Mike and I achieved a couple of milestones today. First, we both finished the longest single walks of our lives. MACS Adventures says we walked 17 and a half miles, but Steve Jobs, who personally programmed my smart watch, says it was a tad over 19 miles. I’ll go with Steve’s estimate, but either number is a respectable one and either is a personal best for both Mike and I.
Another momentous event today occurred as we traversed the endless undulations of the high moor near Trough House. It was precisely 2PM when I looked up a saw that a small patch of the horizon, between two hills, and realized that I was looking at a perfectly horizontal line that was nothing less than our first distant view of the North Sea – our ultimate destination!!!
The second sobering realization that hit me immediately after the foregoing was that this moment of jubilation coincided exactly with the strikes on the World Trade Center 22 years ago. It was 9AM in New York City.
Otherwise, it’s was an exhilarating day, leaving Great Broughton at 8AM sharp and attaining the landmark of the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge by noon. For many Coast-to-Coasters, this is their stop for the day. But for some, like Mike and me, this is but a waypoint on a longer trek to Glaisdale. We both admitted to feeling trepidation at the length of this segment and some worry about a crowded field as we progressed along. There were at least 40 hikers booked into last night’s hotel. But neither concern materialized.
After an initial climb from 310 meters above sea level to 450 meters at the top of Round Hill, the trail leveled off and we trekked at a brisk pace (for us) through the mountaintop moors to the aforementioned Lion’s Inn. In all that time we saw fewer than four other hikers on the path. It was a wonderful day of walking in solitude – just Mike and I and our private thoughts and the occasional exchange about favorite Gary Larsen cartoons, memories of our Cranston neighborhood, memories of our classmates at LaSalle or of professional milestones in the rich lives we have been blessed with.
Our time to Blakey Ridge was four hours. We stopped there to eat the sandwiches prepared for us at Wainstones Hotel that we washed down with cold drinks from the Inn.
The second portion of today’s walk was equally pleasant if tiring. At our altitude, the landscapes are the moors of our imagination – rolling hillocks covered with heather and long grass scarcely populated by black-faced sheep but with an abundant population of grouse. On the final leg into Glaisdale, we encountered a team of grouse hunters dressed in full regalia of plaid vests, neck ties and hunting caps lined up at the base of the heath with their retriever dogs awaiting the signal to proceed up the hill in unison. They were spaced out at intervals of 50 yards or so. As they marched up the hill, the man in the center position repeatedly trilled a grouse call. Eventually, as Mike and I passed over the next rise, the bird calls were interspersed with blasts of birdshot as these intrepid hunters flushed out their prey.
The final two miles or so into this village where I now sit were along a straight gravel path called Glaisdale Rigg. After 17 plus miles the spirits were strong but the muscles of the lower extremities felt the stress of the day. Each pebble that pressed up under the soles of our shoes was felt as if encountered with a bare foot. But we learned to navigate these hazards and arrived at Anrcliffe Arms after a 4 and one half hour slog at 5PM. After being shown to our rooms we both shed our shoes and navigated the building for drinks and dinner in stocking feet. Ahhhhhhh….…
One day to go!
The Lion Inn
Almost there. (“My feet hurt.”)