Day 18 in Photos – Blakey Ridge to Glaisdale

Looking back at the Lion Inn:

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Stone monuments on the moors
(Margery Bradley, Young Ralph, unidentified menhir, Fat Betty, and a road marker for Whidby):

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An informal memorial garden we discovered on the moor near the ancient cross, “Young Ralph”:

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A first glimpse of the sea:

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Looking down into Great Fryupdale (named after the Norse goddess Freya!) as we walked along Glaisdale Rigg. Those grassy mounds that look like drumlins are actually grassed over “dumps” from 19th-century coal mines:

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Two shades of heather:

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Grouse:

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A garden as we entered Glaisdale:

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Beggar’s Bridge:

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Day 17 in Photos – Clay Bank Top to Blakey Ridge

Looking northeast from Carr Ridge; Roseberry Topping is the little Matterhorn-looking-like peak in the distance; a local landmark:

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Looking back at Hasty Bank (note the steep path down) and the other moors we walked across from Ingleby Arncliffe:

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Another look to the north at the industrial areas of Middlesborough and Teeside:

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Some sights on Urra Moor, including the Face Stone:

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Joining the old railway line at Bloworth Crossing:

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Looking down into the valleys as we walked along the train line:

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A grouse butt, like our duck blinds, for shooting grouse:

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Grasses on the moor:

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Grouse in the grass:

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Arrival at the Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge:

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On Urra Moor

Today we climbed back up to the top of the world, as Jimmy called it, having been dropped off at Clay Bank Top by our host of the night before, David Wray. It was an easy climb, and from there, we were just “in” or “on” the moors for the next nine miles . . . . extraordinary views both near and far, heather and grasses and sheep and grouse.

We saw numerous ancient stone boundary markers along the path, including the famous “Face Stone” on the summit of Urra Moor; we eventually left the Cleveland Way at Bloworth Crossing to join the cindered trackbed of an old Victorian railway (built in 1861)–the North Eastern–between Rosedale and Teeside. Hard to imagine anyone building a railroad up here, but the intense industrial development (mining of ironstone, alum, and jet) in the area had evidently made it profitable.

It was beautiful walking along this VERY easy path; no worries about rocks or bogs or steep inclines — just a long, sinuous, steady path through the lonely landscape. We had few encounters as we walked today: early on we met Mike of “Mike’s Hikes,” a local man who leads walking trips throughout the area, out for a busman’s holiday–a solitary stroll on the moors. He encouraged us to touch the stone at the top of Round Hill, the highest point on the North York Moors, while he settled down for his tea and sandwich overlooking Roseberry Topping and the industrial town of Middlesborough.

(Earlier in the day, we had talked with David about politics and economics. He is from Teeside, and had worked most of his life as a builder, going into the bed and breakfast business only three years ago. Of all our hosts, he was the most down to earth and casual, even in the midst of the Victorian opulence of his huge house: I made my own lunch sandwich; he let us use his washer and drier in the morning; and he charged us for neither.)

Our only major decisions were finding the path that led to the trainbed and then the path to the Lion’s Inn–dating back to the sixteenth century, it has apparently been a way station on the moors for centuries. Today it is a place for day-trippers as well as overnight lodgers: this evening the bar was packed with women in strapless dresses and high heels; outdoors, at picnic tables, men smoked and looked out over the landscape. We walkers were in the minority, though Mike was there with us once again. It’s the last night we’ll be seeing him, as he is doing the next thirty miles in two days, while we take a leisurely three. I shared a drink with him after dinner; we’ll say good bye in the morning.

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Live things

by Jimmy Griffin

On our first night in England I saw a hedgehog, first time in my life maybe. Joyce had gone into the house and I decided to take just another little stroll around St. Bees. It had just gotten dark, it was raining lightly, I was on a narrow sidewalk with a wall running along it, and I saw this little thing moving, down at the base of the wall. A rat? was my first thought. No. Cute little thing. Had to be a hedgehog, though I’d only seen pictures — maybe Beatrix Potter’s. It seemed to know I was there, and to want to get away. But it didn’t make a dash, and it didn’t freeze, it walked along the wall until it found some gap and disappeared. Days later we saw a dead one, on the road, and then just the skin of one. Yesterday, once again, I saw a live one. It was on the path in front of me as we walked at the top of the world on the glorious Cleveland Way. When I got near, it went off the path into the heather, moving but not hiding. I stood still as Joyce approached behind me. I got her attention and said, “hedgehog”. The little thing froze, right after I spoke, and stayed long enough for Joyce to see it — and then dove under the heather.
On the fourth day of our walk, as we followed the path along Ennerdale Water, we saw a lot of little black creatures among the ferns. Slugs, we would call them at home, but these were thinner, more like snails without shells. Lots of them. We saw more in the days to come. Now we’re thinking they might me the same as the leeches that the old man talked about gathering, in Wordsworth’s poem.
From our room in Stonethwaite I looked out at the sheep pen and saw something on the top of the stone wall, strikingly black and white, at rest but stirring. A cat, I thought at first, but then it flew. Strikingly black and white, like no bird I knew. The landlady kept a parrot in the house — was this another exotic bird, living in the yard? At breakfast I found somebody to ask. She told me it was a magpie. “They’re not nice. They’ll peck a sheep’s eyes out.” The same lady told me that you hardly see swallows in England any more. Those little ones flying outside were house martens, which travel up from Africa. Ever since then I’ve seen lots of birds I thing must be house martens. I don’t know.
On our seventh day, as we came into Patterdale, I saw a dead animal by the side of the road. An Englishman was walking with me at the time. “That’s a shame,” he said. “You don’t see many of them.” “Badger?” I asked, and he confirmed it. I had been pretty sure, though that’s another one I’d only known from pictures. Just like Mr. Badger in The Wind in the Willows, only dead. As big as ten possums, I’d say.
There have been some beautiful birds, that we can’t name, some in the trees and hedges and some in the grass and heather. These past few days, walking across the moors, we’ve seen a lot of grouse and other larger ones, some on the path ahead of us, some starting up out of the heather as we walk by.
A couple deer, different from the ones back home. A snail with a real shell, also different from the ones at home. And almost always, sheep, goats or cows.

Worth Leaving the Lakes

Well, it was at least five times up and five times down today: to Live Moor, Carlton Moor, Cringle Moor. Cold Moor (in a fierce south wind threatening to blow us off the escarpment), and finally Hasty Bank. The paths up were manageable, but the paths down were terrifying to me: again those stone “steps,” helpfully placed by trailmakers, but treacherous and slippery all the same–and, as always, astonishingly steep. I realized at some point that it was my fear as much as my physical limitations (the knees, the ankles) that made these descents so hard for me: the slightest misstep and I knew I could go tumbling. Jimmy danced on ahead of me as sure-footed as a goat, it seemed, while I struggled and sweated and shook with fear. Yet it was exhilarating each time I made it down or up.

At one point we took a wrong path up Hasty Bank (“only a genius could go wrong” Wainwright had written of the track today Hmm). The Cleveland Way, which we followed most of the day, is a well-travelled and very well-maintained path, almost a highway for walkers — with large stones establishing a wide easy alley. But as we approached the Wainstones at the top of Hasty Bank, a narrow dirt path led off along the embankment on the left. Jimmy thought it was the way, and I followed; but it quickly became clear that this was not at all the “Way.”

What to do? We were out on a very narrow, slippery mud ledge. Jim scrambled up the steep bank and saw the true “Way” at the top. He suggested I walk back as we had come. But I was too terrified to even turn around. So with Jim giving me courage, I more or less crawled forward and up on my hands and knees, grasping onto tufts of grass and heather to steady myself. Once at the top, I began to breathe again: it was thrilling to be there, and the beauty of the ridge was extraordinary.

We were walking along the very northernmost edge of the North York Moors. To our left was a steep drop down into another wide, flat valley leading east to the sea. Although rain had been promised for the entire day, we managed to avoid a thorough soaking; it was raining lightly when we left Ingleby Arncliffe, but it cleared just as finished the climb onto Live Moor: we were greeted by magical views and the sweet scent of heather in bloom. A completely different world opened to us as we left the forest through which we had made the initial ascent: we could see in all directions; the wind was wild and free; the air was fresh and magical. We both had huge grins on our faces as we walked around in wonder.

The rain came back in spurts, but nothing really drenching like two days ago. Low grey clouds flew over us, moving quickly from south to north. At moments the sun emerged and created even more beauty.

David Wray of Dromonby Bridge B&B picked us up at Clay Bank Top (where a road intersects the Cleveland Way), and whisked us to the Black Swan in Kirkby, where we had a quick meal (soup, tuna, vegetables, potatoes); he then brought us to his huge Victorian house where we are in a large room with high ceilings and lovely old paintings on the walls. Astonishing. I’m looking forward to exploring the house and grounds a bit in the morning and to continuing our journey up on the moors. Only nine miles tomorrow (and only one major ascent), to the Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge, the highest point on the North York Moors!

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Day 16 in Photos – The North York Moors – Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay bank Top

Today we joined the Cleveland Way, and will be following it for 13 miles. We took the left hand turn after climbing up from Ingleby Arncliffe and Ingleby Cross by a forest road:

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Looking back west towards the Vale of Mowbray, which we had been crossing during the last two days:

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Stepping up onto the moor, our first views:

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Heather in bloom:

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An ancient boundary marker:

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Joyce and Jim atop Live Moor:

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Sheep atop Live Moor:

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Walking east along the escarpment:

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The Wainstones atop Hasty Bank:

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A cow on the escarpment:

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Looking back west, on Hasty Bank:

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Looking northeast; Roseberry Topping is the hill in the distance; the distant town that you can barely see is Teeside, and the sea is just beyond:

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On the verge

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.

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