I’m hoping Joyce is safe at home in Brooklyn now. My return flight is scheduled for tomorrow, and I’ve been making my way to the Manchester Airport in stages with my big heavy bag — by train of course, but I do have to lug it now and then, and it makes finding a room a little more of a challenge.
I’ve had two nice days in Scarborough and one in York. The second evening in Scarborough I actually did some walking on the sand without my boots, something that didn’t seem like an option when we were in St. Bees and in Robin Hoods Bay, what with the weather and the high tide. My bootlaces, which seemed about a foot too long for me all through the Walk, turn out to be just the right length for tying the boots together and carrying them slung over the shoulder. York is crowded, maybe more than usual because of a big horse race, but I’m enjoying the museums and the old buildings, and at the moment I’m very grateful for the public library.
Thanks to everyone for your comments, and thanks to Joyce for setting this up — the walk, and the blog too. I’ve learned a lot.
Saturday, when Joyce traveled by road in her sandals, I went over Nine Standards Rigg. Sorry, no photographs from me, but the Nine Standards are pretty impressive: nine big cairns of unknown origin, right near the highest point of the ridge dividing Cumbria from the Yorkshire Dales. Extremely windy up at the top, and chilly, a big change from the day before, when we were wandering over lowlands under a hot sun. The way down from the Rigg was over very boggy country. When I reached a place where it was calm enough to stop I got my gaiters out of the pack and put them on, first time this trip and not a step too soon. It saved me from bringing half a pound of mud in my boots with me. Gaiters work!
Sunday the walk could be down along the River Swale, where the books agreed it was very pretty, or up among the land ravaged by the lead mining that became so much more aggressive in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I tried for the upper route but got lost. Embarrassing, yes, but it was satisfying to find my own way, generally eastward and eventually down to the Swale, where I enjoyed the pretty alternative, through lots of hayfields, over little bridges and along paths through wetlands where something that looked like orchids towered above the burdock, five and six feet high. (Later Joyce told me there are supposed to be orchids here, so \i guess that’s what they were.)
Today, our rest day, I tried to make sense of a ten-pound telephone card I bought last week, caught up on e-mail, and walked to the old church in Grinton, across the Swale from here. Tomorrow to Richmond, with Joyce in her new boots.
Dove Cottage was really worth seeing, and the Wordsworth Museum next to it was good too. I could have spent a lot more time in it but I felt the need for some daylight, and the rain had stopped, so I set off on the Coffin Road to Rydal. Here was the house where Wordsworth moved when the family got too big for Dove Cottage. The sun was shining birghtly by this time, so after enjoying the grounds at a much bigger house called Rydal Hall I walked to Ambleside, where I got pleasantly lost. But I have found the library, and checked my e-mail, and now I’l see if I can find Joyce at the laundromat.
No Internet service at the place we’re staying, so I walked over to the youth hostel on the other side of the Derwent to let you know we’re all right. It was a beautiful walk today, though we were worried at times. We followed the usual Coast to Coast route, from Ennerdale Bridge all the way up Ennerdale Water, across the Liza River and up a forest road past Black Sail hostel to Loft Beck. Then there was a steep walk up the beck, from about 1000 to 2000 feet. —- okay this is going to run out. We heard thunder we got wet the sun came out and the world was beautiful as we came in Borrowdale of Rosthwaite or wherever we are. But we’re a little tired. Joyce will tell you more tomorrow, i betcha.
We’re here at the Abbey Farmhouse in St. Bees, the only guests tonight. Tomorrow we’re expected at another place in St. Bees, and then on Thursday we start the walk for real. it’s been a long trip. Joyce had to wait a couple hours for my flight to arrive at Manchester. We got a 1pm train to Barrow-in-Furness. It arrived at about 3:15. Joyce watched the luggage while I took a nice little walk through town and got myself a wristwatch. At four-forty we got the northbound train that got us to St. Bees in about an hour, through some nice coastal scenery. It’s been cool here, and overcast, good walking weather in Barrow, a nice steady rain in St. Bees for our short walk to our lodgings. It’s good to put the big bags down for the day. Today, at times, \i wished I had those little wheels on mine.
It was around 1979, May or June. I was proud of the opportunity to introduce Joyce to the pleasures of camping by canoe. One of the things I emphasized was the importance of rain gear. An hour or two after we got onto the water, it started raining. Joyce brought out her poncho. I looked for mine — not there. No rain gear. Joyce shared what she had, but I got pretty well soaked. We set up the tent in the rain. For about a day and a half, I think, we waited for intervals in the rain to get out and stretch. We talked, and read Horace, and got along all right.
I still don’t prepare well for a trip. I’m working on it.