Friday 8th July Richmond to Danby Wiske

Wainwright was not very complimentary about the next section of the walk, through the Vale of Mowbray. He comments “If you are fond of placid rural scenery and have an interest in farming, you might enjoy this section…” Later he warns “Don’t bother to clean your boots before leaving Richmond. There is mud glorious mud ahead.” The terrain will be fairly flat and there is a deal of road walking, but hey you have to get to the next highland area (North York Moors) somehow. You just have to take the rough with the smooth… and this is the smooth. Anyway, we are attacking it in two bits, rather than going straight to Ingleby Cross, which would have been 23 miles. Never underestimate the effect of walking EVERY day. It takes its toll, and I am glad we decided to break it up.

We set out from Richmond passing underneath the Castle on the opposite bank of the Swale. Through some playing Fields, past a sweet little terrace of houses, along the main road, then turning in via the sewage works. Classy. But then we bid civilisation goodbye, turning away from the river to cross farmland. Sticky clay fields full of purple white and pink potato flowers.

The village of Colburn is deserted, and while we sit outside the Hildyard Arms eating a boiled sweet from Les, we see not a soul.

Another farm track and more fields, this time wheat, barley, and rye.


It is rather close and misty. We catch sight of an American Bloke we have seen but not spoken to before. Probably in Grasmere. Very distinctive tartan shirt, so has to be the same bloke. When we have to shout at him as he drifts off ahead of us down the wrong track (talking on his mobile phone) his gratitude brings him to accompany us as far as Brompton on Swale. Later people ask if he tried to convert us, as he is some kind of religious type. His conversation with us did not go that far, but he seemed to have no idea at all about the crops he was walking through. “Potatoes??” he responded enthusiastically. Come on now. Even Americans must realise that French Fries come from somewhere.

We don’t go into Brompton on Swale, but cross under the A1 there on a path by the river. The road can be heard from quite a distance and is of course very busy. Glad we don’t have to cross it on foot.

We do emerge onto a very busy cross road just outside Catterick Bridge. Ray wanted a photo here of the Scotch Corner directional Road sign, but sadly the camera memory card was full.

Now following the river along a scrubby section with a few sparse trees here and there. The river at our side is quite big and brown, and still moving along fairly swiftly, with not so much white horses as cream ones. We see the last of it just before joining the road into Bolton on Swale, which despite its name, does not seem to be on it at all.

It is another very quiet village, but someone near the church has left out supplies for walkers, and an honesty box in which to pay, which seems uncommonly friendly. Not many highlights this morning, but by now it is lunchtime, so we utilise the seat in the churchyard and settle down to our Richmond bought sandwiches.


The memorial erected here in the 1700’s commemorates the popular local, Henry Jenkins, who allegedly was 169 when he died!! Course, with a name like Jenkins he was probably Welsh too.

After Bolton on Swale we go on through some muddy and overgrown paths, and some muddy cow filled fields, all alongside a beck. In one such field there is a gang of rather naughty cows, which on closer inspection seem to be steers or stirks or whatever. This lot are not sitting down or munching. One or two of them do NOT want to move out of our way, and there is a bit of galloping and cow ‘horse play’, if that’s possible. Luckily they are more interested in each other and the beck, and do not seem to be particularly curious about us. Though if you spend your time in a field on a major footpath presumably walkers should not hold much interest for you.

We climb over a style onto a red brick bridge, and here starts THE ROAD. Not Cormac Macarthy related, but a long… long section of mostly deserted tarmac, through largely featureless countryside. It starts to rain too. We pass the John and John Garage (Closed off. Barking dog.) and then conversation wears thin.

We start to lose it big time. Sad to see people dissolve into mental torpor and verbal diarrhoea. Especially when its you. There is much employment of a country accent, and talk of road signs and no through roads, with a side order of T junctions. At one point a splendid green insect alights onto us, hoping for a lift out of this area of the doldrums we surmise. It is about the only point of interest. A muck spreader passes. Days pass. We are looking forward to getting to Streetlam.


The rain stops. We walk on. Ho hum. Tum tee tum tee tee.

Iggle boggle black bobble.

Then all of a sudden we are there. Streetlam!!! Oh. That was it.

We are supposed to go around the outside of a horse enclosure here, and on across fields for a bit. Unfortunately someone has put their horse into the horse enclosure. (No. How unlikely.) It’s a nice horsey. Ray says so. It wants an apple. But nice horsey is big, with big feet, and he won’t go away from the stile we are supposed to go over.

I can’t handle it. Not after all those dementing tarmac miles. So we are back on the road for a little longer. But not too long really, and at least it saved us some mud encrustilations.

Just at the point of all hope lost, we round the corner into Danby Wiske, a maligned destination in the middle of a maligned section of walk.

Wainwright complained that there was nothing here, but times have changed. There is a pub, The White Swan, into which we swiftly decamp as large drops of rain begin to bless us. Once inside, the skies open with a vengeance. Pity those hardy folk who are going straight on to Ingleby Cross. Our landlady for the night is already in there discussing stocks in the shop section of this multipurpose building. Later on we are back again for our evening meal. There certainly is not a lot in Danby Wiske, but what is here is fine and dandy.

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Thursday 7th July Reeth to Richmond

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.

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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.

Wednesday 6th July Keld to Reeth

The sun is shining and the sunglasses are on. Keld village is fresh and quiet in the golden morning light. We did not dream of Julia last night after all, and I have got over my tussle with the plughole which refused to open.

Out on the trail, the Australians are off already. We have a choice today. The more adventurous of the party may choose the ‘high level’ route via old lead mines and industrial devastation. The rest of us have the option of an easy 4 ½ hour walk beside the picturesque Swale. This is Swaledale after all, and it would be a shame to miss it. Anyway, by the time we have diverted slightly to look at a waterfall, the weather seems to have changed its mind (It was the sunglasses that did it). We proceed up the high route path as far as Crackpot Hall, a very much ruined farmhouse, before definitely deciding to retrace a few steps and take the lower route.

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Almost as soon as we get down to the river and Ivelet Wood the air is full of the presence of rain. We decide to don the rainproofs. Good timing. We are hardly in them when it starts in earnest. It turns out to be the most furious downpour of the walk (at least one that we were actually caught in). The rain continues for most of the morning. Glad we didn’t opt for the high route.

Whatever. This provides an excuse, if one were needed, to divert down a paved path through a meadow to the tea shop in Muker, where we are later to be found sitting damply with Bob and Priscilla, and those two from day one! Whatever they were called.

Muker is a great little touristy village with art shop and public loos, craft shop and woollen outlet. Plus a sheep on the roof. Must be on the coach tour itinerary.


The walk beside the river is lovely, and not really wet underfoot. At this rate we will be in Reeth by early afternoon.

Therefore we have no trouble at all finding a pub for lunch in Gunnerside (The Kings Head) where we enjoy an enormous Ploughmans with 3 different local cheeses and a beer.

Things were rosie by the time we left the pub in a relaxed state, the rain having stopped. Sadly, dear reader, we had been sold a pup. The path did not continue in easy and leisurely fashion beside the river, but diverted upwards. Firstly we went too far up the road, missing the automatic gate, which was, in fact, more impressive than it sounds, as we found out after turning back again and locating it as a vehicle went through. Can’t see how we missed it.

Anyway, now ascending steeply (this is more like the C2C we know and love), we pant on past many a dead rabbit carcase. Later there are 3 sheep posing on a wall. We emerge onto open moorland where there are many paths to choose from and promptly get kind of lost again. So much for lunchtime drinking.


Ray says we are heading in the right direction anyway, so we keep going. And yes we do eventually find the hamlet of Blades, but Bob and Priscilla are in front of us, even though they left the pub after we did. Also, no offence, but I would not call this a low level walk. We are high up on the side of the Swale valley. Also, although THE BOOK shows short distances and not many landmarks IT LIES. Well, about the distances anyway.

The afternoon has opened out for a bit, but as we walk towards Kearton there are noises over the wall as if someone is shooting. All those (prejudiced) thoughts about weird and hostile locals, inbreeding etc etc spring to mind. When we get around the end of the wall we can see three or four land cruiser type vehicles at the top of a field. Presumably the gunslingers posse. No wonder there were dead rabbits. clip_image012

We are not allowed through Kearton. Its private. So we have to make a steep and muddy detour in order to by pass it on the road.

Beyond the farm we catch up with Bob and Priscilla who are in a state of shock having been hit by air pellets from the wild westers up the track. They were visibly shaken but luckily no real damage was done. Whether it was intentional or not is hardly an excuse. They are really upset, but are not planning to report it. Wainwright didn’t mention the chance of getting shot! Ah Yorkshire, you see fit to match your unfriendly stereotype.

They seem to need company, so we walk with them down through Healaugh, past a Morris Minor in working order, and eventually rejoining the river bordered by a rabbit infested field full of collapsed burrows. (Where are people with guns when you need them?) By now it is late afternoon. It has been a long old day. Not at all what I expected. We pass the Reeth suspension bridge, and make it into the town as all the tea shops are closing.


Then we realise we are looking for Cambridge House, a B&B well out to the north of Reeth. That last hill is not enjoyed. Especially when we pass the town boundary and we are still not there.

When the owner greets us with a ‘joke’ that we still have further to go I must admit I do not altogether see the funny side. He only means around the back to the boot store and drying room though. Once we have debooted he comes up trumps with homemade cake and tea in his conservatory overlooking the town. Not such a bad old cove after all then.

Les. What can you say about Les. He obviously enjoys running the B&B. He has already lugged our suitcases up to the bedroom. He greets the guests, cooks the breakfasts and does all the front of house. He entertains us with talk of his immense cycling career and horrific accidents, whilst also putting the world to rights in general. Next day he insists on taking our photo before we go. ‘Quite a character’ doesn’t quite do him justice.

Later we are out in the rain again as we head back into Reeth to find food. We dive into the first pub, The Buck, only to find the usual suspects are already there. Food and beer great, we are soon sitting on a table next to John and Trish. He is ahead of us on the beer stakes, and is holding forth on the inability of bar tenders ‘down south’, or the bar tender of his local Golf Club in particular, to produce a decent pint of beer. Apparently, they don’t know how to look after it (??). This strikes a chord with the pub staff, and before too long, after the subject has turned to the use of ‘sparkles’ (??) to give the beer a head John is on the receiving end of his very own ‘sparkle’, so that he can take it back to the Golf Club bar.

I wonder if he ever did?