After a rest day in Richmond, we readied to set off on day 15 with fresh legs and only about 75 miles in front of us before we could dip our toes in the North Sea! The next stage of the walk is one that gets the most grumbles from A.W. labeling it as a enjoyable only if you fancy placid rural scenery and have an interest in farming. He goes on to accuse the “hills” and “moors” labels on maps of these parts as misleading at best.
Before stepping off, we powered up with another over the top delicious breakfast at Willance House. Almost too close to call between Willance House in Richmond and Cambridge House in Reeth but I think Willance deserves the top spot for the trip. The hike for the day was prettier than A.W. claimed it to be but he didn’t miss on the lack of elevation. When the GPS was stopped in Ingleby Arncliffe, we had only climbed 656 feet over the 14.24 miles. While there was no shortage of sheep in the hills, we were now in cow country. This meant larger piles of poop for Meredith to step in (she seemed to have a knack for this) but it also meant calves instead of lambs. The thing about calves is their moms weigh 2,000 lbs not 200 lbs like lambs’ moms do. We were warned to be mindful crossing fields during calving season but fared well… on the first day.
Day 16 ( 22 May) started uneventfully in Danby Wiske. Breakfast and hit the trails. Off the road and cutting through fields of grain, hedgerows, and gates. There was some debate about amber waves of grain that was basically irrelevant to the task at hand and one’s overall level of American-ness. We met a horse. It was nice… maybe because it was bribed… but likely because it was just nice. We even made our way through a field of mares with their foals without issue. Then we came upon a field of calves near Wray House Farm (pg 216 on Map 69, you’ll want to mark it in red) and that’s when things got dicey. I would call it a mini-stampede of 700 lbs skittish and obviously bloodthirsty bovines! Phil and Meredith made it across the field to the safety of a stile and kept the beasts at bay while Dad and Elaine smartly circumnavigated to avoid the field. Danger behind us, we found an inviting hillside to eat our lunch then finished the walk to Ingleby Arncliffe. Another 10 miles down.
Day 17 reintroduced us to our long lost friends: hills. The day prior was 10 miles with a piddly 650 some feet of climb where the hike from Ingleby Arncliffe to Great Broughton had 2,900 feet of climb packed into 11 miles of trail. After an initial climb, we settled into the steep rolling ups and downs of Cringle Moor, Kirby Bank, and Hasty Bank making sure to take in the view from on top of the Wainstones. Outside of Lakeland, these were A.W.’s favorite views and we understand why.
We spent the night in Great Broughton and treated ourselves to a G&T and maybe a pint or two. The first part of the hike on day 18 (24 May) was a 500 ft climb up to Urra Moor. Once on the plateau, the path is wide and the miles tick by quickly. By early afternoon we make it to the Lion Inn which is pretty much the only tavern for miles.
We made some mid-trip adjustments to our itinerary that worked out quite well. On day 19 (25 May) we continued along the wide path on the moors and down into the Esk Valley. The route includes an obligatory stop at “Fat Betty,” a squat little white landmark, where we both took and left a sweet on the rock. The day’s hike was mostly downhill so we were able to make quick work of the 12 miles. Each couple exchanged a kiss on Beggar’s Bridge, we made our way through East Arncliffe Wood (is it wood or woods?), and cleaned up at another bit of fantastic accommodations at the Old Mill.
Pressing all the way to Egton Bridge on the 25th gave us a little more time on the 26th (day 20) to see Grosmont en route to Littlebeck. A cup of coffee, a stroll through the North Yorkshire Moors Railway museum (Harry Potter’s train hails from here), and a few purchases at the local art store were a great way to spend the morning. The Ploughman’s lunch and pint was an even better way to turn the morning into an afternoon. Alas, we were unable to dodge the climb out of Grosmont forever. Up we go on the “calf-popping, 700 ft climb” in under a mile and arrive at the top of Sleights Moor which the guide book says is part of “Eskdaleside Cum Ugglebarnby” but I have no idea what that means. We then proceeded back down, cutting through a couple fields and eventually arriving in Littlebeck where a car brought us back to the Old Mill for the night and another fantastic dinner (at a different restaurant, no duplicates!). Stage 4 closed out. 190 miles down. 12 to go. We go to bed excited to finish but wishing the end of our travels were not so near.