Saturday, 24th August 2002
We had a good breakfast at the Bridge House Hotel but it was not one of the better places we had stayed at because of the general condition of the Hotel which was badly in need of refurbishment. I am sure the new owner will make a success of it but he will have to spend a lot of money to bring it up to the required standard. However, we were pleased that we had done the extra 4 ½ miles from Richmond to Catterick Bridge last night because it takes the pressure off today where the schedule is 23 miles from Richmond to Ingleby Cross.
We now only (only!) have to do 18½ miles today on the flattest part of the whole journey, although 8 miles of this is on the road. Psychologically though, because we have to do less than the schedule, we feel good and set off at 9.55 a.m. in excellent spirit. We left Catterick Bridge by the side of the River Swale and made our way towards a pleasant little village called Bolton on Swale where we met a man searching for his Terrier puppy which had been missing for half-an-hour. By the time we got to the village church the puppy had been found by three ladies taking their children for a walk.
We carried on over fields and stiles and then emerged onto the road where we were faced with the longest continuous stretch of road walking (8 miles) beyond Danby Wiske where we had arranged to meet Tina for lunch, one of the few opportunities we would get on the Coast to Coast walk. We had been on the road for only 50 metres when we heard a car behind us and, amazingly, it was Tina who had been shopping for essentials (mainly at the chemists for us) in Catterick and was making her way towards Danby Wiske where she would be meeting not only us but our son Paul who was travelling up from home to see his Mum prior to her birthday tomorrow and to relieve us all of unnecessary luggage.
Tina was really looking forward to seeing Paul and she appreciated the effort he was making to come 150 miles to see us all. Our other son David was in bad books as he had made no contact with Tina to ascertain how we were doing and, for once in his life Paul was at the top of the tree, a situation which I am sure will not last for very long and which he does not like as he seems to prefer being on the bottom rung.
We walked a further 1½ miles, giving way to several cars and other vehicles, mainly tractors, on the country lanes and then saw a sign which said “Danby Wiske – 4 miles” and this gave us some heart as we knew the precise distance we had to do before stopping for a break. What we didn’t expect however when we turned up this road was to have Tina coming up behind us again in her Vauxhall Corsa! How can anyone walk for 1½ miles and beat a car to this point? The combination of cars, women and directions is not the best and Tina had taken a wrong turn and gone around in a complete circle. She was worried that she would be late getting to Danby Wiske where she had provisionally arranged to meet Paul at the village pub at 12 noon. Off she went to have another go at following the correct directions. I told her that if Paul was there, to come back along the road to meet us and give us an exact fix on the mileage we had to do to get to the pub although, of course, we had a guideline from the signpost we had just passed.
Mary doesn’t like walking on the road but she seems to be coping well and she is very resilient and knew that there was no alternative at this point. We continued along the road, or perhaps we should say country lane, when we heard a car coming towards us going faster than normal. Needless to say, it was Paul with his girlfriend Lucinda and Tina who had apparently pulled into the pub car park in Danby Wiske at the same time as Paul. When we asked for the exact mileage to the pub there was a blank look on everybody’s face as Tina had forgotten to tell Paul to check his mileage when he left the pub. They all went back to the pub to have their lunch and Tina was quite excited because Paul had promised to treat her (a very rare occasion – so rare that she cannot remember the last time it happened, if ever), and we carried on making our weary way towards Danby Wiske which was now some 3 miles away.
We arrive there at 1.15 p.m. and saw the sign of “The White Swan” ahead of us. It was a very welcoming pub and Paul bought us all drinks together with soup or sandwiches – he must have had a good week! Lucinda seemed to be enjoying herself and Paul’s visit has certainly perked Tina up as she is finding the whole Coast to Coast walk as tiring as we are, perhaps even more so. We stayed at “The White Swan” for an hour which is a longer break than we normally take but as Paul and Lucinda had made the effort to come all this way we felt that we owed them at least an hour of our time. Paul transferred Pat and Mary’s excess luggage to his car, including one of the biggest cases I have ever had the misfortune to lift in my life – what Packhorse would have charged to transport it I do not know but it would have had to be sufficient to cover medical bills!
Paul had arranged to meet Pat and Mary’s daughter Caroline on the return journey at the services near to Sheffield so that he could transfer their luggage to her, no doubt for Caroline to wash and iron before her parents get home in just under a week’s time. Mary was not too confident that this would happen. At 2.15 p.m. we started off again with another 2 miles of road walking to do before we reached the comparative luxury of fields, paths and the notorious stiles which are inevitably surrounded by stinging nettles. The 10 mile walk through to Ingleby Cross from Danby Wiske was reasonably trouble-free and the underfoot conditions were the best we had encountered on the whole walk since we left St. Bees.
The only problem we had was when we were approaching the end of today’s walk at Ingleby Cross we had to cross the busy A19 road and the traffic was going very, very fast. Nevertheless we managed it alright and made our way for the remaining ½ mile towards the Blue Bell Inn where we are staying in self-contained chalets for the evening. I forgot to mention that from Bolton on Swale onwards it has rained all day and we got saturated but, in many ways we are lucky, because if we had to encounter another day of rain it was as good a day as any with the walking conditions underfoot excellent. We had a meal at the Blue Bell and it was excellent and competitively priced and we followed this with the now customary drinks.