Cleveland Way #2 – Cold Kirby to Osmotherley

I dozed off last night to absurd radio coverage of the football transfer deadline and with my mind suitably numbed slept like a log. This morning my body also feels rather numb but I’ll take that over pain.

The farmhouse breakfast is splendid. I chose the scrambled eggs because I met the hens yesterday and sure enough they have dark yellow yolks and taste like they are supposed to. It occurs to me that many supermarket shoppers will never have experienced this.

Always hungry
Always hungry

Outside the Labrador slavers against the glass door (perpetually hungry according to my host) while some kind of digging is taking place on the farm involving industrial machinery and swearing.

Day 2 may not be the shortest leg but it should be the easiest as it is a very flat walk. The sun is breaking through the clouds as I set off and my body jolts as it is refamiliarised with the burden on my back. The hip is still nagging but hopefully it will clear up.

As I leave the farm a “Sherpa Van” pulls up with a delivery of rucksacks belonging to walkers due to arrive later who didn’t want to carry their loads. I decided against this when planning the walk but right now it’s looking tempting.

Sutton Bank is legendary not just because of the 25% inclined road that I drove up on Sunday but because of the panoramic view from the cliff edge.

Dramatic views even in poor visibility
Dramatic views even in poor visibility

A residual morning haze is reducing visibility but the views are great all the same. I’m unable to see the white horse carved into the hillside below nor do I spot any gliders that take off from the airfield nearby but that’s fine as I would only be tempted into taking photos that wouldn’t turn out.

Treading softly
Treading softly

The way is now delightfully level and soft, reminiscent of a former walk in the Isle Of Wight so soft and green it was like a stairway to heaven. This is the Hambleton Road – a wide grassy drovers track that has been in use since at least the bronze age. Trees obscure much of the panoramic view but it’s pleasant all the same.

Obscured view
Obscured view

When I reach moorland I am somewhat disappointed to discover that the heather has already bloomed and the purples have started to fade.

Faded glory
Faded glory

DISASTER! I drop my camera for the hundredth time. Unlike the previous 99 occasions my battered and much abused travel buddy is beyond repair. On just my second day of ten I have no camera! Some things you just can’t plan for. There’s a cameras on my phone but it’s very poor.

No, its not your eyesight
No, its not your eyesight

A grouse chooses this moment to land right beside me like it knows I can’t record the event. As I reflect on my misfortune over lunch the first walker I have seen today stops for a chat. John is a seasoned and knowledgeable hiker who is full of good stories and we walk and talk for quite some time until our paths part. I suppose the paucity of walkers is due to the fact that this section of the path runs 10 miles with nothing much en-route and casual walkers would choose paths that are shorter or circular.

Broken camera
Broken camera

The ease of today’s walk has presented no serious physical problems and John’s enthusiasm (he has hiked to Kilimanjaro and Everest base camp while feeling under the weather) has driven me on to be undeterred by any manageable bodily complaints from here on.

Osmotherly is down there somewhere
Osmotherly is down there somewhere

The approaches to Osmotherly are intensely populated with busy butterflies and spooked grouse. It is almost comical as each step sends more wildlife running from the verges.

Landlady Anne is lovely and after I’m showered she tells me all about the long distance walkers that stay with her. She has a formidable knowledge of the Cleveland Way, Coast To Coast and other walks and seems to know all of the landlords on the routes.

End of the day
End of the day

The blinding low evening sun casts the quaint stone buildings of the village in a favourable light. Not for me however – I’m online ordering a camera from Argos to be delivered to the camping barn in Kildale where I’m due to stay in two days time. I phoned them first to make sure they were OK with the delivery – what must they think?

One for the road
One for the road

On leaving the Queen Victoria pub I’m amused to see a horse rider drinking from a wine glass while saddled up. She’s talking with more conventionally seated punters and I can only presume she didn’t enter the pub with the horse to order the wine. Cue joke: A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks – “Why the long face?

The broken camera distraction and a lack of reliable broadband have left me behind on my blogging but I’ll catch up when circumstances allow. By the time I’m walking back to my lodgings it’s cool outside and pitch black, stars shining brightly. There’s a bear on my bed and when I asked Anne what it was called she told me it had no name! I decide to call it Osmond and then settle in for the night. What a curious day, I’ve ordered a camera, spotted a rider drinking in the saddle and named a bear. I wonder what tomorrow will bring…


Here’s today’s walk in point form…

In a nutshell
An easy walk with great views

High point
The peace and solitude with very few walkers on the route

Low point
Breaking my camera

Looking ahead
I haven’t walked three consecutive days in almost 30 years. Will my fitness be up to it?

Daily Stats
Stage  2 – Cold Kirby to Osmotherley
Distance  13.0 miles Speed  3.2 mph
Lowest  640ft Highest  1444ft
Ascent  476ft Descent  640ft

…and the route taken…

Cleveland Way #1 – Helmsley to Cold Kirby

Helmsley Youth Hostel provides me with my first snore-free nights sleep in three recent hostel trips. Instead it was stormy winds battering the windows that broke my sleep, so it is a surprise to wake up to calm blue skies dotted with white puff clouds and a distinctly hot beating sun. Summer isn’t going without a fight.

My sole room mate – a 63 year old gent – tells me he is on his annual three week tour of the national parks courtesy of his free pensioners Moorsbus pass – a scheme on the verge of closure due to budget cuts. Today he is off to York but this time last year he was forced to cancel his tour due to relentless persistent rain.

They weren't lying about Doorstep Toast
They weren’t lying about Doorstep Toast

It really is glorious out and while this makes for a nice breakfast it’s not ideal for walking. A gaggle of old northern ladies gather on the next table in a weekly get-together that involves taking it in turns to gossip while slowly engulfing themselves in their communal cigarette smoke. It’s a scene from a Julie Walters sketch.


No more procrastination. This is it. I stow water and lunch in my rucksack and lift it onto my shoulders. Holy smoke, 2L of water weighs a lot!

The start of it all
The start of it all

The trail leaves west gently rising up through crop fields alongside medieval woodland. The breeze ruffles the leafy canopy causing tired old oak branches to creak as they sway.

Productive farm land
Productive farm land

I prefer old woodland to new plantations as there’s an organic chaos about what grows where. What you see is the democracy of generations of growth. Everything has found its place and wildlife thrives in the settled equilibrium of this landscape.

The popular walk to Rievaulx Abbey
The popular walk to Rievaulx Abbey

My first stop on this tour is at Rievaulx, a pretty little village that reminds me of Tolkien’s Shire. No hobbits are seen but there are plenty of visitors for the magnificent ruins of Rievaulx Abbey.

What a sight from your back garden
What a sight from your back garden

For me it’s an opportunity to take a break and reduce my load by the weight of one apple.

Snack time
Snack time

The path follows a minor road for a couple of miles before heading off up a track. I can hear a cacophony of squawking and splashing from a series of ponds barely visible through the tree line. The odd glimpse reveals many happy ducks on some sort of holiday.

Duckland holiday park
Duckland holiday park

By perfect arrangement, just as hunger strikes, the trees give way to a serendipitous sunny clearing where quaint stepping stones span a bubbling brook.

Stepping stones
Stepping stones

An hour in the sun idles by while I read with my feet dangling in the icy water. It is so peaceful that I almost miss the three ducks that paddled silently by so that they might also rest awhile at this spot.

The water is COLD
The water is COLD

Once feet and socks are dry again the march resumes up through Callister Wood. The gradual ascent of a farm track is punctuated by gunshot. A line of beaters wave red flags in a crop field in order to disturb grouse so that they might be targeted.

Do the beaters realise how silly they look?
Do the beaters realise how silly they look?

The joke is that the birds are everywhere; in the fields, on walls, on the track pecking at grain fallen from some trailer, and best of all next to the line of vacant 4WD vehicles belonging to the shooting party. The poor dumb creatures appear to survive through weight of numbers rather than any instinct for self preservation as I could get closer enough to throw a towel over them.

Every hiker knows where their towel is
Every hiker knows where their towel is

Into the farming village of Cold Kirby. A roadside stall hoves into view and it’s a surprise to find not eggs or carrots for sale but flapjack.

Organically grown?
Organically grown?

My load, though heavy, is beginning to feel lighter and it’s only when my arm gets wet that I realise the hose from my “water bladder” has become detached and water is dripping into my rucksack. This mishap aside I’m really pleased with it as it means I can sip as I walk hands free. The fields are replaced by woodland again as tiny Hambleton approaches.

On the lookout for bears...
On the lookout for bears…

There’s not much here, just the Hamilton Inn and a row of cottages on the A170, but who wouldn’t want to live here?

Charming
Charming

Judging by the For Sale sign this isn’t the panacea it might appear to be. A mile later and I’m at tonight’s stop, Garbutt Farm. Instead of a doorbell four adorable dogs announce my arrival with friendly barking and much wagging of tails. Two affectionate terriers lick my salty shins, an ageing Labrador brings me her soft toy and a retired racing hound limps over for a sniff.

Poor fellow, limping and past it, like me then
Poor fellow, limping and past it, like me then

So it’s official – I have survived day 1. Feet, calves and knees seem mostly OK despite my fears though my left hip is complaining. My body is like some Rubics Cube that had been taken apart too often.


After a shower I walk the mile back to the Hambleton Inn for a truly superb home cooked meal. This is the pub that closes early on Mondays but when I phoned to enquire about food said they would stay open until 8:30 to accommodate me! As my body glows from the days exertions while attempting to digest a towering pile of pork, black pudding and farm vegetables I try not to dwell on the fact that the walk tomorrow it’s set to be longer and harder. One day at a time…


Here’s today’s walk in point form…

In a nutshell
My first day on the trail. Would I even finish it?

High point
Finishing it

Low point
Finding the escaped contents of my water supply in my rucksack

Looking ahead
Hope I’m not as stiff as a board after such unaccustomed exercise

Daily Stats
Stage  1 – Helmsley to Cold Kirby
Distance  9.3 miles Speed  2.9 mph
Lowest  335ft Highest  1158ft
Ascent  728ft Descent  239ft

…and the route taken…