Glad you're here!

Welcome to my personal blog. Squirrel(!) is such an appropriate title for this spot on the Internet. This began as a way to share the journal from my walk across England with hubby Jan. That trip is archived here for you to enjoy (June of 2012), but now when you visit you'll read my crazy musings on everything from horses, to cars, to grammar, to books, baseball, or weasels. Don't get whiplash trying to figure out a theme; just watch out for the squirrels!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Days 9 & 10

Day 9 -  To Reeth  (11 miles)

The sky was gray but there was NO RAIN! as Gary loaded us into his Land Rover (along with fellow Little Birkdale guests Sandra and David) for the amusement park-like trek up his rocky driveway and toward Keld where we started our walk this morning.
“Is this driveway your security system?” Jan asked as we nearly hit the LR’s roof a couple of times.
“Ya’ve got that right,” Gary answered. “Even if they make it down the drive they still have to go back up and I’ve got time to shoot the buggers.”  (And here’s how it sounded – “…they stull hav ta go backoop ‘nd I’ve got toime ta shoot the boogers.”)  Gary also explained how they’ve rebuilt the farm from its state as “a proper derelict.” 
Gary and Cath's remodeled barn
They now live off the grid by making their own power with a wind turbine and having their own well. Because they live within the boundaries of a national park, they had to get special permission to rebuild and put up the turbine. Cath says she knows it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but they love it, and so do their ducks, chickens, guinea fowl and dogs!

We started today without rain pants but we did put on our gaiters. The trouble with this is I make yet another unflattering fashion statement in this get up. Since my hiking pants are so incredibly wide in the legs, putting tight-fitting gaiters on my lower legs makes the pant thighs balloon like old-fashioned jodhpurs. Jan immediately told me I looked like one of the Rough Riders and christened me Teddy Roosevelt. Never marry a man with a sense of humor. 
Liz aka Teddy Roosevelt with the Rough Rider look
We made our way through the tiny village of Keld (I’ve learned that these are not towns – towns here are big – slightly smaller than cities) and for the fields of Swaledale.  

The village of Keld - like all tiny English villages, everything is made of stone

The hills overlooking Swaledale
A “dale” is a valley and we’ll be following the Swale River valley for the next couple of days.  We’re now in Yorkshire Dales National Park, the second of three national parks we’re traversing. The land is gentle and stunning at the same time, a patchwork of green and yellow, cut fields and those still blooming with wild flowers. They’re like a scrap fabric quilt, the patch shapes determined by drystone walls that run randomly across the landscape.

Two pictures of the beautiful Swaledale fields.

We had a choice of two routes – the high and the low. We chose the low because we wanted to enjoy the river views and stop in the town of Muker (pronounced Myoo-ker) to visit the tea shop and the woolen (woollen in Britain) shop where local women sell items made from the wool of Swaledale sheep. 

The Swaledale Woollen Shop

The Farmer's Arms

Jan never has problems finding Diet Coke along the way -- even in pub pints!
The village was dark and dreary-looking when we entered, but the shops were cheery and friendly. We drank pints of Diet Coke in the “Farmer’s Arms” inn and headed back to the Coast-to-Coast path through pastures that were all in bloom with buttercups, vetch and clover. We started to see wonderful signs telling travelers that the pasture lands were for cattle feed so could we please keep to single file?  Of course, we all did!

Single file through the meadow.
 We ended up on a route to Reeth that didn’t meander along the river as one of our guidebooks promised. Instead, we followed our four-year-old map book and ended up on many small roads that took us far above the river. We had great views, but we climbed much more than we’d planned. 

Some of the impressive non-pastoral sights
We ate our lunch outside a pub in another village called Gunnerside.  Although we’d ordered drinks, the owners didn’t like us eating non-pub food right outside their door.  We wolfed our ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches and left our chips (crisps) and cookies for later.  I guess if we’re going to get in trouble in a foreign country, this minor infraction was the way to do it!
We finally made it to the town of Reeth and found our B&B about ¾ mile from the town center. When we were greeted at “The Barn” by a Welsh border collie named Peat, who immediately brought us a stick to toss, we felt right at home.

The Farm - our B&B in Reeth

Our "landlady" Sue and fellow walkers Bob and Andy.
Peat (yes, as in the kind you walk on in the moors)
We had a beautiful room and an incredibly friendly and funny hostess named Sue. We ate at a little pub called The Bridge Inn where we shared the bar area with several dogs, because they love dogs in Britain and they’re allowed in most pubs, and where there were cell phones scattered around the room on the walls with darts through them, because they clearly don’t like mobile phones – in this pub anyhow!
The Bridge Inn

I'm not a beer drinker, but I had to have one official ale at a British pub.

 Day 10 – To Richmond (11 miles)

The walk to Richmond, which is by far the biggest town on the Coast-to-Coast walk, was our easiest and fastest so far. We left The Barn at 9:00 a.m. and arrived in Richmond at 2 p.m.  We got to thoroughly enjoy the dales area of Yorkshire and love how pastoral it is.  The River Swale (or for you Dragnet the Movie fans out there—The River Connie Swale ) is beautiful and there are still sheep literally everywhere!
The lambs are adorable - check out those ears!

Really. The sheep are everywhere!
We also went through a couple of small villages. One, Marske, is considered pretty posh and there were definitely some beautiful homes.  When we made it into Richmond, it was almost a shock to find such a huge town—very nearly a city. We got there early enough to visit some shops, walk around the Richmond Castle—built in the 11th Century—and find the River Swale falls (told you we’d be spending time with the River Swale).
Fellow hikers are always willing to take a picture for you!

Busy Richmond

In the center of Marketplace is an obelisk. This sign is telling everyone that the Olympic Torch will be by Wednesday.
In the background-the walls of old Richmond Castle

Swale River Falls
The green door of our B&B - 26 Frenchgate, The Foss
Our B&B was in a beautiful cobbled street called Frenchgate—filled with what we’d call row houses or townhouses, and our landlady was a delightful, caring woman named Maureen Bayles.  Small world story—when we stopped for lunch at a fish and chips shop, the young waitress heard us call Mrs. Bayles and asked if we were staying there. It turned out we were staying with her grandmother!
Maureen, too, had a dog—the friendliest, wiggliest Springer Spaniel named Jenny. Jenny was the runt of her litter but was the only one that survived a virus that killed her littermates.  Maureen saved her by keeping her warm in her oven! Later, Jenny also survived an adder bite. We think she’ll live to be a hundred!
We ate at a tiny pub called The Castle Tavern. The food wasn’t superb, but it was good.
We haven’t seen any of our hiking buddies for several days and couldn’t find them in Richmond. We hope we’ll see them at some point and hope they’re all making good progress.


  1. aren't all your landladies delight?

  2. To your earlier comment don't you mean ALWAYS marry a man with a sense of humor. That is the only way to survive looking as we think hideous, while he thinks we look cute

  3. I see Magic in Peat. No wonder it was like being at home. Thank you for sharing this journey with us, I feel like I'm walking beside you and Jan.