When we woke this morning Joseph said “I don’t think I’ve ever walked 23 miles in one day.” Because that’s what we were facing. Twenty-three miles. And if Joseph hadn’t done it, my prospects seemed grim.
But I’m ahead of myself. Yesterday was another hike with beautiful landscapes. We are discovering a new vocabulary that is helpful when navigating. For example, “stay beckside on the path.” (BECK=a brook) DALE=a valley and SWALE=a low or hollow place; hence the “Swaledale” River. CROFT=a fenced or enclosed area of land, usually small and arable. WYND=a narrow lane between houses. And, of course, MOOR=a tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather. Often the stone cottages are named with these words, and we make a mental note to look them up each evening.
We arrived in Richmond at another accommodation and slept well notwithstanding the 23-mile walk looming before us.
We had a gloomy beginning and Joseph needed a break from reading the map. So I accepted the challenge. This worked well until late in the day when I started looking at the map on the opposite page of the guidebook. Joe and I are perfect companions, however, each of us able to shrug off misdirection without resentment.
We had a pleasant break in Bolton-on-Swale at St. Mary’s Church. The remains of Henry Jenkins, who lived to be 169 years old, are buried here. The parishioners leave beverages for the coast to coast walkers free of charge.
The scenery became more familiar as we passed many fields of wheat and barley just harvested and cows became more plentiful than sheep. Hedges mark boundaries instead of dry stone walls. We stopped to eat several hours later in Danby Wiske and had a great conversation with a local. She told us the major battle featured in Braveheart actually occurred in this area.
We valiantly carried on, Joseph gleaning barley to eat as we crossed the fields. I even tried it–and enjoyed it!
As we traversed a pasture–one of many that day–cows began approaching. Usually they ignore us as we tramp through. But these cows seemed sinister and began surrounding me as I led the way to the stile. Joseph followed cautiously, as the cows circled around us. The whole incident seemed surreal –I’ve never heard of cows harming innocent travelers–but they seemed possessed. Had we reached the Twilight Zone?
When we finally appeared at our lodging at 8:00 p.m., our fellow travelers were relieved to see us. There’s a wonderful feeling of camaraderie among the hikers, even though Joe and I suspect they all refer to us as the bumbling mother-and-son duo!