The combination of today’s searing heat, the projected walking distance of 23 miles and the troubling persistence of Dennis’ left heel blister forced an elevation of prudence over bravado and a decision was reached over breakfast to forego today’s walk and to seek motor transportation (i.e. a taxi ride) from Richmond to Ingleby House Farm in the hamlet of Ingleby Arncliffe.
We have no regrets at all about this “day off” because it was the prudent and safe thing to do, and because it enabled us to use the extra time to explore the City of Richmond on this Saturday market day. Those who followed us last year will recall that we had a similar respite on a market Saturday in Penrith. On these special days, the city is given over to pedestrian traffic in the city center when all manner of people, young and old, wander the streets window shopping or sipping tea with cake at sidewalk cafes. Teenaged kids gather in gaggles to swap gossip, middle-aged couples push aged grans around the town in wheel chairs and young kids stroll licking soft serve ice cream cones while walking with their grandads. It is a simply wonderful, albeit homogeneously white, family vibe.
We also took a turn to visit the Richmond Castle, certainly the richest historical site I have ever been to (save perhaps the U.S. Capitol). The castle and the city were first settled on a significant scale after the Norman invasion in 1066AD. Upon entering the building, we strolled through the beautifully presented museum that traces the occupancy by British royalty in this place from 1066 to the present day. Richmond (from the Norman Riche Mont – great hill) is still the seat, if not the actual home, of the Duke of Richmond. Then we climbed the stone steps to the very top of the castle keep which towers above the city to a height of about 100 feet offering commanding views of the entire surrounding countryside. Returning to ground level, we ambled through gardens where Henry VII had once entertained visitors.
Yet more treats awaited us when we quit the castle grounds to walk along what is aptly called Castle Walk. The river here, of course, is still the River Swale that we have tracked for the past several days. The river front where the castle is situated is a series of shallow, slow moving falls that create a collection of still pools. It must be a local thing that, on a hot Saturday, you collect the kids and all of their swimming paraphernalia and head to this place to frolic in the cool water. There had to have been 100 or more mostly young people splashing and jumping about over the span of a hundred yards or so of the falls. Just a delight to watch!
The time came for us to have our own tea and salad at the Little Drummer Boy* Tea House and then to bid adieu to our companion of the past few days, Sally from Juneau. She had accompanied us in our walkabout but, more importantly allowed us to stow our backpacking gear in her hotel room. With packs on, we made our way to the taxi stand in City Center and boarded a waiting cab for the ride to this delightful place where we resume the walk tomorrow.
Swimming at the falls
Tonight’s digs at Ingleby Arncliffe (including my writing table)
Waiting for dinner at the Blue Bell Tavern
* The story of the little drummer boy is a disturbing local tale. Many hundreds of years ago, it was rumored that there was a tunnel beneath the River Swale that connected Richmond Castle to another castle on the far banks. There was a tunnel entrance but no one had ever explored beyond the gloom of the first few yards of the passage. So a drummer boy was sent ahead to continuously beat his drum so the soldiers could follow the sound. At some point, the drumming stopped and the boy was never seen again.