Distance: 14 miles
Our hosts, Doreen and Frank, served their five guests a delicious breakfast. The other four were hiking the opposite direction (west to east) and were eager to give me advice about things not to miss in the next several days.
After breakfast I bid good-bye to the fine hosts at The Old School House and was on my way. It was another day of farmland, cow pastures, sheep and walking down quiet, paved country lanes. For several days I had encountered sporadic rain showers throughout the day and today was not different. I did get a little lost in one pasture as I got in it and could not find a way out, but with a little patience and GPS help, I finally escaped. I passed a magnificent tree house that the host tree seemed to have consumed.
Nearing Bolton-on-Swale, the path followed a wandering beck (stream) crossed by a small, arched, stone bridge.
Among the places that I was told not to miss by the other hikers at this morning’s breakfast was St. Mary’s Church at Bolton-on-Swale. The church was interesting and its graveyard had a particularly unique resident, one Henry Jenkins (1501-1670) who apparently lived to be 169 years old. While the date of his death is documented, his birth was determined by Henry’s recollection of “the earliest battle that he could remember”. He stated that he, as a boy, had carried arrows for the English archers in the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. In 1743, a master of Magdalene College (University of Cambridge) honored this aged man by placing a memorial obelisk in this churchyard.
I wandered around the churchyard and then through the church while waiting for a rainstorm to pass. Some ladies in the church were most helpful by drawing my attention to several items of interest, including the fact that the church was originally constructed in the 14th-century on the site of Saxon and Norman buildings.
Soon, as was often the case, the rain ceased and the sun re-appeared. I was able to resume my walk, which occasionally ran along the River Swale.
Eventually, the trail continued past miles of road walking and farmyards and ventured into lush woods bathed in wildflowers and little babbling becks.
Days of rain had left the trail very gooey and slippery with thick mud but caused the lush undergrowth of wild garlic to flourish.
An impressive first view of Richmond and its once mighty castle:
My B&B for the night, The Old Brewery, was at the foot of the hill on which the town of Richmond sits. I stopped at the B&B to drop off my pack before climbing the hill to the town center and the castle.
Richmond is the largest town on the C2C path and its market square is a hub of activity. The town was established in 1071 by Alan Rufus, five years after a turning point in English history, the Battle of Hastings, where William, the Duke of Normandy (aka the Conqueror), and his French army defeated the Anglo-Saxon English. Rufus fought with William in that struggle and was awarded property, including the land which became the township, for his service. During Medieval times wool was the root of the economy. However, in the 17th and 18th-centuries lead mining emerged as the primary industry.
After having an afternoon tea at the Cross View Tearooms, I explored the fascinating Richmond Castle. Begun in 1086, it is now considered to be the best preserved early Norman castle in England. By the 16th century it had been allowed to go to ruin and remained so for 300 years. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was romanticized by well-known artists and became a tourist attraction. The North York Militia called the castle home during the Victorian Era. Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, was a commander here for a short while. During WWI it housed conscientious objectors. The castle is now a lovely place to spend the afternoon strolling about, imaging bygone eras or just lying on the vast, green lawn resting tired legs and feet.
The castle has a commanding view in all directions. Looking down on the River Swale, I could see where I had caught my first sight of the castle when I approached the town earlier in the day.