Monday, June 23, 2008

Day Twelve: Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top

Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top: 20 km

Because we had a short(er) day today, we didn't get up until seven and didn't eat breakfast til nine. We both thought we should give the full English breakfast another try, and it was again filling, but not the best food for hiking. We finally hit the trail at nine, taking with us the lunches the hostess packed us. This time our packed lunch was on the high side of ok. Our buns were home made and quite tasty but again overpriced. For supper and our packed lunches, we paid 33.90 pounds, so sixty six Canadian dollars (ish)...we continually gulped and spluttered when we got bills for food...
Through the forest for a while
Past a forest of another kind
We got a long way ahead of the two English ladies almost immediately as we climbed up through the forest and over moors. We did a bit of a moor ridge walk for the majority of the day; we weren't very high up, but in relation to the farmland below, we were quite high.
The Farmland below
Whose land is this? Why, I do believe it belongs to A.
Walking along the cobblestone paths: yes, we were spoiled
Part way through the day, we almost walked right over the Lord of Stones Cafe, which is built into the side of a hill. After missing it completely our first walk by, we backtracked to find it, and stopped for tea and to eat our lunches at a picnic table outside. Seeing the Canadian flags on our backpacks, an English man came over and talked to us about doing the C2C. Our flags have served us well several times!
The Cafe was a busy place
Close to the cafe was a major parasailing jump-off spot, and as we hiked we watched the many many parasailers. They looked like delicate spiders flying through the air and we wondered how they managed to never get tangled with one another.

Hiking above the parasailer, above the puzzle-piece farmland
It was a hot sunny day and we reached our official end of the day at around three thirty. Unfortunately, Clay Bank Top is nothing more than a valley between two fells, with a paved secondary highway running through it and a parking lot several hundred meters to the west. In other words, it is not a town at all; a rather inconvenient place to be done for the day. But, this was Alfred Wainwright's original plan, so we followed it. Our B&B was several miles down the road to the east, down into the valley and then left up into a tiny community part way up the north side of the valley. We hiked on the glaring sun on the pavement--or tarmac, as they would call it.
The photographer captures himself--and he's smiling too
For artistic merit: I've worn a lot of tread off over the past twelve days

We reached our B&B around four, feeling very hot and tired. The place, called Maltkiln House, is an old U-shaped farmhouse with the house on the back, the pig stye on one wing and the cow barn and horse stable on the other. All the barn space has been converted to B&B rooms, and we stayed in the horse stable. From our room, the bathroom was down a hallway, up a set of stairs, around another corner to the right, and then another right, through a short hallway and down a couple of steps. Very "interesting" layout. When we arrived, the hostess doubtfully asked us if we wanted the double bed room (this is what we had pre-arranged for) or if we wanted a larger room with two single beds. We of course asked for the double bed, even though it meant a smaller room. It seemed kind of counter-intuitive to sleep apart, even if the room was tiny. We knew it was an old farmhouse, and besides we couldn't really be choosy in the isolated area around Clay Bank Top, so we made the best of it.
Maltkiln House
Once we got the room situation figured out, we showered and then went out to the garden for tea. Our hostess told us that there were two other Canadians staying there as well, and we met them while we were having tea. They were a mid-fifties couple who live on an island off the coast of BC, and were retired. They were the epitome of what Brent and I had set out NOT to be as Canadians in England. We wanted to live up to the idea that Canadians are friendly and courteous and respectful of other cultures. These people were none of these things. They were grumpy and complaining and critical of everything. They were doing another long distance path that intersects at Clay Bank Top with the Coast to Coast but they'd done the C2C before. They told us about their C2C trip and in particular all the places they hated, like Keld "a prison" which you may recall we really loved, and Orton where "the 'Orton wood' was a joke" (we also really liked Orton). The hostess told us she was making chili for supper, with blueberry cheesecake for dessert, and we agreed to stay for supper (there was a pub a couple of miles down the road, but no guarantees on the quality of food there or even if it was open). The other couple said that they were not in the least interested in having chili for supper, and so would take their chances at the pub (plus they didn't want to miss their TV show, so they had to have supper at a certain time and no later). That was all fine by us; we really didn't want to spend any more time than we had to with people that saw the negative in everything. Not at all how we intended on viewing our time in England.

Brent took a nap in the afternoon and I read in the sunshine in the garden. Reading was wonderful: it was sunny and quiet and I could hear wild birds chirping and the domestic hens quietly clucking in the bush.

Supper was an interesting experience in its own right. We went in to the formal dining room where before we even sat down, the old farmer gave us a history/archaeology lesson on the local area, showing us bits of ancient English tools (flint arrowheads, which really were not that unusual to us, but perhaps would have been to your average English B&B visitor), bits of jet, a semi-precious stone mined in the nineteenth century from the hills nearby, and other artifacts he collected. Then we were seated and given a bell with which to signal that we wanted the next course of our meal. We started with a glass of sherry each, and then our first course, lentil soup. We were also given wine glasses and a half-quart of wine to drink with the meal. Our entree was chili on rice with salad, with buttered bread, and our dessert was blueberry cheese cake and coffee. The meal was not really fancy but it was served very the point where we felt a bit uncomfortable. We didn't need to be served with so much respect; we were just a couple of young kids. But there were candles and it was just the two of us and it was kind of romantic.
Candle light supper
After supper we went up the road for a walk to the church. The churchyard and cemetery was full of wildflowers and sheep; quite picturesque. The church itself is very old, there's been service there since the 1100s and the church bells in the tower were made in the 1300s.
When we got back we sat in the communal lounge area and read. Brent put his boots by the radiator in the hopes of drying them out--they were still wet from the day leaving Richmond and his feet were covered in blisters, tops and bottoms in places I never knew you could get blisters and he was hoping to try to rectify the situation.

We went to bed fairly early since we had a thirty km day coming up the next day. We ordered a packed lunch again. We're kind of at the behest of the B&B owners for lunches these days because there's really no where else to buy lunches.

No comments: