Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day Nine: Keld to Reeth

Keld to Reeth: 17.5 km

Breakfast was served buffet-style this morning, meaning we could take as much (or in my case, as little) of certain parts of the English breakfast as we wanted. We ate looking out the window down into the valley, more or less where our path would take us today. It was, however, pouring rain, and we were not too keen on going out in the rain. The forecast was for misty patches of rain, and we were hoping to miss it entirely. Just in time, the rain quit at nine just as we were pulling on our dry and warm boots. Hurray for the drying room!
Down the Swaledale Valley
More of the valley
We met up with the Australians just outside their B&B, which was just up the road from ours. They, as well as the English ladies and us, had decided to take the lower route of the trail today because 1) the high route was a ridge walk, and if it was misty we wouldn't see much anyway and 2) there were several small towns on the low route and we figured it would be a lovely day for a latte walk or pub crawl. ;) In particular, I wanted to go the low route because Muker is home to the Swaledale Woolen shop, where I intended to buy myself a locally produced wool sweater.
Lou on a very narrow footbridge
It took us only about an hour and a half to walk into the town of Muker. We passed through several natural growth pastures, where we were strongly encouraged to stay on the stepping-stone path. We gladly obeyed, and took lots of pictures of green and yellow meadowgrass.
Getting close to Muker: the footpath throw the meadowland
Fields of buttercups
Welcome to Muker (and for the housing designers among you, notice the interesting detail over the window in the house in the distance)
The town of Muker was a lot like Keld, only slightly bigger. It had a pub and a "literary institute" (aka a library?) and a gift shop. It also had some beautiful gardens. Finally, as per our desires, it had both a tea/coffee house and my Swaledale Woollen Shop! We spent some time in the Woollen Shop, picking out sweaters. Brent got a dark navy blue one that the shopkeeper picked out for him, and I got a grey/brown one that is the natural colour of the Swaledale Sheep. Both of our sweaters were hand knitted; Brent's even had the name of the knitter written on a tag attached to it. They were certainly not cheap, but they were the one major souvenir item we were allowing ourselves. The shop also had some beautiful scarves and gloves and blankets, and many other sweater designs. And in case you're interested, they have a website and do overseas shipping. :)
Beautiful gardens
The Literary Institute
Hurray, we found it!
(Do you think they ever let the sheep off the roof?)

After the Woollens Shop, where our friend Peter bought a gift for his wife as he was missing their 43 wedding anniversary while being in England, and where Lou also purchased some presents for her kids, we went to the tea shop. Brent and Lou and Peter got their lattes but Shirley and I couldn't resist the offer of hot milk with honey and nutmeg. So warm and cozy, we just wanted to curl up and sleep--maybe not the best thing when we had another roughly 13 km to go! The two English ladies were also there, enjoying a leisurely cup of tea.
The discerning Englishman or woman does not go out without one's dog,
even just for tea
Muker Tea Shop
Back on the road: can't we just stay in Muker, forever?
We walked on through the valley, exclaiming over the bridges, the Beatrix Potter-like bunny rabbits bouncing everywhere, and the lovely villages and green countryside.
Missing a pair of boots?
Peter and Brent sitting down on the job
Walking on the fence this time, rather than around it
We parted ways with the Australians as we neared Reeth. They were hiking on to a village just past Reeth for their B&B whereas ours was right in town. We found the Springfield House quite quickly and showered and had tea with the incredibly chatty hostess. She told us all about her family and pets and her rug hooking hobby.

We went for a walk into the town of Reeth, which, we were told, is a quintessential Yorkshire town with a green and a tall line of shops/houses around the outside of the green.
The World War One Memorial (every town had one), the church and the green
We stopped at the Buck Hotel where we discovered we could use the internet for a pound for half an hour, and our half an hour could be as long as we liked! We took advantage of this offer and then bought our beer and food there also. We learned from the bartender that proper English beer (also known as "real ale") is kept in a different kind of keg, and is not pressurized. We talked with a couple from Newcastle while we ate, who told us that Newcastle is the place to see castles because...well perhaps that's self-explanatory. They were there on holidays, and were quite disgusted with all the rain. We, however, were still enchanted by the humidity, whether in rain or mist form--which was good because it was absolutely pouring as we left the pub and ran back to our B&B!
The Buck Hotel

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