Rain was forecast and sure enough a tinkling on the barn roof greets my awakening. It felt cold last night but I just about got by using a super-light sleeping bag liner.
One bowl of porridge later (courtesy of the microwave in my barn-suite) I go to pay a ridiculous £8 to the farmer who has a day of interior decoration lined up. It’s the Kildale show tomorrow and he is judging the ferrets. There’s also going to be sheep-dog trials and I wish I could be there.
Rain is expected all day and this is already lined up to be the toughest section of walk but I’m determined to complete it. Besides there is no public transport alternative. As I rejoin the Cleveland Way the rain steps up a gear from steady to strong forcing me to reconsider my decision not to pack my waterproof trousers or gaiters. This decision was based on a fine long-range forecast and the desire to save weight, plus my falling-out with waterproof trousers as you only end up sweating and getting wet regardless. An hour into the walk and my feet are soaked due to water ingress through my socks. Hmmm, gaiters…
There is no let-up and by the time I reach the Cook Monument I am as wet as if I had fallen in a river. That’s no surprise given that the path is now a river, which has the solitary plus that I can just plough through it without a second thought.
It’s telling that yesterday I had a better view of the Cook Monument from 2 miles away than I have now from 50 yards. Photos are nigh on impossible and with my new camera hermetically sealed in a dry box the few snaps I reel off from my phone are as damp and pathetic as I feel.
I have read that you can often see the sea from the top of Roseberry Topping (a dominant hill) but I’m at the foot of it and I can’t even see the hill let alone anything beyond. Impossibly the rain switches from strong to intense and it’s obvious that this walk will be about survival rather than enjoyment, with 10 miles to go and no prospect of any shelter.
What a grim, joyless march of attrition! On one hand I’m laughing at the absurdness of my predicament and placating myself that thousands of fleeing Syrian refugees would gladly swap their plight for this ordeal, but it’s not funny.
Although I can’t see them I know my feet are suffering. Can you get trench foot in 4 hours? Soaked trousers have led to chaffing of the unmentionables. My hands are so cold that it is a struggle to use them and while my legs are fine I need food to sustain my energy levels. When a tree finally offers a little shelter I struggle to eat because my jaw is stiff with cold. Then, my lowest point when I take a wrong turn and have to resort to using my compass.
In almost 5 hours I don’t see another walker which is unsurprising. Water is streaming off the fields and forming rivers that will cause flooding downstream as I am to later learn.
My eventual arrival at the Wharton Arms is a MASSIVE relief. People at the bar are taken aback by my drowned rat appearance. I should be celebrating reaching the half-way stage but I can’t envisage completing the walk the way I feel now.
After a hot shower, dry clothes and 3 hot drinks to raise my core temperature I’m able to eat. Landlady Pat can’t help enough. I planned to take my laundry to a Saltburn laundry tomorrow but she lets me use her washer and dryer.
The local news is full of flood stories. Saltburn 2 miles down the road has been hit badly – all the roads in have been cut off. And to think I almost booked a night there. I’ve no energy to go out and make anything of the evening. I’m totally exhausted. Sleep is all I … zzzzz
Here’s today’s walk in point form…
In a nutshell
Utterly miserable sub aquatic slog – my worst ever day walking
Arrival at the Wharton Arms – dry, warm & safe
Realising I had taken a wrong turn while at my lowest ebb
Thankfully a day off as I couldn’t walk again. I am going to REST
|Stage||5 – Kildale to Skelton|
|Distance||14.7 miles||Speed||3.2 mph|
…and the route taken…