Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
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C2C Day 10 - My Little Pony
Danby Wiske -> Osmotherley

Mark: Wow, that's the first time the sun has driven us from our tent . . .
     It was true, we emerged to a gloriously sunny day in the back yard of the White Swan. This called for shorts. Spectacularly annoyingly, I had spent a number of days out in the dozen or so London outdoors shops I haunted, looking for just the right pair of light-weight, quick-drying, not-too-many-pockets, making-sure-to-cover-up-my-funny-looking-knees, and not-too-horrendously-expensive shorts, figuring I'd be wearing them every single day of the walk. But this, Day 10, was their very first appearance.

But, then again, it was too nice a morning to feel bitter. After dressing, I sat in the yard at a plastic table, feet up, watching the birds wheel and the laundry dry, listening to the burbling of the stone fountain behind me and the cries of the mourning doves – with occasional punctuation by the rooster of the yard.

Darby emerged a little later. She'd had another late night carousing with the locals – including, provocatively, the group of workmen we had passed who were plastering and re-flooring the pub entryway. According to her, she had stayed up drinking with the family owners, the pub staff, and the construction workers well past closing time – and that things had gotten progressively more rowdy. "Chairs were broken," was her unforgettable characterization of the latter part of the evening.

After packing up, Darby went off to see about breakfast. But, after all those early days of getting up and out too early to score breakfast, it appeared we'd gotten slothful: we'd overslept and missed breakfast entirely.

So instead we took a group portrait before departure – thoughtfully shot by one of the tiki torches in the grass: Et voila. Not sure why Mark and I look so grim. Maybe it's the hats.

And so we were off – on what promised to be a short, flat day in lovely weather. Unfortunately, it began with a bit of road work. But at least the road was beside truly lovely green and yellow fields.

My North Londoner friend Jacqui writes in to report, by the way, that the stunning fields of yellow flowers we had passed the day before were "almost certainly oilseed rape. It's a huge part of British agriculture these days and has a lot of critics because a) it's genetically modified and there are fears that it cross-pollinates with other crops and makes THEM genetically modified too, and b) because it doesn't exactly encourage biodiversity." Jacqui contributed the further comment, "Loved the pics of The Cow Who Loved You."

We strolled past further beautiful, sun-splashed fields. It was quiet but for the chirping of the birds. After a while, we stopped just off a bridle track for lunch.

And then a pony came down the lane. Darby made friends with it until I busted out with my bag of dried figs – I was thrilled to have potentially livestock-friendly food, after the cows had rejected my apples the day before – at which point the pony became my very good friend indeed. Unfortunately for both of us, I wanted to save a few figs for myself for later – which resulted in both the figs, and the horse, going into my bag.

Darby: Horses are smart. They know where the food's gone.
     A short time after getting going again, Darby and I paused to take clothing off.
Me: This is our rain dance. The skies will open for our mystical jacket doffing.
     Or so it had certainly seemed the day before when we were dodging all those on-and-off showers. There was one beautiful moment where the sun was on us and Darby stopped and took off her pack and took off her jacket and rolled it up and put it in her bag and by the time she was cinching the bag, big fat raindrops began pelting us. She stood there getting wet and furious, shaking her fist at the skies: "Oh, you BASTARDS!" Today we had better luck. But, still, we had gotten awfully superstitious.

Mark had kept on walking ahead while we undressed. A short while later, we found him.

The day still smiled on us as we rambled into Ingleby Cross (and Arncliffe Cross next door). Unfortunately, the one pub/restaurant, the Blue Bell Inn, we discovered, had closed at 1pm for no imaginable reason – and its reopening did not appear imminent. But they couldn't close their outdoor picnic tables, so we settled down for a nice lunch from our provisions: cans of maco-cheese, fruit/nut mix – and Darby made us all peanut butter sandwiches!

From there, we had more lovely weather, sunny and dappled – and we figured we were only two miles from Osmotherley!

We passed this structure. We had to cross a big motorway. We passed through – and I properly photographed! – a kissing gate. We were passed by a group of older C2Cers, three couples, I think. With their walking poles collapsed and clutched at their sides like short spears, they looked uncannily like a group of nomadic hominids out for a day's hunting on the Savannah. We took a forest path with chirpy birds and flowers.

We then got off the path – and, actually, off of all of our maps – to take the detour to Osmotherley. It was actually a mile or so off of the C2C proper. But it was supposed to be a lovely place. Moreover, we had increasingly started improvising the itinerary, based on the fabulous and detailed route, distance, elevation, amenities, and other info Darby had collected in her magical black book (Moleskine). Lately, she had begun taking more of an interest in planning and navigation – and as she'd started doing more of it, things had been going just swimmingly. And, much more to my personal point, the more Darby did of this, the more I could screw off and just take pictures of fields and sniff at flowers and get fondled by livestock and sing songs out loud. Darby tried to apologise to me three times for having "taken over". Bwahahaha! One day around this time I tried not taking my guidebook out all day – and found we got just where we were going anyway. What could be finer?

And but anyway so we were on this detour to Osmotherley that involved this high-ish traverse with great views. The only real downside was that we knew we'd be retracing these same steps getting back to the path tomorrow. But with skies and hills like this to look at, who cared?

And, but then again, the end of this walk really seemed to be dragging. We decided it was the 10-miler that just would not die. (Upon writing these dispatches, I think I've figured out why: it was actually a 12-miler.) We certainly hoped to get into town early enough to have a nice lounge around; but I could hardly resist quipping:

Me: Tell Osmotherley we'll pick her up at eight.
     And so at long last Osmotherley. We located the camp site, just out of town. And boy was it a change of pacer. First of all, it sprawled. It stretched. It sagged. Plus, it was filled with . . . campers and RVs. ??? And the sounds of . . . raucous children. Hmm, our hackles were a bit up. But, then again, it was the only camp site going. Darby came out of the camp office with a brochure and read aloud for us the list of camp site amenities. This took awhile.
Me: So, basically, this is an outdoor hotel.
Darby: Basically.
     The proprietor informed us, as well, that they were basically full; but he could offer us a little patch of grass directly opposite the office. We got set up, then lay in the grass resting while Darby washed every single item of clothing she had (a laundry facility was one of the amenities), excepting her rain trousers and fleece vest – which she then wore into the (well-appointed) shower.

It was still early at this point. So, after a nice lounge in the tent, I decided I could use a little Michael Time, and decamped out to the town proper to reconnoitre. I pretty quickly ran into one of the nomadic hominids, a woman. We had a nice chat. When I rejoined the others, I had the hours and offerings of the general store; a report on the best pub in town (the Queen Catherine); and dinner reservations at the Three Tuns (reportedly the best restaurant).

Then we all went back out together, to kick around town, have pre-prandial drinks, and wait rather a long time to get seated for dinner (drinking the whole time). Then dinner was a little overpriced; but that's what we got for going to a proper restaurant, rather than eating pub food.

Outside, we ran into the hominids again. When they found out our next stop was Clay Bank Top, they told us to look out for a couple of colourful Americans of their recent acquaintance: The Cowboy and the Preacher.

The last thing I shot in Osmotherley was the moon.

Tomorrow: Day 11 - Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top (11 miles)

  coast-to-coast walk     camping     dargbles     humour     jacqui     photography     pitely     walking     wildlife  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

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ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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