A Wedding Anniversary To Remember!
I’m sure it’s not often that someone can say they celebrated their wedding anniversary whilst walking the Coast to Coast path. Well this year, we did just that! It was perhaps more of a day reminiscing about the event 8 years ago and less of a celebration. (It’s far too difficult hiking with the additional weight of alcoholic beverages, and even more difficult hiking after the consumption of some, as we found out in Alston).
But it was a nice day nonetheless as we returned to the Yorkshire Dales. Having discovered the beauty of the Dales just a couple of weeks ago when walking the Pennine Way, they have now become one of our firm English favourites.
Our 8th Wedding anniversary was spent walking the Coast to Coast Path.
Day 11 – Kirkby Stephen to Keld. (12 miles) – Tuesday 29th July 2014 – ‘Returning To The Dales’
As usual, we weren’t in too much of a rush to get going, especially as it was our 8th Wedding anniversary today! So we took our time and instead of attempting to fill ourselves up on porridge, which has become our standard camp breakfast, we treated ourselves to smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps. One word – delicious!
The best alternative to porridge – smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps for breakfast!
We were loathed to leave possibly the best campsite of our entire trip, but it helped to soften the blow by knowing we would be returning to the Yorkshire Dales today. We were looking forward to revisiting Keld, the crossing point and halfway marker of both the Coast to Coast Walk and Pennine Way for two reasons. Firstly, the Dales were a real scenic favourite of ours from our first long distance hike and secondly the campsite we had previously stayed at in Keld has great showers that are both powerful and hot. (A combination not always easy to find!)
When we finally set off from Kirkby Stephen, we found ourselves walking in tow with an uncle, dad and son from Rotherham, a town relatively close to our neck of the woods. They were also walking the Coast to Coast for charity but walked at a much faster pace than us as they were on a tighter schedule. We chatted for a while, which took our minds off the ‘up’ to ‘Nine Standards Rigg’ and we later bumped into them again once we reached Keld. Nine Standards Rigg at 662 metres is the summit of Hartley Fell and was our high point of the day. There are 9 individual cairns near the summit, however for what reason they were built and by whom, historians remain unsure. One possibility is that they marked the boundary between Westmorland and Swaledale – but who really knows?
Heading up to Nine Standards Rigg.
Still heading up to Nine Standards Rigg. If you look closely Wayne is in the picture on the left!
In my opinion the most interesting cairn!
What exactly they were built for no one is sure.
It was coming down from Nine Standards Rigg that we had our first experience of bog whilst walking the Coast to Coast, and in turn this meant wet feet. We tried to avoid it, but with great difficulty as the trail was more than a few metres wide due to other people seeking alternative routes too. Seeing how bad the trail was at this point really emphasised to us the issue of trail erosion on popular walks. We’re going to try really hard in future to stick to the designated trail – bog or not – and if we get wet feet, so be it!
Oh bog how we’ve missed you! Our first experience of bog on the Coast to Coast.
Quite possibly the tallest cairn we’ve come across.
Returning to the Dales, but managing to stay one step ahead of the rain so far!
We had a quick stop for lunch a couple of miles from Keld, just past Ravenseat, where we resisted the lure of a ‘cream tea’ at the nearby farm as we were already stocked up with supplies. Although the weather had not been the best, with clouds overhead threatening rain, we managed to reach Keld without getting our waterproofs out. The sun even made a short appearance.
The sun breaks out as we walk into Keld.
It was an early arrival at the Park House Campsite so we had plenty of time for a shower and to relax in the ‘Campers Shed’ complete with sofa, table and chairs, kettle, toaster and microwave! (This is another campsite in Keld. On the Pennine Way we stayed at Rukin’s Park Lodge Campsite. We decided it was good to support more than one local business and spread the wealth. – Plus ‘Park House’ has chairs!) It was here in the ‘Campers Shed’ that we caught up with the Rotherham guys from earlier in the day who came inside to eat their home-cooked dinner pre-ordered from the farmhouse. It smelt delicious and we drooled with envy as we sat down to a chicken cuppa-soup and Thai instant noodles, despite it being our wedding anniversary. Well we had treated ourselves to smoked salmon for breakfast! We chatted to the guys during the evening. There was a lot of banter and tale swapping of various hikes and travels before we all hit the sack around 10pm. But not before I’d cleaned all of the kitchen area in the ‘shed’ (I just couldn’t help myself) and Wayne had raided the cupboards for replenishments of salt, olive oil and washing up liquid, topping up our travel size bottles! (He just couldn’t help himself!)
Park House Campsite, Keld. If you fancy a spot of ‘glamping’ you can stay in a Mongolian Yurt.
Day 12 – Keld to Reeth. (12.6 miles) – Wednesday 30th July 2014 – ‘A Riverside Ramble’
We were looking forward to our Swaledale river valley walk today – but unfortunately the sunshine did not come out to play. This was quite disappointing as our walk from Hawes to Keld on the Pennine Way was particularly scenic. We got lots of great photos of the rolling hills set against a background of blue skies and fluffy clouds and Wayne had plenty of time lapse opportunities. But sadly this was not to be repeated.
Which way on the Coast to Coast? The Pennine Way also goes through Keld.
It was back to porridge for breakfast, which was instantly better now we’ve managed to buy some more milk powder to use instead of water. (Wayne is desperate to expend our 500g bag of oats so he can lighten his load, which should happen sooner now that our porridge no longer resembles wallpaper paste!)
After packing up the tent and doing the washing up, we set off from camp around 9:45am (another not so early start) and took the ‘low’ route out of Keld. We chose this option having previously took the ‘high’ route coming into Keld on the Pennine Way. It was an easy morning of walking, mostly through farmland alongside the River Swale.
Leaving Keld we spotted a good opportunity for ‘Grand Designs’.
Looking down onto Swaledale.
Opting to take the low route and follow the River Swale.
Looking back towards Keld.
We had to cross the river to get to Gunnerside.
As we had a short walk today to reach Reeth, we decided to have a rest-stop in the village of Gunnerside at the Ghyllfoot Tea Rooms. We looked at the menu and couldn’t resist ordering a pint mug of ‘Yorkshire’ tea and a bowl of chips to share!
The tiny village green in Gunnerside with paraphernalia left from the ‘Tour de France’.
Visiting the Ghyllfoot Tea Room for a rest-stop.
Enjoying a ‘pint’ mug of Yorkshire tea!
After leaving Gunnerside we were literally stopped in our tracks. Not by an aggressive looking cow I might add, but by an unusual stile that was more of a gap in the wall, and not a very big gap at that. We both struggled to get through, particularly as our bags are so large! (It must have looked funny to anyone who spotted us trying to squeeze through!) In the end we sort of manoeuvred ourselves up and over. You’d have thought we’d be used to all these stiles and gates by now, but they do take a certain knack!
Not the easiest stile to get through!
Literally wedged in the gap! HELP!
A nice section of the walk along a wall top!
We reached the village of Reeth around 3:00pm. It was a shame it was such a dull and overcast day otherwise I think Reeth would have had plenty of sunbathers out on the village green. There is a huge open space in the centre with lots of pubs and gift shops surrounding it and it seemed like a Mecca for tourists. We stocked up with food supplies at the village store, then headed to the nearby campsite Orchard Caravan Park.
Stocking up with food supplies in the village of Reeth.
Looking across to the village green.
Arriving at the Orchard Caravan Park.
On arrival, we were met by the friendly warden Peter, who gave us a nice surprise! He explained that the caravan park has a couple of old static caravans that they keep on site for the exclusive use of Coast to Coast walkers. When he offered us the use of the caravan as an alternative to camping but for the same price, we simply couldn’t refuse!
A nice surprise waiting for us at Orchard Caravan Park!
Coast to Coast walkers are offered the use of a static caravan for the night!
Yes the caravan has seen better days, but we were literally thrilled at the prospect of having a sofa to sit on, a bed for the evening and a toilet right next door. Plus the added bonus of electric sockets to charge our devices! What more could we possibly wish for after a day’s hiking?!
Making myself at home straight away!
We quickly made ourselves at home, and Wayne being his usual self, raided the cupboards to see what goodies he might find. Previous walkers had left behind all sorts of bits and pieces – the best of which being a packet of ‘Vesta’ ready-made paella! We added it to tonight’s menu which we’d already decided would be scrambled eggs, having picked up some more free range eggs on our way into the village. The other goodie we fancied was a tin of mixed beans, which would have been the perfect accompaniment, but we couldn’t find a tin opener anywhere in the caravan to get them open.
Wayne prepares for our evening meal.
Going all posh with someone else’s unwanted paella as an accompaniment to our scrambled eggs!
Dinner was good, sleeping on a mattress was even better! (Thanks so much to Peter at the Orchard Caravan Park for this wonderful gesture). The kindness of strangers along the way, both on the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast path, has really overwhelmed us. Our night in the caravan is certainly a night we’ll remember!
Day 13 – Reeth to Richmond. (13.5 miles) – Thursday 31st July 2014 – ‘A Swaledale Stroll’
A momentous day – Wayne finally saw fit to dispose of his Salomon trail runners. As he had bought replacements back in Ambleside during our time in the Lake District, he was just prolonging the inevitable! They had really worn down and were ready for the bin but he just didn’t want to say goodbye to his favourites. But it was time…
Out with the old, in with the new!
After letting go of his beloved shoes and waving goodbye to the caravan, we set off on a Swaledale stroll to Richmond. Again, it was not going to be a long walking day with around 10 miles to get there, so we made the most of our temporary facilities before setting off around 10:00am.
Following the River Swale again.
Heading through farmland on the way to Richmond.
Only 6 miles to go!
A lot of field walking today.
Wayne loves a good cairn shot!
Through the forest…
Today’s walk took us through more farmland and was mostly on the flat so we averaged a speed of 2.8 miles an hour – quite possibly a record with our heavy backpacks. With such a good pace we reached Richmond by 2:00pm!
Heading into Richmond, one of Alfred Wainwright’s favourite places on the Coast to Coast.
Looking across to Richmond Castle.
We went straight to the Tourist Information Centre to find out about visiting Richmond Castle as we planned to have a rest day at Richmond the following day. We picked up a ‘Town Trail’ leaflet (of course on our day off we like nothing better than to go for a walk!) Then headed to the Co-op to do our usual re-supply run.
Wayne fills the trolley with our backpacks as we stock up with more food supplies.
Our campsite was actually a couple of miles out of Richmond at Brompton on Swale so we couldn’t stock up too much as we still had to carry everything! We got the necessities then headed off to the Brompton on Swale Caravan & Camping Park. We realised on arrival that it’s a popular spot as the campsite was almost full! But it has really good facilities, with both a shop and take-away cafe on site so we weren’t surprised by how busy it was.
Easby Abbey ruins on the way to Brompton on Swale.
Setting up camp by the River Swale at the Brompton on Swale Caravan & Camping Park.
We quickly pitched the tent and made the most of the last few rays of sunshine, before tucking into our Ploughman’s dinner. We have been craving salad ever since walking the Pennine Way as it is just so fresh and tasty compared to all the packet stuff we’ve been eating. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll literally eat anything whilst hiking and everything tastes good (otherwise I would have never entertained buying Spam!) But salad is top of the list when we are purchasing for a ‘rest day’ and can carry extra goodies. I must stress that it’s not just us obsessed with food! An observation we’ve made whilst hiking is that everyone we’ve met is literally OBSESSED with food! Every hiker drools over the other person’s dinner and is talking about what they’ll devour when they get home! (Don’t get me started about pizza and Chinese! A take-away is top of the list!)
Our amazing Ploughman’s dinner!
Enjoying a picnic!
Day 14 – Rest Day at Richmond. – Friday 1st August 2014 – ‘Rained Off In Richmond’
So much for our ‘rest day’ visiting Richmond Castle! It literally rained all day so we found ourselves confined to the tent for the best part of it. Well at least it gave us chance to catch up with some blog posts and photographs and tackle the laundry.
We headed into town late in the afternoon in search of wi-fi and spent a few hours holed up in the Ralph Fitz Randal Wetherspoons pub uploading pictures and drinking coffee whilst waiting for the rain and thunderstorms to subside!
Then it was time to return to the campsite to organise our food rations and prepare ourselves for the remaining five days left on the Coast to Coast!
Sorting out our food rations for the last 5 days! (You may be surprised, but this was literally our only photograph from Day 14!)
With only 5 days to go we are finding the Coast to Coast path not so challenging as the Pennine Way. Having already tackled the Lake District, known to be the most difficult section of Alfred Wainwright’s walk, we are finding that we are managing our backpacks much better and are increasing our pace/speed when walking, particularly when covering flat ground.
Keep following to see how well Wayne is managing with his new trail runners and whether we arrive at Robin Hood’s Bay ahead of schedule!