The ( Industrial ) History of the World…Part 1…

Our Coast to Coast adventure taught us many things, not all of them about walking….
One of the rambling lessons that we did learn though, was that walking is definitely better when it’s a journey.
It’s much more interesting and purposeful to travel from A to B rather than wander, slightly aimlessly round in a circle!
So, what next after the C2C..?
I’d often said that it should be possible to leave our house, cross the road onto the bridle paths and walk all the way to the Welsh Coast.
This had never been much more than idle talk but a conversation happened on holiday that changed the situation…
A couple that we met from Solihull talked about a Birmingham to Aberystwyth long distance trail.
They told us that there was a very rare first, and only edition book that was now fetching £170 per copy on eBay.
Mrs Hill decided to investigate and soon found the book on Amazon. English pounds changed hands and she bought it..!
The book arrived, and the first stage was from Gas Street Basin in Birmingham to the Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge so an idea began to form…..
The only problem with walking from A to B is that if you live at A, you’ve got to get back there…
So, our plan was made…get the train from Stourbridge Junction to Birmingham, Snow Hill and then walk back..Simples!
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A whole new experience….

I’m not a big fan of public transport…it’s full of..other people..but I have to say that our trip to Snow Hill was very enjoyable.!
The entertainment provided ranged from the teenage girls squealing like piglets as they tried to throw each other off the train, to the nuclear scientist sat opposite having an absolutely inane conversation with his partner about nothing.
I suppose when your whole life’s subatomic your small talk goes the same way..
In no time at all we were in Birmingham..
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The Town Hall….

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The new library….

I have to say…Birmingham is wonderful..!

I’ve been to the Broad Street area a couple of times recently and the atmosphere is just fantastic..
If you haven’t been lately, go..!
We could’ve got on the canal at Broad Street but we wanted to start at the beginning, so Gas Street it was..
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The beginning…

This was the start of a walk that illustrated over 200 years of the industrial history of the West Midlands. This was the area that changed the world..!
The original canals here were built by James Brindley in the 18th century.

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I think he’d be impressed with Brindley Place….

We walked for miles along the canal through Smethwick towards the M5 near Oldbury..
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Thomas Telford built this…
It’s just a simple aquaduct linking 2 canals but just look at the details…
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Lovely Smethwick….
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Where the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries meet…
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Next time you drive on the elevated section of the M5 near Oldbury, you’ll know what’s holding it up ..!

A little further on, if we’d been 100 years earlier, we would have taken the 3 mile long tunnel and emerged on the western slope of the ridge linking Rowley Regis to Dudley.
As we were 100 years late we came off the canal and climbed the ridge.
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The Post Office Tower in Birmingham to the right, The Hawthorns in the middle..

Soon the masts came into view and we headed straight towards them..
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One of the local residents…

Soon we came to Dudley Golf Course..

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It’s a little hilly…not many elderly members…

From here it was on to Warren’s Hall Nature Reserve and then on towards Netherton..
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Now, at this point I have to report that my phone ( aka my camera ) gave up the ghost and so…no more photos.
There is clearly only one solution…
The History of the World ( part 2 )..
I’m beginning to understand how Tolkien felt when he wrote LOTW…

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Day 14…Homeward Bound….

Day 14 was spent idling the time away in Robin Hood’s Bay.
We’d spent the night at our B&B, The Villa and we had to wait until 3:30 for our Sherpa transport back to Kirkby Stephen and our faithful Sheila.

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Our B&B….. The Villa…

On our arrival into RHB the day before we’d actually walked past The Villa but we decided not to check in right away, as our son and his family were waiting at The Bay Hotel at the bottom of the hill.
After a couple of beers and some fun with our grandchildren we decided to stay at The Bay and enjoy our evening meal overlooking the sea.
I phoned the landlady at The Villa to let her know where we are.
“That’s fine”, she said “thanks for letting me know”. By now it was around 6 p.m.
We enjoyed our meal and walked back up the hill, arriving at The Villa around 8.
As we walked into the hall we were greeted by the landlady, on the phone.
She put the phone down and proceeded, almost in tears, to reprimand us for being late and ruining her planned night out with friends…!
Sheepishly, we apologised, although heaven knows why, and went upstairs…..
Someone needs to consider their career, we thought..
The following morning we came down for breakfast and she was cheerfulness personified.
Breakfast over we went back upstairs to fetch our travel bags and left them in the hall ready for collection by the Sherpa van.
This had been the same routine every day with the only difference today being that we were on the van as well.!
As we left our landlady came to say goodbye and apologised for her outburst the previous evening.
Mrs Hill apologised too.
I’m not entirely certain what she apologised for but it’s a moment that I’ll treasure..!
As we turned to leave, our landlady noticed our luggage and asked why we’d left it…
This is a routine that happens every day of the week so why was she confused?!?
Perhaps she’s just having a bad time..
By now it was around 10a.m. and we’d got 5 hours to kill.
Even though we’d walked nearly 200 miles in the last 2 weeks our legs wanted more..
So, we went down to the sea front.
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The pretty streets of Robin Hood’s Bay…

Then we walked back to the top of the hill, sat on a bench and people watched…
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A man, his wife and a scooter…

The old part of RHB is a typical fishing village. The old houses are clustered round the seafront and the newer properties sit on the cliff top at the summit of a very steep winding road around 1k in length.
Our observation point was at the top of the hill and we sat and watched the comings and goings for well over an hour.
There were walkers, some at the beginning of their adventure, some like us, at the end.
There were families with children…some arguing and play fighting..some of the younger ones crying as they came up the hill.. but the best one of the day was the man pushing the electric mobility scooter up the hill.!
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He’s hanging on to the railings…she’s in blue, walking up the steps..

We’d seen them earlier, at the bottom.. her on the scooter, him walking along beside.
We’d watched as the scooter’s power wouldn’t get it up the hill and she got off to walk.
That left him to push it (helped by others)…he looked like he was going to pass out..!
Now, you have to ask the question..if she’s capable of walking up that hill, wtf is she doing with a scooter..??
Amused, but also getting twitchy legs, we went down the hill again.
There was nowhere else to go..how do people cope with a 2 week holiday in a small place.?
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More streets of RHB..very pretty..

It was now sort of heading towards lunch time so….we came up the hill again..
There was a good bench available at the top so I took some more photos..
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Big Yorkshire skys….

For lunch we had tea and scones, with jam and cream…yum yum..

Just in time our bus arrived and 2 hours later, after passing near many of the places we’d walked through, we were back with Sheila at Kirkby Stephen.
She started first time and we headed for the M6….on a Friday evening..
Incredibly, all was well until we were just north of Stafford. The overhead signs had warned us of a 15 minute delay, but they were wrong!
The motorway was at a standstill and we didn’t move for well over an hour.
Eventually the traffic was slowly diverted off the M6 onto the A34, where we drove through Stafford and eventually arrived home at around 10:30.
I pushed hard on our front door to open it, the post accumulated over the last 2 weeks piled on the floor inside our porch.
That could wait till tomorrow….

Day 13..The End of the Road..

Today’s walk was from Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay…
It was fairly long, at 19 miles but, it was different to every other walk done in the last 2 weeks because it was the final one….our journey was ending..

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We left our B&B, the Beggar’s Bridge, crossed the road and went into the woods.
Once again, it was a beautiful morning….

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Mrs Hill…in the woods…

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Down by the river… ( Esk )…

We had the River Esk on one side and open fields on the other…

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An open field….

Soon we came to Egton Bridge and it’s wonderful pub, The Horseshoe.

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This is a lovely village..
We now turned right to take a track through the Egton Estate..

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The big house…

There was a private road through the estate, linking Egton Bridge to Grosmont.
A bit like the M6 toll, it’s there to cut time and distance from a given route..it’s your choice whether you use it or not..you pays your money and takes your choice…

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They even charged for a hearse..  Sixpence in 1948..!

We soon arrived at Grosmont..

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The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs through here..

We then had a bit of a surprise…

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Leaving Grosmont..at 33%..

Almost immediately after crossing the railway line the road began to climb. Gently at first, but then we saw the 33% sign.! This incline went straight up on to the Moors to almost 300m and went on for over 2k..!
It certainly wasn’t the highest climb of the week but it was one of the hardest and it certainly explains why our guide book calls today’s walk ‘strenuous’ !

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‘Grit’ on the left, ‘Determination’ on the right….

As we reached the top of the moor a familiar sight came into view..

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The sea and Whitby in the distance…

Now, the idea of a ramble is not necessarily to get to your destination via the quickest route so…
We left the road and headed across the moor again to Littlebeck..

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Mrs Hill taking a lingering look at Whitby’s landmark building..
The Chinese..

Walking through the village we turned South to head into Littlebeck Wood. This was a magical place, full of dappled light and hobbit holes.

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Further on, still walking south the woods changed.
Instead of clear paths the trail was overgrown and the air was damp and dark..we’d entered Scary Wood!
Now we were walking slowly, carefully making our way through the undergrowth when we thought we heard children’s voices.
Then they were gone..
Could they have been echoes of long ago children who came to play in Scary Wood…but never came home..?!

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Scary Wood…..spooky…….!

Our senses were now heightened as we followed the faint trail through the wood.
Every moving branch, every slight rustling sound made us turn and stare for a moment and imagine what might’ve caused it..
Soon, we heard a faint buzzing sound in the distance.
As we walked the sound became louder and somehow more threatening..
We being drawn towards the sound just like Odysseus and the Sirens.
We covered our ears but still we got closer to the sound and then…

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Falling Foss in Scarry Wood…

What a fun place this was..!
A tea room with it’s own waterfall, with children playing and a man with a chainsaw..
Oh how we laughed..!
Soon, after a little ‘off pisting’, we came out of the woods and headed north towards Hawsker and the coastal path.

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Heading for Hawsker…

This part of our walk was around 4 miles, partly moors, partly roads.
I was pleased to see that Chris Harris has his fans up here…

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One for the cognoscenti….( that’s Italian )…..

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Soo close…

When we reached the sign for Robin Hood’s Bay our excitement was mixed with sadness…just 2.5 miles to go out of nearly 200…
So we went the other way….

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The other way….

We came on to the Cleveland Way, the coastal path to our destination.
Each step we took here was special, the view was something to be savoured…

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Then, we saw it..our first glimpse of Robin Hood’s Bay..

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Descending the narrow streets of the village to our final destination..

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The Bay Hotel….

….where there’s a surprise waiting for us..our son and daughter in law with our grandchildren..!

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Our pebbles from St Bees were thrown into the sea..

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The end of the journey…!

Day 12..The Penultimate day..

Dave’s place was large and just a little bit crumbly.
It was also about 4 miles from the end of yesterday’s walk and a mile from the pub, all along a road that you really wouldn’t want to walk on.
So he ferried everyone around.
Last night he took us to the pub and escorted us to the restaurant.
He introduced us to the barmaid and then went back to the bar, promising to take us back to our lodgings when we were ready ..
“Don’t worry about what time you want to leave”, he said, “I’ll be in the bar”…
Very reassuring…..

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Dave’s Grand Hall..

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Dave’s crumbly lounge..

Breakfast was served at 7:30.
There was just ourselves and a couple from Solihull. We were the only ones doing 19 miles today, our walk taking us across the Moors to Glaisdale.
The others at The Dromonby, including Sandy and Gill were doing much shorter walks, spreading the final 38 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay over 3 days rather than 2.
That meant that their breakfast was much later than ours.
We had our usual muesli with fruit and yoghurt, followed by poached egg on brown toast.
We were amused at the arrangements for the packed lunch.
Every other place that we’d stayed at had made us either just a sandwich or they’d added other goodies such as juice, fruit and a cereal bar. Prices were pretty similar everywhere- £3 for a sandwich and £5 for the full package.
That wasn’t Dave’s way….
In his very laid back way he said “kitchen’s over there, make your own”.
There was no charge…
Breakfast and sandwiches sorted, we packed our bags and came downstairs ready for the off.
We said goodbye to the other guests, who by now had come down for breakfast.
  That would be the last time that we’d see them…
Loading our luggage into the car, we now drove the 4 miles back to Claybank. I sat in the front alongside Dave and we had a conversation about the wonders of old W124 Mercs…Dave’s got 3 of them!
And so, our penultimate walk began, 19 miles up and across the North Yorkshire Moors, past the famous Lion at Blakey Moor and on to Glaisdale.
The first part of the journey was a steady 3k climb up to Round Hill at 454m. It was a great way to walk our breakfast off ..!
As we climbed towards the top Mrs Hill shouted excitedly “look over there!”
We looked North to catch a glimpse of the only active volcano in North Yorkshire…..

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Mount Eyuplad…..

We were now on top of the moors, on a good path that streched towards The Lion around 7 miles away. The weather was warm and the sky was big…

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If only I could get rid of my shadow…

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A view of the Moors…..

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More Moors…..

Soon, we saw The Lion on the horizon and left the main track to climb up towards the pub.
Unfortunately, we left the track a few yards too soon and found ourselves on the wrong side of a high stone wall…
We were on one side of the wall and the pub was on the other but Mrs Hill was undeterred.
Demonstrating the incredible strength that Man can summon up in emergencies, she walked straight through the wall…

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The Incredible Mrs Hill..

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The Lion at Blakey…

We’d covered the 9 miles to the pub in under 3 hours. We weren’t particularly pushing today but it was such a good path that we kept up a good, natural pace.
As it was only 11:45 we decided to sit outside and have a cuppa. Just for fun, I put a drink behind the bar for Sandy and Gill who were spending the night here…hope they enjoyed them..!
As we were sitting looking at the view across the valley, I checked our map.
The next section of our walk, almost 3 miles was on the road…all the way round the valley to the other side, almost directly opposite the pub, way in the distance.
There had to be a better to all that road work……
Looking closely at the map, a cunning plan began to form…there was a very faint path down into the valley and then up the other side.
That looked much more interesting than 3 miles on the road !
All the other walkers in the garden watched open mouthed as we left the pub and instead of walking north up the road, went south down into the valley…
We were now truly ‘off piste’..
Mrs Hill was very excited.!

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Looking across the valley..

Descending into the valley we came on to a disused railway track, clearly marked on the map. There should have been a continuing path crossing over the track but, it wasn’t there.!
Undaunted, we adopted Plan B.
The disused track ran round the valley at a level anything up to 200m below the road.
We followed the track all the way around the valley marvelling at thr engineer’s who’d built it as we walked…where the hillside got in the way, they cut through it..where the hillside fell away, they built it up..and all with picks and shovels.!
No lengthy planning applications were required and as for ‘Public Enquiries’ ..let’s just say they hadn’t been invented just yet.!
We pondered as we walked that if the railways were invented today, in 2013, they wouldn’t actually ever get built..

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Now, we climbed up from the valley..

This was still our ‘short cut’, remember..

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We were still ‘off piste’, as we tramped across the boggy moor.

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Back on track again with the most fantastic skys (again)..

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Now, I’m sorry if this is getting repetitive but, …..

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Just look at it ..!

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Eventually, we came to Glaisdale where we found a pub for giant’s..!

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Mrs Hill, looking tiny.. 🙂

Day 11..A rollercoaster ride…

Day 11 of our holiday brought us ever closer to Robin Hood’s Bay..
Although it’s still only Tuesday our thoughts are turning towards the end..
We’ve realised that there’s people that we’ve met on this adventure that we’ll never see again.
Some folk have stayed an extra night in Richmond so they’re behind us now.
The 6+2 gang have stopped over in Danby Wiske so they’ve gone, and tomorrow, when we’re doing 19 miles Sandy and Gill are only doing 9.
Fellowships are ending, bonds are being broken…
But isn’t that always the way with holidays..?

So..back to today’s walk…

It was very different to yesterday..
To be honest, yesterday’s walk was a grind..it was wet, flat and dull..
We had to play mental games with it to make it seem even vaguely interesting.
We chopped it up into do-able chunks just like a marathon.
We gave ourselves targets..to be at certain points on the walk at certain times.
For those of you unfamiliar with this technique you divide the target run/walk into halves, quarters, miles, kilometers in fact any distances you like to give yourself a sense of achievement in getting towards the finish.

Today couldn’t have been more different..!
It was an 11 miler from Ingleby to Claybank – a serpent’s back of a walk that saw us rising and falling over numerous hills on the way to our destination- a car park!

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Leaving Ingleby Cross in the sunshine..

Another major contrast with yesterday’s walk was the weather!
It was a beautiful day for walking, bright and clear, with dappled sunlight but not too warm.
The first section of our route took us across the busy A172 and upwards into Arncliffe Woods for our first climb of the day.

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Arncliffe Hall…..
As we rose gradually through the woods the traffic noise below us gradually disappeared and we eventually reached the top of the ridge.

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Yes, those are trees….

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The view west from the ridge…

At this point we were looking back across the valley with the Pennines on the horizon in the far distance..
“We’ve walked across all of that” we thought..!
Indeed we had, and much more as well….
Turning north for a short while on the other side of the ridge, I noticed that we had the most wonderful mobile phone signal ever..!

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Can’t imagine why….

Turning east now the view changed to give us our first, distant view of the sea, just beyond Middlesborough..

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The sea in the distance..honest!

Now the landscape had changed as, for the first time we walked across the Moors..

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Keep to the path Mrs Hill..you know what happens if you don’t!

After about a mile we came down to a lane. We crossed it and climbed into Clain Wood for our second climb of the day.

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Mrs Hill…striding on purposefully..

Emerging from the wooded ridge, guess what? Down we went again to cross a lane and then up Round Hill the other side…
It was here, on the ridge that we saw these….

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Looking forward to next week….

There they were, what looked to us to be a family of grouse.
Half walking, half flying just above and then underneath the heather and with a loud call that sounded for all the world like they were shouting “Kill”!
I kid you not ..!
Now personally, the idea of paying hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to stand on a moor with a shotgun and blast some very stupid bird out of the sky is just a little bit ridiculous.
Actually no, it’s a lot ridiculous.!
The whole principle of the moors and grouse shooting is a prime example of Mankind’s insanity and ingenuity…
The Moors aren’t a natural environment…
Hundreds of years ago these hillsides were covered in trees but Man developed an idea that’s since been exported to places as far away as the Amazon rainforest…
Chop em down…!
The basic idea was to chop the trees down to provide grazing for cattle and particularly, sheep.
The problem was that on the windswept hillsides, with no trees to stabilise the soil, it just got washed away..eroded they called it..so..the cows had no chance and the sheep did their best but the land was now very poor and only tough grass and heather grew.
Moving forward to recent times, we’ve now got moorland where nothing much grows so some clever soul invented grouse shooting.
We might not like it but it does mean that this beautiful, wild environment can be kept in its current state and that has to be good.
The only other option for the landowners is to either build on it or mine it.
  Grouse shooting has to be a better option..

Walking over the Moors we saw a good example of how fashion follows nature..

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Thistles……

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Socks….

After Lord knows how many more ups and downs we came to the end of our walk at..the car park at Clay Bank..!

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The end of the trail..

Our lodgings for the night were a few miles away at Dromonby.
Our host, Dave picked us up in an old W124 Mercedes, wearing a Neil Young tee shirt and a a hairband.
What’s not to like..?

Day 10..The Marathon (almost)…

Tell em Edwin…

http://touch.dailymotion.com/video/x9r3c6_edwin-starr-25-miles-1969_music

Yes folks, the day has arrived..
As Edwin says, “25 miles to go and my feet are hurting mighty bad “…
Yes, I know I know…it’s 23 actually but that’s as close as I could get !
So, today was the longest walk of our entire adventure…
23 miles from Richmond to Ingleby Cross.

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Our lodging in Richmond, Willance House..
We started the day by breakfasting as if we were running a Marathon..
A 3 course brekkie consisting of fresh fruit with yoghurt, followed by porridge and honey and finally, two poached eggs on brown toast.

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Our lounge at the Willance…

Moving on from Richmond we walked outside into the rain..

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Mmm …..wet ….

We’d been told by all the books we’d read that today was simply about getting there..
There was really nothing very interesting on the way, it was just another 23 miles added onto the total..
The books were right..!
At first, we walked through woodland on the edge of Richmond and then along the River Swale for the final time to Catterick.

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Mrs Hill in full summer mode…

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The River Swale at Catterick..

We’d followed this river for most of the last 3 days, all the way from it’s source at Nine Standard’s, when we could step over it with one stride !
We’d set ourselves a target..
This wasn’t a ‘bimble’, this was a route march…
The approximate half way point was a tiny hamlet called Streetlam.
Our guide had given a estimated time for today’s walk of 8.5 hours, excluding breaks..
We set off at 8:30 so that meant a target time of 12:45 to get to Streetlam, the half way point.
Our guide told us that Streetlam’s most memorable attraction was a phonebox..
At 12:47 we saw the box and stopped for lunch..

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The picturesque village of Streetlam..

We had to make those 2 minutes up somehow ..!
Leaving Streetlam after lunch meant that we had to get to the end of our walk by 5:30..

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We marched past happy sheep..

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We looked at pubs ( without going in )…note the 60 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay..

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We braved main railway lines..
And eventually arrived here, bang on 5:30…what a result!

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The Elstavale, with Josephine and her 3 cats…

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Our local for the night, The Bluebell..

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Tonight’s red sky..should be good tomorrow..!

Day 9..Reeth to Richmond…just a bimble..

Day 9 in some ways was a slightly strange day…
It was a gentle 11 miler that could, and maybe should’ve been longer.
Tomorrow is a very long 22 miles and it might have been better to add some extra miles on today and make our next walk slightly shorter.??
Anyway, back to today’s walk..
We left our lovely B&B, Hackney House around 9:30 to begin our adventure..

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Hackney House in Reeth..

After a few minutes walk we were faced with our first choice of the day..fork right to follow the river or go left up the ridge..?
As the majority seemed to be going right and I’ve taken enough river photos, we went left!

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I just love that big Yorkshire sky.!

We soon came to the small village of Marske, about half way along our route.
As we turned the corner into the village we saw a tempting sign by a church advertising ice cream..”yummy”, we thought..

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Marske church…

The ice cream was for sale in a small tea room opposite the church – we sat outside.
It was like being in the back garden of someone’s house…
In fact, we were in the back garden of……
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Mrs Hill enjoying an ice cream and not wanting to share …

Moving on now, we crossed fields and headed towards Applegarth Scar..

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The rocky outcrop of Applegarth Scar..

We walked east, just below the summit of the ridge, eventually passing through Whitecliffe Wood on our way to Richmond.

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Richmond below us..

Now, I don’t know if we’re getting quicker at this walking business but…we could have got to Richmond by 1:30 so, we walked slowly, stopped for an ice cream and let lots of people pass us by and we still arrived around 2:30!
That’s why it might’ve been better to make today’s walk longer and tomorrow shorter.
But, it is what it is and we used today’s little bimble to discuss the Coast to Coast folk that we’ve met en route..
There’s Gill and Sandy of course from Australia, via Dundee..
There’s also the people whose names we don’t know, so we made them up..!
There’s the ‘Shirtmen’.
They are two men who wear long sleeved, button up shirts whatever the weather.
Then there’s our continental chums, ‘Heidi and Peter’.
They wear identical clothes even down to matching hats!
Then we’ve got ‘The Family’..a man, his wife, 3 daughters and the dog.
The girls range in age from around 8 to 14 and they all carry their own rucksacks.
One man with 4 women!
Even the dog’s a bitch..
Lord help him…
Then there’s the “6+2 gang’..
They’re 6 friends that all booked together and 2 more tagged on.
They practice competitive walking at its finest.
At one point the group split into two, taking alternative routes around Lake Ennerdale.
We just happened to be taking the North route around the shore and watched in amusement as they practically ran past us, walking poles flying, as they tried to beat their friends round the lake. !
Finally, there’s the ‘Pole Girls’, a mother and daughter team who’ve got poling down to a fine art as they swivel their hips across the ground..
The problem with poling people is that the clicking noise the poles make on stoney ground when they come up behind you, is about as annoying as being sat in the theatre in front of someone doing their knitting with very large needles.!

Ahh, the joys of people watching..!
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The Market Square at Richmond…