I awoke feeling really tired and my feet were aching already. I definitely wasn’t feeling up to tackling today’s longest stage at 23 miles, although it is also the flattest day. I don’t think it helped that I wasn’t particularly relishing the walk as I felt that it would be the least interesting day- a trudge across flat fields, farmlands and roads across the Vale of Mowbray. But the Vale must be crossed to reach the rolling Cleveland Hills so after a rather strange continental breakfast- with no croissants in sight- it was time to don the boots and descent Richmond’s cobbled streets to the river with the castle standing sentinel.

Once the clouds disappeared it became extremely hot and I was soon sweating as I walked through arable fields towards the A1. I decided that I was going to just take my time today and get through the walk, but was dismayed to see that the tunnel under the A1 was still closed due to roadworks, as they were supposed to have finished in March (I later found out that they had repeatedly been delayed due to more Roman remains being uncovered). This meant a hot and dusty detour by road, which would add an extra mile on today‘s total, which I really didn‘t need.

Richmond Castle

I was passed by a couple who, when I asked, confirmed that they too were walking the Coast to Coast, but they didn’t seem particularly friendly and soon left me behind as we joined a lovely path by the River Swale. It was a gorgeous day but I was less appreciative of it than I should have been as for some reason I was feeling at a really low ebb and everything seemed to be aching. I was still feeling despondent about leaving behind the others who had become such good friends in the few days we had walked together.


The River Swale near the A1

The map told me that there was a bench at Bolton-on-Swale and so I planned a rest stop, but when I reached it the couple who had passed me were firmly ensconced on it- grrrr! Instead I walked into the church yard, figuring that there may be a bench there- this also gave me chance to find the tomb of Henry Jenkins, who reputedly lived to the ripe old age of 169!

A sign advised that refreshments were available inside the church, and on entering its shady interior I was delighted to find coffee, tea, milk, mugs, cold drink and a kettle set out on trays. I gave a donation, made a coffee and sat out in the sun to drink it. It is these little finds just when you are at your lowest that make such a difference!

Old road sign

Suitably refreshed I set off across fields and then three miles of mercifully quiet road walking to Streetlam- god was it hot! I had really had enough and it seemed a real effort to reach Danby Wiske; all I could do was keep plodding as advised by Wainwright. I was glad to see that the pub was open so bought another coffee and a chocolate bar, which I ate with my lunch on the green.

Danby Wiske

It was a huge effort to heave myself up and carry on, plodding across more uneven farmland tracks, feeling my pace become increasingly slower. I found an honesty box offering Lucozade sports drinks, so bought one and necked it, and a little further on purchased a Boost bar from a fridge next to a stile that boasted an odd collection of skulls, witches brooms and a rat that spoke when you walked past it!

Unusual stile!

Shortly after though, just as I felt despair at the distance still to be covered with my throbbing feet, I had a welcome surprise- a text from my walking buddy, Helen. Unbeknown to me she had booked a room at the Bluebell Inn so that she could surprise me and spend the evening with me! This was such a lovely gesture and all my aches seemed to incredibly disappear- I put a spurt on, dicing with death by sprinting across the busy A19 and reaching Ingleby Cross far sooner than I expected.

Water tower, Ingleby Cross

It was great to spend the evening with a good friend and sink some beers, especially as I had been walking on my own since Keld. I felt quite invigorated, the aches were gone and my dark mood lifted completely. I went to bed happy and more than a little drunk!

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