Distance: 10.5 miles
At breakfast I met a policeman / biker who was training at the nearby military base near Catterick Bridge. He had ridden his bicycle on four 1000-mile charity rides, each completed in 7 days. What an event that would be!
I walked back up through the market square to reach the trail taking us westward from Richmond, which is on the eastern edge of the second national park on our trip: Yorkshire Dales National Park. There was a beautiful rainbow this morning, but the skies were once again threatening to open up in a downpour. As I climbed up the hill out of Richmond, the path entered a lovely forest, Whitecliffe Wood.
While enjoying the walk, I wondered about the knights on their mighty horses, carriages, or ox-carts that would have traveled this same route centuries ago as they made their way to Richmond.
Emerging from the forest, there was a lovely view of the River Swale as it made its way through Swaldale.
The rolling hills of farmers’ fields were criss-crossed with stone walls as boundary markers. Often stiles were built into the stone fences to ease local travel which was primarily by walking these paths.
A large limestone ridge, Applegarth Scar, was quite prominent as I approached Marske.
I had almost reached the halfway point of the C2C, and had become used to walking through pastures filled with cattle and or sheep. The trail frequently crossed private lands and the owners accepted the C2C hikers. The hikers, on the other hand, recognized that owners had allowed this path through their property and respected that ability to cross private lands.
One of the highlights of the day was the 375 Nun’s Steps, a stone paved trail that helped the walker navigate a hill between the village of Marrick and the Marrick Priory where the Benedictine nuns lived from the 12th to the 16th-century. The nuns apparently built the stone steps, which now wind through a lush field of wild garlic.
Toward the bottom of the hill I got a peek at the Marrick Priory, a Benedictine nunnery established in 1140, that had been converted into an outdoor school.
Everyday at about noon I would encounter many hikers who had left their western end of the day’s hike at the same time as I left the eastern end (right after breakfast, around 8:00am). Often as we passed we would stop, chat and trade information about the hike (sometimes called “trail gossip”). For several days I had been told by these other hikers of three American women from Vermont hiking east to west also (my direction) and not far ahead of me. Hiking alone, I hoped that I would meet them – it would be nice to meet other hikers going my way.
Once again, the River Swale appeared to complement the pleasing scenery. This time the fields were washed in a yellow hue with masses of little wildflowers.
Nearing Reeth, the path followed along a tiny country lane.
My B&B, Hackney House, was at the bottom of the hill just before entering Reeth. Rebecca, my host, invited me into the lounge and offered tea and cake. I really do love this afternoon (4:00) tea tradition!
After relaxing, it was time to check out Reeth. I discovered that Reeth was used in the BBC series, “All Creatures Great and Small” about the experiences of the rural veterinarian, James Herriott. As small as Reeth is, the film crew must have overwhelmed this little village. Also, the Swaldale Museum was intriguing. One highlight of this museum was a hand-written marriage proposal between two locals. Wool (in the form of hand knitting) and the lead mining industry played large parts in the local economy during the 18th to 19th-centuries. Reeth was the administrative center for the region’s lead production.
The village green was donated to the town in the 1600’s by Lord Phillip Wharton, which was of interest to me (my husband’s distant relative?)
Upon returning to the B&B, the other guests invited me to dine with them at the Black Bull at the top of the hill. They were experienced hikers who had hiked all over the world and were delightful dinner companions. I was again informed that there were three other American women walking in the same direction as I.