Les sends us off with those oft heard words. Its going to be an easy day…
It would be good to get to Richmond in time to explore, certainly. We wouldn’t want to dally around as we did yesterday. For whatever reason we set off with a good deal of focus and purpose this morning. In no time at all we are out past the Swale, back on farmland, striding down a lane undeterred by the only blocked path we ever encounter en route, and marvelling at the sight of a hare speeding eccentrically across a field to our left. Pheww.
After the Marrick Priory Outdoor Centre we ascend up over the wet, slippery tree clad Nun’s Steps, through the village of Marrick, and then on over the small walled fields at the other side of the village. As yesterday the stiles are plentiful and awkward, or should I just say quaint? Your view probably depends on your size, as many are very narrow gaps in drystone walls, surmounted with little wooden gates held shut by fearsome springs. Anyone not tall thin and strong of arm may well find them a problem.
Not us though. And not this morning!! We motor on past Elaine’s Kitchen (not tempted to stop) and a farm called Ellers. Then, as we ascend a field, … Surprise!!!
Coming down the footpath towards us is a man travelling slowly on a quad bike, an old fellow with a stick, and between them an absolutely enormous bull.
It is lumbering between the two of them whilst they encourage it with shouts and thumps. We squeeze back into the wall as the ill matched trio pass us. The men are monosyllabic. Trust me to wear my red top today!! Quite what they would do if old bully didn’t want to cooperate I can’t imagine. There’s not much of them, and an awful lot of him. We stand quietly until they are well past, then proceed upwards swiftly. By the time we get to the field gate his fan club, a large herd of star struck cows, are pressed hard against it. (”Ohhh. There he goes! Isn’t he handsome! They are thinking. You can see it in their eyes.)
There’s no going through there. We have to go a bit further along the wall and climb over. Not as easy as I had thought, the clue being in the word DRYSTONED wall. There’s a movement of stones unconnected by mortar as you wobble your leg inelegantly over the top. Nevermind. The bull is now on the other side of the wall, and the cows are not interested in us. That was exciting.
We rejoin the road, and walk on down to the village of Marske, where we stop for a bite to eat and a slurp of water. outside the Church of St Edmund the Martyr. Then we continue on down the lane and over fields towards Paddy’s Bridge. Just as we start to descend through the trees, the rain starts, and its enough for waterproofs. Unfortunately, as there is already a load of mud on my boots this ends up around the waist of my trousers. Ascending from the bridge the path resolves into wet clay. Steep wet clay. Very slippery. Thank goodness for the stick. Just as we come out at Applegarth Scar the rain stops again, and more mud is deposited on the trousers as we take them off. I get a bit grumpy about this. Perhaps I need lunch.
After Applegarth Farm, therefore, we stop by the path and eat our lunch with fortuitous timing. We have no sooner finished than the rain starts again, but this time we are heading into Whitecliff Wood so we don’t care.
Beyond the wood we are again on a lane. This time it will take us right into Richmond. The shower soon passed, and in a short time we see the town in the distance.
It does feel strange coming into a town and being amongst traffic.
Richmond is centred upon a large cobbled area, presumably a market square though now a car park. We need a cup of tea, so in our current dishevelled state we head for the market. We are not clean enough for a Tea Shop. An overworked and disorganised old fellow eventually provides us with a large mug of said liquid and a slab of cake. Bliss.
We recover sufficiently to think about exploring. Unfortunately the rain has other ideas and we scuttle into The Green Howards Museum to get out of it. This proves to be a surprisingly interesting diversion into military history.
Richmond is quite an atmospheric little town. Its steep streets cling to the hill around the castle before descending back to the Swale on the south side. It is most definitely quirky. The butchers shop is offering Squirrel Pies for example.
Later, showered and changed, we stride out again, through another almighty downpour, up to the Castle (English Heritage. “Would you like to join…?) It is well huge. Again, really interesting, and we meet Jenny in an upstairs exhibition concerning the small band of Conscientious Objectors imprisoned in the Castle during the First World War.
We carry on around the town exploring side streets, the park, passing the theatre. Oh it’s a proper town this! You can even get Calomine Lotion for Ray’s legs, and stocks of emergency Compeeds for blisters yet to be (we both have one apiece already). When we eventually choose The Black Lion for tea, there is of course a load of loud women on a ‘Girls Night Out’. Yep. It’s a real home from home.