry on and risk doing more damage. We agreed that we would take the next day off to rest then carry on together to Ingleby Cross, hopefully with Darryl’s feet in a much better condition. I’d planned that day as a rest day originally in order to enjoy Richmond but, since we were further along the route now we’d have probably just rested at the caravan park and recuperated. It’s a shame that there wasn’t somewhere closer to Richmond for us to stay as we could have had a great day wandering around the town and looking at the castle. Darryl said that if his ankles were still bad after the rest day, he would get the bus to Osmotherley and spend a second day resting.

The campsite was very busy by evening with people cooking food, playing football and listening to loud music. We were worried we might not get a lot of sleep, but as we had a rest day and were planning a lie in, this might not be such a problem. As it turned out the night was a little more disturbing than we had imagined.


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