So here we are, on the eastern edge of the Vale of Mowbray, in another wonderful B & B–Somerset House, a renovated 19th-century farm. Because we’re the only guests, we have the complete run of a small stone cottage: two upstairs rooms and a lovely living room downstairs with leather sofas and a wood-burning stove. The owner also has a landscaping business, and the grounds are colorful and relaxing. Very nice and quiet, after a very sociable time yesterday and at this morning’s breakfast, when we talked with Mike and another walker and Doreen and Frank about the cooperative movement in England.
Our walk tomorrow will take us up onto the North Yorkshire Moors: 12.5 miles to Clay Bank Top, with a total climb of 2,545 feet (that’s up then down then up again)–the most so far on our walk, though it should be less steep than the climbing we did in the Lake District. After yesterday’s 14.5 miles, much of it in the rain, I was exhausted today, and though we only walked 9 very slow miles in good weather–sunshine, scattered clouds, sweet gusts of wind on and off throughout the day–I pretty much collapsed when we arrived at Somerset House. Jimmy went out to explore the town and brought me back a vegetable lasagna dinner from the Blue Bell Inn. I was very, very grateful. They gave it to him on a china plate, which we will return in the morning; I was reminded of characters in Dickens novels who send out to the local pub for their meals and get them delivered on nice china with cutlery and glasses. Perhaps we could re-introduce this custom in the United States.
Actually, part of the reason why I am so tired today is that the night before last I barely slept; when Jim and I got back from our Thai dinner in Richmond, I couldn’t find my passport. It was hard to imagine what might have happened to it, and I spent most of the night worrying–was it stolen, lost, what? In the morning–after having called Ann Bain in Reeth to see if I had left it there, quarreling with Jim, and being ready to call the U.S. Embassy in London and do whatever I needed to do to get a new one–I found it in a corner of the bathroom. You can imagine my relief. Though perhaps one day the right to roam will finally obviate the need for passports.
Despite my exhaustion, I loved the lonely, quiet walk today: more bright fields of barley, a few sweet spinneys and streams, lots of cows and a few fat sheep. Two big adventures were crossing the railway line and then the very busy with trucks and speeding motorcars A19. I was as terrified as I had been while climbing Loft Beck. Only this was quicker. (Just a day ago, we learned the road classification system from Martin and Tom: “A” roads are “dual carriage” roads, what we would call divided highways in the U.S.; “B” roads are narrower roads, on which it is often a challenge for cars to pass one another; “M” roads are controlled-access roads, like our freeways.)
As we approach the North Yorkshire Moors, we are also approaching the end of our journey. Only five more days until we reach Robin Hood’s Bay! About fifty miles to go, with tomorrow being probably the hardest. I am resting up for it.
Wainwright contrasts the Pennine Way with the Coast to Coast by saying that walkers on the Pennine Way conclude their journey “with relief”; those on the Coast to Coast end their walk “with regret.” I already know what he means.