The Coast to Coast

Walked in August 2008

Day 9 – Sunday 24th August

Richmond (Brompton-on-swale) – Ingleby Cross
22 miles

As you will see from the information above, we didn’t have a rest day in Brompton-on-swale, far from it. We covered 22 miles across flat fields and roads that many would find boring and uninspiring but which we found very pleasant. The weather helped too with practically clear skies for the whole day. But more on that later, firstly the explanation for cancelling our rest day, which is actually in two parts:

One – Darryl had elevated his feet during the night in the hope that this would reduce the swelling. It worked and his feet felt a lot better in the morning, giving him the confidence to move on. He would however have still stayed at Brompton-on-swale and taken advantage of the rest day with me if not for:

Two – As mentioned previously the warden who showed me where to pitch my tent must have had it in for me. It was only when it started to get dark and people started to use the showers and toilets that it became apparent that my tent sat directly on a well-used thoroughfare between the shower block and the rest of the caravan park. As the light dwindled footballs kept hitting it and kids kept running around the tent, some tripping over the guy lines. My Hilleberg Akto tent is dark green in colour and in the dark, against grass is almost invisible. This is great if you’re wild-camping and don’t want to be spotted by farmers or the authorities, but pretty damned inconvenient if you’re at a campsite with people milling about all over the place. Pretty soon I grew annoyed not just with the noise but with being stuck in such a silly place. Darryl said he would help me move the tent but I couldn’t be bothered. I just wanted to sleep and the hubbub had to die down at some point. After another youth went flying over the guy line (possibly into the hereafter for all I know), Darryl insisted on doing something, so he wrapped his high-visibility vest and emergency blanket (like a large sheet of tin foil) around the bottom of the tent in the hope that they would make it stand out a bit more. I think I grunted some kind of thanks then tried to get back to sleep. I was already completely fed up with Brompton-on-swale and was beginning to seriously consider leaving the place at first light. The worst part of the whole experience was hearing a vehicle approach and seeing its lights through the canvas. They always seemed to be heading straight for me and I found myself praying each time that their headlights would pick out the tent against the grass and they wouldn’t drive straight over me. The worst instance of this happened well into the night when I thought I’d dreamed that a Land Rover had been about to drive straight over me. It wasn’t a dream and it was enough to convince me to move my tent to a different position the next day, preferably twenty miles away.

I was relieved when just before seven o’ clock Darryl called across to give me the good news about his ankles. He was prepared to give the day’s walk a go. I don’t think he was keen on spending another night at the caravan park either, so we were both pretty relieved. We were ready to leave by 8, but had to wait until 8.30 for Reception to open so that we could return our bathroom keys and get our £5 deposits back. While we waited we chatted to a guy from Newcastle who’d been intending to take his family on holiday to Spain but had to cancel it because his son had broken his arm falling off a swing at the caravan park (is this place cursed?). We were off at 8.30 exactly and walked along the main road to the village of Brompton-on-swale. We were hoping to find a cafe where we could buy a coffee, but there didn’t seem to be one so we pressed on to a lane that ran alongside a river and as we trekked across a field we saw a woman out walking her five dogs. It reminded me how many more pets some people have living out in the country compared to those living in cities. Five dogs seemed ludicrous, but out in the country there was plenty of space for them to run around especially if they lived on a farm. Plenty of hikers for them to bark at too. When we reached the end of the field and said good morning to the woman, she replied with a smile then called out:

‘Alright you lot! Half turn!’ and walked the dogs back in the opposite direction, her dutiful hounds in tow.

We saw so many different animals on this trip. There were numerous horses including a few shire horses and small ponies, all kinds of cows, too many breeds of sheep to count, possibly every breed of dog, a few cats, ducks, geese (including Canada Geese), grouse, pheasants, guinea fowl, swallows, a kestrel, sea gulls, frogs, lizards and possibly many more I can’t remember. The whole route seems to be a vast nature trail.

Not long after passing the woman with the dogs we stopped in a field to have a break and eat some biscuits (McVities white chocolate chip and raspberry cookies (delicious)) and a good drink. We then pressed on across some rather muddy fields to the village of Bolton-on-swale which I knew about from watching Wainwright’s Coast to Coast DVD. In the churchyard is a large monument to Henry Jenkins, a local man who was supposed to have lived to the rather overripe old age of 169 years.

   

Apparently there are local records that suggest this age, but it’s very hard to believe. I took a couple of photos of the monument anyway as it seems to have become quite an attraction for Coast to Coast walkers. We could hear loud organ music and singing as we passed by the church, so the Sunday morning service was clearly in full swing.

As we left Bolton-on-swale and crossed more very muddy fields we heard what we first thought were ducks, but which turned out to be Canada Geese, flocks of them. There must have been a dozen or more formations of them flying overhead and we wondered if they were migrating. It was an awesome sight. We soon reached fields of corn which seemed to stretch away for miles, the crop in some cases looking dry and wilted like someone had forgotten to harvest it. We also crossed a field of what looked like broad beans but they looked black and scorched and again appeared to have been neglected.

We were quite keen to get to Danby Wiske because there was a pub and a cafe there, but when we reached the small village we found that The White Swan wasn’t open, and we couldn’t find the cafe. From reading other walkers’ reports of the Coast to Coast walk it seems that The White Swan is always closed, either that or they open in the afternoon. Either way they’re missing custom. We decided to continue on with what food and drink we had left, which was just enough to last us to our destination. I switched on my radio for a while so that we could listen to some music as we walked through more large farms with more large angry dogs until we came to a railway line that seemed to disappear into the distance in both directions.

Shortly after crossing the railway line (there is no bridge or level crossing), we stopped in a field to phone Mum and Dad and update them on our progress. After a rest and a drink we got up to do the last couple of miles to Ingleby Cross. We seemed to get to the busy A19 faster than expected and took advantage of the shop at the service station to stock up on supplies.

Crossing the A19 can be a very exciting affair. Why there is still no bridge here is a mystery since the road lies on a very popular walking route. Perhaps it has something to do with the Coast to Coast path not being a national trail. Anyway, you are taking your life in your hands by crossing the road, and should be very aware of how fast you can move with your pack on, as breaking into a run isn’t generally possible and there aren’t that many large gaps in the traffic. Needless to say we made it across intact and headed down the road toward Ingleby Cross where we soon found the Bluebell Inn. We sat at a table outside and had a pint, relieved to discover that we could camp in the garden at the back for £3.50 each, since there was no campsite nearby. When we’d phoned the Osmotherley youth hostel (our original planned stop for the day) they’d said they were fully booked with a school party. It can be frustrating when this happens, especially for hikers with very tired feet. It happened to me again in 2009 when walking the South-West Coast Path. It was my birthday which made it doubly annoying and I ended up having to camp on the grass outside, but then it is a ‘youth’ hostel after all, so you have to concede that kids should be given priority.

We decided to stay at the pub the next day too and have a rest, something which put us in high spirits, and after pitching our tents and showering we had our evening meal in the bar (lasagne for me, chicken Madras for Darryl, both of which were very good) along with a few beers. We saw Lee the Brummie in the bar too with his girlfriend and his parents. His Mum and Dad had travelled up to meet him, and he’d walked that day with his girlfriend though we hadn’t seen them. Perhaps we’d been ahead of him all the way for once. He had really enjoyed the walk so far, but like us he was in pain and keen to finish the walk so he could rest for a few days before returning to work. Since he would now be a day ahead of us we wished him luck and said our final goodbyes before heading back to our tents. We wouldn’t see the American couple Denise and Stuart again either, nor the father and son, though I was sure I could see their footprints on several occasions over the next few days.

 

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