The day started off perfectly. Blue skies and a slight breeze, which meant that by the time I got up, around 7:30 (a lie in so far) the entire tent was bone dry, any condensation which had collected during the night (as on previous nights) had vanished. I attempted to tackle a full English, and half won, before getting back on the trail.
The Lion was definitely a great place, it’s decor suited to the harsh weather conditions that were the norm up here. However it was more gentile than Tan Hill, it’s most obvious comparison, with a proper dining room that appeared to be serving a local OAP club when I got there. However, sometimes there is safety and comfort in that.
The route started off on one of the main roads crossing the North York Moors. Because everybody stayed at the Lion, campers and B&B-ers alike, there was a line of people already on the road ahead of me. We marched on through miles and miles of browny-purply heather moorland. After a while two valleys opened up on either side of the road, and it became apparent that we were now on a long finger of moorland surrounded by lower and greener land. I knew from my map that eventually we would reach the tip of this finger and reach today’s first village, and thus our first pub. However this peninsular seemed to be never ending, every time you cam to a rise instead of seeing a descent beneath you instead saw a continuous line of yellow sand surrounded by a constantly thinning edge of moorland.
Eventually we reached the first village, Gaisdale, and I was ready for a pint. It might only have been 12:30, but I felt it was ungrateful to the weather, the landscape and the lovely villages not to indulge. However, I was very naughty and went for a pint of I international lager rather than local ale, because it was so hot.
While drinking my pint and finding out more about the two girls adventure in Tan Hill I realised that it was only an hour and a bit until our final destination. Luckily there were more pubs inbetween so I decided to perform my own solo mini-pub crawl to the campsite. This was slightly scuppered when ten minutes outside of the first pub i my right knee, which had been doing very well and hadn’t been put under too much stress, suddenly twanged and became unable to bend without causing me excruciating agony. The immediate solution was to walk with a peg leg down to the pub, and rest it there in a large and relaxed beer garden secluded by hedges and next to a camping field separated from the rest of the pub by a stream which was linked by a smal wooden bridge. Idyliic is the word.
After a couple of pints in the sunshine with Ian, one of the few other people doing the walk within spitting distance of my age, we made it down to the campsite. I say campsite, really it was a field next to a farm. There was a toilet and a room with a sink, toaster and kettle but no shower. The visitors book was filled with comments saying that it was such a nice place they hadn’t been bothered about the lack of a shower. I didn’t share this attitude. I would turn my nose up at the garden of Eden if it didn’t have proper facilities. However I didn’t have a choice so I had to indulge in another wet wipe wash just to avoid being anti-social. I was worried about turning up in London tomorrow night after two days of sweaty walking and no shower-stinking to high heaven and looking as weather beaten as I was I might be mistaken for a homeless person the moment I left Kings Cross and not be let on the bus home.
After setting myself up I went for a wander in the village Grosmont. It was a one street town, pretty enough but it’s main claim to fame was having a stop on the old north York moors railway, one of those steamlines that has stil been keep going as a tourist attraction. Practically everything in the village revolved around the train – the pub was called the station tavern, there was a shop selling model railway parts and a second hand book shop stuffed with annuals, picture books etc about trains and railways. While I was there a train pulled out of the station, and for a moment I could understand why people got so obsessed about these machines. It was a visual and visceral piece of engineering, a huge hunk of metal propelled by spinning and shifting wheels and pistons that dwarfed the tiny carriage with the drivers in eating 99 flake ice creams as it slowly chug chug chuged away from the platform. Pretty impressive.