Reeth to Colburn (13.2 miles / 121.5 miles)
Solid caravan though it was, it was clear, from the constant rattling of the windows overnight, that the wind had picked up and reports coming in from those not lucky enough to be sleeping on a sofa were that the trees sounded as if they were going to become one with their tents at any moment. However, as was evidenced by us all being present and correct at Reeth’s corner shop, we had all survived the night.
I decided to take it a little easier today and saved a whopping 3kg off my pack weight by strapping my tent and carry mat to Di’s bag and having it transported by the Coast to Coast Packhorse Service to the Hildyard Arms in Colburn. Being an office weakling, my pack has been causing me a few problems with my shoulders and despite Michelle’s help yesterday to adjust the straps helping immeasurably, I was resorting to taking drugs to get me through. Now my bag was as light as a feather, I could have skipped to the bag drop off point had it not been for the fact that Di’s backpack now could only be moved safely by two people and even then, only once a full health and safety risk assessment had been undertaken.
The backpacks weren’t the only things being transported today. Stephen, who had been carrying a knee injury, pretty much since he had started the Coast to Coast was finally having to call it a day. This was the biggest fear for all of us. Having survived the tough Lake District section we all knew we were capable of completing the walk, provided we stayed healthy and didn’t get injured. It was also Michele’s last day on the trail too as she was finishing in Richmond to get ready to meet friends and explore more of the country.
Our goodbyes said, it was time for us all to descend on the shop to buy, what else, flapjacks before I went off to meet Alicia and Linda about a mile into the trail. I am not sure what the collective noun for mountain bikers is, but there were certainly a crankset of them for that entire mile with their tents covering the fields all the way to our meeting point. If I couldn’t have gotten in to the caravan park, I don’t think I would have had too much trouble just pitching up with these guys.
Our triumvirate reunited once again, we set off on, what was for them, just a ten mile trip along the Swale to Richmond, and for me a slightly longer trip to the pub in Colburn. They must have had a pretty hearty breakfast at the YHA as we completed the journey to Richmond in just four hours and this included two breaks. Firstly at the top of the hill just outside a village called Marrick when we suddenly all got phone signals once more and fulfilled the duty of texting concerned family and friends and a secondly, at the St Edmond the Martyr Church in Marske where we recuperated from more potential bovine based attacks this time from a herd that included a bull. My recounting of the story of the cows that followed silently and sinisterly behind me in a field near Maldon didn’t help the situation but I made up for that, fortified with enough ignorance of their true danger to my person, by always allowing myself to be between them and my walking companions. Sheep remain my favourite of the farmyard animals.
The congregation delayed their service so we could stock up on food and from their refreshment stall inside the church and the vicar very kindly, but in my case, an assessment lacking entirely in precision, described us as travelling angels. We sat in the graveyard talking to a couple who were doing a section of the Pennine Way, eating chocolate, drinking Lucozade, sharing our walking experiences and probably discussing, on a scale of 1 to 10, how dangerous cows can be.
That done, at around 1pm we arrived in Richmond where I left Alicia and Linda so I could get off to Colburn and pitch up for the night. I was safely at the pub by 2pm, despite going slightly wrong and having to clamber over a barbed wire fence, and got my food order of steak and ale pie with a side order of ale in before last food orders were called. Imagine my dismay when they called me in to the restaurant, in my current state, with families having a nice lunch and me smelling like cheese that had been in the sun for too long. So as not to make them suffer my own version of chemical warfare for longer than they had to and so I didn’t have to suffer the social stigma of smelling like a vagrant, I inhaled the food as rapidly as I could only stopping to chew every few mouthfuls before running for the shower.
These cost 50p for 10 minutes and came with a bonus of a discarded, half full bottle of exfoliating mint and tea tree Original Source shower gel left behind by a previous camper. I don’t know if you have ever timed yourself in a shower, but 10 minutes is an absolute age, even in the days of having long hair and even in my current state of poor hygiene, so the majority of time was spent letting the soothing, hot water fall on my aching shoulders. Changing into clothes that people weren’t able to smell from three miles off, I finished setting up camp and did some washing in the sink (subsequently fixing the broken plug with my penknife), before counting the other Coast to Coasters home. Sam was first up, walking alone for the first time and happy to realise that Stephen hadn’t left the trail with his tent pegs.
Although having already eaten, I naturally said yes to Bridget’s offer of a steak sandwich, which she apologetically offered to us as the kitchens were now closed, and whilst eating them over pint, Mark, one of the locals and a recently retired builder, befriended us. He enjoyed telling us stories about properties he would fix up that had been sold to people with more money than sense and lack of good survey. Still it seemed to keep him in beer and Manchester City shirts.
As the evening went on, the pub got fuller with walkers, the bar got dryer, the locals’ stories got taller and we all got slightly more inebriated. It was another good day and evening on the trail.