Wednesday, 30th June. 11 miles. Danby to Glaisdale.
People appeared from the woodwork this morning for breakfast, all the tables were occupied. Strange, I saw no one last night. Around the corner was a great little bakery where I queued outside in the rain, socially distanced, face mask on, to purchase my lunch. A lattice vegetable slice and a cheese scone, I was tempted by much more from their excellent selection. Danby sits around the village green with characteristic warm sandstone walls and those red clay pantile roofs, though the damp weather meant I didn’t linger.
I had to walk a bit of a loop to visit St. Hilda’s Church outside Danby. As I walked up in the mist I had a vision of St. Hilda in the fields by her church.
If you are going to build a church two miles out of town and put it at the top of a steep hill, you are not guaranteed full congregations. But things would have been different 900 years ago when the first church appeared on this site. Parts of the present building go back some 500 years. Even the vicarage which I passed is a good walk to the church. Again the church is locked, Covid precautions, so I missed the opportunity to view the stained-glass window depicting St. Hilda at the 664 Whitby Synod when she oversaw the debate on settling the date of Easter between the Roman and Celtic factions of the Church. Stained-glass doesn’t look as good from the outside.
I was wondering about the decision to follow the route up onto the moor in poor visibility and rain, but then I came across these ancient paving stones alongside the farm track and leading onto the moor. A path stretched out before me, and I marched along, oblivious to the weather. This is what walking is all about, a clear trod through the bracken traversing the valley side and eventually dropping to pick up the signed Esk Valley Walk with its logo of a leaping salmon. There were no leaping salmon at this time of year, but alongside the river with its sandbanks were lots of chattering sand martins. I spent a little time chatting to the water bailiff who gave me lots of information about his work along the river. A pleasant surprise was the Park Visitor Centre where despite coachloads of children I was able to have a good coffee. Refreshed, I set off, knowing I had to climb back onto the moors once more. Coming down were a jovial trio of a certain age out on their weekly tramp, they had already done over ten miles. I slowly gained height in fields and then a steep rough track took me up onto a minor road which I would follow for two or three miles. It was up here that I met Graham, who was cycling from Luxembourg to Scotland with all his worldly possessions. A like-minded soul, we chatted for half an hour about all the things that are good and bad in the world. Whilst we were stood by the side of the road, a couple of road cyclists pulled up to say hello. They had come from Clitheroe (close to where I live) that morning and were heading for Whitby. A hundred miles of hilly country. Asked where they were staying for the night, I could hardly believe that they were turning round and heading home! We wished them good speed. My new mate trundled off at a more leisurely pace.
It was good walking up on high, I hadn’t realised I was just under Danby Beacon which I passed yesterday – I am taking a circuitous route! As you can see from the pictures, the views across to the extensive valleys and moors were limited, but probably more atmospheric for that. A stone by the road took my attention and I could just make out lettering on one side. Later research showed it to be a listed boundary stone from 1736. The noisy lapwings seemed to enjoy having their photographs taken
Suddenly I was dropping down a 1in4 hill into the village of Lealholm. I now wish I had spent more time exploring this attractive place, as there is much more to see than is obvious from the road I came in on. I did however find a café open, The Shepherd’s Hall. Under strict COVID-19 rules, I was able to enjoy a pot of tea and a toasted teacake. When I was climbing with Tony it was almost a ritual to start the day with tea and toasted teacakes, I sat with pleasant memories.
All I had to do now was to follow the well trodden Esk Valley Walk into Glaisdale, not always by the river as you would think. A watermill had been converted into a highly desirable residence. As my inn was in the lower half of the village, I didn’t have to climb to the centre. I will never know what I missed, but I could sit outside with a pint looking up to it. An excellent varied day despite the mixed weather. Because of the café stops, I hadn’t got round to eating my purchases from the bakery, they should still be fresh tomorrow.
Oh! The enjoyment of this walk shines through. All the surprise discoveries and meetings with folk of interest combined with scenery to rival any encapsulate everything that motivates one for multi-day backpacking. I am so glad you found the bakery and even more so to learn that it still survives from ten years ago. I’m almost tempted to set off now and find that water bailiff for a good chat.
The two unexpected tea stops were the highlights of the day.
I’ve experience that in hotels. The place feels like you’re the only one in it, then you go down to breakfast and the dining room is full. Interesting history and great characters along the way. Seeing those red pan tiles is making me nostalgic for that part of the world.
Everything seems to fit together well over there – dales, moors, houses and decent friendly people.