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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge

Gillian offered me breakfast at 6:00am, since I wanted an early start—another reason to select the Mill House if you’re in that area and want an early start—as far as I know, she’s the only one who will do so!

Gillian dropped me off right at the foot of the path to the Swainstye farm, which she told me would take me to the booster station at the top of the hill. I’m glad she knew where to take me, because I was expecting a dirt road, but it was instead very nice pavement. The walk up was quick in the cool morning air, but the cloudy sky was definitely a hint that this was not going to be another, hot dry day.

At the Booster station, I picked up the Cleveland way, marked with the sign of an acorn. I walked along the forest, and then out into a moor. A light drizzle started to come down right after I put on sunscreen in a fit of optimism, but the trail immediately dived into a forest trail, so I did not bother putting up the umbrella since the forest canopy was thick enough to prevent any rain from actually touching me. I put on my ipod and plugged away.

The trail went up and down, but I made good time and soon hit Lord Stone Manor at 10:00am, much earlier than anticipated, and had not used much of my water. I took the opportunity to fill up, since this was the last chance to fill up for the rest of the walk. There., I met Ray, and offered to walk together with him, but he demurred, saying that he couldn’t keep up with me with that my lightweight setup today.

I went on ahead then, pushing my way up the hills. It was warmer now, but with the wind blowing at a pretty good clip. I started to feel driven by twin demons of rain and wind. Add sun to it and I felt compelled to move as quickly as possible, eating and drinking on the move, stopping only to change socks or take something out of the pack.

Soon enough, I hit the Wainstones past Clay Bank top, the last climb of the day. I saw no obvious way up Wainstones, and ended up following a path around it which resulted in some scrambling, but reached the top with no ado. Then the long walk on Urra Moor. The book said it would take 45 minutes, but at about an hour, I still hadn’t seen any of the landmarks described in the book. Getting worried, the trail narrowed and I approached something of an obstacle across the path.

Fortunately, there was a couple sitting on an embankment having lunch, so I asked where I was. The man hopped up and told me that I wanted the railroad track, which I was at (the Rosedale Junction), not any of the turn-offs that was prominent there. This turned out to be a fortituous stop, since everyone behind me would take an incorrect turn at this point. And no wonder, since when I asked him to point out where I was on the map, I was a full page away from where I thought I was!

I walked along the boring path, stopping to change socks at this point, and ate three bars in rapid succession. I then ran into a guy with a Land Rover who agreed to take a picture for me. I then met some walkers who were doing the coast to coast East to West, and they told me I was two hours away from the Lion Inn. Indeed, at 2:30 I spotted the Lion Inn. The sky started to cloud over and rain drops started falling, prompting me to open my umbrella. I strolled along, not too worried and pretty comfortable under my umbrella, but then the wind grew strong and the raindrops grew heavier. I quickened my pace, and soon reached the bottom of the turn-off to Blakey Ridge, which was unsigned.

Lightning and Thunder were now evident around me, and I stared at the Blakey Moor sign for a half second before deciding that if there was any time to run now was it. I leapt up along the trial, trying to dodge the puddles that had just formed, but in vain—the water was now coming down in sheets. The umbrella was holding up, but with the deluge of water I was getting soaked anyway! By the time I got to the Inn, I was quite a sight, and made an impressive entrance into the Inn—umbrella dripping in my left hand, hiking stick in my right, also dripping, clothes drenched from hat to shoes. If I had thought about it, I would have struck a pose like Sarah Michelle Gellar at the end of the Buffy episode, since all that liquid dripping off my stuff would have evoked that image, “Anne.” Lisa was there at the Inn having tea right at the entrance and was relieved to see me, drenched as I was.

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