To Glaisdale

For the first time, my starting outfit comprises trousers instead of shorts. Gloves, hat, waterproof coat and hood are all essential. The strong wind blows a wet, thick mist into my face, but a good breakfast fuels the cold march beside the high-level road. Of greater concern than the weather is the risk that hurrying commuters will run me down, so I suffer the irregularities of the verge and stumble along, because I can’t hear approaching vehicles and I fear they won’t see me.

Luckily, navigation is no problem. After half an hour the mist thins, and as soon as the route starts to lose altitude the hillside sloping into Eskdale comes into view. The temperature rises immediately, and before long I’m in my usual hiking attire. The way is almost entirely downhill as far as Glaisdale. A pleasant walk through the springtime growth of the riverside woods takes me to Egton Bridge, so by lunchtime my day’s mileage is completed.

What to do? Knowing that Julia and Mary won’t be late for our rendezvous at Robin Hood’s Bay, I reckon a few miles under my belt today will give me a more relaxed final session. It’s a short and level walk to Grosmont, where the terminus of the North York Moors steam railway draws a large crowd. After lunch al fresco, there’s a steep climb over the hill to Littlebeck, where I call it a day. I’m now as fit as a fiddle, but this is as far as it’s convenient to go, even though I feel strong enough to walk on to Robin Hood’s Bay.

The way to the rail station at Sleights leads through steep cattle pastures and down the main road. The train to Egton Bridge is busy with homebound schoolchildren and Grosmont-bound pensioners. I check in and soak in the longest bath I’ve ever seen, after which Black Sheep ale, a large and bloody sirloin steak and a plateful of chips keep me busy and content. The pub fills with people, and the staff scurry about, feeding and watering them. My eyelids grow heavy, and I’m in bed before the late drinkers even enter the bar.

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