We have a light breakfast of toast and tea/coffee before piling into the car with Wendy and her boarder collie, Endora. Wendy is obviously used to flying a broom not driving a car and I almost shit myself a few times on the crazy drive into town (19 miles away). I kiss the ground when we finally get out and after hitting up the ATM, my worries fade away into nothing.
We get back into the car and enjoy a white-knuckled drive back to the farm. We pack up our gear and as I'm looking around to make sure we've gotten all of our belongings, I find a bird skull in the sitting room. Nice. Wendy the Witch strikes again.
Wendy takes our picture - probably to use with a spell later that night. We hug and kiss them both and try to express our sincere gratitude for their generosity. They tell us its nothing and as we climb the very steep mountain at the back of their property, they patiently stand in the yard waiting for us to reach the top. They make us promise to turn and wave when we reach the top. They explain that it's their tradition.
We honor their request and give hearty, over the head waves. I blow kisses to boot. Then we're off again. Our walk is rather short today; only 8.5 miles and mostly flat. We're crossing the moors and they are VERY flat and very desolate. Lonely, in fact. My calves are the best they've been in several days and we're moving along at a pretty good clip. The landscape is barren and boring and we both seem to just want to get to where we're going and get out of this lonely, moonscape environment. As we're crossing some boggy areas, I stretch extra far to prevent slime from filling my boots when it happens. I hear and feel a pop in my right butt muscle.
I holler loud enough for Lauren (who is listening to her Ipod), to turn to see what's wrong. I'm stuck. My right glut is cramping and on fire and I think I'm gonna go face first in the muck. Left leg to the rescue. I pull myself out of the muck and stand there wondering what the hell I'm gonna do now. I tell Lauren I'm fine and she believes me. She's off like a shot and I stand there worried about the rest of the day.
I soon learn that my normal stride is completely out of the question unless I want to scream every time I move my right leg. I find that if I shorten my stride (considerably), that I can quicken my gait. I'm still not able to keep up with Lauren but I can move and that's all that counts. Every so often, I think the muscle is fine and attempt to go back to my normal stride. It is then that I scream and stop walking for a few moments.
After 8.5 miles of nothing to see, a red tiled roof appears on the horizon. Instincts tell me that it's the Lion Inn. I am able to move faster and within an hour or so, Lauren and I step inside a most welcome pub. We run into a British foursome that spent the night at the Vane House the night before. They didn't like it either. We banter and tease and promise to catch up with each other the next day.
We enjoy the best lasagna we've had since Shap and after a few pints, I call the innkeeper in Rosedale. He comes to collect us and our bags and take us to his mansion; the Sevenford House. This is the nicest home in which we've had the pleasure of staying. It's truly a mansion with a grand staircase and 12 foot ceilings. Every room, including our bedroom, has a fireplace. Our beds are decked in the most comfortable of covers and we know it's going to be a great night.
After a shower and a pot of tea in the library, we walk down the hill to the Grey Horse Farm for dinner. Lauren is limping badly and the short walk takes a long time and it begins to rain. It's a busy pub with a fancy dining room. We opt for the pub (we're still wearing muddy boots) and who is sitting there but the group from the Lion Inn. We talk and laugh until they wander off to the dining room. Lauren enjoys a bowl of soup with crusty bread and I devour a cheese board. We're not really that hungry but know we need to eat something.
As we leave the pub to walk back to our mansion, we see some ponies in a field. Neither of us can resist and in spite of the rain, we're soon at the fence cooing and reaching to pet our furry, four-legged friends. The rain encourages us to hobble home and since it's uphill, my butt and Lauren's knee/hip make that a difficult walk. However, once back in Wayne Manor, we have the best night's sleep we've had in a few nights. We are almost to the end of this adventure and it just doesn't seem possible...where has the time gone? I've been planning for years and here we are just days from Robin Hood's Bay. It's a happy feeling and I know I'm a lucky girl sleeping in a mansion's bedroom with a beautiful fireplace.
I can hear Lauren's breathing deepen and I know she's asleep. I smile and drift off to join her.
17 Day Itinerary
Our walk begins in St. Bee's on the West Coast of Great Britain at the Irish Sea. Almost 200 miles later, we will find ourselves at the North Sea in Robin Hood's Bay.
Day 1 - Moor Row, 9 miles The Jasmine House
Day 2 - Ennerdale, 8 miles Low Cock How Farm
Day 3 - Seatoller, 14 miles Seatoller Farm
Day 4 - Grasmere, 10.5 miles Town Head Farm
Day 5 - Patterdale, 7.5 miles Grisdale Lodge
Day 6 - Shap, 16 miles Brookfield House
Day 7 - Orton, 8 miles The Westons
Day 8 - Kirby Stephen, 13.5 miles The Black Bull
Day 9 - Keld, 14 miles Keld Lodge
Day 10 - Richmond, 14 miles The Old Brewery
Day 11 - Danby-Wiske, 14 miles Old School House
Day 12 - Osmotherly, 12 miles 32 South End
Day 13 - Clay Bank Top, 11 miles The Maltkiln House
Day 14 - Blakley Ridge, 8.5 miles The Sevenford House
Day 15 - Grosmont, 14 miles The Station Inn
Day 16 - Robin Hood's Bay, 16 miles The Raven House
Of course, these distances don't account for getting lost and doubling back a few times, avoiding an aggressive herd of heifers or navigating the moors.... or wandering off in search of a pint.