Since leaving home almost two weeks ago, Lauren and I have been together. Either walking together, sleeping in the same bed or sleeping in different beds in the same room or eating at the same table. We haven't been apart and (at least from my perspective), we haven't needed to be. Last night we had separate rooms at different ends of the hallway. I won't spill all of the beans but all I will say is that one of us snuck into the other's room in night because we didn't like being apart.
As we are packing up to leave Keld Lodge, which is a converted youth hostel, it begins to rain. Again. We unpack our stuff to pull out the rain gear and off we go, knowing we have another 14 miles to cover before we can sample some more TEA (Traditional English Ale). I love TEA but don't like tea. Lauren, on the other hand, has become quite the regular Brit and loves her tea but doesn't like TEA.
It is after starting out that I remember we have a choice today. We can take the high route along abandoned lead mines (doesn't sound very exciting) or the low route, which wanders through a couple of hamlets that have pubs! For the first time since we started on this walk, we have the chance to stop into a pub along the way for a pint and bite, the way God intended walking to be. This is what I practiced for all those months back home.
Lauren wants the low route too because like her Momma, she loves pubs. Good Girl. Now if only I can get her to drink TEA.
Its about 2 1/2 miles to the first pub opportunity but since we set off about 9, I'm worried we'll get there too early to find the pub open. I begin walking more slowly. We're in lovely country - crossing farmer's fields. Some full of sheep, some full of my favorite (cows) and even a field of nosy ponies. In one field, there were some crazy antics that could have kept me entertained for hours but for the pubs calling my name from afar. A small lamb had squeezed under a fence from one paddock to the next. The sheep in the paddock he'd snuck into knew he didn't belong and they were bleating at him to get the hell back to where he came from. He was frantically running back and forth in front of the fence, calling to his mommy. As a couple of rams were about to butt him, the police came into assist. This particular officer was a young heifer and she put herself between the rams and the lamb and mooed a lot. Although I felt badly for the poor lamb who couldn't figure out how to get back where it belonged, I enjoyed watching the scene play out. The heifer kept her vigil and did her best to moo directions to the lamb who apparently isn't fluent in bovine.
Lauren and I agree that sheep/lambs have about a 3 second memory. They are not the smartest animal God created nor do they smell the best but they are sometimes quite funny. The lambs have stolen our hearts and as soon as we get home, I'm going to convince Dougie that we should be sheep farmers. I'll keep you posted on that.
The ponies were all gathered at the gate we were trying to open and close behind us but they wouldn't move. We didn't want to open the gate and have them make a great escape because I didn't pack my lasso. We told them to shove off and pretended we were going to poke them with our walking sticks. They finally got bored of us and mostly wandered away. We went in and closed the gate behind us and made our way across the field. Owen had apples in his pockets and apparently ponies have an excellent sense of smell. He became the source of great interest so Lauren and I simply walked to the next gate without a problem. He didn't have such an easy time and when we finally made it through the style at the other end of the field, his pants were wet. He blamed it on the water bladder in his backpack and said that it was leaking but I think he was afraid of the ponies and pissed his pants. I wouldn't have imagined that dwarves were afraid of ponies.
We finally made it to the first pub. Yay! It was closed. Boo. It's hard to gather energy to keep going after such a disappointment but it was either go forward to find the next pub or tackle the ponies again. Onward! Only another 2 miles to Gunnderside, home of the King's Head Pub.
Our next encounter with cows was not the cute, cuddly experiences of the past few days. I was raised on a farm with cows so, although I respect their size and power, I'm not afraid of them. We entered a field and immediately felt the tension in the air. There were several milkers staring us down and standing in the middle of our path. I told Lauren and Owen to just keep walking, be as quiet as possible and mind your own business. That usually works. Not this time. They were visibly agitated and I could read their vibes loud and clear. It was then that we noticed half a dozen young calves behind them. Aha! It then made perfect sense. They were protecting their babies. We honored their wishes and went along the perimeter of the field to stay as far away as possible from the calves. This required walking through crap (literally) that almost went over the tops of our boots. You are welcome, ladies. I wouldn't do this for just anyone.
We finally arrived at the pub, which was scheduled to open at noon. She opened at 12:30 but no matter. The sun was shining and there was a cat who wanted our attention. We had a delicious lunch and a couple of pints and set out again. Funny how I don't walk quite so fast after a few pints. I also had to find a tree more than once. Good thing Owen and Lauren were far ahead because they never noticed me stopping to pee behind a tree.
A few miles later, we had the opportunity to cross the Swale River (we'd been walking next to it on and off for days) into another small village with a pub. Lauren and I thought it was smashing idea but Lauren's dwarf was cranky and itching to get the day over with. We pressed on while I muttered under my breath about the whole thing.
Why do we have to climb and climb just to descend and then climb again? That's how we finally arrived in Reeth. We walked into the King's Arms (another pub and our home for the night) and sat down to a pint. We showered and changed into clothes that were less dirty than the ones we were wearing and went back downstairs for dinner. Owen joined us later and we bought him a cider. I read somewhere that dwarves like cider. I'm not sure though because he was still a bit cranky.
We said goodnight and fell instantly to sleep in our twin beds, knowing we had yet another 14 mile day facing us. It's easy to sleep when you've been outside in fresh air getting stinky all day.
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.