The glow from the previous evening had flown. The day started grey and glum. But thankfully no rain.
Breakfast was in the hotel’ s bright dining room (we had eaten in the bar on the previous evening). The breakfast was very good: Eggs Benedict with good coffee, the latter a rarity on the C2C thus far.
Our destination was to be Richmond, the largest habitation on the C2C. It lay just ten miles down Swaledale. We walked across Reeth’s green, and followed the dale to the village of Grinton. When we climbed above the river bank, we lost our way somewhat. It wasn’t of any great significance, as we knew that we had to follow a corridor defined by the river and a parallel road running towards Marrick Priory. But we had to clamber over a makeshift fence made of an old wooden pallet before we found the right line, with stiles allowing us to progress through from one meadow to the next. In this little scramble, we were not alone. Among the fellow waverers were Donna and John from Melbourne with whom we crossed paths many times during the day.
Marrick Priory dates from the 12th century, but it was given a makeover during the 1970s and now functions as an outdoor activity centre. It looks rather forlorn with the old tower and ruins surrounded by the brutally functional annexes – a right hodgepodge! There followed a fairly steep climb through the shady splendour of Steps Wood to the village of Marrick itself; then on through pastures to Marske. Just before Ellers Beck, we were overtaken by a young man in running shoes. He slackened his pace just long enough to inform us that his plan was to complete the C2C in a Sunday to Monday (eight day) run!
Even on a gloomy day, Marske is a good-looking village with its Hall, bridge and tiny church (dedicated to St. Edmund the Martyr). We had a break at the top of the village, sitting on a bench, sipping coffee and watching fellow C2Cers puff passed (Marske sits on quite a steep incline).
During the afternoon, we climbed up to a path which runs parallel to Applegarth Scar and then Whitcliffe Scar, directing us eastwards towards Richmond. The impressive crags of the scars were on our left, and the misty dale of The Swale to our right. Easy on the eye, and undemanding on the feet. We chewed the fat with Donna and John. They were walking C2C in an unusually civilised fashion – they were taking a good four weeks, and renting cottages along the way. This involved some canny tying in with ‘bus timetables to ferry them back to their base at the end of certain days (or to the beginning of a walk on other days), but it seemed to be panning out very well for them.
Richmond seemed to be a town to be taken seriously; it even boasts outskirts. We marched passed the manicured Richmond Cricket Club, and at the suggestion of Donna and John, we proceeded to the Black Lion for afternoon tea. This proved to be a great idea – sandwiches, scones with cream, strawberry-laden cake as well as plentiful tea.
We were staying down by the river at The Old Brewery Guesthouse. For the second night running we were overlooking The Green; Richmond’s was much more modest then Reeth’s, but proved to be a quiet corner of the town. The room was comfortable; no ensuite, but a large shower room to which we had exclusive access.
It was quite a hike up Bargate, with its imposing townhouses cheek by jowl with tiny cottages. But having breathlessly gained the heights of Richmond, we realised what a stolidly impressive place it was, with its towering castle and vast cobbled market square. The glowering sky somehow highlighted its air of sombre supremacy. We left the market place via King Street, and opted for “A Taste of Thailand” as the setting for our evening repast. AToT is a first floor restaurant, sitting above offices and shops; it is floridly oriental in décor, but when we visited, it was clearly in need of decoration and renovation. They have a licence, but our C2C guide stated that they followed a bring-your-own policy; this was of no matter, and the waitress happily uncorked our bottle of wine. Indeed she was matronly and attentive; and the food was as good as the service.
Whilst in the restaurant, the heavens opened. This had been a recurring theme of our C2C adventure – most of the rain during the ten days thus far had fallen after we had reached our destination for the day. We had only suffered one good dowsing – in Borrowdale; we had also tugged on our wet weather gear between Orton and Newbiggin-on-Lune; but otherwise we had lead a charmed life as far as precipitation was concerned! Long may it continue!