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DAY 9. Sunday 25th June 2006 - Richmond to Danby Wiske
"If you are fond of placid rural scenery and have an interest in farming, you might enjoy this section of the walk; but if your preference is for rough hills you will find it tedious"
It was strange having a day without walking in Richmond, somehow it felt as though we had lost the link with our little community of coast to coasters and entered a different world, a world without launderettes, Richmond is quite a large town but has no launderette! It rained all day, of course, it wouldn't have been right if it had been dry on our rest day. At least the weather was keeping us in touch with the walk!
All too suddenly we had nobody to chat with and share our thoughts about that day's walk, no rucksacks piled up in the corner of the bar at the end of the day. It was just a normal Saturday night, with all the lads and ladettes out for the evening, we felt our little coast to coast experience starting to head towards reality too soon and left them to their drinking.
After a little spot of sight seeing during our rest day we returned to the guest house to see the heap of damp boots, Jeff had arrived with half of the Americans, the others staying down the road and he was drying out after another damp day, it was good to see him and catch up on what had happened since we parted company in Grasmere.
On reflection we felt that whilst the rest day gave us the chance to recharge and have a break it would have been better if we had stopped in one of the more isolated towns and been at the heart of the walk.
The thought of mixing with the lads and ladettes for a second evening didn't appeal so we booked into the local Thai restaurant only to find that it was full of coast to coasters, it was like meeting old friends. We had been caught up by those who took an extra day in the lakes and now some of those who set off the day after we did.
All thought of rest quickly vanished though as we finally put our boots on and headed out of Richmond. The American's were on the walkie talkies outside the guest house working out how they could regroup and establish base camp in the market square. So many people have mentioned finding them slightly lost and confused over the last week.
It was a dry but slightly chilly day as we wandered first along the River Swale and then a series of paths through farmland to gently ease the legs back into the daily routine. There was a particularly nice touch as the path passes through Stanhowe, the land owners had left a visitors book for walkers to make comments on how the path could be improved, now that is a novelty! The book was full of comments and good luck messages from other coast to coasters that had passed by.
The route from Richmond to Ingleby Cross is relatively flat and some people prefer to use the roads and blast their way across quickly. we passed a group of 4 changing into trainers for the slog along the road. But we preferred to avoid the roads and take a few days to cover the route to Ingleby Cross, stopping after 14 miles (24 km) at Danby Wiske, a small farming village which unlike most of the other hamlets we pass through has little dependence on walkers and like the model village we passed near Haweswater it was like Stepford all over again, except the women are in control of the men and the leader is the pub landlady.
The owners of our guest house were not at home when we arrived at 4pm., although as we found out later the elderly granny had been left in, alone, all day. After waiting 30 minutes outside the guest house we were eventually let in and shown to our very chilly room. The landlady is a teacher and was working late so the husband had been sent home in the hope of getting there before us. When she did arrive the landlady tersely announced that the latest time for breakfast would be 7.45! Luckily we had already arranged a later time with Mike, the slightly hen pecked husband without her knowledge and apparently approval.
Rumours abound of bad service and food in the local pub, The White Swan, particularly for vegetarians, allegedly it is only open when the landlady feels up to it and they believe that all vegetarians eat stodgy nut roast!
Taking no chances we had brought our own food and planned to have a little picnic this evening before we ventured down to the pub to see for ourselves, this of course didn't go down well with the guest house owner, 'you will be expected to eat at the pub! We booked a table for you! You will have to go it's what all our guests do!' Mike kindly came up to the room with a couple of plates and a little twinkle in his eye, probably enjoying our anti establishment stance. We snacked on the guest house landing which also doubles as the guest lounge! Despite the protestations of our landlady ''they won't like that, everyone is meant to eat at the pub''
We had made a wise decision, the pub was very welcoming but the veggie option, a very 60's, sack cloth, sandal wearing Nut Roast, was not very appealing and that is a menu special!
The barmaid was not wrong when she joked that they had only recently stopped bartering with sheep in Danby Wiske! The only imagination that has gone into the menu here is charging £12 (for 2 courses, hard lines if you only want one and with the starter being duck not many vegetarians would really want that). A high price to pay for the privilege of being a captive in a place that started to make Stepford appear normal.
At least the owners of the nearby Ashfield Guest House appear to be nice caring people and also open during the day for much needed refreshments, although they are not allowed to promote this too much for fear of upsetting the pub mafiosi, it was a shame we weren't staying there!