Today’s outing presented stunning scenery and one endless and unnecessary climb that brought the realization that Alfred Wainwright had a sadistic streak.
The basic trajectory of today was to follow the course of the River Swale from the tiny village of Keld to the slightly larger town of Reeth. There are two routes mapped for this day: the high route which goes through a derelict lead mining operation and; the low route which supposedly hews to the side of the river. After talking to someone (I cannot recall who) last evening, we were convinced that the high route is uninteresting so Mike and I made a last-minute decision to go low. It turned out to be a wise choice because most of it was a walk through fields along the river’s edge with the occasional diversion through deep wooded areas that Mike likened to Middle Earth.
A few miles along, we were in the middle of a quaint village called Gunnerside where we made a brief stop to change out of sweaty socks. The trail leaves this place on a lovely two-lane road called Guning Lane. But almost immediately, the GPS map diverted us up a nearly vertical lane that rose sharply away from the river. It was an endless trek up macadam and then grass and then loose stone where the only consolation to the sheer exhaustion of the climb was a commanding view of Swaledale, the lush valley through which the river runs.
When the prescribed trail finally descended steeply toward the river, we were deposited on to Guning Lane, the self-same road on which exited Gunnerside two hours earlier. Again, after mere yards along this route, the GPS once again commanded that we divert up yet another vertical climb. Having recognized the name of the road we were on and seeing a signpost indicating that Reeth was a mere three miles along on this road, Mike and I immediately agreed that we would not ascend to new heights unnecessarily and that we would stay on Guning Lane to complete the day.
In this moment it struck me that the great Wainwright must have had a good chuckle for himself when he crafted this practical joke on his Coast-to-Coast followers. What good is a trek across the whole of England without inflicting some gratuitous pain?
We are now checked into The Kings Arms Hotel on the green in the center of Reeth where the only usable wi-fi signal is on the ground floor where I now sit writing to you. We had a lovely and absolutely delicious dinner of gluten free fish and chips next door at the Black Bull Pub. (Why can’t Aunt Carries do this?)
Gluten Free Fish and Chips