July 6 – Our B&B host (who had a gorgeous garden filled with feeders and birds of all sorts for our breakfast watching pleasure) ferried us back to Blakey Ridge. The trail started with several miles of highway walking, so he did us the favor of dropping us off at the end of the highway where the soft track began. A shepherd’s hut dated 1801.
We continue to scratch our heads at some of the instructions on our guidebook maps. This morning it said we would be walking along a “metalled” road. We saw tarmac and dirt track, but no metal. A mystery. (A Google search afterward informed us that in Britain a paved road is sometimes called a metalled road.)
Yesterday we were told to look for “grouse butts.” Huh? Little bird heinies? Today we came across several camouflaged stone structures as we walked. Perhaps hunters hide behind them when they wish to be concealed from the grouse? Like a duck blind or a deer stand? Grouse butts.
Before we knew it, we had reached the little town of Glaisdale. There’s an old church here, with a wooden baptismal font cover that dates from the sixteenth century. I especially liked one of the stained glass windows. There is a portrait of Tom Ferries here.
The Beggar’s Bridge is here. The legend says that in the early 1600s, Tom Ferries, a pauper lad, fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy local squire, but the swollen River Esk kept him from visiting her. He went to sea, made his fortune, returned to town, became mayor, built a bridge across the river and married his true love.
Our travel brokers arranged for a taxi to take us to the next town, Egton Bridge, where we are booked in the same hotel for two nights. We thought this would be a treat, but it is the saddest accommodation we’ve had on this trip – a bit run down, poorly managed by two overworked young girls, and most importantly, no WiFi! Once again, we were assigned a time to eat supper in the hotel’s overpriced restaurant, (no other options nearby) and we dare not be late! This too shall pass.
July 7 – A good breakfast this morning, and as we made our plans for the day, we realized that the trail was just down the road. Why were we instructed to take a taxi? We ended up just canceling the taxi and walking on from where we were. The RC church of St. Hedda is here. I liked the windy steps up to the organ loft.
We walked along a toll road. We weren’t charged.
A short hike got us to the pretty little town of Grosmont, very touristy, and the home of the last coal fired steam engines in England. Although these beauties were retired from service 50 years ago, they run one train between Grosmont and Pickering for the tourists to ride. These are the very engines seen in the Harry Potter films as the students steam their way to Hogwarts each year.
From the engine yard, the road went up, and up, and up some more, reminiscent of the streets of San Francisco.
We huffed our way higher and higher until it seemed we were looking down from an airplane. At the summit of the hill, high above the tree line, it was perfectly quiet. Nothing grew more than a few inches tall. It felt like we were walking on the moon.
Down the other side of the hill, across a field, and we approached the town of Littlebeck.
This is where our trail will end for the day. A taxi has been arranged to shuttle us back to Egton Bridge. We waited for it in front of a little Methodist chapel, which welcomed hikers and provided hot chocolate and tea. Nice People of England.