Day Eleven

Richmond to Ingleby Arncliffe (24 miles)

One disappointment about the walk was that we got to stay in some really nice accommodation but never had the time to appreciate it. For example, we arrived at Willance House at about 4pm on the Saturday afternoon. We left again before 5pm to go for beer and food. We didn’t get back to the digs until at least 11pm and had left again by 8am the next morning. A total of about 9 hours in the building for the cost of £70. Mind you, it really was a case of quality not quantity. This building dated back to 1600 and was oozing charm and character. The proprietors were very friendly and professional and had our breakfast infront of us for 7.30am as requested. Surprisingly we weren’t alone dining at this inhospitable hour. At the table next to us was an equally bog-eyed couple who, it turned out, were also walking the Coast to Coast even though we hadn’t bumped into them before. They were a Dutch couple from The Hague who were very friendly and chatty. Nige reminded me that there was no time for chatting so after a quick piccie in front of the house we set off at breakneck speed to get as many miles behind us as possible as quickly as possible.

We hit the road at record pace crossing Richmond Bridge and moving at such speed that we didn’t smell a thing passing the sewage works. We fairly trotted through some pretty woods just managing to squeeze in the obligatory picture of sheep.

Looking back we made the crucial mistake best described by the legendary David Coleman as ‘going too soon’. We were averaging over 4 mph which takes some doing taking into account all the stiles etc. This should have been a day where we paced ourselves and accepted that we weren’t going to arrive at our destination until a later hour than the previous stages but we were hell bent on arriving in Ingleby by 4pm. Talk about inflexible ! The weather was kind to us and the ground mainly flat which only encouraged us more to put our heads down and push on.

We passed through colburn and arrived at the surprisingly busy road at Catterick Bridge just by the side of the racecourse. After a tricky bit of navigation we picked up the riverside path and pushed on to Bolton – on – Swale. The villages were flying past in a blur and I find it hard to remember anything about them. We were both starting to feel the pace and couldn’t believe that we had been walking so long and yet had so far to go. We both focussed on The White Swan in Danby Wiske where we pictured resting and supping a long cold pint of shandy. Alarmingly this was still 3 pages ahead in the Steadman guide. Surely he’d got it wrong or the scale had gone to pot. A roadsign said 4 miles to Danby Wiske which seemed a bit unfair so we stopped and took a picture of a daft signpost.

Hunger was starting to become an issue so it was with great relief when the pub came into view like a mirage in the dessert.

We bought the beer and sat on the bench infront of the pub devouring our packed lunch and taking in the sunshine. We were surprised when Merv and Sue turned up only minutes later and sat on the grass to relax for half an hour.

One of their party was having trouble with their feet and I could quite understand why. Mine were throbbing like mad and my boots suddenly felt two sizes too small. We had only done about 10 miles but a combination of hard road walking and moving at speed had taken it’s toll. With still 14 miles ahead we reluctantly returned our empty pint pots to the bar and carried on. We soon reached the busy A167 but once that had been crossed the views really opened up. In the distance we could clearly see the Cleveland Hills – our destination. Unfortunately we still had to cross half of the Vale of Mowbray to get there. There was no easy way out of it. We plodded on first along high-hedged tracks then into more open fields. The lure of the precious was too strong and I found myself repeatedly telling Nige how far was left to go. If he’d had the strength to tell me to shut up he would but instead he just plodded on with his mouth hanging half open and his eyes fixed firmly on the hills in the far distance. The environment then changed to more open fields but ones that played a cruel trick. They were clearly marked paths that it was clear needed to be stuck too but in order to cross from the bottom of one field to the top they took you around 3 sides of a square. If we’d been able to walk as the crow flew we would have been showering in Ingleby by 4pm. But no – the paths would go up, left, across, right, down, left, up etc etc.

It tested us mentally as well as physically and by the time we arrived at the very busy A19 we were mere shells of the men who had set off earlier that day. We then made the critical mistake of going into shop at Exelby services and buying huge quantities of chocolate and drink. We sat / collapsed on the grass embankment watching the constant fast moving traffic whilst gorging ourselves.  

However, the real mistake was just about to show itself as we tried to get up and cross the horrendously busy road. Our legs and ankles had seized up and I was hobbling Gollum-like along the crash barrier waiting for a break in the traffic that would give us half a chance of crossing successfully. It was every man for himself. As I limped as quickly as possible to the far side I was conscious of a dragging / scraping noise at my side. It was Nige unable to pick up his feet for even those few yards.

We were booked in at Somerset House Farm in Ingleby Arncliffe which was less than a quarter of a mile away but we really struggled to complete that last stretch. Like heroes we staggered to the front door and were greeted by a very disorganised host who, it turned out, had been left to run the place on his own (domestic problems). The room was very nice and clean but disturbingly close to the busy road. When big trucks thundered past we could feel the vibration in the room. That didn’t bode well for a good nights sleep but we put that thought to the back of our minds as the proprietor told us he had created a ‘bar’ in the back of the building where we could have a pint before he’d take us the mile down the road to the pub for the evening. Sounded great until we arrived at The Bluebell Inn in Inglebly Cross only to find it shut up. Our driver looked a bit sheepish and drove us back to our digs to have another couple of drinks in his homemade bar whilst he rang the landlord of the pub to see what time (if at all) he was going to open. Luckily it did open about an hour later at which point we were driven back along with Merv and Sue and their party. Entering the pub was like stepping onto the set of Dawn of the Dead. People were shuffling along without lifting their feet, backs slightly stooped and vacant expressions on wind burned faces. Nobody talked much as they concentrated on refuelling with good food and moving as little as possible.

Unfortunately the offer of a lift had been only one way so we had to stagger back from Ingleby Cross to Ingleby Arncliffe. Back at the room we tended to our wounded feet as best we could and collapsed into bed for a fitful nights sleep.

Subject: Coast to Coast Diaries Day 12
Date: Sun, 25 Jul 2010 21:04:58 +0000

Just arrived in Ingleby Arncliffe after 24 miles and my feet look like a couple of mangy trotters ! There's me thinking I was invincible and only other people got blisters but I have been hit big time today. Only consolation is that Nige is walking even worse than me and he is, at this very moment, trying to salvage what looks (from here) like skin hanging off his heels. Not a lot to say today except that if you've seen one wheat field you've seen them all - and I feel like I have seen them all today. The place we are staying tonight is so close to the A19 that my bed vibrates every time a truck goes past - also, Niges dongle isn't picking up a great signal so this is my 3rd attempt at some sort of entry. Worst news of all is that we have to walk .75 of a mile to the pub and back at the end of the obligatory 4 pints and a whisky. Suspect that not all of us will return. Dreading tomorrows walk as it is 17 miles but very up and down and we have to be picked up in the middle of the moors by the farmers son who will take us to our digs. Trouble is there is no signal up on the plateau and the landlady today basically said "do your best to be in such and such a place at a certain time and we will find you "!

Should have told her to follow her nose as things are deteriorating at a rapid rate in that department. We now have a bin bag going for clothes that have gone past the point of no return i.e. need binning or burying

Update: just back from the pub and it is full of people staggering about BEFORE any drinks. Everyone suffering which did help me a bit. Dongle getting weaker by the minute so will sign off now wihout any piccies - they were all boring anyway. Bit of a tired e-mail but reflects my physical and mental state tonight.

Update: just found out we've got single rooms tomorrow so may get more that the obligatory 4 hours sleep due to no snoring / weak bladder etc

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